Necks fall prey to RedHawks

Becca Langys, Courier Staff

MACOMB Ill.— The Western Illinois University men’s basketball team (5-2) took their second loss of the season in an exciting, double-overtime matchup against the Miami University RedHawks (5-3), coming up short by three points with a final score of 76-73.

As the first half commenced, both the Leathernecks and the RedHawks came out with equal amounts of intensity and drive that caused the scores of both teams to remain within eyesight of each other for the majority of the half. Junior center Brandon Gilbeck sparked Western’s momentum when he made a shot in the paint as the first successful scorer in Saturday’s matchup.

The high intensity on the court only continued as both teams stayed neck-and-neck during this first half. When the score was 8-9, senior forward Dalan Ancrum made a clutch 3-pointer that put the Leathernecks in the lead. Western held this lead until Miami’s Jake Wright aced a three-point shot that put the RedHawks in the lead and changed the momentum on the court.

The RedHawks continued to push with this lead, scoring several points in a row before Gilbeck made yet another shot in the paint to put points on the board for the Leathernecks, making the score 20-23 and putting the team back into the range of taking the lead.

As the first half went on, the Leathernecks continued to be successful with making their shots and although they were consistent, they continued to fall slightly behind Miami as the clock wound down. Freshman point guard Kobe Webster came in clutch with a steal followed by an impactful three-point shot that put the Leathernecks back within a couple points of the RedHawks, assisting the team in being in a good position as they headed into the second half of this matchup.

Ancrum also came in clutch during the very last minute of the half with a three-point shot that made the score 31-35 to finish out the first half.

The second half of the matchup between the Leathernecks and the RedHawks started out strong for Miami, their first points of the half coming from a dunk from Miami player Logan McLane. After McLane’s shot, both teams struggled to put any points on the board, another three minutes passing by before McLane made another shot for Miami.

Sophomore guard C.J. Duff earned the very first points of the half for the Leathernecks, making a shot that put them at only a seven-point deficit as 16:25 remained in the half.

Western struggled greatly during the first few minutes of this half to make any shots at all, which allowed the RedHawks to continue pushing for a greater lead and making the chances at winning this game become lesser and lesser for the Leathernecks. Western remained at a large point-deficit for the majority of the half, slowly sucking the momentum out of these players as the matchup continued on.

When all hope was thought lost, Gilbeck made two layups that sparked a Western rally very late in this second half. Following Gilbeck’s shots, Ancrum made two free throws that allowed the team to slowly inch their way back into winning position yet again.

When the time read 2:33, Webster made a perfectly timed three-point shot that put Western within one point of their opponents. Following Webster’s shot, sophomore guard Jeremiah Usiosefe made a layup that finally put the Leathernecks in the lead.

With 29 seconds left on the clock, Webster made another three-pointer that puts the Leathernecks into a greater lead over the RedHawks. As the clock wound down during this second half, Western’s defense was not enough to stop Miami’s Nike Sibande from making a three-point shot, tying up the game and sending it into overtime, final score of this half being 57-57.

As the overtime play commenced, both teams came out with a strong desire to beat their opponent, making the energy on the court very high. Ancrum scored the very first points of this period, putting the Leathernecks in the lead and putting the momentum on the court in their favor. Following Ancrum’s shot, Webster was fouled and successfully made two free-throw shots that helped maintain the Leatherneck lead of 61-58.

Western maintained their lead until the very last seconds of the period when there was a foul called on Usiosefe when the score was 66-64. Miami made both of their free-throw shots, making the final score of the overtime period tied at 66-66 and sending the game into double overtime.

As the second period of overtime began, there was a great amount of fire in the bellies of both teams to come out with a win. Junior forward Jalen Morgan scored the first points of the period for the Leathernecks, putting the momentum in Western’s favor as this period began.

As the clock continued to run, the Leathernecks began to struggle a little bit with their shots. Because Western began to slip up, the RedHawks took advantage of it and continued to push points, eventually scoring past the Leathernecks to take the lead.

When the score was 70-73, Ancrum made a three-point shot that tied up the game with just 8 seconds left in the half. With just three seconds left, Miami’s Darrian Ringo made a fast-break three-point shot that put the RedHawks in the lead and secured the win for Miami, score being 73-76 as the sound of the final buzzer goes off.

“It’s disappointing, it hurts right now, but it’s not the end of the world,” head coach Billy Wright said. “We have a long season. We have tomorrow off, then we get back in the gym Monday to get ready for a tough opponent coming in on Wednesday.”

The Leathernecks plan to bounce back from this loss during their next matchup against American University at 7 p.m. in Western Hall on Wednesday.

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