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Western Illinois forward Will Carius had an absurdly efficient night

The Leatherneck forward made the most of it against North Dakota.

NCAA Basketball: Western Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Think you had a productive Friday night?

You may have, but you still probably couldn’t touch Will Carius. The Western Illinois forward had a once-a-season offensive outburst against North Dakota, scoring 34 points on just eight-for-12 shooting. While it didn’t lead to a win — the Leathernecks fell by two points — it’s a truly rare breed of efficiency.

So rare, it hadn’t happened in more than a calendar year.

It’s the first time a player has scored at least 34 points on 12 or fewer field goal attempts since Seattle’s Myles Carter scored 37 points (11-12 FG) against Division III Pacific University (Ore.) in November 2019. It happened just once during the 2018-19 season (Rice’s Robert Martin), and twice during 2017-18 — one of which was North Dakota State’s Cameron Hunter scoring a cool 35 points (9-12 FG) against South Dakota.

WIU coach Rob Jeter talked about Carius’s orderly effort in a release.

“We’re trying to simplify the game for [Will],” said Jeter. “Nothing too fancy, and it’s good to see him stick with it. He played well. The same for Colton. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for him, but he’s making shots and playing well.”

Not surprisingly, the versatile graduate transfer made good use of both the free throw line and three-point arc. He went 12-for-14 from the stripe, marking the first time a Leatherneck player had hit 12 or more free throws since 2016, and just the seventh time overall since 2010. Similarly, his six made three’s were the first time a Leatherneck had hit that many since C.J. Duff did so over two years ago in a 30-point outburst against Fort Wayne.

The historic effort was not enough as UND battled out of a 19-point hole behind Filip Rebraca’s own banner night (25 points, 7-10 FG, 11-12 FT, 14 rebounds). WIU (2-12, 0-7) is also still searching for its first Summit League win in Jeter’s debut season. Nonetheless, Carius has proven to be a big, if unorthodox addition and a quality bridge player as Jeter builds his program in Macomb.

The forward was a Division III All-American at Monmouth College (Ill.), a small school just north of WIU. We wrote last week about the influx of impact Division II transfers, especially in the Summit, and Carius is a worthy inclusion as part of that unconventional pipeline producing big results. After spending his first two seasons at Division II Northern Michigan, he may be one of the few — if only — players to suit up at all three NCAA levels.

He’s having a more-than-solid lone season at WIU (13.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 41.8 3P%) and, on Friday night in Grand Forks, was the best offensive player in the sport’s top division.