Men’s hoops drops close game to UMKC Kangaroos

Brendan Reidy, Courier Staff

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The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks (2-5) traveled to Kansas City to take on the UMKC Roos (5-4).

Western Illinois traveled into their crossover matchup in the WAC conference riding a two-game winning streak after falling in their first four contests of the season. The Leathernecks rode this streak into the second year of the conference crossover.

For UMKC, they came into this one all knotted up at .500 starting the year off 4-4, and were looking to get over the .500 hump by defeating the rolling Leathernecks.

It was a back and forth contest all game, and went right down to the wire late. It seemed as if when one team was starting to gain a lead, the other would answer right back. In a game highlighted by defense, the lone bright spots on the Leathernecks were Kobe Webster and Ben Pyle.

Pyle was magnificent, especially in the second half, where he dropped 16 points to pull the Leathernecks back from a 21-point deficit. Pyle finished with 21 total points, a career high for the promising sophomore forward.

Webster had his usual day being the leader for the Leatherneck offense. He finished with eight points, but hit by far the biggest shot of the night in the dwindling moments of the game. He cashed in on a very tough jumper to put Western up 68-67 with eight seconds remaining.

However, a foul within the final seconds sent the Roos to the free throw line to ice the game, defeating the Leathernecks 68-67. UMKC was led by Jashire Hardnett who finished with 19 total points on the day.

After the loss, coach Billy Wright had this to say about the final seconds of the game.

‘We had a couple of options, and the final was to have [Kobe] iso at the top of the key where he’s been very, very effective all year, all his career,” Wright said in an interview with WIU Athletics. “He made a tough shot, and obviously if we get one stop, one rebound we win. They went down and hit two free throws to go up by one. It was a back-and-forth game. We just can’t start games like that.”

Western Illinois will look to get back on track this Wednesday against Evansville on the road. It won’t get any easier, as Evansville defeated No. 1 ranked Kentucky earlier in the season. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. in Indiana.

Twitter: @breidytv

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