Men’s hoops slide past Panthers


Pedro Avila/assistant photo editor

C.J. Duff ball fakes to set up a drive to the hoop for two of his eight points on the night.

Becca Langys, Courier Staff

MACOMB IL. — The Western Illinois University men’s basketball team (2-0) barely skated past the Eastern Illinois University Panthers (0-2) this Wednesday to secure their second win of the season and maintain their undefeated record. The Leathernecks beat Eastern with just two points to spare,  56-54.

Western Hall was full of competitive energy and excitement as both teams geared up to face off in Wednesday’s match. The music was loud, the crowd was eager and the players were focused and ready to battle. The Leathernecks were preparing to defend their home court and maintain their record, and the Panthers were eager to grab hold of their first win of the season.

Junior center Brandon Gilbeck successfully tipped the ball off to his team to start out the game against the Panthers. Gilbeck shined defensively this game, having a total of four blocks, two more than his previous game.

“We’re pretty good defensively when we defend. We’re even better when we stay out of foul trouble when Brandon (Gilbeck) and Kobe (Webster) are out there,” head coach Billy Wright said, agreeing that his team’s defense shines.

Senior forward Dalan Ancrum led the team in points, having a total of 21 on the night. Trailing behind Ancrum was freshman guard Kobe Webster with ten points and sophomore guard C.J. Duff with eight points.

The first half of the game started out slowly for both the Leathernecks and the Panthers, neither team breaking 20 points until 13 minutes into the game. Ancrum and Gilbeck both had two steals during this first half that really changed the momentum on the court. Ancrum also had three assists during the first half. Both teams had an aggressive energy on the court and the intensity was high throughout the course of the first half. Although the scoring started out slow, the Leathernecks eventually picked up the pace and ended the first half with a 30-28 lead over the Panthers.

During the second half of their matchup, the Leathernecks had yet another slow start and gave up ten points early on. The Leathernecks trailed the Panthers for a large chunk of the second half, always being just below the threshold of taking the lead.

When the Leathernecks were at risk of running out of steam, Ancrum hit two three-point shots with 3:15 left on the clock, which put the Leathernecks within one point of the Panthers. All that the Leathernecks needed was a little push to put them in winning position, and that push came yet again from Ancrum who scored another three-point shot, making the score 54-52 with 1:45 left in the game. Ancrum was also fouled and given two free-throws, making both of them. As time ran down on the clock, the Leathernecks kept the Panthers from gaining the lead again, securing their second win of the season on their home court, final score being 56-54.

The Leathernecks came out on top during their exciting second game of the season against the Panthers, and they plan to continue pushing to maintain their undefeated record. The boys are determined to get more wins this season than their previous season, and so far, they are on track to do so.

Western’s men’s basketball team will play Saturday against Calvary University at 7 p.m. in Western Hall.

Twitter: @beccalangysxo