Men’s hoops take on Huskies; still in search of first win

Sebastian Gamboa, Courier Staff

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This week in men’s basketball, the Fighting Leathernecks are set to defend Western Hall in a tough intrastate battle with the Northern Illinois University Huskies. Overall, Western has about a 55 percent win rate against Northern Illinois with the series sitting at 47-39. However, Northern has been gaining on Western as the Leathernecks have not been able to defeat the Huskies since 1994.

In addition to defending their home in this Illinois showdown, the Leathernecks are also looking for their first win. Last week, Western fell to the University of Tennessee-Martin by a score of 91-90. This was the third loss of the season so far, leaving them at 0-3. To get to 1-3, the Leathernecks are going to have to see strong performances from their young stars. One of those players is No. 10 Kobe Webster. The sophomore guard is coming off a career high game against UT-Martin where he scored 28 points. His strong performance was backed up by that of the freshman trio consisting of No. 15 Ben Pyle, No. 1 Zion Young and No. 2 Jaeden King. Pyle had the strongest out of the three with 18 points followed by Young with 15 points, and finally King with 13 points. All four are going to have to put on a show to knock off the Huskies.

This game also is less than a month apart from the Leathernecks’ last game before they go down the stretch of Summit League Conference games. Last year, the Leathernecks had a tough go in conference games where they had a 4-12 record. As such, the Leathernecks will be seeking to make improvements in this week’s face-off against Northern Illinois.

On the other side of the court, Northern Illinois is on a hot streak. While widely untested on the road, the Huskies are on a three-game winning streak, the latest of which coming against the Longwood University Lancers where the score was 65-48. That substantial score margin is present in all of the Huskies’ wins and may be indicative of a team that has not had solid competitors. For this reason and their untestedness on the road, the Huskies are going to be trying to stay on top of their game.

To stay in top form, the Huskies are going to bring their best with their top scorer, the junior guard, No. 10 Eugene German. In the two wins where the Huskies had good offensive production, German scored over 20 points. German’s efforts are supplemented by those of sophomore guard, No. 1 Trendon Hankerson, who has 41 points on the season. Finally, the Huskies will be reenforced by senior forward, No. 4 Lacey James and sophomore guard, No. 24 Darius Beane who have 38 and 32 points on the season, respectively. It is with these players and the even more depth that they have, the Huskies hope to be able to stand strong on the road.

Overall, this game will be a good test for both relatively untested teams. While it is still early in the season, this game will help set up the impending tough stretch for the Leathernecks, which is just around the road

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