KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Behind Ceola Clark III’s career-high tying night in points and Terell Parks’ 11th career double-double, Western Illinois left Kansas City Saturday evening (Dec. 1) with their second straight win, 68-63.
The Leathernecks (5-3, 2-0) jumped out to an early 14-3 advantage and never surrendered their lead throughout the game, but the Kangaroos (3-4, 1-1) were able to climb back within one point late before Western held off the ‘Roos for the win.
Clark led all scorers with 27, tying his career-high, and had four assists, no turnovers, two rebounds, and a steal. The only other time Clark recorded 27 points in a game was his freshman season (2008-09) at home versus Fort Wayne.
Parks finished the evening with his second double-double of the season, and 11th of his career, tallying 15 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. He also finished with a career-best five blocks on the night, had two assists, and two steals.
Both Clark (6-for-6) and Parks (5-for-5) went perfect from the free throw line.
Jack Houpt was the only other Leatherneck to finish with more than 10 points, recording 11 on 4-of-7 shooting. He also attempted and made his first free throw of the season.
Remy Roberts-Burnett returned to action after suffering an injury in the preseason. He played eight minutes, scored two points, dished out an assist, and grabbed a rebound.
Western shot better than 40% for the seventh time this season (45.8%) compared to UMKC’s 40%.
Both teams scored a lot of points in the paint, with Western edging the Roo’s, 24-20. All but three of Western points scored came from its starters, while 37 of UMKC’s 63 points were scored off of the bench.
UMKC was led by Thomas Staton who had 15 points, three assists, a steal and a rebound.
The Leathernecks opened the game with a 14-3 run thanks in large part to Clark, who had 11 points during the stretch.
The ‘Roos would answer, putting together a big run of their own (11-2). The run would cut the Leathernecks’ lead to two points, 16-14, with 10 minutes to play in the half.
A fourth triple from Clark would stop UMKC’s run at the 9:13 mark.
After five minutes of scoreless basketball, Clark added two more points to his total with a layup, followed by UMKC draining a three on its next possession, making it 21-17 with 3:33 left before the break.
With just over two minutes to play in the period, Houpt connected on two treys on back-to-back possession to increase Western’s lead to 10 points, 27-17.
The two teams would go back-and-forth for the rest of the first, and the Leathernecks would lead, 34-22, at halftime.
Clark’s 18 first half points is the most he has ever scored in the first half of a game, and the most he has scored in a half of basketball since the 2008-09 season when he tallied 22 in the second half of Western’s home game versus IPFW on February 2nd.
Kansas City kicked-off the second half scoring 10 of the first 15 points recorded, and cutting its deficit to seven points, 39-32, with 14 minutes to play in regulation.
Western’s seven-point advantage would last until the midway point of the second, as both Western and UMKC would exchange buckets, making it 46-39.
Houpt would get three points for Western, the hard way, and give the Leathernecks their 10-point lead back.
UMKC would put together a 7-0 run and cut Western’s lead to three, 49-46, with eight minutes remaining in regulation. The three-point deficit was the smallest for the ‘Roos since Western led 5-2 at the beginning of the game.
The Leathernecks and ‘Roos would go back-and-forth until UMKC’s Alton Tanner made it a one-point game with a contested layup at the 3:06 mark of the second. WIU’s Adam Link would answer for the Leathernecks on the other end to make it a three-point game once again.
And, much like Thursday’s game at South Dakota, it would come down to the wire with the Leathernecks leaving Kansas City victorious.
Western concludes its eight-game road swing at Eastern Illinois Wednesday night (Dec. 5). The two teams are scheduled to begin action at 7 p.m.