Women’s basketball looks to top Golden Eagles

Mallory+Boyle+takes+her+defender+left+looking+for+a+quick+bucket+last+Wednesday+against+IUPUI.

Jake Thompson

Mallory Boyle takes her defender left looking for a quick bucket last Wednesday against IUPUI.

Danny Frey

Saturday was an exciting win for the Western Illinois women’s basketball team over South Dakota, snapping the Coyotes’ 24-game home winning streak. Now the Leathernecks will try to turn that into momentum as the season rolls on.

“It was a really big win at South Dakota,” said head coach JD Gravina. “I’m especially proud of the girls after a heartbreaking loss against IUPUI at home. Lo and behold, we go to South Dakota and do something that’s never been done in over a year. It was a good hardfought win, and it took a lot of heart.”

Western dominated the whole game and was able to close off a hard South Dakota rally to beat the Coyotes for the first time ever inside the brand new Sanford Coyote Sports Center. The work is still cut for the Leathernecks sitting at 16-6 overall and 6-3 in Summit League play with the conference race now wide open.

Standing in Western’s way on Wednesday is Oral Roberts, the same Golden Eagle team that bounced the Leathernecks in the Summit League tournament a year ago. Earlier in the season, back on Jan. 7, Western edged Oral Roberts 76-72 in overtime when the Golden Eagles surged back in the fourth quarter. Emily Clemens and Taylor Higginbotham each scored 20 points while Olivia Braun blocked a career-high nine shots.

“This part of the schedule, the travel is really tough,” Gravina said. “Heading to Oral Roberts will be a tough bus trip and a tough team to play. At their place they have a little bit of an advantage and they’re a tough matchup for us. We need to get better especially on the rebounding front.”

The Golden Eagles are 12-10 overall but just 4-5 in the Summit League. The home court advantage has led Oral Roberts to a 6-3 record at home. Recently, the Golden Eagles cruised past North Dakota State on Saturday 70-50.

Faith Ihim paces her teammates in scoring with 13.5 points per game and rebounds at over eight boards a contest. Sharpshooting Oklahoma State transfer Lakota Beatty (12.4), guard Kaylan Mayberry (11.5) and post player Maria Martianez (11.5) all average double figures scoring.

Tipoff inside the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Okla. is set for 7 p.m. tonight. The Leathernecks come back to Macomb this Saturday.