Men’s basketball sweeps Oral Roberts on the season


Jake Thompson

Garret Covington played all 40 minutes on Wednesday night and went 7-for-17 from the field.

Mat McClanahan

TULSA, Okla. — Western Illinois men’s basketball took care of business Wednesday night and beat Oral Roberts for the second time this season, completing the season sweep of the Golden Eagles, 63-60.

The Leathernecks added one to their win column making their overall record 8-15 and 5-7 in the Summit. Western is tied for seventh place in the conference standings, with only four games left they need to win at least two more to solidify a spot in the end of season tournament.

Western handed Oral Roberts their fifth straight loss, making the golden eagles 7-19 overall and just 3-9 in the Summit.

“They’re a tough ball club and it’s a tough league,” said head coach Billy Wright. “We knew they were going to compete hard and make a run, and hats off to our guys. I thought they did a tremendous job with the defensive focus and awareness, and that’s something that we’ve been talking about all year. When we defend, when we rebound, when we take care of the ball, although we had too many turnovers tonight, but at the end of the day, and I’m really proud of their effort and commitment at both ends of the floor.”

Freshman guard, Jeremiah Usiosefe made his presence known on both ends of the floor when he completed his first collegiate double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. His teammate and the team’s leader, Garret Covington, led all scorers, once again, with 20 points on the night.

The Leathernecks jumped on the Golden Eagles early. Brandon Gilbeck scored in the first 11 seconds of the game and that is how most of the first half went for the purple and gold. After Covington hit a short jump shot, Western led by as many as 11, with the score of 25-14.

Oral Roberts did not lie down. The Golden Eagles went on a 10-0 run bringing the score as close as 25-24, with three minutes left in the first half. It was back and forth for the rest of the half, when half time came Western led 29-28.

“If you’re up one or you’re up 13, as long as you keep getting stops and they don’t score, mathematically you should win,” Wright said. “So that was the message, take care of the ball, get a good shot each and every time down the floor, which I thought we did down the stretch. We knew that they would make a run, but I’m just proud of our effort from our guys. When it was time to get a defensive stop, we got it.”

The second half did not get easier for either team. Oral Roberts’ momentum carried over in the second half, under a minute into play they took their second lead of the night, 30-29. Usiosefe responded, to give Western their lead right back. This helped spark the purple and gold to go onto a 15-2 run to take them halfway into the second half, finally giving Western some breathing room with a score of 44-32.

Oral Roberts kept fighting, three consecutive threes by Kris Martin brought the Golden Eagles within four points, 60-56. However, Oral Roberts ran out of time, Usiosefe drilled his free throws to seal the game for the Leathernecks, 63-60.

Western is back in Macomb on Valentine’s day, when they take on Denver at 7 p.m.

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