Heroic effort by Southeastern falls short at Purdue Fort Wayne, 67-63, in overtime

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Nick Caldwell #22

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Southeastern Louisiana men’s basketball team nearly overcame a 12-point second half deficit and a 1-for-28 shooting night from the three-point line before falling to Purdue Fort Wayne, 67-63, in overtime Wednesday night at the Gates Sports Center in the season opener for both squads.

SLU (0-1) had eight different players score led by sophomore Nick Caldwell with a career-high 20 points on 8-for-15 shooting. Senior Pape Diop and junior Joe Kasperzyk each added 10 points while senior Keon Clergeot had nine points, six rebounds and four steals. Clergeot, a Winter Haven, Florida native, also drew five offensive fouls.

Despite the balanced offensive attack, the Lions struggled from the field shooting 23-for-76 (30 percent) and 1-for-28 from the three-point line. The Mastadons shot 21-for-44 for 47 percent and 7-for-21 from the three-point line.

While Southeastern’s shooting woes were too much to overcome, their defense was tremendous forcing the Mastadons (1-0) into 31 turnovers. The Lions also drew 12 offensive fouls.

Early on, the two teams battled back and forth as PFW led 15-14 with 10:36 to go in the first half. However, the Lions shooting struggles began to mount as they fell behind by 10, 37-27, at halftime.

Southeastern still trailed by double digits late in the second half, 53-41, with 8:59 remaining. The Lions responded with a 9-0 run highlighted by six points from Caldwell to cut the Mastadons’ lead to 53-50 with 5:07 left.

PFW scored the next five points to take a 58-50 lead with 4:25 left. But SLU’s defense clamped down holding the Mastadons scoreless the rest of regulation.

The Lions finished regulation on an 8-0 run capped off by an offensive rebound and lay up by sophomore Byron Smith with 22 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

In the extra frame, sophomore Isiah Kirby scored on a layup with 21 seconds to give SLU their first lead since the 11:10 mark of the first half, 63-62. However, PFW’s Jalon Pipkins scored on a layup and was fouled, converting the free throw with 12 seconds left to give the Mastadons the lead for good.

The Lions, who were without projected starters Gus Okafor and Elijeh Ifejeh due to injuries, outrebounded the Mastadons, 40-35, including tearing down 22 offensive rebounds. SLU also outscored PFW 17-2 in second chance points and 38-26 on points in the paint.

Pipkins led the Mastadons with 18 points on 6-for-14 shooting including a pair of three-pointers. Bobby Planutis chipped in with 14 to pace PFW.

Next up, the Lions will travel to Birmingham, Alabama to face the UAB Blazers Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the basketball program are encouraged to join the Hardwood Club. Lion alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letterwinners. All membership fees and donations to Hardwood Club are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern basketball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

For more information on Southeastern Basketball, follow @LionUpMBB and @DavidKieferSLU on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

For ticket information, please contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit www.LionSports.net/tickets. Southeastern is implementing mobile ticketing as the primary source for securing tickets for the 2020-21 season. All tickets will be available via e-mail in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.

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