Women’s basketball to host ranked Coyotes

Danni Nichols goes up for a layup against SDSU.


Danni Nichols goes up for a layup against SDSU.

Taylor Jordan, Courier Staff

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MACOMB, III. – Western Illinois’ women’s basketball team returns to Western Hall to face off against No. 25 South Dakota this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The Coyotes lead the all-time series, 13-3, and were the winners of the first meeting this season by a score of 92-49.

The Leathernecks fought to take their fourth consecutive win in Summit League action as Western defeated Omaha 79-67 on the road Saturday. For the first time this season, three players scored 20-plus points as Olivia Kaufmann had 24, Danni Nichols posted a career-high 22 and Annabel Graettinger hit 20. The Leathernecks are in the midst of a four-game winning streak, averaging 90.5 points per game over the stretch.

South Dakota closed out a thrilling 75-64 victory over Oral Roberts in their last match on Saturday. The Coyotes junior guard Ciara Duffy, scored 16 of her team-high 18 points in the fourth period alone as South Dakota made the final run. She also grabbed nine rebounds, handed out four assists and swiped a pair of steals.

A day after entering the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in school history, South Dakota women’s basketball has recorded the USA Today Coaches Poll at No. 25 as well. The Coyotes had received votes for nine of the past 10 weeks. This marks South Dakota’s first time being ranked since the 2007-08 season.

Western currently sits 13th in the nation with 224 made three-pointers. The team has made 10 or more treys in seven games this season including a program-record 28 against MacMurray College (Nov. 12), which also set an NCAA Division I record. After a seven-game break of converting less than 10, the Leathernecks’ 3-point stroke returned with 15 against North Dakota State (Feb. 1).

The Leathernecks are hoping to garner more of the league’s weekly awards while sitting at three so far this season. Taylor Higginbotham moved to second on Westerns all-time scoring list at the Las Vegas Hoops Tournament (Dec. 22). Kaufmann averaged 15 points, 8.5 assists, six steals and 5.5 rebounds in wins over Omaha and Purdue Fort Wayne (Jan. 21). Higginbotham also became Western’s all-time leading scorer; which helped the Leathernecks win over North Dakota with back-to-back 20-point games (Feb. 1).

Western Illinois Athletics has combined with McDonough District Hospital and Linda’s Fund to “Think Pink.” This occasion will raise money in support of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and for $1 fans can purchase pink ribbons, wristbands or post on the department’s “Think Pink” wall. To purchase a t-shirt for the event, please call (309) 298-1190 or email Diane Cassimire at dl-cassimire@wiu.edu.

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