Leathernecks remain winless after close loss to NIU Huskies


Myanna Perdue

Ben Pyle dribbles the ball up court against NIU.

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois men’s basketball team continued its poor start to the season, dropping their fourth in a row to in-state rival Northern Illinois University 86-81. Western is now 0-4 compared to the Huskies record of 5-2.

The Huskies and Leathernecks acted like magnets throughout the match, getting closer and closer until the Huskies turned around and propelled themselves forward. The Huskies started with draining back-to-back threes from senior point guard Eugene German. The Leathernecks battled back with a pair of threes from Ben Pyle and Zion Young.

The two teams continued battling it out with Western, finding success in patches. The work was seen mainly from Kobe Webster. The flashy point guard put up 26 points in the game, 15 of them from deep. He tied with German for the game high in points but had the game high in assists with seven.

The Huskies took advantage of the many mistakes from Western. They compiled a total of 15 points off turnovers, 13 of them in the first half. They worked themselves into the lead with five minutes to go in the half, for the final time. Western got within one in the second half, but could never find the lead.

Coach Billy Wright put the mistakes into a simple explanation.

“We are growing up in front of you, these are growing pains,” Wright said.

With a starting five containing two sophomores, and a bench consisting of almost entirely newcomers, it is understandable. They put up a solid stat line as a team with shooting 46 percent from the field, 52 percent from the three and making 11-12 free throws.

The lead never grew to an outstanding margin, but Western must learn how to win. If you take away the first half turnovers, Western played a full game of good effort and good basketball. Their next chance to prove themselves will be this weekend against Central Christian College of the Bible.

Part of the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association separate from NCAA, this will be the first game between the two. The Saints are currently 3-3 and will be playing their third game in as many days when the face the Leathernecks. A grueling schedule mixed with a lower tier of competition should be a recipe for an easy win for Western.

Western will look to snap their four-game skid by putting the pieces together. After losing three straight games within single digits, the players can almost taste of victory. Tip-off is 7 p.m. in Western Hall.