By CODY RIVERA
Special to The Herald-Whig
MACOMB, Ill. -- The Western Illinois University Leathernecks found the redemption they desperately wanted in the wake of their first Summit League loss by knocking off North Dakota State 50-42 Saturday night in men's basketball action at Western Hall.
"This is a man's game," WIU coach Jim Molinari said. "So I said, ‘Step up.' Men don't do what they want to do. They do what they have to do."
Senior point guard Ceola Clark III had to regain his touch.
After going 1 for 13 from the field in Thursday's loss to South Dakota State, Clark missed his only shot attempt in the first half against the Bison.
However, in the second half, he made two critical 3-pointers, the second of which gave WIU a 27-24 lead with 12 minutes, 18 seconds remaining. He finished 4 of 7 from the field and 2 of 3 from 3-point range.
"My teammates got me open, and I knocked down a few shots," Clark said. "Our defense contributed to our offense.
"Don (McAvoy) was a great lift off of the bench. He gave us a lot of energy. Terell (Parks) made 3 of 4 (free throws) when we really needed them. Jack (Houpt) helped as well. A lot of guys made big shots down the stretch."
They had to after another slow start.
WIU (15-4, 7-1 Summit) converted only 4 of 20 field goals and 4 of 10 free throws in the first half and went to the locker room trailing 20-13 at halftime.
"Their defense was really strong," Molinari said. "These guys can really sink it on Terell. They guard Ceola and Jack really hard. I think that was really the reason for that."
In the second half, the Leathernecks came to life.
"We played harder on offense in the second half," sophomore guard Remy Roberts-Burnett said. "In the first half, we were just going through the motions. Second half, we did all the little things right on offense. We were just more aggressive and had better shot attempts."
It helped playing in front of a crowd of 3,973.
"The environments on Thursday and Saturday were just terrific," Molinari said. "And that's what you have to do to have a good program in college basketball. It's truly the reason we won tonight. Our students wouldn't let us quit, and we played to our ability. The most valuable asset we have is time.
"It's not about money. It's about time. They gave us their time tonight."
The Leathernecks now go on a three-game road trip to Fort Wayne, Oakland, and IUPUI with hopes of reclaiming the top spot in the Summit League.
"Obviously we have to keep winning," Parks said. "We have to keep playing our style of basketball."