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The Western Illinois women's basketball team overcame a slow first quarter start to get the 88-78 win over Chicago State on Saturday, Dec. 7. 

 

The Cougars started the game shooting efficient with 58 percent from the field to own a 37-27 lead at the end of the first., Sophomore Grace Gilmore responded with a career-high 19 points to lead the way for the Leathernecks in the first road victory of the season.  

 

WIU earned their first lead of the game with a driving layup from Freshman Carla Flores in the third quarter, overcoming a 15 point deficit to make the score 53-52. After the lead change, Western never trailed again. The Leathernecks tightened up their defensive pressure the rest away and limited the Cougars to nine points in the second and 10 points in the third. 

 

Before the buzzer sounded in the third quarter, Junior  Annabel Graettinger found Gilmore in the corner for a three-pointer to stretch the lead to double-digits making the score 67-56.   Four Leathernecks were able to put up double-digit points against the Cougars to seal the deal.

 

 

The Leathernecks now have a 10 breakoff before facing Southeast Missouri Tuesday, Dec. 17, also followed by the Compass Challenge at Northern Illinois starting on Thursday, Dec. 19. 

 

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The 2019 season has not quite gotten off to the start many envisioned for the Western Illinois men’s basketball team, as the Leathernecks have scuffled to a 2-5 start. They have had an especially tough time late in games, as they have led for varying sized portions of every game they have lost with the only exception being Indiana. The late game and closing ability of the Leathernecks will be put to the test on Wednesday, December 4 when they head to Indiana once again, this time for a matchup with an Evansville team that has a win over #8 Kentucky on its resumé.

 

WIU (2-5) has struggled particularly in the paint this season, as the departure of 7’0” big man Brandon Gilbeck has left a gaping hole in the middle of the paint. At just 34 rebounds per game, the Leathernecks sit tied for 268 in the nation in rebounds and tied for 281 in total rebounds with 238. In terms of rebounds per game, they have fallen nearly 100 spots from where they were a year ago and are seeing a full rebound and a half fewer per game than they were with Gilbeck in the middle. They will have to be hoping for a bounce back performance against a talented Evansville side that will be looking to pounce on any mistakes.

 

Evansville (5-3), on the other hand is riding a 2 game winning streak having toppled IUPUI 70-64 in its most recent game and taken out Morgan State in a 3OT thriller that finished 115-112 in the game prior. The Aces have been a fairly prolific scoring team in 2019, averaging a top-100 mark of 77 points per game. Their defense will have to be on point as well, as WIU comes in with a near top-50 scoring offense with 80 points per game themselves. 

 

These two teams know how to put points up on the board, so this should be a very entertaining watch. WIU will need to crash the glass and get in position on defense to slow down the Aces, and Kobe Webster will need to continue his superstar-esque offensive display in order to secure a Leatherneck win. Tip off from Evansville is set for 6 PM on Wednesday, December 4. The game will stream on ESPN3 as well. 

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Western Illinois Head Women’s Basketball Coach J.D. Gravina has developed a reputation over the last few years of creating an incredibly trying and difficult non-conference schedule for the Leathernecks. It has seen them welcome an at-the-time top-15 ranked Missouri to Western Hall, an upset at Illinois and an overall increased national pedigree for the program. This year, that slate has included trips to Missouri, Drake and Purdue as well as a home contest with Bradley. That continues on Wednesday, December 4, with a road contest against the Illinois State Redbirds.

 

WIU (4-4) will be looking for a continuation of its rebound performance in a 90-69 win over Missouri Baptist on November 26. To a point, in its previous three matchups with Missouri Valley opponents, WIU is 1-2 with the lone victory coming against Indiana State. The two losses were by a combined 54 points to first Bradley and then Drake. This will be a critical matchup for the Leathernecks as they will look to use this as a springboard for momentum heading into conference play. 

 

For Illinois State (5-1), the Redbirds will be looking to continue what has been a generally speaking excellent start to the 2019 season. Their start includes a huge win over instate rivals Illinois and they will come into this matchup with a ton of momentum. The Redbirds will bring a pair of strong scorers to the matchup in guard TeTe Maggett and forward Lexi Wallen, both averaging better than 15 points per game as well as more than 6 rebounds per game, so WIU’s defense will have to be up to the task.

