It was a dreary Saturday afternoon in the cornfields as the Denver Men’s Basketball team turned the ball over a season-high 22 times, helping Western Illinois to a chippy 91-74 rout over the Pioneers in Macomb, Illinois.
The loss pushed Denver to losses in seven of its last eight games against D-I foes, with the Pios falling to 10-8 on the season and 1-4 in Summit League play.
“We need to be lot better,” said an exasperated DU coach Jeff Wulbrun after the game on radio. “We’re not giving the effort level we need to be successful…We’re giving up too many points on defense — we’re averaging 80 points [given up to opponents] a game in league play. That’s not acceptable and that really comes down to effort…We’re not playing up to our capabilities, and we’re playing with a lack of discipline. We [the coaching staff] have never had this happen at any of the places we’ve been [before Denver], and we’re going to find five guys who can play the right way. We’re going to impact some changes by the time we get back to Denver.”
DU again started slow and sloppy, racking-up 12 first-half turnovers, and Western led 37-25 at the half. While the Pioneers never led the game after the first minute of the contest, the Pioneers did make a second-half run behind the hot shooting of of Tommy Bruner, and were able cut the Western lead to just five points at 62-57 with 7:32 left in the second half. However, the Leathernecks responded with a 10-0 run of their own after that that took only a couple of minutes, and the WIU rout was on as the Leathernecks coasted on to the 17-point win.
Western’s Trent Massner had a game-high 29 points, edging-out teammate Alec Rosner’s 28-point performance to lead the Leathernecks. Massner also showed a lack of sportsmanship when he needlessly dunked on the Pioneers with a few seconds remaining in the rout (with Western already up by 15 points) something Denver will probably remember for the next time these teams meet later this February in Denver.
For Denver, Tommy Bruner and Tuoko Tainamo each had 19 points, and Tyree Corbett chipped-in with 16 points for the Pioneers to lead the offense. The Pioneers shot well from three point range, knocking down five of 11 long range attempts and lost the game with a 37-31 rebounding advantage, collecting 11 offensive boards in the game.
DU’s Tevin Smith (from Danville, Ill.) had his best game since his injury with 10 points. He and fellow Illinoian Justin Mullins (Oak Park, Ill. — 6 points) both enjoyed the Illinois-based fan support from family and friends making the drive to Macomb, making some noise for the Pioneers on an otherwise pretty terrible afternoon at Western Hall.
DU returns home to face North Dakota State on Jan 12 at 7pm at Hamilton Gymnasium.