Promising preview: Western wins exhibition

Aaron Viner Courier Staff

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Sadie Webb scored 19 points to lead nine Leathernecks in scoring as new head coach J. D. Gravina put his 2011-12 women’s basketball team on display for the first time Wednesday night at Western Hall.

Western (8-21 last season) came away with a 76-69 preseason victory over the University of Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars (8-18 last season). The contest was the team’s only exhibition game of the season.

The Leathernecks open up their regular season next Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. against visiting Hannibal-LaGrange College of Hannibal, Mo.

In his first appearance behind Western’s bench, things didn’t go exactly according to plan for Gravina, even though the end result was positive.

“If you would have asked me before the game,” Gravina said, “I probably would have said we would go eight or nine (players) deep, and that’s about it. Now, we know we have a lot of kids that we have confidence in who can come in and really pick us up. That can be a real positive.”

If Wednesday’s game was any indication, the Leathernecks should benefit from a deep bench this season. No less than 13 different Leathernecks saw playing time against the Prairie Stars, led by senior guard Sadie Webb, who finished the game with a team-high 19 points on 70 percent shooting from the field.

Freshman guard Lindsay Carroll finished the game with 10 points.

Michele Salvatori (11 points) and Karis Phillips (12 points) finished in double-digits for the Leathernecks.

Brittany Demery (8 rebounds) and Jackie Rieger (5 rebounds) also made solid contributions for Western.

The Leathernecks actually trailed for much of the first half, despite Webb’s 11 points before intermission. A layup by senior guard Valencia Kelly, who finished the game with 4 points, helped keep Western within 3 points after the first 20 minutes.

“We came out and, at first, were going like a million miles an hour,” Webb said, “and, it took us a while to settle down. I think we learned a lot of things tonight about what we need to work on before the start of the season.”

The Leathernecks cut the deficit to 2 points with 15 minutes left in regulation after an athletic drive by Carroll who dumped off the ball to Phillips at the basket.

Karis Phillips drilled a 3-pointer at the 14:30 mark, giving the Leathernecks a 43-40 lead, and Western did not trail again. Late free throws from Phillips, Salvatori and Kelly helped put the game away.

“I thought Karis Phillips brought some energy and played really well for us,” Gravina said.

Gravina did note that his team still has some things to work on.

“We didn’t do a good job offensively, attacking the basket,” Gravina said, “especially in the first half. And, if you think about it, that means in practice, if we aren’t attacking the basket, we aren’t practicing defending someone attacking the basket.”

“We took a lot of stuff from practice and put it into this game,” Demery said, “but, we didn’t execute them as well as we should have. So, that’s one thing we are going to have to work on.”


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