The Western Illinois men’s basketball team played host to the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons on Wednesday, January 8, and despite a relatively back-and-forth game, WIU was unable to pull out enough late stops in a 77-69 loss.
The ‘Dons did the bulk of their damage through star guard Jarred Godfrey, who finished the night with 26 points and 13 rebounds. His tenacity and ability to get into the paint, whether it was for a drive or following a shot for a rebound, was tough to handle for WIU as they could not seem to consistently put a body on him. Among the other major contributors for Fort Wayne was Deonte Billups, a Moline native. Billups, who famously was recruited to WIU, finished the night with 19 points on an amazingly efficient 8-9 shooting from the field. Godfrey’s line of rebounding was a theme for the ‘Dons, as they hammered WIU on the boards. PFW had 5 players rack up at least 5 boards en route to out-rebounding the Leathernecks 47-32, 14 of which were PFW offensive rebounds.
Perhaps the biggest example of the 'Dons' tenacity was on the final possession of the game. With 58 seconds left, WIU had just cut its deficit to 8 on a Kobe Webster three and the ‘Dons had the ball. Electing not to foul and stop the clock, WIU forced PFW to take a contested shot, which they missed and unfortunately secured an offensive rebound. WIU again elected not to foul, forcing another contested PFW shot, which again fell to PFW on the rebound. At this point the shot clock was turned off, with WIU still trailing by 8, and Fort Wayne ran the clock down to triple zeroes. That type of hustle was ultimately the difference between the ‘Dons and Leathernecks.
It wasn’t all bad for WIU, however, as Kobe Webster and Ben Pyle combined for 35 points on 8-17 shooting from distance. James Claar had one of his best performances of the season, going for 14 points and 7 rebounds while adding 2 blocks as well. Zion Young added 10 points, 6 of which came on his first two shots of the game. There were some nice secondary performances around this group, with Kyle Arrington playing some tough minutes down the stretch and earning some big buckets to keep WIU in the game. DreShawn Allen played some key minutes in spelling CJ Duff and played tough defense, leading the team in steals with 3.
Another trend that continued with the loss, WIU has won only once on the 2019-20 season while scoring less than 70 points. The Leathernecks (4-10, 1-3) will get another chance at their second Summit League win when they take on Denver at Western Hall on Saturday, January 11 at 2 PM. Purdue Fort Wayne (9-9, 2-1), next takes on South Dakota State at home on January 11 with a tip set for 7 PM.