 

Both WIU and ISU bring potent offenses to the table in what should be a fun-to-watch matchup. Tip off from redbird arena is set for 6 PM as the Leathernecks will look to earn a win in what has become a fierce athletic rivalry between the two schools. 

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The Macomb girls basketball team opened its home season in earnest on Monday night (they hosted the Lady Bomber Classic last week) with a matchup against the Canton Littlegiants. Despite an impressive scoring performance from Grace Stufflebeam (All tournament in the LBC), the Bombers were unable to overcome Canton, falling 69-54.

 

Macomb’s “Havoc” defense struggled to contain the Canton offense early, as the Bombers went into halftime down 38-17. The Bombers had a rebound second half, putting up 37 points, but the hole dug in the first half was too much to overcome. As mentioned earlier, Stufflebeam led the way for Macomb with 18 points, as she continues her excellent scoring run in 2019 in an effort to replace the stellar play of the departed Ericka Dawson.

 

Macomb drops to 0-6 with the loss, and will next take on Central-Southeastern on the road on Thursday, December 5, with a tip set for 7:30 PM. Canton improves to 2-3 with the win, and they will take on Morton next at home on Friday, December 6, with a tip there set for 7 PM. 

 

 

 

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2019 will undoubtedly go down as a disappointing year for the WIU football team as they finished just 1-11, but there were still a few bright spots. Among them were the consistent play of preseason First Team All-Missouri-Valley-Football-Conference selection at Fullback, Clint Ratkovich and the multifaceted approach of running back/long snapper Jared Drake. The pair captained WIU and their leadership qualities, along with their ability to make impacts in a variety of ways, saw the pair selected to the post-season editions of the All-MVFC teams.

 

Ratkovich proved the preseason hype to be accurate with his selection to the first team, as the Junior running back racked up over 700 total yards and 6 total touchdowns, while leading the team in catches with 54. He also proved especially effective in pass protection, with behind-the-scenes excellence being his specialty. He will return the WIU as one of the surefire leaders and captains of a hungry 2020 Leatherneck squad, as he will look to key a resurgence to finer days. 

 

Drake came into WIU as a grad transfer in 2018 after graduating with a bachelor’s in sociology from Ohio State, and has shown over his two years as a Leatherneck that he can make a high level impact in a variety of ways, leading as a captain and proving effective in protection and goal-line running. He also specialized as a special teams ace for the Leathernecks as he showed a desire to get onto the field in any way possible. He really showed that desire when a innocent discussion cropped up to become Adam Fellner’s long snapper on the punt unit for the 2019 season. That discussion became reality, and he played a major role in Fellner averaging an MVFC 3rd best 42.5 yards per punt. 

 

The Leathernecks had four further honorable mentions for the All-MVFC Team. Seniors Zach Glisan and LaCale London were joined by the aforementioned Fellner and redshirt-freshman Justin Hall, who had a remarkable debut season stepping in for the departed Justin Fitzpatrick at defensive back. WIU was only projected for 2 all-MVFC players in Ratkovich and receiver John Brunner (spent 2019 injured), so this could be looked at as the team exceeding expectations with a number of stellar performances despite the tough results.

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MACOMB – Western Illinois Men’s Basketball team came within a point short in a loss on the road against the Kansas City Roo’s on Saturday, Nov 30 at 7 p.m. 

 

Sophomore Ben Pyle was extravagant as he carried the Leathernecks throughout the game scoring a career-high of 21 points. Pyle made the biggest impact during the 2nd half as he scored 16 out of the Leathernecks 40 points. The largest deficit of the game was 18 as the Leathernecks had to battle to shorten the Roo’s lead.

 

To start the game, the Leathernecks were a little shaky as they felt the intensity of playing on their opponent’s home court. Kansas City started the game by getting good open look shots which led to a 14-5 lead. The Roo’s maintained their up-tempo offense which gave Kansas City a 27-9 lead minutes later.

 

After seeing the Roo’s go up 20 points, the Leathernecks then kicked into gear going on a 10-4. The leathernecks were being aggressive as they kept attacking the defense while keeping the score in striking distance. The Leathernecks were able to bring the deficit down 11 points. The score at the end of the first half was 39-27 as the Leathernecks found themselves trailing by 12. 

