Denver (2-14, 1-8) couldn’t make an early 14-0 lead hold up against Western Illinois (6-12, 4-7) and fell 75-69 in Macomb, Illinois Friday night.
Denver jumped out to an 8-0 lead five minutes into the game as the Leathernecks missed shot-after-shot and turned the ball over five times. Ten minutes into the half, Western Illinois was 0-10 from the field and trailed 14-0. With 8:53 remaining, Tamell Pearson made a layup to finally put the Leathernecks on the board. Over the next four minutes, WIU outscored DU 13 to 6, to trail 20-15. The choppy first half ended up 28-22, DU. The teams were a combined 1 for 15 from beyond the arc in the cold-shooting first half. Western shot a miserable 27.3% and Jase Townsend led the Pioneers with 10 points in the half.
Robert Jones got his third and fourth foul call, both questionable, four minutes into the second half with Denver leading 31-24. From that point forward, the Pioneers struggled to find answers. With 12:55 remaining, WIU’s Anthony Jones canned a 3-point shot and the Leathernecks led 33-31 for their first lead of the game. A 3-point counter by Tristan Green put Denver back in the lead as the teams traded buckets but WIU began to inch ahead, 45-42, with 7:50 remaining. A Will Carius 3-point bucket extended the Leathernecks lead to 53-44 as Denver failed to counter the hot-shooting Leathernecks who woke up from their first-half slumber. A jumper and a 3-point shot capped a WIU scoring run, 60-45, with 3:54 to go. However, Denver chipped away at the lead. With a minute remaining, 3-point shots by Jase Townsend and Kobey Lam pulled Denver within four points but DU could get no closer as Western Illinois held on for the final score, 75-69.
Denver found a new way to lose after leading 14-0 but was outscored by 20 points the rest of the way. The fourth foul on DU’s Robert Jones early in the second half seemed to be the turning point for the Pioneers as his scoring and rebounding were lost for most of the half. Western Illinois had a whopping 26 turnovers, mostly in the first half, but DU was badly out-rebounded, 49-26. Jase Townsend led DU with 25 points and Kobey Lam added 14 points in the road loss.
The teams meet again Saturday night at 6 pm MT.
Photo: Courtesy Western Illinois Athletics