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”.

2 thoughts on “DU Trounces Western Illinois 74-46”

  1. This was a really wonderful night to at least interrupt this DU basketball season from hell. To see the Pioneers suddenly making key defensive stops, strips and rebounds leading to three-bombs, dunks and huge smiles leading to a 28-point blowout win felt great. This was the DU team we wanted to see, had expected to see and frankly, didn’t see for almost all of this season.

    Now Omaha comes to town Saturday in what should be a one-game play-in for a chance to go to Sioux Falls, assuming that first place USD beats WIU, which should happen.

    If DU plays with the defensive intensity that they did against WIU, then the Pios have a shot to beat the already-clinched Mavericks. Omaha has relatively little to play for vs. DU, so the opportunity may well be right in front of the Pios.

    Will DU beat Omaha go to the Summit League tourney? Looking at all the weeks and weeks of DU carnage of this season, it’s pretty hard to be optimistic that they will win and/or get out of the Summit basement. One night of terrific performances likely does not mitigate the horror show we all saw this season.

    But it does give you a slight glimmer of hope, if not for this year – for next season.

  2. Much better. Fun to watch. Good ball movement, excellent on-ball defense and nice glimpse into the potential for next year. Even if we lose to Omaha, I’m happy that Rosga was able to have this one in his penultimate game.

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