CHARLESTON, Ill. – In a game the Leathernecks led for 36 minutes and 13 seconds Tuesday (Dec. 19), a late Eastern Illinois run edged the Panthers past the Leathernecks 78-77 from Lantz Arena.
“It is a tough one. We talk about when it is winning time, you have to take care of the ball and make free throws and get defensive rebounds,” said head coach Billy Wright. “To our kids credit, we played well for 35 minutes, but the final five minutes we could not get the ball across half court.”
Brandon Gilbeck started hot for the Leathernecks, making three shots within the first five minutes, but was limited throughout the entire contest because of early fouls. Jeremiah Usiosefe found the net early as well, knocking down his first three 3-point attempts. His first two came back-to-back three minutes into the game to give WIU a four-point lead.
After a Delo Bruster layup with 9:41 left in the first half, WIU maintained a lead for the rest of the half.
Dalan Ancrum knocked down two shots from behind the arc that led into the under-8 media timeout to give the Leathernecks a four-point advantage. With Gilbeck out, Isaac Johnson found Charles Gavin for a jump hook that extended the WIU lead to six.
Eastern ended the first half on a 9-4 run that made the halftime score 43-36 in favor of the Leathernecks.
Both squads traded buckets for the first half of the second period with the Western lead staying between five and seven points. D’Angelo Jackon hit a 3-pointer that cut the Leatherneck lead to three with 11:22 remaining, but the Purple and Gold responded with a 15-7 lead that included six Ancrum and five Webster points.
With WIU up nine with 5:25 to play, EIU put together an 18-7 run to put the Panthers ahead by three points.
After a missed Ancrum 3-pointer, C.J. Duff made a tip-in with 2.2 seconds remaining to pull within a point. After EIU intentionally missed a free throw with just over a second remaining, time expired as the Leathernecks fell 78-77 to spilt the season series.
–Kobe Webster ended with 16 points and 7 assists.
-Five Leathernecks were in double-digits: Webster with 16, Ancrum with 14, Usiosefe with 11, Duff with 11 and Bruster with 10.
-WIU shot 54.9 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from behind the arc.
Gilbeck did not record a block for the first time since November 19, 2016 at Eastern Illinois.
-Western Illinois did not record a block as a team.
-WIU led for 90.5 percent of the contest, with their largest lead being 12.