MACOMB, Ill. - Freshman guard Remy Roberts-Burnett buried his one and only three-pointer of the game - and season - with less than one second remaining Saturday night (Jan. 28), lifting the Western Illinois Leathernecks to their sixth league victory of the season, 57-55, over IUPUI in front of 1,897 fans at Western Hall.
Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari called a timeout with 4.7 seconds left in regulation down 55-54 to setup the game-winning play. Roberts-Burnett in-bounded the ball to senior guard Ceola Clark III who was instantly swarmed by two Jaguar defenders and passed the ball back to the freshman guard, who buried the game-winner with 0.5 seconds left. A desperation three-quarters court shot by IUPUI at the buzzer sailed above the backboard.
"It's important to win at home and I want to thank the crowd," said coach Molinari. "I really think that's a big part of college ball, you need a good home court advantage and tonight we had that. They wouldn't let us quit."
Western improves to 12-8 overall and 6-5 in Summit League action with the win, while IUPUI falls to 8-15 and 2-9 in league play. The Leatherneck win over IUPUI marked the ninth-ever, and second in the past 27 games.
Clark paced Western with 20 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, while three other Leathernecks finished in double figures: junior forward Terell Parks (14), Roberts-Burnett (11), and freshman forward Obi Emegano (10).
"To win these games your best players need to play great, and tonight I thought Ceola (Clark) played extremely well, and I thought Terell (Parks) battled really hard," continued coach Molinari. "So those two guys I thought really stepped it up."
When the clock started in Saturday night's contest, Western led 2-0 thanks for a pair of made technical foul free throws by Clark. IUPUI was charged with a technical during warm ups for dunking.
Electrifying dunks for each team got things started in the first three minutes of play with the Jaguars Alex Young finishing with a one-handed slam for IUPUI's second basket of the game, then Clark finding Parks with a lob pass, allowing Parks to finish the play with a thunderous two-handed slam dunk.
Clark connected on his first three of the game at the 12:56 mark, followed by Emegano hitting his second of the season at the 11:56, giving Western its largest lead to that point, 16-10.
After the remainder of the half being a back-and-forth battle with Western never losing the lead, Clark hit another three and finished a layup strong to give Western a seven-point advantage with 1:22 left until break.
The Jaguars would connect on a triple as the time expired in the first and the Leathernecks made their way to the locker room with a 28-24 lead.
The Jaguars eventually took over the lead early in the second, but Western quickly regained the lead and held until the midway point of the second when the two teams were knotted up at 40.
Clark continued to score points, grab boards and dish out assists throughout the second, helping guide the Leathernecks to a 51-49 lead heading into the final four minutes.
IUPUI captured the lead late with just under three minutes to play, 52-51, and after Young answered Clark's triple, that put IUPUI ahead 55-54 prior to Roberts-Burnett's last-second heroics.
Western finished the game having shot 51.2% from the floor, while IUPUI shot 50%. The Leathernecks were outrebounded by the Jaguars, 26-20, but committed only 10 turnovers to IUPUI's 11.
The Leathernecks continue their home stand next week when they play host to the IPFW Mastodons Thursday (Feb. 2), and the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Saturday (Feb. 4).