Men’s basketball look to end cold spell at second place Omaha


Myanna Purdue

Kobe Webster sets his feet to shoot the ball.

Christopher Bean, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois University men’s basketball team will be in action tonight against the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Leathernecks look to reclaim a win after losing to Omaha at home 71-80, on Jan. 17.

The Mavericks are 10-2 in the conference and have an overall record of 16-9, which has them sitting at the second spot in the Summit. They are on a four-game wining streak beating both the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the conference, South Dakota State and Fort Wayne respectively. Their latest victory came from South Dakota State by an 85-84 margin.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the Leathernecks who are coming off a 67-80 loss at home to the University of South Dakota Coyotes. The Leathernecks are on a four-game losing streak dating back to Jan. 26 when they beat the Coyotes, 65-59. However, they have been right in a couple of those disappointing outcomes. In games against North Dakota and North Dakota State, the Leathernecks have lost by a combined margin of three points. In all four of their previous games, the Leathernecks have let the second halves slip away after being in closely contested first halves.

Heading into Wednesday’s game, the Leathernecks sit at eighth in the Summit, leaving them seven and a half games back of first place in the conference. Looking to turn things around, our Leathernecks are going to be looking at sophomore Kobe Webster to lead them to victory. Webster is leading the team in scoring with 17.4 points per game while also leading the team in assists and steals. The last time these two teams met, four of Western’s five starters scored double digits. This season’s history is not on the Leathernecks’ side as they are 2-11 on the road. This is obviously something that the team isn’t happy with and will be looking to better that record with this game.

On the opposite side of the stat sheet, the Mavericks are going to be relying on senior guard Zach Johnson. Johnson leads the Mavericks with 18.6 points per game, while doing so at an efficient clip of 50.6 percent. This isn’t an abnormality among their team, as all of their starting five are averaging double digits on the season. They are the only team in the conference to have that many players to average double digits, let alone in their starting five.

As the season winds down, the Leathernecks are hoping to gain some momentum heading into the Summit League Tournament. Including Wednesday’s game against Omaha, the Leathernecks have three games remaining against Oral Roberts, Denver University and South Dakota State. With three of these four teams being in the top half of the conference, these games will provide a good preview and taste of the competition that Western will see come tournament time. Starting Wednesday at 7 p.m. the pressure is going to be turned up for the Leathernecks as they look to end their cold spell.