Men ready to rein in Mavericks


Angel Strack/Courier Staff

Brandon Gilbeck jogs to get back on defense.

Christopher Bean, Courier Staff

OMAHA, Neb.-The Western Illinois Leathernecks set to take on the Omaha Mavericks this Thursday in Omaha. Western is coming off their second win in the Conference, when they snapped their four game losing streak on Saturday, beating Oral Roberts 82-56.

Western is now 2-7 in the conference, and 11-11 overall. The Mavericks are 2-6 in the conference, and only 7-17 overall. Their 7-17 record is the worst in the league. They are only ahead by half a game of Western for the last spot position in the Summit League. They are currently on a three game losing streak, and coming off of a 20 point loss to South Dakota State last Tuesday.

Both team’s losses in the Summit league haven’t been close, losing every game by 11 or more points. This is their second time facing each other this year. The first game was in Macomb, when Omaha got the best of Western, in a 87-66 win. Four out of the five Omaha starters scored in double figures, and made six or more field goals. They also had a season high with 13 three pointers. Western only made five threes, while shooting just 23.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Even though both teams have struggled this year, both teams have had solid production from their players. Junior guard, Zach Johnson has been the Mavericks best player this year. He’s 4th in the Summit League in scoring, with 18.7 points a game. He’s also seventh in rebounds with 6.7 a game. Freshman forward, Matt Pile, is third in blocks with just over one a game with 1.2. Freshman point guard, Kobe Webster is still third in assists and sixth in scoring. Junior center Brandon Gilbeck continues to be a beast for Western. He leads the Summit in blocks (2.8 per game), and field goal percentage (66.9 percent per game). He is also fourth in rebounds with 7.6 a game. The key on defense for Western is to contain the Mavericks behind the arc. The Mavericks have struggled all year from three, but last time it was the main reason why they won the game.

On offense, Western must to give Gilbeck the ball. He went 7-11 from the field last game with 16 points. The 16 points matched his season high in Summit league plays. If the Necks can do these two things, they will win back-to back games for the first time in the Summit League this year.

With five games left in the season, look for the Necks to amp up their play, and play their best games down the stretch. They are still fighting for a spot in the tournament, only down two games behind fourth seeded North Dakota State (4-5).

Don’t give up on the Leathernecks quite yet, as they still have their goal of making the NCAA tournament still in front of them.

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