WIU Erases 12-point Deficit to Top Omaha

Photo By George Hartman

OMAHA, NE – Looking at possibly getting swept on the two-game road trip and down by as many as 12 in the second half, the Western Illinois men found a way to rally back and win, coming from behind to top Omaha 75-72 on Saturday afternoon.

The Leathernecks (15-9, 8-5 in the Summit League) trailed 52-40 with 12 minutes, 32 seconds to go in the game, but mounted a furious rally, holding on after a potential overtime-forcing three by the Mavs was off the mark.

The eight Summit League wins is the most for the program since the 2012-13 season.

Trenton Massner led the way for the Leathernecks, scoring a game-high 28 points. But it was a big effort from Vuk Stevanic (18 points) and KJ Lee (10 points) that jump-started the comeback.

Stevanic scored the bulk of his points in the second half and Lee delivered when needed, starting in place of an injured Quinlan Bennett.

Alec Rosner was also in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Rosner hit one of the night’s biggest shots as his three-pointer gave WIU a three-point lead with under two minutes to go.

The Leathernecks trailed 41-29 at half, but exploded for 46 points in the second half, going 15-32 from the floor, but more importantly, 11-14 from the line. WIU attempted two free throws in the first half.

After Omaha was hot out of the gate, Western Illinois began to get stops, holding the Mavericks to 11-27 shooting and 1-8 from three after intermission.

Jesiah West finished with eight points and nine rebounds while Massner also grabbed nine rebounds, tying for the team lead. Massner added four assists in the win.

West was big down the stretch, grabbing three key boards in the final two minutes, including one that led to a put-back bucket that tied the contest.

The Leathernecks scored 19 points off 11 Omaha turnovers and 15 points off 12 offensive rebounds.

The victory keeps the Leathernecks in third place in the Summit. If Kansas City upsets league-leading Oral Roberts Saturday night, Western Illinois and the Roos would be tied for third. Kansas City visits Western Hall on Thursday with Oral Roberts coming to town for the regular season home finale on Saturday.

Copy Provided By Western Athletic Communications

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