MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois men closed out a four-game home stretch with their third win in a row, topping Iowa Wesleyan 84-73 on Wednesday night inside Western Hall. The Leathernecks (5-4) now head across state to take on Eastern Illinois at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
It was a bit of a sluggish start for Western Illinois, which trailed by as many as nine in the first half, but after rallying to tie the score 38-38 at halftime, the second half belonged to the Leathernecks, who pushed the advantage to as many as 18.
“We’re just trying to get the guys to enjoy playing and get better and I thought we took a step backward in getting better,” Western Illinois coach Rob Jeter said. “But, we’ll take the win and move on.
“We had a good response, we clearly weren’t doing things correctly, we gave up 38 points on 34 possessions, that’s very poor, we can score the basketball but we have to show the toughness to defend, so we went to a 1-3-1 to shake some things up, that’s not our identity but as a coach you have to figure out a way to help your team.”
Western Illinois was able to get rolling at both ends, scoring 46 points on 17-28 (60.7 percent shooting) in the second half. The Leathernecks also defended better, holding the Tigers to 12-38 (31.6) from the floor.
Trenton Massner and Alec Rosner led the way on offense as Rosner scored 24 points and Massner added 21 points and eight assists.
“We have to rely on them but we also need their defense and taking care of the basket, we were a little sloppy and lethargic but those two anchor us on offense, now we have to have guys on the defensive side anchor us,” Jeter said. “We get that, then everything comes together. We were a little spotty tonight, I call them (Massner and Rosner) our version of the splash brothers, because offensively they’re pretty good.”
Jesiah West also had a strong night, just missing his first double-double as a Leathernecks. West finished with nine points and nine rebounds while adding three blocks.
“You talk about toughness with our team, it starts with him,” Jeter said of West. “His energy, he can do things for us no one can, he can erase points. He has a warrior mentality that when he shows it, we’re better. I wish we could have gotten that double-double for him.”