The Leathernecks ended their regular season schedule at Denver on Saturday afternoon with an 84-78 loss to the Pioneers. With the loss, the Leathernecks finish with a 15-14 record overall while going 9-7 in the conference to finish fifth in The Summit League.
Denver with the victory improved to 15-14 while also going 9-7 in The Summit League. Due to tiebreakers, the Pioneers finish third in The Summit League as the teams get ready for The Summit League tournament. Denver started off the game well but Carla Flores kept the Leathernecks in it. She had nine first quarter points, but the Pioneers had an 18-16 lead at the end of the first. The second quarter was a back and forth affair that ended up in a tie going into the half. Danni Nichols had her turn to lead the team as she had eight points in the second as she finished the game with 24 points overall. The third quarter saw the Leathernecks fall behind by nine after a Lauren Loven three pointer to put Denver up 47-38. Olivia Kauffman came right back and hit a three to cut it back down to six. However, Denver was able to keep the margin between 5-8 points for the rest of the quarter. An Elizabeth Lutz three cut the lead to three with about two minutes left in the third. A layup and another Loven three had Denver up seven by the end of the quarter though. Western Illinois kept battling and with a touch under four minutes left in the fourth a Grace Gilmore jumper tied things up at 68. There was an exciting finish 27 seconds left Olivia Kaufmann’s free throw gave the Leathernecks a 77-76 lead. The Pioneers came right down and got a layup and a foul to give them a lead they would not relinquish as they knocked down some free throws to pull off a win.
Nichols had a strong game as her impressive play continued in the conference. She had 24 points on 7-11 shooting from the field and 8-10 from the free throw line. Kaufmann chipped in 23 points as she got to the line 14 times and made 11 of those attempts. Kaufmann also led the team with 10 rebounds and four assists. The Leathernecks dealt with foul trouble all game long as three players fouled out. They only shot 32.1 percent from three as well going 9-28 from beyond the arc. Denver was led by Loven’s 25 points and Madison Nelson’s 23 points. The two combined to shoot just 12-41 from the field but made up for that by going 17-22 from the free throw line. Claire Gritt and Uju Ezeudu also were able to contribute 10 points to the offense to give the Pioneers some balance. Both teams struggled to shoot and the key was turnovers. Denver had just six in the entire game and only allowed the Leathernecks to get six points off those turnovers. Meanwhile, Denver had 18 points off turnovers while forcing 14.
The Leathernecks will begin The Summit League Tournaments against the fourth seed Oral Roberts. The two teams split the regular season matchups with each winning at home. The Leathernecks walked away with a 75-61 win in Macomb while the Golden Eagles took a 71-60 decision in Tulsa. The game will be at noon on Sunday on ESPN+.