Western Illinois Men Extend Winning Streak to Eight


MARTIN, TN – When you’re hot, you’re hot and now, it is hard to find a squad that may be hotter than the Western Illinois men’s basketball team.

The Leathernecks extended their winning streak to eight games in a row and improved to 4-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference and 11-6 overall, winning on the road at UT Martin, 73-64 on Thursday night.

The Leathernecks played to their identity, outrebounding the Skyhawks 48-31 and held UT Martin 20 points below their season average.

Overall, UT Martin shot 38 percent from the floor, struggling against a bigger, more physical Leatherneck squad.

On the offensive end, it was not always pretty, but whenever the Skyhawks threatened Western Illinois’ lead, the Leathernecks responded.

JJ Kalakon had another big offensive night, scoring a career-high 17 points while Ryan Myers added 16, Quinlan Bennett totaled 11 and James Dent Jr. added 15 off the bench.

Drew Cisse added nine points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Kalakon added eight rebounds and Bennett pulled down seven.

Second-chance points proved a big stat for Western Illinois as the Leathernecks outscored the Skyhawks 19-4 off misses.

UT Martin open the game strong, leading 10-3, but a 20-3 run by Western Illinois gave the Leathernecks the lead for good.

The eight-game win streak and 4-0 league start is the best for the program since the 2012-13 season when Western Illinois won 11 straight and started 4-0 in league play. Western Illinois has not started a conference season 4-0 since a 6-0 start in 2012-13.

The Leathernecks led 35-30 at the half, but UT Martin immediately cut the deficit to two, 37-35. But Western Illinois immediately responded, going on an 11-2 run.

The Skyhawks later cut the deficit to three, 58-55, but Western Illinois responded with a 9-3 run, closing the door for good.

Western Illinois shot 39 percent (24-61) from the floor while holding Martin to 38 percent (21-55). The Leathernecks went 6-15 (40 percent) from three. The Skyhawks were 5-18 (28 percent) beyond the arc.

The Leathernecks remain on the road, heading back to the Land of Lincoln for a 3:30 p.m. Saturday matchup with Eastern Illinois. The Panthers are coming off a loss to Morehead State.

Copy Provided By Western Illinois Athletic Communications

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