 

During the start of the 2nd half, the Leathernecks battled their way withing single digits. With 11:49 remaining,  Junior Kyle Arrington made a driving layup basket to make the score 49-43. Once Western shortened the gap it became a back and forth game for which the team wanted the win the most. Pyle gave the Leathernecks their first lead, 57-56, on a mid-range jumper in the paint but the battle continued.

 

Towards the end of the half, the Leathernecks had a chance to regain the lead with a contested jumper from Kobe Webster. This was the biggest shot of the night but Kobe missed the jumper and with 8 seconds remaining, the Leathernecks fouled Kansas City to put them at the free-throw line. The final score of the game was 68-67 as Zion Young ended the game with 15 points, 6 rebounds, C.J Duff added 12 points, and Kobe Webster had 8 points with 3 steals. Western concludes its three-game road swing at Evansville on Wednesday, Dec 4, at 6 p.m.

 

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MACOMB -  Western Illinois women's basketball team trailed Drake all night in a 94-75 loss on Sunday, Nov. 24. 

 

During the start of the game, WIU led 5-3 but never led again as Drake’s offense ignited. Overall it was a good game for Drake as they outscored the Leathernecks in all 4 quarters and led both teams with 26 assists. Sophomore Evan Zars impacted the game by grabbing four offensive boards in the first quarter which help open up the Leatherneck offense more. Zars also hit a driving layup to make it a one-point game and hustled back to the other side of the court to block a shot. The forward finished with 17 total boards, three away from a career-high.


The Leathernecks had a hard time cutting the lead down as both teams kept exchanging buckets. Freshman Danni Nichols cut the Drake lead to nine after a full-court sprint layup at 5:37 in the fourth quarter to make it 73-64. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as Drake responded with a 16-3 run to close the game out. Leathernecks shot 39% from the field with just 27% from 3-point range.

 

Highlighted players for the Leathernecks are Olivia Kaufmann made four 3-pointers and led Western with 20 points. Season-high for Danni Nichols as she recorded 17 points along with Annabel Gratettinger who added 10 points to the scoreboard.

 

The Leathernecks will return home to host Elementary Day against Missouri Baptist Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 11 a.m., where over 1,000 elementary students will cheer on the Leathernecks inside Western Hall. Admission will be free for all Leatherneck fans and students.

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MACOMB - The Western Illinois men's basketball team achieved their very first victory over Central Christian Bible College on Saturday night with a score of 113-62. 
 
This will be one for the history books as Western beat CCB by a 51 point deficit. Western’s offense was ignited by Sophomore Dre’Shawn Allen led all scorers with 17 points and 5 assists. During the first half of the game, Western was able to capitalize on 58 points while CCB only had 28 points. CCB wasn't prepared for Westerns high powered defense as they forced them to have 20 total turnovers throughout the game. They were also out-rebounded by the Leathernecks 51-32.
  
Right from the start, the Leathernecks controlled the game as Freshman Ben Pyle led the 11-3 run to start the game by making four three-pointers in the first half. Pyle’s effort gave the Leathernecks the edge they needed to expand. Every Leatherneck that touched the court contributed to the 58-26 lead advantage by the end of the first half.
 

Impressive game for the Leathernecks as they shot efficient from the field with 54% and 44% from 3-point range. Allen wasn't the only Leatherneck to finish in double digits. C.J Duff finished with 15 points along with, Ben Pyle’s 14, Anthony Jones’s 12, Jaden King’s 12, James Claar’s 11, and Zion Young’s 11 points.
  

Western Illinois will now open up a three-game road stretch starting with Ball State on Tuesday, Nov. 26. 

 

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Western Illinois football hosted six different teams on their very own Hanson Field this season. Their last home game of the season ended in a loss against Southern Illinois on Saturday 45-21. 

Western started shaky as the Leathernecks fumbled the ball on their first possession, but was quickly given back as their defensive effort made four straight goal-line stops in the first half.
 
 Western seniors LaCale London and Tom Rehfed forced a fumble at Southern Illinois 34 yard line. Senior Colton Folliard also blocked a field goal attempt at the 12-yard line to give the Leathernecks to score with 6:17 remaining in the first half. This was a real defensive game for both teams as the Fighting Leathernecks were not letting up during the last home game of the season. The score was 10-7 at the end of the first half as the Leathernecks trailed by 3. 
 

