Men’s basketball look to sweep South Dakota

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Men’s basketball look to sweep South Dakota

Kobe Webster runs back into the play inside Western Hall.

Kobe Webster runs back into the play inside Western Hall.

File Photo

Kobe Webster runs back into the play inside Western Hall.

File Photo

File Photo

Kobe Webster runs back into the play inside Western Hall.

Kejuan Rucker, Courier Staff

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The Western Illinois University men’s basketball team is back in Western Hall this Saturday as they go up against the South Dakota Coyotes. The Coyotes sit a game above the Leathernecks in the Summit League standings; however, last time these two teams played each other, the Leathernecks were able to run away with 65-59 victory in South Dakota. Four of our five Leatherneck starters scored in double digits as they took charge in the second half.

This game was the last victory for the Leathernecks as they lost their next three games. The Coyotes are on a four game losing streak and look to steal one in Western Hall; however, the Leathernecks are looking to have the home court advantage in this matchup as one team’slosing streak comes to an end.

South Dakota are above Western Illinois in the conference, but have not had a better season than our team. Like the Leathernecks, the Coyotes are 3-8 in the conference, but 9-15 in the Summit League overall. They have an even home record, with only three wins on the road so far this season.

South Dakota’s losing streak began when Western Illinois defeated them at home, and since then they haven’t come close to a win yet. Their best chance came against their conference foes, Ohama in an 107-102 shootout, but ended up losing their momentum and the game. Three of their five starters are averaging double digit points on the season with sophomore guard Stanley Umede,averaging the most with 14.6 points per game.

On the other hand, the Leathernecks are 6-5 at Western Hall this season, so their chance of beating South Dakota is better. Despite having an above .500 home winning percentage, the Leathernecks haven’t found their rhythm yet as the season boils down.

They lost their last two games at home against North Dakota and North Dakota State in close but disappointing games. It was the second half that did not work out in the Leathernecks’ favor, causing them to lose leads late in the half.

Their third lost came on the road last week in a 79-64 game against the Purdue-Fort Wayne Mastodons. Sophomore guard Kobe Webster scored a team high of 15 points and combined with senior center Brandon Gilbeck and sophomore guard CJ Duff for 38 of the Leathernecks 64 points.

The Leathernecks are 8-16 overall this season and 3-8 in the conference, sitting third from the bottom of the Summit League. It hurts to see our men’s basketball team struggle but the season is not over for them. As they look toward the tournament in March, we hope to see some changes within the strategy and gameplan of the Leathernecks.

With five games left including the post season for each team, the pressure begins this Saturday, with tip-off starting at 2 p.m.

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