Women’s basketball looks to stop losing streak


Angel Strack/Courier Staff

Olivia Braun looks for an open teammate on the baseline

Devon Greene, Sports editor

The Western Illinois University women’s basketball team is ending their two-game road trip in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a matchup against the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles.

The Golden Eagles hold a 13-8 record this season and a 4-3 record in Summit League, which is good enough for a fourth-place spot behind the Leathernecks. Western Illinois and Oral Roberts have matched up once this season on Jan. 6 with the Purple and Gold coming out on top with a 56-49 win at home.

The Leathernecks hold a strong road record this season, winning seven of their four games. But they find themselves going up against a team that maintains a similar home record of 6-3 at the Mabee Center. Senior forward Faith Ihim is the Golden Eagles leading scorer this season, averaging 14.2 points per game. Ihim had major problems with Western’s defense in the first matchup, only scoring 4 points, and shooting 20 percent from the field. Ihim’s number one problem this season has been turnovers where she leads the Summit League with 70 total turnovers on the season. Leatherneck star guard Emily Clemens trails Ihim by only one with 69 turnovers. Oral Roberts only had three scorers in double figures on route to one of their lowest scoring outputs of the season. They only managed to shoot 34.5 percent from the field.

The Leathernecks should expect more of the same as they have proved to be a defensive powerhouse this season. Clemens is a mile ahead of the competition with 74 steals this season. The closest competitor to her crown is her teammate, junior guard Taylor Higginbotham with 54. Transition and fast break points have been a focal point of the Leatherneck offense all season and they will look to do the same against the Golden Eagles.

A positive sign for the Golden Eagles is the fact that the Leathernecks give up the most rebounds per game in the Summit League.

This will lead to a much needed second-chance opportunity that could kick-start the offensive unit who has had problems all season. 

Western also had their offensive deficiencies in the first matchup between these two teams. The Purple and Gold only managed to find double digit performances from Higginbotham and senior forward Olivia Braun. They shot only two percent better from the field at 36.4 percent and recorded 14 turnovers.

The Leathernecks should find another tough task in their second matchup with the Golden Eagles this season. They hold the second-place position in the Summit League behind the University of South Dakota Cougars in points allowed per game at 58.9. They are able to do this due to their ability to contest shots and lower their opponent’s field goal percentage, where they rank number one in the Summit League with 30.4 percent per game.

Expect another defensive showdown in a low scoring, physical game between the two conference foes in a matchup that could loom huge in determining the Summit League standings. They will play Saturday at 2 p.m. in Tulsa.