During the start of the third, the Salukis maintained that same energy on defense holding the Leathernecks to 0 points the whole third quarter. The pressure was so high for Western as senior Nathan Erickson was sent out to attempt a 39-yard field goal at the 4:22-mark of the third quarter when referees decided overturned the previous call - changing it from an incomplete pass a fumble forced and recovered by the Salukis. The visitors earned 21 unanswered points to boost the lead to 31-7 at the end of the third. Tough time for Western’s offense as it looks like it was a lot of miscommunication on the field.

The Leathernecks then made a run in the fourth quarter scoring two more touchdowns to bring their score to 21. But the Salukis high powered offense managed to match Western with two more touchdowns to make the final score of the game 45-21. Western will now head to Northern Iowa next Saturday for the final game of the 2019 season. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. 

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MACOMB – Western Illinois men's basketball loss to UT Martin for the third time in the Leathernecks history on Wednesday (Nov 13). Now UT Martin remains undefeated against Western as the final score of the game was 98-91.  

 

During the opening half, UT Martin came out of the gates strong having Western trail behind 35-24 at the 7:40-mark. That all changed once the Leathernecks went on a 10-2 run to bridge the gap between the score. By the end of the first half Western went up 46-43 to give them the advantage going into the second half. 

 

The Leathernecks came out in the second half prepared as their high powered offense could not be stopped. Western had 70-55 advantage with 13:12 left on the clock but couldn't sustain as the Skyhawks turned their defensive pressure on. 

 

As the Skyhawks turned their pressure up it allowed their offense to embark on a 12-0 run to close the distance. As a result, the Leathernecks lost their lead as the Skyhawks had His run was eight points from Derek Hawthorne to help tie the score at 82-82 with 5:29 remaining. Western could never regain the lead back from the Skyhawks because their momentum was completely shattered. 
 
Freshman Ben Pyle and Senior James Claar recorded career-highs with 18 and 13 points, followed by Zion Young with 15 points. Nice game for Zion Young after coming from a career night against Stetson on Saturday. Three games into the season and the Leathernecks are still looking for their first win of the season. Western will return to Western Hall next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. to play Northern Illinois.
 

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The Fighting Leathernecks host UT Martin tonight as they seek their very first win of the season. 

 

This will be the third time both teams meet as UT Martin leads the series 2-0. During their first encounter on November 18, 2003, UT Martin destroyed WIU 96-67. Their most recent encounter on November 21, 2018, was a lot closer match as the final score of the game was 92-90. Playing against UT Martin a third time might give the Leathernecks the confidence they need to beat them.

 

WIU’S last game against Stetson on Saturday resulted in a 77-75 loss as Zion Young had a career-high of 24 points. After being just short of victory, the Leathernecks are still hungry for their first win of the season. They get to host back to back home games within a 5 game span.  The intensity from the crowd and the Fighting Leathernecks drive to win at home should put them over the top for their first win of the season.

 

Western Illinois will play UT Martin tonight at 7:00 pm in WIU’s very own Western Hall.

 

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The Western Illinois women’s basketball team played host to DII side Illinois-Springfield Tuesday night, in the second of three straight games to be played at Western Hall. Thanks to one of WIU’s more impressive shooting performances, they were able to dominate throughout as they came away with a 91-51 win.

 

So efficient was the Western shooting performance, that Elizabeth Lutz was the only Leatherneck to take more than 6 shots or miss more than 3. As a team, WIU shot 54% from the field, a performance that included 2 quarters (1st and 3rd) where the Leathernecks shot better than 60%. The three-point performance was arguably even more impressive, as the Leathernecks shot just shy of 60% from deep. The performance included a first quarter where the Leathernecks caught absolute fire to the tune of 9 threes on a scorching 75%. They simply could not be stopped and were rolling on a different level Tuesday night.

 

Olivia Kaufmann led the way in scoring for WIU, with 17 points as she missed only one shot on a 5-6 (FG), 2-2 (3PT), 5-7 (FT) performance. Grace Gilmore, Annabel Graettinger and the aforementioned Lutz also got into double digits for WIU, while Evan Zars led the rebounding performance with 7 boards. No Leatherneck played more than 24 minutes, as the lopsided nature of the score allowed Head Coach J.D. Gravina to stretch his bench out a little more than usual. This was the first game WIU was able to flex its muscle the way we’ve seen in the past as they showed how entertaining and efficient this team can be.

