Men’s basketball falls to Omaha Mavericks in home finale

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks took the floor one last time at Western Hall this season against Omaha. It was senior day for the men’s team, as they honored seniors Keshon Montague, James Claar and CJ Duff.

In a game that was extremely important for the Purple and Gold, it got off to an exciting start. With the first Western bucket, Duff joined the 1000-point club, becoming the 24th player in school history to join the elite group of players.

“That is something to reflect on when the time comes,” Duff said. “It is a big accomplishment and I am very blessed since a lot of people don’t get the opportunity, but I am looking at a chance to play in the postseason. That’s my only mindset right now,” Duff said to GoLeathernecks.com.

Following the historic shot for Duff, the Maverick offense began to hit their stride. They went up by as many as 12 points in the first half behind JT Gibson’s hit shooting from behind the arc. However, Kobe Webster and Zion Young had an answer with a couple of three’s of their own to cut the lead to two going into the break.

The second half was a shooting clinic. It seemed like both sides couldn’t miss, but eventually, Omaha’s hot shooting would lead them to a 93-86 victory over the Leathernecks, despite Webster’s historic 40 point night from the Hall and the lack of production from star big man Matt Pile.

“I am going to do whatever I can for a chance to win,” Webster said. “If that means score 40 points or having 12 assists or grabbing 10 rebounds, I am out there to win,” Webster said via GoLeathernecks.com

Unsung hero Marlon Ruffin who dropped 30 points in the contest led the Mavericks to a victory. Omaha also had three other players score in double figures.

The Western men’s team has a tough road ahead of them as they enter their final week of conference play. They will head out on a two game road trip that will take them to Oral Roberts first, and then off to the University of Denver. To clinch a postseason berth in The Summit League Tournament, the Leathernecks have to beat Denver on the road, or their season may end a little earlier than usual this year. Hopefully, Billy Wright and company can get things rolling down the stretch, but the playoffs are starting a little early this year as they get set for that big game against Denver next week.

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