MACOMB, IL – Following a grindy 68-61 win over Southeast Missouri in Western Hall last night, the Western Illinois Men’s basketball team have extended their current win streak to six.
The Leathernecks led the game for over three quarters of play and, at times, by as much as 10, but SEMO hung around. SEMO managed to take a second-half lead, but Western Illinois worked both ends of the floor and clawed back the lead to get into the game.
The victory was the first Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) game played in Macomb, as well as the seventh in eight games for the Leathernecks, who improved to 9-6 overall and 2-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
The keys to victory for the Leatherneck were rebounding, defense, and free throws as the Leathernecks:
- Out-rebounded the Redhawks 50-33
- Went 19-27 from the line vs SEMO’s 4-11
- Held an opponent to less than 72 points for the ninth-straight game
“We made free throws when it mattered, we want to make more than the other team takes, we did a good job down the stretch making those,” WIU coach Chad Boudreau. “Early on in the game, we had a decent rhythm, we just weren’t finishing. We had a set play, layup miss, putback miss and I told the guys, be selfish, score those points.
“We had an opportunity to jump on them early, they fought back, it turned into a grindy game, but that’s conference play, it’s going to be grindy and tough, which is good because there are some things from this game we can learn.”
The Leathernecks also made their presence felt on offense, finishing the night with 23 offensive boards and 19 second-chance points.
“The offensive rebounds were great, everybody’s going, guys are competitive about who’s getting the most rebounds, who’s getting the most offensive rebounds,” Boudreau said. “Drew (Cisse, six points, 14 rebounds, six blocks, four assists) is winning that competition, guys are getting mad at him because they feel he’s taking them all, but that’s what it’s about, we’re crashing the glass, James Dent (nine points) had seven rebounds, we’re athletic, we’re quick to the glass. Part of that is missing point-blank shots, so I’d like to see more made shots and less offensive rebounds, but there were 60 possessions, we had 68 points, that’s a good thing, that’s a positive, it’s a conference win and we’re 2-0.”
The offensive charge for the Leathernecks was led by guards JJ Kalakon, who scored a career-high 16 points while also grabbing eight rebounds, and Ryan Myers, who continued his steady play with 16 points as well. Jesiah West added seven points and eight rebounds while Quinlan Bennett finished with seven points.
The Leathernecks are off on Friday, but will be hitting the road to St. Charles for a Saturday evening game against Lindenwood. Game tips off at 7:30.