Women’s basketball hits the road for weekend double-header

Alex Staab, Courier Staff

After an exciting 75-61 win over a quality Oral Roberts team this past Saturday, the Western Illinois women’s basketball team (10-9) (4-2) will head westbound for a league game on Friday.

The series starts with a Friday night tilt against the Mavericks of Omaha.

Omaha finds themselves struggling to this point of the season, having been picked eighth (second to last) in The Summit League, and totaling a (6-12) (1-4) record to this point of the season. The wins to this point of the 2019-20 campaign for the Mavericks come against Peru State, Morgan State, Mississippi Valley State, UMKC, Graceland and Oral Roberts.

Interestingly enough, though, despite the sub-.500 overall record, Omaha is (5-4) inside Baxter Arena.

Although they don’t have a player averaging 10 or more points per game, they are led by junior guard Clair Killian, who averages a team-high 9.5 points per game, scoring 12 in their road loss to Denver on Saturday.

The Mavericks split the rebounding efforts efficiently, with nearly half of their roster averaging 4.8 rebounds or more per game. They nearly beat a physical Denver team in that category on Saturday, falling just short, 46-43.

Western Illinois got back over .500 with their win against Oral Roberts. Olivia Kaufmann continues to pace the scoring attack at 16.8 points per game, and on top of that, her 21 points against the Golden Eagles qualifies for the seventh time she’s broken the 20-point plateau this season.

With Evan Zars being the lone player in Friday’s game grabbing over 10 rebounds per game, expect that to come to the forefront perhaps even more than it does in other games. Zars had an even 10 boards against Oral Roberts.

Redshirt freshman Carla Flores has really stepped up in place of injured redshirt senior Annabel Graettinger, proving herself to be an excellent distributor of the ball, totaling a team-high three assists in the win over Oral Roberts.

Western Illinois leads the all-time series against the Mavericks, 14 games to four. The Leathernecks have won the last nine meetings, with the last Omaha win coming on Jan. 3, 2016 by a score of 79-66.

Recent notable games in this series include a 97-57 trouncing in the 2017-18 season and a +100 point performance, when the Leathernecks won 103-68 during the same season.

The last two meetings since those high-scoring affairs have both had lower-scoring final scores, but a high number of points still saw their way to the scoreboard, with Western Illinois sweeping last year’s series by scores of 78-70 and 79-67, respectively.

Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. central time from Omaha, Nebraska’s Baxter Arena. Western Illinois student RJ Larson will have the radio call via the Leatherneck Sports Network for those that would like to tune in live.

Western Illinois will have another road game at North Dakota on Sunday at 2 p.m., before returning home to Western Hall for an exciting weekend series against South Dakota State (Jan. 30) and North Dakota State (Feb. 1).