Four players reached double figures to propel the UMKC men’s basketball team to a 61-57 victory over Western Illinois on Thursday night at Municipal Auditorium. Junior Spencer Johnson finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds to tally his second double-double of the season.
Junior Jay Couisnard and sophomore LaTreze Mushatt paced the team in scoring with 14 points apiece. Junior Bakari Lewis and Johnson finished with 10 points apiece, and Lewis dished out a game-high five assists.
After playing to a nine all tie through the first five minutes, Couisnard and Lewis drained back-to-back three-pointers to put the ‘Roos up six at 15-9. Western responded with a 13-5 run that was capped off by a Ceola Clark long ball to give WIU the 22-20 advantage with 7:44 left in the half.
Freshman Kirk Korver put UMKC back on top with a long ball on the following possession to open a 13-1 run that saw UMKC build a 33-23 lead. The ‘Roos proceeded to take a seven point lead into the locker room, as they finished the half with a .500 field goal percentage.
The Leathernecks started quickly in the second half, as they scored the first six points to pull to within one (33-32). Mushatt then connected on a long ball at the 16:31 mark to put UMKC back up four at 36-32.
Western Illinois wouldn’t go away as it pulled to within a point on a lay-up by Emeka Okafur, Jr., at the 10-minute mark, but UMKC once again had an answer, as Johnson drained a three to put the ‘Roos up 46-42 with 9:41 to play. Johnson’s long ball opened a 9-2 UMKC run that saw the squad build their advantage to eight at 52-44 with 5:48 remaining.
The Leathernecks had one final push left in its tank, as Clark had an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the margin to six (52-46). Couisnard answered with a jumper to extend the margin back to seven, but guard Matt Lander then made four straight free throws to make the score 54-51 with 3:58 to play.
WIU then managed to climb to within a single point at 57-56 on a Clark three-pointer with 2:22 to play, but Mushatt made a lay-up on the ensuing possession to make the score 59-56 with 1:59 left on the clock.
After a pair of empty possessions by both teams, Clark made a free throw with 39 seconds left to make the score 59-57. WIU then decided not to foul despite there being just 39 seconds left on the clock. UMKC ran down the shot clock before Lewis drained a long jumper to wrap up his squad’s four-point win.
UMKC finished the game with a .449 (22-49) field goal percentage and a .444 (8-18) mark from long range. WIU, meanwhile, had a .373 (19-51) mark from the floor, despite shooting .500 (8-16) from three-point land. UMKC also won the battle on the boards for the second straight game, 32-28, and had 13 assists.
A pair of Leatherneck players finished the game in double-digits with Clark leading the way with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting. James Granstra, meanwhile, netted 12 points, which included a pair of thunderous dunks.
UMKC (9-9, 3-4) will return to action on Saturday night against IUPUI beginning at 7:05 p.m. The game will be the second of a ‘Roo-Jaguar doubleheader, as the women’s squad will host IUPUI in the afternoon at 4 p.m.