Spark off bench not enough for Western

Dayne McElwee, Assistant Sport Editor

Over the weekend, the Western Illinois Leathernecks were host to the South Dakota Coyotes for this Summit League men’s basketball matchup. The Leathernecks came into this series 2-9 overall and 0-4 in Summit League play. The Coyotes came in with a record of 6-6 overall and 4-0 in Summit League play which was first in the standings. Friday night’s contest between the Leathernecks and the Coyotes wasn’t determined until late when South Dakota hit free throws to put this game away. The Leathernecks saw a spark off of the bench early in the first half from Adam Anhold. Anhold helped spark a 9-0 run by the Leathernecks to cut the deficit to two. Freshman phenom Ramean Hinton helped spark momentum into the second half with a last second buzzer-beating three to put the Leathernecks up by one at halftime. In the second half of this game, there were 11 lead changes and seven ties with neither team able to get more than a two-possession lead all half. Despite the poor shooting from the Leathernecks, they were able to get to the free throw line and be very efficient from the charity strike to keep this game close. South Dakota’s sophomore guard A.J. Plitzuweit hit the game-sealing free throws with seven seconds left to put the score at 65-58. A last second basket by Rod Johnson Jr. would cut the deficit to five and end the game with a score of 65-60. wGame 2 of this two-game series would pick up on Saturday night, and it didn’t start off as well as the first game did. The Leathernecks found themselves in a large deficit for the majority of the game. The Coyotes had a comfortable lead at halftime being up by 22. Western needed any spark they could get in this game, so Rob Jeter looked to his bench. The second half was the Colton Sandage show. Sandage, a 6-foot-2 junior guard out of Bloomington, Ill. with nine minutes left in the ball game, went off for 14 straight points to help cut the deficit. The Leathernecks were down by as much as 37 points and were able to cut it down to nine. They were led in scoring by Sandage who had a career-high 17 points. Another notable player was Tamell Pearson who recorded his third double-double of the season on 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Coyotes were led by big man Tasos Kamateros. Kamateros led all scorers with 21 points on a very efficient 8-12 from the field. The Leathernecks fell to 2-12 on the year and 0-6 in The Summit League. The Leathernecks will travel to North Dakota next weekend.