Women’s basketball moves past Mavericks


Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Watches a play develop in front of her.

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

OMAHA, Neb.- The Western Illinois women’s basketball team 12-13 (8-4) traveled to Nebraska to take on the Omaha Mavericks 7-17 (1-10) to assert their dominance within the conference. It was a victorious weekend for the Leathernecks after they won yet again. This is something we have grown accustomed to over the last two weeks. Western Illinois reeled in its fourth win in a row, after defeating the Omaha Mavericks this past Saturday.

The Leathernecks got off to a slow start on the road. The team was outscored by the Mavericks 20-16 to start off the contest. However, as the game progressed, the Purple and Gold kept on inching forward. They went into the break trailing by three, but head coach JD Gravina and company had an answer in the second half. They bullied their way into the paint, and were very effective scoring buckets in the lane.

Olivia Kaufman was spectacular. Kaufman displayed her offensive abilities by getting 24 points for Western. She helped lead the Leathernecks to another conference victory, and is making her case for Summit League Player of the Year. However, she did not do it by herself. Western Illinois had three players score 20 plus points in the matchup. Danni Nichols posted a career-high 22 points and Annabel Graettinger added 20.

After the matchup, Gravina had some things to say about the victory. “Omaha really came and played like they had nothing to lose. They made some defensive changes, some personnel changes and it really took us out of our rhythm in the first half. In the second half, I don’t think we really found our rhythm, but we made some good runs and played good enough to win.”

After a slow start to the season, many people began to write off the Leathernecks before conference play started up. The critics said, “they lost too many key pieces” or “they’re too young and inexperienced.”

What people did not realize, though, was that the Leathernecks had a very tough non-conference schedule. They played against multiple mid-major powerhouses and perennial NCAA Tournament teams. Their tough scheduling to start the season has prepared the young and hungry Leathernecks for their difficult conference games.

Since Summit League play has begun, Western Illinois has been superb. They currently have an 8-4 conference record, and sit in third place in the conference standings. Two regular season contests remain on the Leathernecks’ home schedule, as they are set to host South Dakota this Saturday and Oral Roberts on Feb. 23. Both are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Western Hall.

Be sure to call your friends and make your way out to the final games of the season. The team will look to cap off a great season in a dominant fashion, and climb the conference ranks before the team heads to Sioux Falls, S.D. for the Summit League Tournament in March.

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