 

WIU will be at home one more time this week, as they host Indiana State on Thursday, November 14, with a tipoff set for 5:30 PM. You can hear that game and R.J. Larson’s call live on 104.1 WMQZ, a part of the Leatherneck Sports Network.

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All-Illinois Matchup at Western Hall

The Western Illinois women’s basketball team has gotten off to a 1-1 start in 2019, with an extremely exciting overtime loss to Missouri and a tight, 7-point win over NAIA Culver-Stockton on their record. Tuesday, November 12, they will play host to Division II side, University of Illinois-Springfield. 

 

The Prairie Stars come in with a 2-0 record, with wins coming over Purdue-Northwest and Tiffin College. They, much like the Prairie Stars, have a strong guard corps with sophomore star Lauren Ladowski averaging 14.5 points per game and senior stud Tehya Fortune averaging 14. They also come in with one particularly strong rebounder in 6’2” senior center Katelyn Rosner. The battle between Rosner and WIU center Evan Zars should be a fun one to watch down low.

 

WIU will counter with strong guard play of their own, as Olivia Kaufmann comes in leading the Leathernecks in scoring with 21.5 points per game. She has also shot an amazing 44% from 3-point range this season, so be on the look out for her from beyond the arch. Danni Nichols has continued her ascension into being one of WIU’s most reliable players as well, as she is averaging 11.5 points per game and put up a very respectable 14 points against a tough Missouri team. Annabel Graettinger continues to be an excellent compliment to Kaufmann, as her hard driving and efficient play have led to her averaging 17.5 points per game. The aforementioned Zars comes in averaging 14.5 rebounds and as stated, will be a load for UIS’ Rosner to deal with.

 

This should be a sneaky competitive game, though the Leathernecks will be expected to win. Don’t be shocked if the Prairie-Stars take WIU to the brink, as J.D. Gravina has always done a great job of scheduling top-level DII, DIII and NAIA schools to test the Leathernecks when they’re not playing D1 non-conference or Summit League opponents. The game is set for a 5:30 PM tipoff from Western Hall and RJ Larson’s call of the game can be heard live on 104.1 WMQZ, part of the Leatherneck Sports Network. 

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MACOMB – The Western Illinois women's basketball team hosted the Culver-Stockton Wildcats in its home opener Friday night (Nov. 8), which resulted in an 82-76 Leatherneck win. 

 

Culver-Stockton hit Western hard early with a 7-0 lead. But it wasn’t a problem for the Fighting Leathernecks as they tied the game with a jumper from Freshman Mackenzie Rogers to make the score 11-11. The Wildcats were able to sustain the Leathernecks run and ended the first quarter up 17-14.

 

The game was really intense until Freshman Elizabeth Lutz hit a three-pointer for Western to put them up  27-26 with 5:26 remaining in the quarter. The three-pointer from Lutz sparked the team as that was the first lead for the Leathernecks all game.  

 

During the third quarter is when the Leathernecks began to capitalize on the number of Wildcat turnovers.  Junior Annabel Graettinger started a 15 point run to expand their lead exponentially. The Leathernecks ended up outscoring the Wildcats 32-19 in the third quarter alone. To open up the fourth quarter, Western went on another 10 point run to secure the win.

 

Players of the game from Western are Olivia Kaufman as she led the team with 20 points, Annabel Graettinger added 17 points, and Evan Zars led the team with eight rebounds. Western Illinois will continue their home stretch against Illinois-SpringfieldTuesday (Nov. 12).

 

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MACOMB – Zion Young had a career-night performance as the Western Illinois men's basketball team came up short in home opener against Stetson 77-75 on Saturday (Nov. 9). 

 

WIU came out the gates strong as they went on a 9-1 run at the start of the half. Sophomore Kobe Webster ignited the charge for the leathernecks in the beginning by hitting a three-pointer. Then Senior James Claar kept the momentum going by throwing down back-to-back dunks to give the Leathernecks an 18-12 lead. After a long half of both teams going back and forth, the Leathernecks maintained the lead ending the half up 31-26. 

 

During the start of the second half, the Hatters went on a 10-5 run to tie the game at 36-36. WIU let Stetson outscore them 51-44 during the second half.  C.J Duff drilled a clutch three-pointer to make it 74-72 with 10 seconds remaining. Leathernecks needed a quick foul to send Stetson players to the foul line. With just seconds left on the clock, Young hit a half-court buzzer-beater to finalize the score 77-75, Stetson. Young led the team with a career-high 24 points and Claar led the team with 8 rebounds.

