Women’s basketball seeks revenge against Oral Roberts

Alex Staab, Courier Staff

 

Perhaps a revenge game is on the horizon, as the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts University (7-10, 2-2) will make the trip to Western Hall on Saturday afternoon to take on the Western Illinois Leathernecks (9-9, 3-2).

It’s been 312 days since the Golden Eagles edged the Leathernecks in the Quarterfinal of The Summit League Tournament, but this is a new season, and Saturday provides an opportunity for Western Illinois to officially put the loss to Oral Roberts in the rearview mirror, having not met since then.

The Golden Eagles won that tournament meeting, 68-64. Western Illinois returns 49 of their 64 points (76.5 percent), while Oral Roberts returns 35 of their 68 points (51.5 percent).

The Leathernecks got off to a decent start, before falling behind in the second, scoring nine in the second quarter and going into halftime down, 32-20.

Western Illinois made a furious comeback in the second half, outscoring the Golden Eagles 44-36, but it wouldn’t be enough, falling by four.

Olivia Kaufmann led the Leathernecks with 16 points, a total that was second in the game as well.

Oral Roberts certainly has a quality strength of schedule, playing Power Five teams such as No. 23 Arkansas, Kansas State, Utah, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, going 0-5 in those games.

Yes, they went 0-5, but some of those games were quite close. Look at a 10-point loss to Nebraska, for example. The loss, in Lincoln, saw guard Keni Jo Lippe scoring a team-high 21 points on 3-8 from behind the arc, seven rebounds and three steals.

The Golden Eagles held the Huskers to just under 45 percent from the field, under 16 percent from three, but Nebraska did go 16-19 from the charity stripe, good for 84.2 percent.

It should be noted that Oral Roberts has played one other game after the deadline, that being a game at Purdue Fort Wayne on Thursday evening.

Western Illinois is coming off a win over a Denver team that may be the epitome of ignoring a team’s record. The Pioneers entered last Sunday’s contest with a 7-10 overall record and only one league win, but the losses in Summit play to this point of the season were to some good ones: North Dakota, South Dakota and South Dakota State. Ironically enough, those three were undefeated in league play as of the Western Illinois vs. Denver game.

Pre-game, senior guard Kaufmann was honored for having surpassed 1,000 career points in a home win over Purdue Fort Wayne.

The visiting Pioneers would get off to a hot start, going 9-18 from the field in the opening 10 minutes. Western Illinois did make a push late in the frame but stayed behind at 21-15 after the break.

What followed was awfully impressive, as the Leathernecks poured it on for 28 second quarter points, paced by eight points from Kaufmann. Western Illinois’ 10 made field goals that quarter was the only time that either side made double figures in shots the entirety of the game. Add a 19-point quarter to that, and Western Illinois was hanging on by a thread headed into the fourth quarter, 62-59.

Now, there was one other unique aspect of this game that you may have seen in a previous issue of the Western Courier. 46 fouls were called. Yep, you saw that right and it isn’t a typo, either. 23 fouls were called on the Leathernecks and 23 on the Golden Eagles. As one may imagine, free throws became a major factor. Both teams did well in that regard with Oral Roberts going 17-24 from the line, while Western Illinois went 14-20.

Kaufmann went 9-10 on her own. Perhaps even more notable than that is that all 10 free ones came in the fourth quarter. The perseverance of the Leathernecks allowed them to maintain the lead they had and leave Western Hall with a win, 82-75.

A fairly high-scoring battle could be on tap on Saturday, as the Leathernecks edge the Golden Eagles in points per game, 74.2-67.1.

The Golden Eagles are led by Lippe, a 5 foot 9 sophomore from Adair, Okla. Lippe is averaging team highs in both scoring and rebounding, totaling 18 points and seven rebounds. Lippe is also one of three Golden Eagles having made 20 or more threes this season (25), joining teammates Rylie Torrey (47 threes) and Sarah Garvie (29 threes).

While Oral Roberts does seem like another quality opponent via statistics, they are currently (0-9) on the road. Their last road win was against these Leathernecks, on Feb. 23, 2019.

Western Illinois continues to be paced by Kaufmann in scoring, as she averages 16.6 points per game. Among active players, Danni Nichols follows her at 9.1 points per game.

The lone player on either roster averaging double figures in rebounding is Western Illinois’ Evan Zars. Zars enters Saturday’s game with 183 total rebounds, good for an average of 10.2 per game.

It should be an exciting one to bear the cold and overall weather for, as the athletic department asks fans to “Pack it Purple.” According to the game preview on the Athletics website, “fans are encouraged to wear purple Leatherneck gear” as the Leathernecks are looking to potentially sweep their three-game homestand, with wins over Purdue Fort Wayne and Denver to this point.