Women’s basketball prepares for Omaha on Senior Day

Bradley Piros, Sports Editor

The Western Illinois University women’s basketball team (14-12, 8-5) will play their last home game of the season Thursday night when they take on the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (6-19, 1-11).

The last time out for the Leathernecks was in a 91-74 win at home against the North Dakota University Fighting Hawks, whereas the Mavericks are coming into Macomb riding a 10-game losing streak, recently coming off an 86-80 overtime loss to the Denver University Pioneers. On top of that, Omaha is also yet to win on the road going 0-9 on the season. Needless to say, this game favors the Leathernecks, which is good news considering its Senior Day.

Western will be saying goodbye to four Leathernecks, those being Annabel Graettinger, Olivia Kaufmann, Avery Hamm and Kyra Washington.

Washington played in 27 games during the 2018-19 campaign, but only made one start. She still managed to average 17.6 minutes and six points per game. This season, she’s played in 11 games without making a start before getting sidelined with an injury. In total she’s scored 182 points over 555 minutes played during her two seasons as a Leatherneck.

Hamm was also a transfer student here at Western. During the 18-19 season, she played in 30 games and made two starts while averaging 12.1 minutes per game. She’s logged 437 minutes over the span of this season and last, but still hasn’t reached triple-digit scoring numbers. She currently sits with 99 points as a Leatherneck. So, if she sees a little bit of time on the floor Thursday night, expect her to be searching for her 100th point wearing the Purple and Gold.

Graettinger is the third and final transfer student who will be graduating from Western and making her final appearance inside Western Hall. The transfer coming out of South Dakota State University appeared in 10 games as a Jackrabbit, but really picked up her game as a Leatherneck. She started all 27 games last year and snagged 337 points throughout 873 minutes. This season she played in and started the first 14 games of the season before getting injured. She averaged a career-high 13.1 points per game this year on her way to 184 points on the year. While only being part of the program for two seasons, her presence will still be missed.

Last, but certainly not least, the four-year Leatherneck, Kaufmann. Taking it back to her freshman season during the 2016-17 campaign, she played in 25 games while making one start. She came off the bench and only played 166 minutes that year, picking up 57 points along the way to a Summit League Championship. Her sophomore year she played in 32 games, logging 606 minutes, but not making a start. She scored 206 points and was beginning to become a key part of the lineup. Her junior year and she finally was, starting all 30 games. She lit things up by averaging 16 points and a career high 5.4 rebounds a game. She continued to improve heading into her senior season, averaging a career high 16.3 points per game. Heading into this game against Omaha she currently has 1,168 career points. She’ll go down as one of Western’s best players of all-time and will definitely be missed.

While Senior Day always brings out some emotions from players, coaches, families and fans, there’s still a game to be played and they can’t look past that. Western will have to keep track of Omaha’s leading scorer, sophomore Mariah Murdie. She averages 10.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

Omaha is eighth in The Summit League right now while Western sits in third. It’s going to take a miracle for Western to leapfrog SDSU for second place, but they are still fending off Oral Roberts University who are only a game behind in fifth. Every conference game is important down the stretch and this one is no different.

The game against the Mavericks is tomorrow night at 7 p.m. inside Western Hall.

Twitter: @bradjp08