Six players score in double figures as Western Illinois picks up Ohio Valley Conference victory

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MACOMB – On this week’s two-game stretch through Missouri, the Western Illinois University men’s basketball showed everyone it is for real.

After a victory over Lindenwood on Thursday night, the Leathernecks rolled past Southeast Missouri 76-55 on Saturday afternoon. The win was the largest conference victory for the Leathernecks (15-8 overall, 8-2 in Ohio Valley Conference) since a 29-point rout of St. Thomas on January 29, 2022.

“It doesn’t feel normal,” Western Illinois coach Chad Boudreau said after the game. “Normally, everyone one of these is close, so I appreciate that.”

It was a balanced effort for the Leathernecks, with six players scoring in double figures. It was the most players in double figures since seven players scored in double digits against Central Christian College of the Bible on November 23, 2019.

“Our last two games, we’re really playing together well as a group,” Boudreau said.

Western Illinois led for nearly 37 of the game’s 40 minutes and held an advantage as great as 26, controlling the Redhawks.

Quinlan Bennett and JJ Kalakon led the way, each scoring 15 points. Drew Cisse had his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Ryan Myers, Jesiah West and James Dent Jr. also were in double digits, scoring 10 each. 

Western Illinois shot 53 percent (29 of 55) from the field while holding SEMO to 36 percent (20 of 55). The Leathernecks even were lights-out from the free-throw line, hitting 13 of 15 (87 percent). The Leathernecks outscored the Redhawks 40-18 in the paint and won the rebound margin 38-20.

The win capped a 3-1 road trip for Western Illinois, which improved to 6-1 on the road in the OVC this season. The Leathernecks also won their eighth road game of the season, the most since the 1996-97 team also won eight. The most true road wins in program history is 11, belonging to the 1957-58 squad.

Bennett and Kalakon helped build a nine-point lead at the break as each scored 11 points in the opening 20 minutes. The attack was more balanced in the second half, as Cissee and Myers scored eight of their 10 points, and Dent Jr. had seven of his 10 after intermission.

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