DENVER – The Western Illinois University men’s basketball team (5-21, 2-14) played their final game of the 2019-20 season on Saturday against the University of Denver Pioneers (7-23, 3-13). The Leathernecks’ season came to a halt after a 69-63 setback in the mile high city.
All Western had to do was beat Denver and they would have clinched the No. 8 seed in The Summit League Tournament. That didn’t happen, as it will be the Pioneers who will take on the No. 1 seeded South Dakota State University Jackrabbits (22-9, 13-3) to kick off the competition.
Western lost this game because they mainly just couldn’t put it in the basket. The team shot 35.5 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from behind the line.
Juniors Zion Young and Ben Pyle both put up 14 points on the night to lead the team. They put up the exact same shooting stats, 5-10 from the field and 4-7 from the threepoint line. Junior guard’s Kobe Webster and Anthony Jones followed up with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The main problem for Western though was that they couldn’t slow down senior guard Ade Murkey. He single handedly put up 33 points, 14 of those points coming from the foul line. He went 14-15 from the line, which ended up making the difference to pick up the six-point win for his side.
Overall, Denver didn’t exactly out-shoot Western. It just came down to the 20 points coming from fouls. The Pioneers shot a mere 16.7 percent from beyond the arc and 42.6 percent from the rest of the field, so a little better than Western, but not by much.
With the tough away loss it marks the end of the Leathernecks’ season. The team ended their campaign on an 11-game losing streak beginning back on Jan. 16 to Oral Roberts and was never able to turn themselves around down the stretch.
The good news is, it can only get better from here. After a frustrating season the team will look to better themselves in the offseason and come back harder next year, but until next fall, no more men’s basketball at Western Illinois. Twitter: @bradjp08