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The Macomb Bombers will prepare for a non-conference game at home tonight at 7:30 pm against the Seymour Indians. The Seymour Indians posted a record of 25-2 in the regular season. The Bombers won't fold easily as they won their last couple of games.

 

Currently, the Bombers have a record of 8-17 after defeating Illini West 57-46 (Feb. 8) and Camp Point Central 56-44 (Feb. 14). The Bombers have been the underdogs all season long, but now they are starting to show some fight towards the end of the season. 

 

With the Bombers having home-court advantage, they will pose a true threat against the Seymour Indians. The Bombers will play their final regular-season game against Monmouth Roseville on February 21st before the start of the postseason.

 

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The Western Illinois women had their hands full in  Saturday's game against the North Dakota Hawks.

The Leathernecks had a busy travel week, returning back to Macomb on Friday after a long bus ride to South Dakota. The Fighting Hawks beat Western in North Dakota a few weeks ago.

 

But on Saturday, the Leatherneck women came up on top with a score of 91-74. The Fighting Hawks were hot starting off both halves in the game, but the Leathernecks had a response for each time. As a result, giving the Leathernecks a huge win that moved WIU into third place in the Summit League. Western lead by as much as 20 points in the first half.

 

WIU’s Junior Grace Gilmore had a fantastic night with 17 points and four rebounds.  Sophomore Danni Nichols leads the way for Western with 19 points. Freshman Carla Flores added 10 points and Sophomore Sam Pryor came off the bench to add 12 more points. 

 

North Dakota would rally up a bunch of runs to bring the game within single digits. But in return, the Leatherneck women responded each time to stretch the lead as much as possible. Western went to the free-throw line 36 times on Saturday and knocked down 28, sending the Fighting Hawks home with a loss.

 

Whenever it appeared WIU was hanging on for dear life and fighting tired leads, Western would string together yet another run to keep North Dakota at a safe distance in the second half. The Leathernecks are off until Thursday when they host Omaha at home for the regular-season finale.

 

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VERMILLION, S.D. – Kobe Webster and Zion Young were forces to be reckoned with Wednesday (February 12). Combining to score more than half of Western Illinois' points, the two tested the South Dakota men's basketball team all night for 29 and 21, respectively, in an 85-72 loss. 

The point tally set a new career-high for Webster. 

With both teams in search of their first points on the night, Young delivered a deep 2-pointer at 17:41. The young forward contributed five points in Western's 6-2 advantage, before tagging in Webster to strengthen the lead. 

Ten minutes hadn't quite ticked off the clock, but Webster was already a point shy of reaching double-figures. He is the only Leatherneck to score 10-plus in every Summit game this season, and when his team lost its edge on a 10-0 Coyote run, he ended the drought with his 11th point.

The Leathernecks jumped out by as many as 11 before the stretch but saw their lead slimmed to one, 21-20, with 6:09 to go before halftime. They entered the locker room trailing 35-31 after the 'Yotes hit a 3-pointer as time expired. 

South Dakota took a 46-35 lead with 16:41 left and maintained a double-digit edge for a majority of the latter half. 

Young scored 14 of his points in the latter half and really started to heat up in the closing minutes. He hit back-to-back shots with 4:02 remaining to help in Western's late push (74-64) but fouled out a few minutes later. He also scored 21 in the previous meeting against USD.  

This Saturday, Western returns home for the first of two remaining games inside Western Hall. North Dakota will visit first at 7 p.m., and the following Saturday will see Omaha roll into town at 2 p.m.  
 

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The Bushnell-Prairie City high school boys basketball team has been on a winning streak these past three games. Coach Tyler Snyder and the varsity team will strive to continue their journey as they go up against Elmwood in a non-conference game tonight at 7:30 p.m. 

 

Elmwood is also on a three game winning streak, their most recent win, a 50-29 victory against Lewistown. The Elmwood Trojans are currently 18-6 while being 6-4 in their conference. They are 7-2 at home.

 

Bushnell- Prairie City on the other hand is undefeated when it comes to conference play, with a record of 5-0. Their overall record is just above .500 at 12-11. Their most recent victory, a 65-48 drubbing of Peoria Heights..

