Western Illinois Men’s Basketball: ORU Slips Away in Closing Minutes

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MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois men’s basketball played host to Oral Roberts Thursday night (Jan. 16), where a late run sparked its visitors to an 87-70 victory. 

The outing concluded Western’s three-game homestand and the sixth Summit League outing where both Zion Young (18 points) and Kobe Webster (15 points) finished in double-figures. 

“Turnovers, points off of turnovers and second-chance points were the difference tonight,” said head coach Billy Wright. “We tried to go big there late in the second half, trying to match up and get some rebounds, but it somewhat made us stagnant on the offensive end.

“Give [Oral Roberts] credit. They were able to pound the boards, get to the paint, and get to the free-throw line. Ultimately, I think it was our rebounding and turnovers that hurt us.”

It was raining 3-pointers at the start of the game.  

The Leathernecks made seven in the first half alone, and every one of their field goals was taken from behind the arc for a 15-13 advantage at the 14:49-mark. Ironically, it was a 3-pointer that provided the Golden Eagles their go-ahead basket, and it led to a 7-0 run. 

Oral Roberts managed a 41-36 edge at halftime, and while there were waves where it appeared Western would make a run, ORU responded to each attempt.

The Leatherneck deficit was four, 50-46, when Ben Pyle swished a corner trey at 15:46, and was later closed to three, 57-54, when Webster knocked down one of his own at 11:20. The game was within Western’s grasp, no more than two possessions, until the final seven minutes of the night where ORU embarked on a 10-0 run. 

The typically cautious Leathernecks committed a Summit-high 16 turnovers to Oral Roberts’ six, and the visitors scored 16 points on the mistakes. 

Western returns to action next Thursday at Omaha. 

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