MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks (15-12, 9-5) look to complete the season sweep against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (12- 15, 7-7). The first meeting at Western Hall ended with the Leathernecks easily winning 75-61.
This contest has no bearing on who will enter Summit League Tournament play but could potentially change the seeding in the tournament. The Leathernecks currently look like the third seed in the tournament, only behind nationally-ranked South Dakota and their rivals South Dakota State University. Oral Roberts is two games behind Western for the third spot.
After losing to the Golden Eagles in the tournament last year, the Leathernecks know that this team represents a potential playoff match-up. Of course, it will not be easy as Oral Roberts’ only losses at home are to the best two teams in The Summit League and a non-conference match-up that they lost in the final moments against Houston Baptist.
The only away win with some merit for the Leathernecks was against the North Dakota State Bison. That game took two overtimes to decide a winner. Now, Western will need to learn how to play well in away territory as they have played their last game at home. The Summit League tournament will be in a technically neutral stadium, but it is in the backyard of both South Dakota teams.
For the Leathernecks, they will need a big performance from Olivia Kauffman. The junior guard for the Leathernecks continues to climb into the history books and now ranks 14th in Western’s all time scoring list. She is a mere three assists away from a total of 300 which would make her just the sixth player to record both 1,000 points and 300 assists.
She is also a dominant figure in The Summit League ranking fourth in both points per game and assists per game. She is second in total steals with 56 and third for free throw percentage. Her last time out she scored 17 points to lead all players in a huge win on Senior Night for the Purple and Gold. The player to match Kauffman for the Golden Eagles will be junior guard Kenni Jo Lippe. She leads her team in free throws, rebounds, assists, points and steals. She has earned just one Summit League Player of the Week award just two weeks ago. She has dominated The Summit League and will almost definitely be in the player of the year conversations.
She leads The Summit league in points per game with 18.9. She is also fourth on the list for rebounds per game. She works hard, moves all over the court and will be a match-up nightmare for JD Gravina. Last time against the Leathernecks she totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds. This time she will look to do just a little more in order to change the result.
With playoff seeding on the line look for both teams to come out swinging, just like Fury and Wilder. Tip off is 5 p.m. Thursday