 

The Leathernecks will continue their home stretch as they face Tennessee-Martin Wednesday (Nov. 13) at 7 p.m.

 

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The Leathernecks fall to Omaha in just three sets (25-16, 25-19, 25-21) on Monday. 
During the first set, Omaha came out aggressively as their high powered offense took over the game. Omaha overwhelmed the Leathernecks and held them to just 16 points. Sophomore Mariah Mitchell earned half of the Leatherneck points during the first set but it wasn’t enough to put them over the top.

 

The Leathernecks took their first lead of the match at 3-2 during the second set. Omaha fought their way back into the game by scoring six straight points to tie the Leatherneck with an early score of 8-8. The Leathernecks worked hard to keep Omaha from extending their lead, but the Mavericks offense overpowered the Leathernecks towards the end of the second set. 

 

The Leathernecks went into the third set down 2-0 to Omaha. Junior Makenzie Steckler started the third set with a service ace to put WIU on top. With the third set being intense, the Leathernecks stood their ground and went on a four-point run to tie the game 18-18. Unfortunately, the Leathernecks couldn’t keep the lead, as Omaha’s high powered defense sealed the deal by keeping the Leathernecks at 21 points. 

 

Areas the Leathernecks went wrong was as a team, they put up a total of 28 kills compared to Omaha who put up 48 total kills. Also, WIU only had 28 total assists against Omaha Mavericks who had a total of 48 assists. The leathernecks need to move the ball around more and get more aggressive on the scoring tip. Highlighted players from Western are Mitchell as led the team with ten kills, followed by Senior JoJo Kruize with seven kills. 

 

The Leathernecks will return home to host South Dakota on Friday (Nov. 15).

 

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The Western Illinois women's basketball team will look for their first win of the season as they take on Culver-Stockton at home tonight at 5:30 pm.

 

Their season opener against Missouri was the game to see as they pushed the Tiger into overtime Tuesday, November 5.  At the end of the 4th quarter, the game was tied at 81-81. Unfourtanely, during overtime the Tigers took advantage of the Leathernecks fatigue and caused an 8-0 run. The final score was 97-89 as the Leathernecks went home with their first loss of the season. Senior Olivia Kaufmann led the Leathernecks with a double-double scoring 23 points with 11 rebounds. 

 

The Leathernecks now have another chance as they play the Wildcats in their home opener tonight. The Leathernecks are prepared and will have the advantage as the crowd will help boost their momentum on their home court.

 

Following tonight’s game, the Leathernecks will host three consecutive home games during next week. They will go on to play Illinois-Springfield Tuesday (Nov. 12) and then Indiana State on Thursday (Nov. 14).

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WIU Looks to Keep Pace in Race for Summit Tourney

The Western Illinois women’s volleyball team has begun to slide a bit in the Summit League standings, having lost its last two games and five of its last six. WIU comes into its next match, in Oklahoma against Oral Roberts, needing a win to keep pace with North Dakota for the honor of the 6th seed and a spot in the Summit League Tournament.

 

By virtue of head-to-head, North Dakota owns that 6th spot currently, so this will be an uphill climb for WIU to get back into contention. However, with 4 games remaining, the claim could be made that the Leathernecks will have every opportunity to secure themselves a spot in the tournament. In order to do so, they will first have to overcome the bottom-ranked Oral Roberts.

 

One way the Leathernecks can see this matchup, set for Friday, November 8 at 5 PM, through is by keying the defense in on the Golden Eagles’ senior leader, CeCe Madison. Madison comes in with a whopping 407 kills in 2019, averaging just shy of 4 kills per set. Top setter Sylvia Lawson will be one for WIU to watch out for as well, as she comes in averaging 8.86 assists per set and will look to consistently provide excellent service for Madison all game. WIU’s defense will have to be excellent to combat the Golden Eagles and come away with the win. 

 

One aspect of the Leatherneck defense that has legitimately been outstanding is the blocking ability. With redshirt junior Mackenzie Steckler leading the way, the Leathernecks have only been out-blocked 5 times in 2019 and will make things extremely tough for Madison and the Eagles to get things going at the net. On an individual note, Steckler has risen up to become not only one of the premier blockers in the only Summit League, but the entire nation. She ranks #1 on the team in every blocking category, while she has moved up to #1 in the Summit League in blocks per set, total blocks and solo blocks. She now as well ranks 10th in total blocks and 13th in blocks per set in all of NCAA.

