EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Ceola Clark III finished with a game-high 19 points, and Don McAvoy III grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds as the Western Illinois men’s basketball team (2-1) bounced back with a 67-58 victory over Buffalo (1-2) Friday evening (Nov. 16) in the Leathernecks' opening game of the 2012 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Besides his 19 points, Clark also five boards, had four assists, and a block. McAvoy nearly finished with his first-career double-double, recording nine points to go with his 11 rebounds, and had one assist, one steal, and one block.
Terell Parks and Adam Link also tallied double-digits in the win, finishing with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Parks also pulled down eight rebounds, had three blocks, dished out three assists, and had two steals. Link had three assists and a pair of rebounds as well.
Parks’ three blocks moved him into fifth-place all-time at Western.
As a team, the Leathernecks greatly improved in the turnover battle compared to their game at SIU-E (18 turnovers), finishing with eight.
Buffalo shot just 38.9% from the field compared to Western’s 46.3%. Both teams had relatively similar numbers from beyond the arch (WIU:7-10/UB:6/13) and at the free throw line (WIU:10-15/UB:10-16).
Western held its largest lead of the game with :33 remaining in regulation after Clark connected on the backend of a pair of free throws.
Buffalo, a former member of the Mid-Continent Conference and current member of the Mid-American Conference, won the tip and scored the first four points of the game to take an early 4-0 lead. The Leathernecks, however, were able to battle back and eventually take their first lead of the game at the 14:52 mark of the first after McAvoy drilled a three from the top of the key, giving Western an 11-10 advantage.
The Leathernecks would hold onto their lead until the Bull’s Javon McCrea hit a jumper with 9:38 left in the half to make it 16-15 in favor of Buffalo.
Hawthorne answered a Buffalo triple with one of his own with 7:40 left to knot things up at 20, and then followed up his three with a jumper to give the Leathernecks the lead back with 6:50 remaining in the first half.
A two from Link, followed by a triple from Clark, his second of the game, gave Western its biggest lead of the first, 30-25, with four minutes to play.
UB would finished the half on a small 6-2 run, and the Leathernecks would take a 32-31 lead in the break.
Western had just two turnovers in the first to Buffalo’s four. Clark led Western with six points and four rebounds, while Link, McAvoy, Houpt and Hawthorne had five points each. Buffalo’s Will Regan finished the half with a half-best 11 points.
The Leathernecks kicked-off the second half with the ball, but it was Buffalo’s Corey Raley-Ross would hit a three to open the period. Clark would answer with his third triple of the game, but the Bulls connected on another three to make it 37-35 Buffalo.
McAvoy used his sixth and seventh points to tie it back up, and Western would eventually hold a 41-38 lead at the first media timeout of the second half, capped off by a slam dunk from Parks.
After a Bulls basket, Hawthorne would hit on his second three of the game, followed by a tough basket under the hoop from Link that would increase Western’s lead to six points, 46-40, with 11 minutes left in regulation.
Western would make it a 10-point game, but Oldham ended a four-minute scoring drought for Buffalo with a three, and sparked a 5-0 UB run, cutting the Bulls deficit to five, 50-45 with 7:42 left in the game.
A layup from Link would cap-off an 8-4 run that would give the Leathernecks their largest lead of the game up to that point, 11 points, 58-47, with roughly five minutes left in the contest.
The Leathernecks would close out the game with a 67-58 win.
Next up for Western in the 2012 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, hosts Evansville. The two teams will square-off tomorrow night at 7:35 p.m.