MACOMB, IL – Kansas City was able to set the tempo and play its way, handing Western Illinois a 76-64 defeat on Thursday night. The loss was the first for the Leathernecks inside Western Hall since a January 5 defeat to Omaha.
The Roos outrebounded the Leathernecks 37-20, shot 56.9 (29-51) from the field and 8-15 (53.3 percent) from three, taking a lead early in the second half and pulling away from Western Illinois (15-10 overall, 8-6 in Summit League play).
“They’re not a difficult to scout but they’re a difficult team to defend because it comes down to one-on-one guard play and rebounding and we failed miserably on those two,” WIU coach Rob Jeter said. “Their guard play was phenomenal, they shot 50-some percent from three, 50-some percent from the floor and they crashed and killed us on the boards.
“The last time we played them, we outrebounded them, there were some weird things that happened but that’s what happens when you don’t come in with that fire and intensity to match a team where that’s their strength. We didn’t have it tonight.”
The Leathernecks were out of rhythm early, but behind Vuk Stevanic (14 points) and Trenton Massner (15 points) managed to take a one-point halftime lead, 30-29. But a long scoring drought allowed the Roos to go up five points, then a Kansas City 10-0 run allowed KC to pull away.
Like it was most of the night, rebounding was the difference as Kansas City turned nine offensive boards into 13 second-chance points while also whittling down the clock. Shemarri Allen (26 points) and RayQuawndis Mitchell also (16) picked it up, hitting tough shots from inside and out.
“We got to bounce back, but it’s very disappointing to get killed on the rebounds like we did,” Jeter said. “When guards get going, it’s tough, for us when Trenton gets going it’s tough, when Alec makes three, he’s hard to handle. The problem was, it didn’t happen for us tonight, it happened for them.
“You can only sit back and take your medicine and be better.”
Quinlan Bennett tried to keep WIU afloat, scoring all 10 of his points after the break while KJ Lee added 10, but it was not enough for the Leathernecks.
Things do not get any easier for WIU as Summit League leader, Oral Roberts comes to town for a Saturday 2 p.m. game at Western Hall. The Golden Eagles are unbeaten in the conference after Thursday’s win at St. Thomas.
“We have to rebound, we have to defend, we’re playing one of the best guards in the league,” Jeter said of ORU’s Max Abmas. “He’s going to go one-on-one, they’re all going to go one-on-one, so this was a good game to prepare for that. They all can score, it’s going to be can we defend one-on-one and make them take tough shots our will we give them lay-ups and free throws. We were the best defending three-point team in the league and we failed miserably tonight, we can’t win when we do that.”
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