 

 

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MACOMB- Fort Wayne, Ind. - Senior James Claar showcased his talents while playing against the Mastodons. Both times the teams have played each other this season, he has left with a new career high. This time he shot 100 percent from the field and the free- throw line, but it wasn’t enough unfortunately because the Leathernecks lost 75-69. 

James Claar led his team with 20 points while grabbing five rebounds. He was joined in double figures by teammates C.J. Duff, Kobe Webster, and Ben Pyle. Claar went 6- for- 6 from the floor and 8-for-8 at the free-throw line, while coming off the bench.

As the Leathernecks leading scorer, Kobe Webster started the game off hot, scoring the first eight points giving them a lead of 8-2. Later on in the game, the Leathernecks scored more points off turnovers by 22-16, however the team turned the ball over 21 times. The Leathernecks put up a fight out scoring Purdue Fort Wayne on second chance points 10-1.

It just wasn’t enough as the Mastodons eventually went on to win the game. C.J. Duff manages 970 career points and is on track to become the second Leatherneck to score 1,000 points this season. The Leathernecks are off to South Dakota next Wednesday for a 7 p.m. showdown.

 

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MACOMB - Fort Wayne, Ind. - It was a back and forth battle between The Western Illinois University Leathernecks and The Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons. However when the clock struck triple zero, the Leathernecks showed their Tradition of Tough and won the game. The Sophomore duo of Danni Nichols and Zara Evans combined for 50 points in a 83-74 defeat over Purdue Fort Wayne.

 

Zara Evans put up a career high night of 25 points, scoring from the inside and beyond the arcl. The 6’2 stretch five knocked down three from outside the arc, while also getting three blocks. This is her tenth consecutive game with a block. Danni Nichols who is a former Summit League Freshman of the Year shot 62% from the field and was one point short of tying her career high in points at 26.

 

The Leathernecks battled down low as they outscored the Mastodons in the paint 48-22. The defense was a main part in the win, the Mastodons got held and didn’t score any fast break points as the Leathernecks scored 8.

 

This is the second win in a row for The Leathernecks. The team has nine days off before resuming play on the road against undefeated #22 South Dakota on the 13th. South Dakota is currently 21-2 overall, 10-0 in the Summit League.

 

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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. — Abbie Gault and Cassidy Jurkaites both picked up wins as day one drew to a close at Lakewood Ranch Country Club in the Mid-American Match Play Challenge hosted by Bowling Green on Monday (Feb. 3).

"The team played better this afternoon but just missed winning the third match for the team win in the second round," Director of Golf Lia Biehl Lukkarinen said. "We would have been happy with our scores in stroke play, so we will work on finishing strong tomorrow."

 

As the 11-seed, the Leathernecks dropped the first match 4-1 to the 6-seed, Western Michigan in the opening round. The Broncos took an early advantage when Cameryn Lucia saw the match become tied multiple times but held on against WIU freshman Katie Tanner (2UP).

 

Gault faced Alissa Fish of WMU and won with two holes left to play (3&2). Western Michigan completed the team victory with individual decisions over Emily Marrs (2&1), Jurkaites (3&2) and Natalie Hooper (4&3).

Western Illinois picked up some momentum in the consolation bracket against Ohio. Another match involving Tanner went down to the wire with Mallory Lovell squeaking away with the victory (2&1).

 

For her second win of the day, Gault cruised past Maria Howard of the Bobcats (4&3).

 

 

Ashley Flynn topped Marrs (3&1) before Cassidy Jurkaites drew the match even with a clutch 2&1 decision over Alicia Porvasnik. Ohio's Catherine Loftus pulled through to defeat Hooper (4&3) and that was the difference in the narrow 3-2 Leatherneck loss.

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Western Illinois swimming and diving honored the program's seven total seniors and five of them won events in a dual meet against Truman State on Saturday (Jan. 25) inside Brophy Hall. The Leatherneck women's squad registered its first victory as a team this season.
 
"I was very happy with today's results," head coach Scott Johannsen said. "We got to recognize our seniors and thank them for their contributions. It was a fun day."