 

If Steckler can continue rising to the occasion and inspire the rest of this young Leatherneck squad to step up on defense, the Leathernecks should have success in this matchup with Oral Roberts. As stated earlier, the match from Tulsa, Oklahoma is set for a 5 PM first serve on Friday, November 8th. You can follow along with the match on goleathernecks.com. 

 

*All stats courtesy of goleathernecks.com and WIU Athletic Communications*

 

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Big Ten Size, Athleticism Too Much for WIU

MACOMB - The Western Illinois men's basketball team made a huge appearance on Tuesday as they played Indiana in front of 17,222 Hoosiers fans for their season opener. 

 

The Indiana Hoosiers are a Big 10 school and they gave the fighting Leathernecks a difficult time as they beat them 98-65. It was a difficult loss for the Leathernecks as they had poor turnovers down the stretch and bad shot selection. The Leathernecks committed 12 turnovers along with shooting 34% from the field and 29% from 3 point range. The Hoosiers overpowered the Leathernecks as they a total of 47 rebounds compared to WIU’s 28. The Hoosiers simply had more firepower than the Leathernecks as they had bigger and more athletic players to increase their chances of winning.

 

The Hoosiers closed the first half shooting 62.5 percent from the field, with 44.4 percent behind the arc to hold a 46-25 advantage. They also continued to beat on Western on the offensive side of the ball into the second half, answering each Leatherneck basket. The Hoosiers used their dominant size and inside presence to rack up a large number of second-chance baskets to continue their run.

 

Kobe Webster returned to his home state and gave the fans a show. Webster hit a spectacular shot off the backboard before the first half ended. He also was the leading scorer for the Leathernecks with 18 points, followed by Zion Young with 12 points. Production was needed from plenty of other sources for WIU to have a chance, but a tough IU defense created a lot of poor shot selection for the Leathernecks.

 

Western Illinois are now 0-4 against Indiana and are 5-33 all-time against the Big 10, with their last such win coming against Wisconsin in the 2015-16 season opener. The Leathernecks will returns to their own hall for the home opener against Stetson on Saturday (Nov. 9) at 7 p.m

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Wild Game Sees Leathernecks Take Tigers to OT

The Western Illinois women’s basketball team got its 2019 regular season campaign kicked off on Tuesday in a road matchup with Missouri. They competed for 4 quarters, seeing regulation end with an 81-81 score, before falling 97-89 in overtime. The grit, determination and toughness shown by WIU led to an encouraging result that suggests a bright season is ahead. 

 

Perhaps most encouraging from this game was the performance of sophomore transfer Evan Zars. Coming in from St. Louis University, Zars was expected to provide the Leathernecks with a big boost on the iside and did just that. She racked up an astounding 20 rebounds while blocking 3 shots as she provided head coach J.D. Gravina with a weapon he has not, truth be told, had in his time at WIU. Should she keep up the impressive pace she established in Tuesday’s game, she will be one of WIU’s top performers in 2019.

 

WIU also saw a big time performance from senior guard Olivia Kauffman on Tuesday, as she poured in 23 points while racking up an impressive 11 boards from the guard position. Hers and the Leathernecks’ shooting ability was on display throughout this one, as she managed to shoot 2-5 from 3, while the team as a whole shot a respectable 37% from deep with 12 makes. 

 

Ultimately, it seemed that Missouri’s athleticism and conditioning proved too much for WIU, as the Tigers made a real push at the end of the second half and through overtime to pick up the win. WIU is always fighting an uphill battle in these kinds of matchups and appeared to physically get more and more tired the more they fought to stay in this one. This, however, is still an incredibly encouraging result for WIU, who was up against a Missouri side featuring 2 5-star recruits in Haley Frank and Aijha Blackwell, as well as a superstar senior who has drawn player-of-the-year consideration in Amber Smith. 

 

WIU will get its next chance to pick up its first win when it returns home on Friday, November 8, to take on Culver-Stockton. Tip off is set for 5:30 PM for the home opener from Western Hall and you can hear the action live on 104.1 WMQZ, a member of the Leatherneck Sports Network.

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