Purdue Fort Wayne hits 13 3-pointers in victory over Phoenix
By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY – On a night when a snow squall rolled through Titletown, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball team’s shooting was equally as scary.
The Phoenix connected on only eight first-half field goals en route to a 74-55 Horizon League loss to Purdue Fort Wayne Feb. 18 at the Kress Events Center.
“They are talented,” Green Bay Head Coach Will Ryan said about Purdue Fort Wayne. “Their guys drive into the paint, and they spread the wealth. They hit some of those 3-pointers where there was nothing you could do near the end of the shot clock buzzer.”
Kamari McGee led Green Bay with 19 points, while Manny Ansong chipped in 12.
The visiting Mastadons hit 13 3-point shots, shooting 49.1% for the game.
On the flip side, Green Bay made only 19-of-51 field goals, had 10 fewer assists and nine fewer rebounds.
It was the second straight game the Phoenix were held under 60 points.
PFW (17-10 overall, 12-6 Horizon) jumped on Green Bay from the onset with the trio of Damian Chong Qui, Jalon Pipkins and Deonte Billups going off at different times.
After Nate Jenkins hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 17-12, the Mastadons went on a 10-point flurry, forcing Ryan to burn a timeout.
Green Bay (4-22, 3-14) made a push near the end of the first half after Ansong connected on three baskets, but PFW took a 33-23 lead into halftime.
“Manny flipped the switch we know he has,” Ryan said about Ansong’s spurt. “It flickers on and off at times. It was nice to see us get a boost during that time. It was much needed.”
The teams exchanged baskets leading into the first media timeout of the second half.
However, after Ansong’s dunk cut the lead to 43-33, the Mastadons dominated the rest of the contest.
The Phoenix turned the ball over on multiple possessions, and PFW took advantage with a 17-6 surge to go up 60-39 with nine minutes remaining in the game.
Down the stretch, Green Bay fans were treated to the play of Japannah Kellogg and Mitch Listau, who combined to score six points.
More importantly, it gave the Phoenix a 10-man rotation again.
Kellogg missed three games due to injury, and Listau has seen action in only nine games since showing glimpses of good play earlier in the season.
“To be able to go five-on-five in practice is big,” Ryan said. “We can do some scout team stuff and run the other teams’ actions at each other.”
Green Bay is back in action Sunday, Feb. 20, when it takes on Cleveland State at 2 p.m.
“We have a saying, ‘Guard Your Yard,’” Ryan said. “Cleveland State has guys who are going to put their head down and go. Our goal is to make a mess of the paint and guard the 3-point arc better.”
Dick Bennett signing
Former Green Bay Head Coach Dick Bennett signed copies of the recently released book, “Phoenix Rising: A Playbook for Building a Mid-Major College Basketball Program,” for those in attendance.
The book chronicles the hardships of the Phoenix program when Bennett took over in 1985-86, to the magical runs of the NCAA tournament in 1991, 1994 and 1995.
“Coach Bennett has been great,” Ryan said. “He called me earlier in the week and tried to uplift me and let me know he’s thinking of me and whole-heartedly understands what we’re going through right now. You have to have thick skin and get the most out of your guys. We will keep fighting.”