 

Brennan Bladel took first place the 100-back (52.56) and fellow senior Connor Owens won the 100-breast (1:00.47).

 

Adam Peterson was victorious in the 50-free (21.22) and Tyler Cunningham grabbed the top spot in the 200-free (1:49.01). Despite those individual wins, Truman State won the men's dual by a score of 114-84.  
 
For the Western Illinois women, senior Miranda Mathus logged first in the 100-back (1:02.6). Her teammate Olivia Leslie finished in second place with a time of 1:02.81.

 

At the diving platform, Samantha Kessinger won for 1-meter diving (198.30) and Keelie Shuck had the best mark at 3-meter diving (183.90).

 

On Senior Day, Casey Roberts netted first place in both the 50-free (25.05) and the 100-free (56.34) en route to a 111-103 dual win over the visiting Bulldogs.

 

 

Both the Leatherneck men's and women's teams travel across the state to Charleston, Ill., for events on Saturday (Feb. 1). The men have a dual with the host Panthers while the women are participating in a tri-meet with both Eastern Illinois and Butler (1 p.m. start).  

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There was a battle, and Western Illinois men's basketball rose to the challenge, but couldn't overthrow North Dakota in an 83-77 contest Saturday night (January 25) at the Betty Engelstand Sioux Center. 

"I'm so proud of our guys," said head coach Billy Wright. "They faced adversity here on the road, but they stuck to the scheme defensively. Offensively, we moved the ball. We had 12 assists, six turnovers, and shot pretty good. When we needed a bucket we went inside or attacked the rim. We just couldn't overcome the disparity at the free throw line." 

As time expired, Kobe Webster nailed a midrange jumper to send his team into halftime down by three. The step back cemented his 15th point – on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor – and with several of his teammates in foul trouble, Webster became the Leathernecks' anchor. He contributed nearly half of the team's points while four Leathernecks battled two fouls each. 

North Dakota led by as many as nine with 6:38 to go, but the final four minutes went quiet from both sides. Webster's late shot was the only made attempt in the last 3:42, and it crowned a 7-2 Leatherneck run to pull the score to 35-32. 

An energetic UND squad stepped on the court to start the second frame, and the Hawks immediately took off for a 13-0 run. They held a double-digit advantage until the 13-minute mark where senior C.J. Duff scored 10 points in a three-minute span.

Anthony Jones' 3-pointer saw the deficit cut to 59-54 with 9:35 left, and the Leathernecks stayed within striking distance, even though they couldn't pull any closer. 

North Dakota finished the night shooting 26-for-33 from the line in comparison to the Leathernecks' 9-for-10 effort. 

Webster poured in a team-high 17 points with seven assists. He was followed in scoring by Zion Young (13 points), Ben Pyle (13), C.J. Duff (12), and Anthony Jones (11). 

Four more home contests remain on WIU's regular season schedule, and the next two will take place this Thursday and Saturday. North Dakota State will be the first to take to Western Hall at 7:30 p.m. 

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A strong 4th quarter led A-Town to a 58-47 win over Bushnell-Prairie City in boys basketball action Wednesday. The Spartans held a 4-point lead at the end of the first stanza, the Abingdon Commandos knotted things up by the end of the half, and that tie carried through to the end of the third. Bushnell had three players in double figures, with Cooper Allaman leading the way with 22. The Spartans will try to snap their two-game losing streak with a trip to Havana Friday. Game time is 7:30.
 

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VALPARAISO, Ind. — The Western Illinois men's swimming and diving team racked up five victories as the women's squad showed improvement in a tri-meet hosted by Valparaiso against the host Crusaders and Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Jan. 18.
 
“Both teams swam hard,” head coach Scott Johannsen said. “We will fine-tune a few things over the next few weeks to get ready for the Summit League Championships. I am looking forward to big things."

 

Brennan Bladel displayed versatility by winning the 200-Back (1:56.76) and the 400-IM (4:16.48). He narrowly took second place in the 200-Free with a time of 1:45.95.

 

Fellow senior Connor Owens was victorious in the 100-Breast (1:01.61) and 200-Breast (2:16.08). The event got off to a great start when the 400-Medley relay team edged Eastern Illinois with a final time of 3:37.15.

