WIU Looks to Secure a Spot in the Summit League Championship Game
The upset is complete, and the emotion has returned to a, seemingly, normal level. Now it’s time to get back to business and lock up a spot in the Summit League Championship. For Western Illinois, only North Dakota State stands in the way of that.
This is not to underestimate a Bison team that finished the season with a 15-15 overall record and an 8-7 Summit record. NDSU will be a tough out, make no mistake about it. On the back of tough guard play, they handled #7 seeded Oral Roberts 86-63 in their Summit League Tournament opener. Tyson Ward, the team’s leading scorer through the regular season, led the way with 25 points on 7-10 shooting, and incredibly did it all without hitting a single 3-point shot. Jared Samuelson had an efficient 3-5 shooting night, including hitting 3 3-point shots and going a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line to rack up 15 points as well for the Bison. A third guard, Cameron Hunter chipped in 13 to make up the third in a trio of double-digit scoring guards, a fearsome concept for WIU to be sure.
One thing should be clear, if Brandon Gilbeck has the impact on this one that he had on the upset over SDSU, the Leathernecks should have the advantage on the inside. His dominating presence at 7’ should be intimidating enough, and when combined by strong, motivated play, he can be un-guard-able at times. Another 30-plus combined points from sharp-shooting guards Kobe Webster and Ben Pyle will be a recipe for success as well, as their knockdown strokes have carried the Leathernecks at times this season. In order to lock up what would be another upset, WIU will need another consistent, buzzer to buzzer performance. One I believe, as well as all of Leatherneck Nation believes, this team is fully capable of.
This game will be one semi-final of the Summit League Tournament, which is ongoing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 6 PM local time, and can be heard live on 102.7 WJEQ with the voice of the Leathernecks on the call, Danny Frey. The game will also be televised on ESPN’s subscription service, ESPN+.