Men’s basketball tries to snap three-game losing streak against NDSU

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

 

The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks will look to get back on track at home as they get set to tip off against the North Dakota State Bison. The Leathernecks are riding a three-game losing streak, and are coming off a 83-78 loss to North Dakota.

In their last contest, the Leathernecks failed to close out the game strong, which has been a trend for Western Illinois all season. However, Kobe Webster still put together a strong performance. He had his usual 17 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Despite having five players in double figures, the Purple and Gold were unable to walk away with a much needed victory.

For the Bison, they are 14-7 and 5-2 in Summit League play. The reigning Summit League Tournament Champs are coming off a win against the University of Denver. They bring back a bolstered roster that will be tough for the Leathernecks to match up with. Western Illinois is going to have their hands full as they are currently riding a 12-game losing streak against the Bison, with their last win coming in 2013.

The Bison bring a balanced attack that will be tough for the Leathernecks to defend on both sides of the floor. Leading the way for North Dakota State are Vinnie Shahid and Tyson Ward, averaging 17 and 15 points, respectively. The Bison are also a threat behind the arc. They have five players who shoot above 35 percent from downtown. North Dakota State is an offense-first team and sometimes struggle on the defensive side of the ball. That’s where the Leathernecks need to excel: against their weak defense, where they only have one player who averages over one steal a game.

Western Illinois has been strong on the offensive side of the ball this season, and they will have to continue that trend if they want to keep pace with the high tempo stampede of the Bison. They will have to be able to match the intensity on the offensive side of the ball, but more importantly, this game is going to come down to the defense. Both teams struggle in this particular area, but it will be up to Western’s guards to lockdown Shahid and Ward throughout the ball game if they want to end the current 12-game losing streak against NDSU.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Western Hall on Thursday, and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.