Western Illinois improved to 7-12 on the season after a sweep of the Denver Pioneers. This marked the Leathernecks’ fifth straight win and second consecutive sweep. Western’s Will Carius surpassed the 20 point mark for the fourth straight game, and Cameron Burrell recorded a double-double in both games.
In the first game, WIU got off to a slow start on offense. It took just over 11 minutes for the Leathernecks to score their first points, which came off of a Tamell Pearson layup. After that, the Leathernecks found their rhythm and went on a 13-2 run where a good portion of those points came from the free throw line. WIU scored six of the 13 points from the charity stripe. Despite this, the Pioneers took it 28-22 into the break. In the second half, the Leathernecks were able to find their footing on the offensive side of the ball. The Necks shot 61 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three after going 6-22 in the first half and failing to make a shot from deep. At the 12:55 mark of the second half, Western took their first lead of the game thanks to an Anthony Jones three pointer. The Leathernecks were able to expand this lead thanks to some stellar play from Carius. Carius scored 25 of his 27 points in the second half to lead all scorers. Western Illinois was able to open up a 15-point lead at one point, but despite this, the Pioneers kept fighting. Denver outscored Western Illinois 20-11 in the final two minutes. Jase Townsend of Denver scored 10 of his 25 points during this run. Despite this, Western came away with the win 75-69.
Western hit the ground running in the second game of the series. After a back and forth game for the first four minutes, Western took the lead and never surrendered it. Some hot shooting from Carius, who hit from deep three times in the first half, helped the Leathernecks lead by as much as 14 in the first half. WIU would take a 42-28 lead into halftime. The Necks continued the offensive onslaught in the second half, growing the lead to as much as 16 with just under six minutes left in the game. Carius continued his offensive dominance as he was able to score more than 20 points for the fourth consecutive game. He was also helped out by Burrell who put up 13 points alongside 13 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Ramean Hinton and Adam Anhold also added 10 points of their own. Ten of the 13 Leathernecks that played scored and all five starters had at least seven points. Once again, the Pioneers refused to give up. Denver scored 15 points in the final two minutes, but once again it was too little too late. Western won the game by a score of 82-75 to improve to 7-12 and 5-7 in the Summit. Denver fell to 2-15 on the season and 1-9 in the Summit.
After this, Western sits at 7th in The Summit League, and Denver still holds onto the final Summit League Tournament spot in 8th place. Western will take on Oral Roberts next on Feb. 27 and 28.