Western Courier

Women fall short of championship return

Emily Clemens darts up the court in a semifinals loss to South Dakota State.

Emily Clemens darts up the court in a semifinals loss to South Dakota State.

Marc Ramirez/ Assistant News Editor

Marc Ramirez/ Assistant News Editor

Emily Clemens darts up the court in a semifinals loss to South Dakota State.

Brandon Reidy, Courier Staff

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Sioux Falls, South Dakota- The Western Illinois University Leathernecks (22-9) matched up against South Dakota State University (25-6) on Monday, March 5 at the Denny Premier Center.

The atmosphere was electric going into the contest, and there was plenty of hype surrounding the two teams’ third match up.

The game began to get one sided quickly, as South Dakota State University started off the game on an eight point run. It was not until Junior forward Taylor Higginbotham drove to the basket and put Western on the board that the leathernecks began to pick up some steam. At the end of the quarter, they still faced a hefty deficit trailing 27-14.

The game did not get prettier for the Purple and Gold, as the team was out-scored in the second quarter 26-10. The first half was dominated by the Jackrabbits, and player of the year Macy Miller and Madison Guebert. The two combined for 28 first half points and seven rebounds. For the Leathernecks, they were led by Morgan Blumer, who led Western with eight points.

The Leathernecks went into the second half facing a massive 53-24 deficit. Despite Western Illinois’ valiant effort, the Leathernecks failed to make the half time adjustments necessary to mount a comeback against the Jackrabbits. The Purple and Gold were defeated by South Dakota State University by a score of 80-51.

Head coach JD Gravina spoke highly of the Jackrabbits offense, which have given Summit League opponents nightmares all season.

“They hit threes, they scored in the post, they scored mid-range jumpers and they scored on four different defenses we played against them,” Gravina said. “When you play a top-50 RPI team you have to be at your best. It just didn’t seem like we could quite get there against them. We were a little indecisive offensively and maybe a little afraid to make mistakes in the beginning.”

Although the season may have ended on a disappointing note for Gravina and the Leathernecks, he praised the effort that his team gave in their final game of the season.

“Obviously, that wasn’t much fun,” Gravina said. “They are an incredible team and I don’t know what it is about them that brings the worst out of us and the best out of them. That’s on me as much as it is on the team. There’s not much else to say. Our kids kept playing hard. It’s just one of those games that nothing was going our way.”

Western will be losing six key senior players in their rotation next season. Point guard Emily Clemens, forward Olivia Braun, guard Taylor Hanneman, guard Michelle Farrow and forward Krishna Merriman are all saying goodbye to their time on a basketball court with a purple and gold uniform on their back.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Women fall short of championship return