Women’s hoops looks to halt Cougars


Angel Strack/Courier Staff

Taylor Higginbotham drives past a defender.

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois University Leathernecks have the opporitunity to tarnish the perfect Summit League record of the University South Dakota Cougars on Feb. 1.

Western holds a 16-6 record and 6-2 in the conference, while South Dakota is at the top of the Summit League at 17-5 and an undefeated 8-0 in conference.

Western is now on the second half of the Summit League matchups and has held their own. Coach JD Gravina motivates his team stating how excited he is for the second meeting for every conference team. In the first meeting against South Dakota, the Leathernecks got trampled, losing 82-58 in their second worst scoring performance of the season.

Their biggest flaw had to be the turnovers, giving the ball up a total of 17 times and allowing USD to gain 22 points off of those turnovers. The struggling Leathernecks couldn’t shoot from the 3-point line, which caused a 36 percent success rate.

Finally, the Coyotes hustled to every loose ball and outrebounded the Leathernecks 40-29, easily showcasing why they deserved the win at Western Hall.

Meanwhile the Leathernecks seem to be up to the challenge, as they swept the Coyotes, and even beat them at their house 86-78, last year. The defending Summit League champions need to prove how good they are as USD hasn’t fallen in the conference just yet due to their defense. They lead the league allowing 58.7 points per game, and only averaging 13.1 turnovers a game. They are second in steals with 10.5, which seemed to create havoc in the first matchup against the Leathernecks.

Western Illinois will not back down as they are coming off of two red hot performances, with over 18 three pointers, and two won games against Denver University and North Dakota State University.

Both teams feature prolific scorers as they are the number one and two teams in the Summit League in scoring this season. Western leads the league scoring 82.7 points per game, shooting over 600 three-pointers this year already. The Cougars are not far behind at 76.1 points per game. They do not seem afraid to challenge the league leaders on their home court.

Coach Gravina is looking to make some defensive changes against USD to stop them from scoring as well as they did in the last matchup in an attempt to stop the number two scoring offense in the Summit League. Western hopes to keep their streak alive and prove they can break the Coyotes streak.