Denver Defeats Western Illinois in Regular Season Finale

Denver men’s basketball (11-20, 7-11) concluded the regular season by defeating the Western Illinois Leathernecks (16-14, 7-11) on Saturday afternoon, 83-77, at Macomb, Illinois. With the win, Denver has exceeded all reasonable expectations heading into this season. As the Summit League’s 6th seed with the tiebreaker versus WIU, DU will face North Dakota State in the first round of the Summit League Tournament.

Denver trailed 12-7 the first five minutes of the game. A Touko Tainamo bucket and three-point plays by Jordan Johnson and Coban Porter gave DU the lead, 15-14, at 12:43. A Tristan Green dunk at the midway point of the half gave Denver a 24-19 edge. A KJ Hunt scoring spurt gave the Pioneers a 10 point lead, 29-19, with seven minutes remaining in the half. WIU whittled away Denver’s lead but trailed 36-31 at halftime.

Denver held on in the second half, despite giving up the lead. A Tainamo 3-point make, Taelyr Gatlin free throws and a Jordan Johnson layup kept Denver’s lead at five, 53-47, five minutes into the second half. A George Dixon layup at 9:57 pulled WIU within two, 59-57. WIU took the lead with seven minutes to go on a Luke Barisic 3-point shot but Denver came charging back. A Touko Tainamo layup with five minutes remaining put DU back in the lead by one point. A KJ Hunt bucket along with Taelyr Gatlin free throws and three-point dagger in the final minute held off the Leathernecks down the stretch as Denver’s defense held down the Leathernecks, 83-77.

Touko Tainamo nearly had another double-double with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Coban Porter had 18 points and 4 rebounds and KJ Hunt chipped in with 13 points and 3 rebounds in the win. Denver shot 51% from the floor to WIU’s 43%. Denver had a season-low 6 turnovers.

The Pioneers have a solid freshman core, if they stay together, they can do some big things in the future. Touko Tainamo, Coban Porter and Tevin Smith are big adds for the Pioneers and Jordan Johnson, a junior college transfer, make up a solid core of players going forward. Head Coach Jeff Wulbrun and his staff have done an excellent job with a relatively new squad and a tight recruiting window.

Next stop, the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota March 5th-8th.

12 thoughts on “Denver Defeats Western Illinois in Regular Season Finale”

  1. Go figure! It’s DU hoops with a nice road win that helps salvage the weekend for DU sports! Not Dunker likes!

  2. This season exceeded expectations with 11 wins and a respectable conference record. I think a completely reasonable goal for next year is a .500 conference record with 15 wins

  3. Dunker enjoyed the entire basketball season. I predicted 10 wins. (5bwest can attest to that) Watching the team grow game by game was really fun. Not Dunker is a little premature. Women lax did defeat OSU. If we win in hockey tonight, all is pretty smooth in Pioneer land. However, today’s lax performance was dismal.

  4. 11 wins with a whole new team and new coach? Well done.

    Two road wins to end the year? Nice.

    This team has battled all season, and now they are getting rewarded.

  5. If they can keep this core of youngsters together, with an explosive frosh already signed for next year, look out.

  6. Did W Illinois keep the #6 seed in the conference tournament based on overall record? Both DU and W Illinois finished 7-11 in conference, split the head to head matchup… was the next tiebreaker for tourney seeding overall record? Great improvement and season! Go Pioneers!!!

    1. The tiebreaker was the highest win against a conference member. DU defeated UMKC, a bigger win than any WIU has against fellow conference members.

  7. You are right. I traded notes last night with the Reaching the Summit
    folks and they assured me that Denver was a 6 seed because they split with WIU but had the biggest conference win. Obviously not right.

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