MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois struggled in the first-half of Saturday night's Summit League match-up, but a powerful surge early in the second helped the Leathernecks grind their way past the North Dakota State Bison, 50-42, in front of 3,973 fans inside Western Hall.
The victory moves Western Illinois (15-4 overall) back into a tie for first place in the Summit league with NDSU (16-4 overall), as both team's sit 7-1 in lead action.
North Dakota State scored the first two points of the game, and the although Western would tie the game three times during the first eight minutes of play, the Bison wouldn't give up their lead, and eventually took a 20-13 lead into the break.
The second half was a different story. After NDSU quickly built its lead up to nine points with 16:23 left in regulation, but the Leathernecks rattled off a 12-0 run capped off by a Ceola Clark III triple that gave Western its first lead of the game, 27-24, with 12:18 to play.
Western wouldn't give up its lead for the rest of the way, building it up to as many as 10 points on its way to a eight-point, 50-42, league win.
not only fired a game-high 13 points, all of which were scored in the second half, but he also set a new Western Illinois program record for career three-pointers after cashing in two, boosting his career total to 218. The senior point guard also had two steals, two rebounds, and an assist without committing a turnover.
Also finishing with double figures in the contest was Remy Roberts-Burnett who tallied 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Roberts-Burnett also recorded two assists, two rebounds and a block.
For only the second time this season every Leatherneck that played scored at least one point in the game (also at Omaha - 1/12). Rounding out the scoring for Western: Don McAvoy III (7), Terell Parks (6), Jack Houpt (5), Adam Link (4), Jordan Foster (3), and Michael Ochereobia (1).
The Bison had only one player score more than 10 points on the evening in Mike Felt (10), while two of their leading scorers heading into the game, Marshall Bjorkland and Lawrence Alexander, were held to nine and eight, respectively.
Western greatly improved its shooting percentage from the first half to the second, as the Leathernecks connected on only 20% of their shots in the first before knocking down 64.3% in the second.
Western finished the game with a 38.2 shooting percentage, while NDSU shot just 34.2% from the field.
For the second straight game the Leathernecks committed only six turnovers, while forcing 11 Bison turnovers.
Summit League play resumes for the Leathernecks on the road next week, playing at Fort Wayne Thursday (Jan. 24) and Oakland Saturday (Jan. 26).