Photo: Courtesy of Jason Evans
Twenty-seven percent shooting from the field and twelve first-half turnovers put the Denver Pioneers (5-20, 1-10 Summit League) in a deep hole, 38-19. The Pioneers trailed by as many as 22 points in the second half and cut the Mastodons lead below double digits with 1:25 remaining in the contest. But Denver could never get closer than 6 points in the game, only hitting 10-22 free throws (42%) and throwing the ball away 17 times to Fort Wayne’s 12. DU reported Hamilton Gym with 1,080 spectators in attendance.
Breakout DU sophomore Jase Townsend seemed to be pressing all afternoon and went an uncharacteristic 5-15 from the field with 4 turnovers. Ade Murkey, consistent all season, struggled as well with only 9 points and 5 rebounds. Freshman forward Tristan Green was off in this game as well going 1-4 from 3-point range, 2-5 from the field while turning the ball over 3 times and committing 4 fouls. The bright spot for DU was freshman big-man Robert Jones with 13 points and 9 rebounds, most in the second half. Another freshman, Roscoe Eastmond, has a nice game with 6 points, 6 assists, and 5 steals with 3 turnovers.
Nine minutes into the first half, Fort Wayne’s Brian Patrick hit a 3-point jumper off a steal. The Mastodons followed that with a Jarred Godfrey lay-up and a pair of free throws to go up 24 – 13. They built on that advantage the final five minutes of the first-half to hold a 19 point lead at break.
Denver shot better in the second half, finishing with 44% shooting for the afternoon but the damage was done. A 3-point shot by Jase Townsend and two free throws by Tristan Green finally brought the Pioneers within 9 points, 66-57, with 1:25 remaining. But, it was too little, too late for the Pioneers.
The pep band was present for the contest and added some much-needed energy. In this writer’s view, with only 800-1,200 spectators, Hamilton Gym offers a much more intimate, entertaining venue than a large, empty Magness Arena. Unfortunately, the results were the same.