MACOMB, Ill. - The Western Illinois men's basketball team accomplished something the program hasn't seen in its 32-year NCAA Division I history, starting a season with a 10-3 overall record.
The Leathernecks (10-3, 4-0) picked up their seventh straight victory Saturday evening (Dec. 29) inside Western Hall with a 62-50 conference win over the Fort Wayne Mastodons (6-9, 0-2). The last time Western had won seven consecutive games was the 1998-99 season.
Jack Houpt and Adam Link led Western with 16 points apiece, while Ceola Clark III scored 14. Terell Parks pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds in the win and two blocks to go along with his seven points.
Clark also had a team-high six assists and one steal.
The Leathernecks shot 48.7% from the floor, and held the Mastodons to 31.6% shooting.
Fort Wayne won the turnover battle, committing just five to Western's 15. It also had 11 steals to Western's two.
IPFW hit only 4-of-21 from three, and the Mastodons also struggled from the free throw line, knocking down only 10-of-23 from the charity stripe.
IPFW took the lead, 8-6, early in the first half, but the Leathernecks went on a 12-2 run to close out the opening 10 minutes of the contest with a 18-10 lead.
With eight minutes left in the first, Clark had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting, the Leathernecks were shooting just under 70%, and IPFW had connected on only three of its 13 shots (23.1%).
The Leathernecks were up by as many as 14 points in the first, and went into the locker room at halftime with a 12-point advantage, 31-19.
The second half started much like the first half finished, with the Leathernecks building their lead to as large as 17 points. IPFW, however, battled back and made it a six-point game with just just over 10 minutes to play in regulation.
Western wouldn't allow the Mastodons to get any closer, and after holding off a small Fort Wayne run, the Leathernecks would roll to victory.
The Leathernecks bring in 2013 next Wednesday, January 2, at home versus Savannah State at 7 p.m.