 

Adam Peterson netted second in the 50-free (21.88) and Garret Kemp almost brought home an individual win in the 200-Fly (1:59.27) but ultimately placed in second.
 
On the Western Illinois women's swimming side, senior Miranda Mathus logged third in the 200-Free (2:01.48) and 100-Fly (1:01.55). Mathus claimed second in close 100-Free race touching the wall in 56.11.

 

Allison Spielman came in second place in the 100-Back (1:02.88) and third in the 50-Free (25.86). In the 500-Free, Alexis Dreyer finished in third place at 5:32.56.

 

 

The Leathernecks return home for Senior Night playing host to Truman State on Saturday (Jan. 25) at 1 p.m. 

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MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois men's basketball played host to Oral Roberts Thursday night (Jan. 16), where a late run sparked its visitors to an 87-70 victory. 

The outing concluded Western's three-game homestand and the sixth Summit League outing where both Zion Young (18 points) and Kobe Webster (15 points) finished in double-figures. 

"Turnovers, points off of turnovers and second-chance points were the difference tonight," said head coach Billy Wright. "We tried to go big there late in the second half, trying to match up and get some rebounds, but it somewhat made us stagnant on the offensive end.

"Give [Oral Roberts] credit. They were able to pound the boards, get to the paint, and get to the free-throw line. Ultimately, I think it was our rebounding and turnovers that hurt us."

It was raining 3-pointers at the start of the game.  

The Leathernecks made seven in the first half alone, and every one of their field goals was taken from behind the arc for a 15-13 advantage at the 14:49-mark. Ironically, it was a 3-pointer that provided the Golden Eagles their go-ahead basket, and it led to a 7-0 run. 

Oral Roberts managed a 41-36 edge at halftime, and while there were waves where it appeared Western would make a run, ORU responded to each attempt.

The Leatherneck deficit was four, 50-46, when Ben Pyle swished a corner trey at 15:46, and was later closed to three, 57-54, when Webster knocked down one of his own at 11:20. The game was within Western's grasp, no more than two possessions, until the final seven minutes of the night where ORU embarked on a 10-0 run. 

The typically cautious Leathernecks committed a Summit-high 16 turnovers to Oral Roberts' six, and the visitors scored 16 points on the mistakes. 

Western returns to action next Thursday at Omaha. 

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D.— Western Illinois men's golf student-athlete Kyle Irlbacker was named a Summit League Golfer to Watch, the league announced Thursday (Jan. 16).

 

"Kyle had a fantastic first semester," Director of Golf Lia Biehl Lukkarinen said. "He has the birdie making potential to be one of the top players in our league. I anticipate he will finish his senior year strong."


A total of nine student-athletes were selected to the list based on nominations by each team's head coach.
 
Irlbacker, a senior from Cary, Ill., played 14 rounds in the fall of 2019 with a team-best 72.79 average. His lowest round this season was a 66 in the second round of the SIUE Derek Dolenc Invitational (Sept. 23-24). He notched two top-10 finishes this past fall, including one top-5 placing.  


The Leathernecks were picked to finish eighth in the Summit League with a total of 16 points. Western Illinois opens the 2020 spring slate in St. George, Utah at the Pizza Hut Pat Hicks Thunderbird Invitational hosted by Southern Utah, Feb. 10-11.

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The Bushnell-Prairie City Spartans will travel to Farmington to match up against the Farmers in a conference game tonight (Jan.14) at 7:30 p.m.

 

The Spartans have been on a roll as they are on a 3 game win streak on the road. The Spartans truly showed their dominance last Friday (Jan.10) as they beat the Astoria/VIT Rebels 60-28. The Rebels have not had a good season thus far and have a record of (0-14). The Spartans took advantage and they now sport an 8-5 record.

