FARGO, N.D. - The Fighting Leathernecks used a strong defensive effort to hold onto first-place in The Summit League standings with a 49-36 victory over the North Dakota State Bison Thursday evening (Feb. 14) in Fargo.
Western improves to 19-5 overall, becoming the fourth team in the program's NCAA Division I history to earn 19 wins, and remains on top of the conference standings with an 11-2 league mark.
NDSU falls to 19-7 overall, and drops to 10-4 in conference play.
North Dakota State's 36 points was the lowest scoring output for the Bison in Bison Sports Arena history.
With the win, Western gets the season sweep over the Bison, and has now earned six straight victories over NDSU.
Leathernecks senior Ceola Clark III set a new program record Thursday night by competing in his 118th career game as a Leatherneck. Clark finished the game with 10 points, five assists and three rebounds.
Head coach Jim Molinari also discussed the importance of the team's defense.
"I think we played great team defense, but the two match ups that it starts with are Ceola Clark guarding Laurence Alexander. Ceola did a great job guarding him both games this season, keeping him in front of him and forcing him to shoot a poor percentage. Defense always starts with your guard. The toughness of your defense is determined by how you guard the post. Terell (Parks) played tremendous post defense tonight on Marshall Bjorklund, and dominated the boards as well, pulling down 15."
Terell Parks picked up his 11th double-double of the season after recording 13 points to go along with his 15 rebounds. He also had two steals and a block.
Adam Link was the only other Leatherneck to finish the game with more than 10 points, recording 14, all of which that came in the second half, seven rebounds, and an assist. He also knocked down his first career three-pointer.
North Dakota State had two players score double figures in TrayVonn Wright and Lawrence Alexander, who each tallied 10 points.
Western shot 44.7% from the field compared to NDSU shooting 28.3%. The Leathernecks also shot better from three connecting on 38.5% (5-of-13) to the Bison's 7.7% (1-of-13).
After the first four minutes of the game had been played and the game's first media timeout was called, the game was tied 2-2 with the Leathernecks shooting 1-of-4 (25%) from the field, and NDSU shooting 1-of-6 (16.7%).
The two teams found themselves knotted up at 4-4 with 15:34 to play in the period, before the Leathernecks rattled off a 9-2 run until the 10:30 mark of first, giving Western its largest lead of the half, 13-6.
During the final 10 minutes of the first half the Bison outscored the Leathernecks, 16-4, and took a five-point advantage into the locker room at the half, 22-17.
Western opened the second half on a 13-1 run until the 10:51 mark of the second, giving the Leathernecks a 30-23 lead.
NDSU was able to claw back within three points, but it was all Western the rest of the way, as the Leathernecks held onto the conference victory.
Western plays at South Dakota State on Saturday (Feb. 16) with tip-off slated for 4:05 p.m.