DU Trounces Western Illinois 74-46

The Denver Pioneers (8-21, 3-12) unloaded a season’s worth of frustration on a hapless Western Illinois team at Magness Arena Thursday night. It was defense that triggered the Pioneer win. In the first half, Denver had five steals, a season low 2 turnovers and only allowed 2 three-point makes from the Leathernecks. A series of Denver blocks, steals and dunks during a 40-16 run in the second half sealed the win.

The Pioneers are playing for their Summit League Tournament lives heading into their Summit League regular season finale against Omaha in Denver Saturday at 1:00 p.m. MT. If Denver beats Omaha, Denver will make the final seed for the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls – assuming Western Illinois falls to #1 seed South Dakota State University Saturday. Omaha, regardless of outcome, are assured of a second place seed heading into the tournament.

And, let’s face it, Denver seems to always have the Mavs number.

Denver started four freshman along with senior Joe Rosga. All five played well. Freshman David Nzekwesi led the Pios with 20 points and Rosga scored 19. At the point guard slot, Taelyr Gatlin led the team with 3 of their 12 steals for the night. And Denver moved the ball inside all night and was rewarded with 12 layups and 34 points in the paint.

DU emptied their bench and Drew Joiner was rewarded with a bucket.

After a season of unfulfilled expectations, the Pioneers still have meaningful basketball in front of them on Saturday, Senior Day. And Rodney Billups said it best after the game, “Survive and advance”.