 

Now the Spartans are pushed to 4th place in the Prairieland Basketball standings. The Farmers are not trailing far behind being 7th in the Prairieland Basketball standings. With the Farmers having a 7-3 record, this matchup can be challenging for the Spartans. This will be the first time both teams meet up this season. The game tonight can determine who moves up in the standings and who goes down

 

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The Western Illinois men’s basketball team faced off with Denver at Western Hall on Saturday, January 11, as the Leathernecks looked to lock up their second Summit League win. The Pioneers made a furious push towards the victory after being down 55-40 shortly after the start of the second half, getting the score to 79-78, before Ben Pyle knocked down a huge 3 to put the Leathernecks up 4. That shot allowed Kobe Webster and Zion Young to ice the game late with big free throws, and WIU escaped with an 86-80 win. 

 

The Leatherneck offense was humming as soundly as ever on Saturday, with the men astoundingly shooting exactly 50% both from the field and from 3, while they crucially knocked down 78% of their shots from the charity stripe. Pyle was the man for the moment not only on that clutch 3 but the “Mop-head from McPherson”, as Danny Frey put it on the commentary, put up 21 overall on 7-11 from the field and 4-6 from 3. Webster and Young both added 17 points as Young nailed the first three of the contest for what feels like the millionth time this season, while CJ Duff added 12 and Roderick Smith added a big 8 points off the bench in one of his best performances of the season. The Leathernecks have proven several times this season that they can shoot and score with just about anyone, the question still remains, can they defend enough? 

 

For Denver it was all about one man, Jase Townsend. The Sophomore guard seemingly dragged the Pioneers into the game on his back as he hit late shot after late shot to make WIU sweat out the win. He finished the day with a game-high 28 points on an extremely efficient 11-18 shooting from the field and 3-5 from 3, while Ade Murkey added 14 and Robert Jones put up a solid 13. All three of the Pioneers’ scoring leaders also added at least 5 rebounds, and all three shot 50% or better from the field. As a team Denver shot 52%, a figure WIU cannot keep allowing to happen if they have a hope of staying in contention for the Summit League Tournament. This week’s performances against PFW and the aforementioned Pioneers dropped the Leathernecks to 329th out of 353 division 1 programs in the KenPom Adjusted Defense rankings (points allowed per 100 possessions), which will be a massive problem for the remainder of the season should no improvement be seen. 

 

WIU (5-10, 2-3) will move forward to face Oral Roberts on Thursday, January 16, with a tip off set inside Western Hall at 7 PM. Denver (4-15, 0-5) will continue its search for its first Summit League win when it takes on Omaha at home on Saturday, January 18 with a tip off from Denver set for 2 PM Central Time/1 PM Denver Time.

 

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The Western Illinois women’s basketball team played its 5th Summit League matchup on Sunday, January 12, playing host to Denver. The Pioneers broke out quickly from the tip off, storming to a 20-8 lead roughly midway through the first quarter. WIU battled back from that point on, ending the quarter down just 21-15 and finishing the first half up 43-37, completing a 35-17 run from the 3:08 mark of the first quarter. WIU faced a stiff second half battle from Denver that saw Olivia Kaufmann, Evan Zars and Grace Gilmore take hard fouls in the head/face area, but ultimately prevailed 82-75.

 

So physical was the second half of play that Denver was assessed two intentional fouls, both taken by Gilmore, in the fourth quarter alone. Gilmore would leave the game late with what appeared to be a hip injury, but does not appear to have picked up anything long-term. After a bit of a bounce-back performance shooting the ball against Purdue-Fort Wayne, the Leathernecks fell right back into the pattern of struggling with their shot, finishing with percentages of 42% from the field and 26% from 3, though they did importantly shoot 80% from the free throw line. In a way though, this win proved what many doubted, which was an ability for WIU to score and, more importantly, win when their shots are not falling. The key for them, certainly in Summit play, appears to be drawing fouls and getting to the line. In 2 of their 3 league wins, they have attempted at least 20 free throws, including 33 trips to the line in the 2OT win over North Dakota State.

