Men’s basketball looks to prevent season sweep against Fort Wayne

James Claar looks to receive a pass.

Becca Langys

James Claar looks to receive a pass.

Zach Remelius, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks will travel to Fort Wayne, Ind. on Wednesday night to face off against the Mastodons of Purdue Fort Wayne.

The Leathernecks come into the game with a record of 5-15 and within league play, they are 2-8. Meanwhile, the Mastodons are 10-14 overall and 3-6 in Summit League play. Each team took a loss there last time on the court. Purdue Fort Wayne fell at home to North Dakota State 71-60. The Leathernecks, on the other hand, lost at home to league-leading South Dakota State, a game in which the Leathernecks trimmed a 20 point lead all the way to one in the waning minutes of the game before losing by a score of 71-61.

These two teams have already played each other once this season. A 77-69 win for the Mastodons in Macomb on Jan. 8. After falling behind 8-2 just a couple minutes in, Purdue Fort Wayne took control of the game. With five minutes left, Kobe Webster hit a shot to give the Leathernecks their last lead of the game at 32-31. It was all Mastodons in the second half as they built a lead as large as 15 points at one point. The Leathernecks were able to get back within seven but were never able to get over that hump. Jared Godfrey led the way for Mastodons in that one, scoring 26 points while also contributing 13 rebounds. Deonte Billups rode a hot first half to finish with 19 points and assist Godrey in the scoring department. Western Illinois was led by Webster’s 18 points in the loss. Webster had a rough shooting night against SDSU, finishing 4-17 from the field and just 2-11 from three. He will look to get back on track as he finishes out his junior season in the Purple and Gold. Ben Pyle had 17 points in that game back in January and James Claar contributed a season high 14 points. While Purdue Fort Wayne turned the ball over 16 times to the Leathernecks’ nine, they out rebounded the Western Illinois 47-32 and finished with a field goal percentage of 49.3 percent compared to 39.4 percent for the Leathernecks.

Both teams are fighting to get to Sioux Falls for The Summit League tournament in March for a chance at the NCAA Tourney. Purdue Fort Wayne is two games ahead of the last place Denver and the Leathernecks are one game ahead. The Mastodons have two games left with Denver and the Leathernecks have one game left with the Pioneers which will take place in Denver.

The Leathernecks were able to knock off Denver in their meeting in Macomb 86-80. The Leathernecks are also looking to snap a five-game losing streak while Purdue Fort Wayne has lost five of their last six. ESPN’s match-up predictor gives the Leathernecks a two percent chance of winning. The game will tip off inside Hilliard Gates Sports Center at 6 p.m.