Leathernecks lose to North Dakota in up hill battle

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

 

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The Western Illinois University Leathernecks watched helplessly as the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks shot 33 uncontested shots. That was the ultimate difference between the two Summit League teams as the Hawks grabbed the win, 83-77.

It is never easy to win on the road in The Summit League and the Leathernecks were behind almost all of the game. Head coach Billy Wright was proud of his team’s effort but stated on GoLeathernecks.com.

“We just couldn’t overcome the disparity at the free throw line.” As a team, the green and white shot 78 percent from the line for about a third of their 83 points.

The player of the game was Marlon Stewart. He finished with his second double double of the season scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He now has 15 straight games with at least 10 points. Thirteen of his points came from the free throw line. Stewart was just one of four Fighting Hawks to score in double figures.

Filip Rebraca took advantage of soft defense from the Leathernecks and scored 21 points, shooting seven of 14 from the field. De’sean Allen- Eikens totaled 17 points while grabbing more offensive rebounds with five and four defensive. Finally, Kienan Walter got hot from deep, shooting 3-4 from beyond the arc on his way to 15 total points. All in all, it was a balanced attack from the Fighting Hawks who earned the win with tough play through the entire game.

The Leathernecks were playing catch-up from what seemed to be the opening tip. After a few good jumpers from Kobe Webster and Zion Young, the Leathernecks found themselves in the lead, 9-8. Then they let the Hawks go on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good. They fought back, getting inside and kicking out to their shooters. The team ended with 26 points in the paint and 30 from the three point line.

Down the stretch of the first half, the team relied on Webster. He tallied up a quick 15 points while each of the other starters had two fouls. He nailed a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to bring his team within five headed into halftime. The defensive change the green and white made at the break must have been all focused on stopping Webster. He only scored two points in the final half to finish with a team high 17.

Out of halftime, the Hawks came rolling and thundering. They made three quick triples and went on a 13-0 run to bust open their lead. The Leathernecks continued to battle back this time with C.J. Duff leading the charge. After missing his only shot in the first half, he started to show his senior leadership.

He scored 12 second half points during the Leathernecks comeback efforts. He was helped by Anthony Jones off the bench who finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Jones hit a three pointer to bring the game within five with just under 10 minutes to play. The team just could not close the gap and now sits with a 2-6 conference record. Their next game is against North Dakota State who sit just a half game out of first place in The Summit League. Tip off is 7:30 p.m.