By CODY RIVERA
Special to The Herald-Whig
MACOMB, Ill. -- The rematch ended almost as bitterly as the first go-around.
The good news for the Western Illinois University men's basketball team is the chance for redemption remains.
In front of 4,163 fans Thursday night at Western Hall -- the biggest crowd on the WIU campus since the Leathernecks hosted Indiana in 2005 -- WIU struggled from the free-throw line and failed to gain revenge for last year's overtime loss to South Dakota State in Summit League championship, losing 59-53 to the Jackrabbits.
The Leathernecks (14-4, 6-1) were 4 of 13 from the line and 22 of 52 from the field.
"It was a war," said WIU coach Jim Molinari, whose team had been 8-0 at home this season. "We kept getting off too many tough shots."
The loss ends the Leathernecks' 11-game winning streak and is their first Summit League setback this season. Fortunately, there isn't much time to dwell on it.
North Dakota State visits Western Hall on Saturday.
"We can't let one loss turn into two," WIU point guard Ceola Clark said. "That's a good thing about having another game shortly after this one. We can just put this behind us immediately and move on to the next."
Clark will need to.
In a matchup of two of the top point guards in the Summit League, SDSU's Nate Wolters got the better of Clark, surpassing the 2,000-point mark for his career as he scored 22 points.
"(Wolters) is one of the best point guards in the country," WIU senior forward Jack Houpt said. "And unfortunately, he showed why he is tonight."
Wolters went 8 of 13 from the field, 2 of 4 from 3-point range and 4 of 5 from the line.
It was a stark contrast to Clark's struggles. The sixth-year senior went 1 of 13 from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range, finishing with four points. Worse yet, in the final minute of the first half, Clark landed awkwardly, limped off the court and headed to the locker room.
"I landed wrong on my knee," Clark said. "After the halftime break, I was fine though."
He just couldn't create the offense the Leathernecks needed.
Houpt led the Leathernecks with 16 points, sinking 4 of 9 3-pointers.
"Their defense was staying inside, trying to stop our drivers from getting to the basket," Houpt said. "So I was just
letting up from behind the three, always being ready to shoot. Fortunately I was able to knock down a few shots tonight."
Terrell Parks grabbed 10 boards for Leathernecks including six offensive boards.
"I've always been a rebounder," Parks said. "I just always try to get the ball whenever somebody is shooting."