Leathernecks look to end SDSU’s winning ways

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Becca Langys

Danni Nichols sprints down the sideline.

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

Western Illinois Women’s basketball (5-3) looks to change the trend against South Dakota State University (7-1) Thursday night. The Leathernecks have lost six straight games to the Jackrabbits. Last time out, SDSU handed the Leathernecks’ a 30-point loss. Head coach JD Gravina looks to change the narrative this time around at Western Hall.

Last time out, the Leathernecks dropped their matchup to University of North Dakota 77-71. After a tough first quarter, the Leathernecks just couldn’t seem to get the lid off the hoop and struggled to get back into the game. It didn’t stop them from trying though, as they pulled within eight after being down 20 points.

The comeback effort was led by Danni Nichols. She set a career high in the points category with 26. She had hit nine field goals, 10 free throws and hit two threes. She has now set her career high in points in two straight games. The third loss of the season in The Summit League did not alter the standings, but the Leathernecks are now two games behind the Jackrabbits and three behind first place South Dakota Coyotes.

South Dakota State is currently off of a win against North Dakota State University at home. It was a fourth quarter decision, outscoring them 22-10 to get the job done. They were led by Paiton Burckhard who registered her second-ever career double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

The Jackrabbits shot a season low 7.7 percent from beyond the arc. Look for Tagyn Larson to change that trend as she sits fifth in Summit League rankings for three point percentage at 42.5. But the real matchup will be between Burckhard and Olivia Kauffman.

The two are side by side in points per game with Kauffman ahead at 16.7 and Burckhard at 15.2. Burckhard also is second in The Summit League standings for field goal percentage. She holds a 55.7 percent from the field. She lacks The Summit League Player of the Week accolade that Kauffman earned two weeks ago, but the Jacks aren’t out of hope.

It will be Larson who holds her accolade next to Kauffman’s. Last time against the Leathernecks, Larson scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a dominant fashion to help grab the win. The Leathernecks just could not seem to find the bottom of the bucket against the Jackrabbits. They shot an abysmal 22.9 percent from the field and shot 30.8 percent from the free throw line. They turned the ball over 15 times and got beat too many times inside to allow 28 points in the paint.

After that loss, Western won four straight. They found their groove and looked like a new team after their humbling performance. Look for the team to change their pace and make a few more buckets to give the Jackrabbits a run for their money. Tip off is at 5:15 Thursday night.