Norse Fall at Home to Purdue Fort Wayne, 63-58
by Sean Mackey
The NKU Norse were going for 4 straight wins while star player Marques Warrick continued to chase the school’s all time scoring record on Thursday night. However, they ran into a very motivated Purdue Fort Wayne team who were looking to bounce back from a loss to Cleveland State last Saturday and defeated the Norse 63-58 on their home floor.
During the first 20 minutes, the Mastodons put on an absolute defensive clinic against the Norse. Every player on NKU’s roster had to work for even an inch of space. Warrick found himself double teamed several times however, was able to muster up 6-10 shooting and 12 points to keep the Norse afloat. The rest of the starters including LJ Wells, Keeyan Itejere, Michael Bradley and Trey Robinson combined for 1-13. Cade Meyer was a bright spot shooting 3-3 in limited minutes. At one point, Fort Wayne pushed the lead to 7 which resulted in a quick timeout from NKU head coach, Darrin Horn. Fort Wayne’s Jalen Jackson led the Mastodons with 11 points going 5-7 on shooting. The Norse trailed 29-25 at the end of the first half.
The opening minutes of the final half were not pretty for the Norse. Fort Wayne quickly pushed the lead to 10 points. The offense seemed out of sync. However, the Norse fought hard and went on a run of their own, shooting 4-5 and hitting some free throws to eventually tie the game at 43 points. They took their first 2 point lead with 8:53 left in the game. Each team traded leads for the last few minutes ranging from 1 to 7 points. Neither team could hold onto the ball either. Loose balls and diving players were common for literally the entire game. While it looked incredibly sloppy at times, both teams played stifling defense. On a near shot clock violation, Jalen Jackson hit a devastating 3 pointer to give the Mastodons a 4 point lead. Rasheed Bello then hit another dagger 3 to give the Mastodons a 7 point lead. However, a few fouls resulted in some made free throws. In the final 30 seconds of the game, PFW only led by 3 points. Marques Warrick threw up a widely contested 3 pointer which would have tied the game however, it was way off and the Mastodons prevailed.
Both teams had an incredible 19 turnovers each. Jalen Jackson led the Mastodons with 17 points (7-10 FG) and 9 rebounds. Anthony Roberts chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds as well. PFW held NKU to 3-18 from the 3 point line and improved to 14-7 overall. The Norse fell to 11-10. Marques Warrick scored a game high 27 points for the Norse. He’s now within 70 points of breaking Drew McDonald’s all time scoring record.
After the game, a visibly upset Warrick said “we had 19 turnovers, led by me. That can’t happen.” Darrin Horn said “I thought Jon (Coffman’s) team was fantastic tonight. They were the aggressor on both ends from start to finish. We did not play to our identity the way we needed to in order to be our best. Give Fort Wayne credit for how they played and how their team was prepared. Hopefully it’s something our guys can learn from. Thank goodness for Marques Warrick. That game could have really gotten out of hand and he looked like a senior player of the year the way he approached things by getting to the foul line 10 times.”
The NKU Norse look to bounce back on road this Sunday against Youngstown State (Sun 1/28, 1:30 p.m. ESPN+).