Western Courier

Leathernecks continue four-game skid

Titus Perez, Courier Staff

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MACOMB Ill. — Western Illinois University Leathernecks men’s basketball team (8-17, 3-9 Summit) entered the game against The University of South Dakota Coyotes (10-15, 4-8 Summit) on a three game losing streak. The Necks had confidence coming into the game because they defeated the Coyotes in their arena the last time they played, but unfortunately they fell in this one, 80-67.

The first half was a back and forth affair. Western took the lead on a three by junior guard CJ Duff making the score 25-24 with 5:10 remaining in the half. South Dakota took over the rest of the half, ending on an 11-4 run. The only points that Western got in that half came from two emphatic dunks by senior center Brandon Gilbeck. The Coyotes lead 35-29 going into halftime behind 12 points and seven rebounds from their leading scorer on the season sophomore Stanley Umude. Umude struggled the first game against Western but figured it out this time around, ending the game with 17 points. The Necks and Coyotes played an even half, with the only difference being the carelessness of the Leathernecks. The Necks turned the ball over nine times compared to four on USD’s behalf. Head coach Billy Wright said the turnovers stopped the team’s rhythm: “we didn’t get into a rhythm and a lot of that early on was because of our own doing in terms of turning the ball over.”

The second half opened with a three-point lead from South Dakota. This continued to be a reoccurring thing as WIU got burned from beyond the arc the entire second half. Sophomore guard Isaac Johnson got Western’s first score of the half on one layup, making the score 38-32. This is the closest Western would get the rest of the game as the Coyotes steadily built their lead. As Gilbeck exited the game after his third foul at the 16:05 mark, USD was on an 8-0 run. This run ended by a layup and a foul shot made by Duff; the score sat at 46-35 with 15:37 remaining in the game. Both teams traded baskets over the next six minutes, however Western seemed to grab the momentum after freshman Ben Pyle converted on the team’s third and-one of the half, making the score 53-44 with 9:54 left to play.

South Dakota senior Trey Burch- Manning, who lit the Leathernecks up in the first half of their first meeting responded with one of his five three-point marks on the next possession. This gave the Coyotes a comfortable 56-44 lead. Gilbeck re-entered the game with less than nine minutes to play, but it was a little too late. The Coyotes hit threes on three straight possessions and while the Necks were answering with baskets, USD’s threes kept the Necks at bay. The Coyotes made seven of their 13 three point attempts in the second half. Gilbeck went out of the contest again due to a head injury with 6:56 left and did not return. Burch-Manning hit a tough three with a hand in his face on the ensuing possession all but sealing the victory, going up 67-53 and only 6:15 remaining in the game. Over the next six minutes both teams gave it their all, ending the game with 80-67.

Leathernecks leading scorer, sophomore guard Kobe Webster struggled throughout the game, shooting just 5/14. Wright noticed the struggle: “for the most part, we didn’t finish plays around the basket and we can’t do that against a good team.”

Burch-Manning was the leading scorer in the game with 20 points hitting five of his nine three-point attempts. Webster scored a team high for the Purple and Gold, ending with 16 points and adding seven rebounds. Duff also added 15 points. South Dakota will hold their next game at home against the University of Denver Pioneers (7-19, 2-10 Summit), while the Leathernecks’ next game will be on the road against the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (16-9, 10-2 Summit) on Wednesday.

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Leathernecks continue four-game skid