 

Olivia Kaufmann was a huge part of that success at the free throw line, as she not only finished 9-10 overall from the line, but crucially knocked down all 4 of the intentional free throws in the fourth quarter. She added to that line with 24 points, 3 assists and a very impressive 10 rebounds, considering her size and the physicality of the game. She never seems to shy away from a battle. There was a nice moment before the game for the senior guard as well, as she earned recognition for becoming Head Coach J.D. Gravina’s 6th player under his watch to join the 1000 point club. WIU alum and all-time leading scorer Taylor Higginbotham was on hand to celebrate the occasion. Zars recorded a 12 point, 10 rebound double-double, while Gilmore, Danni Nichols, Sam Pryor and Elizabeth Lütz each recorded double figure scoring totals to round out the box score for the Leathernecks. Uju Ezudu and Meghan Boyd led the way for Denver, with Ezudu dominating on the block to the tune of a 19 point, 14 rebound performance and Boyd performing a masterclass from long range with a 17 point performance on 5 made 3s. 

 

The Leathernecks (9-9, 3-2) will next host Oral Roberts on Saturday, January 18, with a tip off there scheduled for 4:30 PM. Meanwhile, Denver (7-11, 1-4) will return home to take on Omaha on Saturday the 18 as well, with a tip scheduled for 4:30 PM Central Time (3:30 Denver time).

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The Macomb boys basketball team played a back-to-back series over the weekend, taking on Monmouth-Roseville on Friday, January 10 and then Canton on Saturday, January 11. The Bombers played a defensive-minded game against the Titans in which Sam Allen and the offense struggled, falling to Monmouth 37-24 on Friday, but Macomb bounced back in a big way on Saturday. Allen and Sean Winters had big performances as the Bombers looked more fluid offensively in a tight 56-54 victory over Canton. 

 

It truly was a tale of two games for Macomb, as Allen went from 6 points on a wild shooting night Friday, to a much more efficient 12 points on Saturday in which he sought to involve his teammates more often. The performance of the weekend, however, was Winters’ 18 point night on Saturday that included a red-hot 13-point first half. He was able to stretch the floor for Macomb, ultimately opening up the lane for big men Adam Farr and Atoa Stone. The better shooting performance was a key to the bounce-back win, but for me the biggest difference was in the energy on the floor. For long stretches in Saturday's game it seemed like there was not one single loose ball or rebound the Bombers were not fighting for or getting their hands on, they contested shots well, and for the majority of the game made life difficult for the Little Giants. You might’ve thought it was a different team had you watched both Friday and Saturday’s games.

 

Canton did make a very strong fourth quarter push, with the bulk of the comeback coming from guard Trey Passmore. He ended with a 10-point second half on the back of a 4-point play and a wild sequence where he hit two straight threes to cut the lead to 4 late in the fourth quarter. His and Jake Smith’s shooting kept Canton in the game as they did a great job finding space off of ball screens and solid ball movement. Leighton Holthaus, however, was the man for the moment for Macomb, as he hit a pair of free throws and a big layup late to keep Macomb in the lead, while on the other end it came down to the Little Giants' ability to match that crunch-time ability. Passmore carried the ball back up the floor with the LittleGiants trailing 56-54, and took a three that clanked off the rim and Connor Wilcoxen was unable to get the rebound up in time. It was a wild finish but ultimately a very good win for the Bombers as a winless weekend would’ve left them feeling like they could have had more. It should also be noted that Canton’s Turner Plumer ended Saturday’s game with 16 points in a very solid performance down low. 

 

All three of these teams will play their next games on Tuesday, January 14, with Macomb playing host to Geneseo at 7:30 PM and both Canton and Monmouth-Roseville heading to Peoria. Monmouth-Roseville will face Peoria Heights at 7 PM, while Canton takes on Peoria Christian at 7:30 PM.  

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Thursday, January 9, represented a historic day for Western Illinois women’s basketball for a number of reasons, prime among them star guard Olivia Kaufmann’s proximity to 1000 career points, and the final visit to Western Hall for Purdue Fort Wayne as a member of the Summit League. The Leathernecks, and Kaufmann did not shy away from the moment, as Kaufmann notched her 1000 point just after the start of the second quarter on a three-pointer, and the Leathernecks earned a 79-68 victory. 

 

This was the first game for the Leathernecks with the knowledge that Annabel Graettinger will be out for the remainder of the 2019-20 season with a torn ACL, and we saw a bit of a new look lineup with Carla Flores moving into the starting 2-guard role. Graettinger joins a rapidly growing injury list that already included key bench players Avery Hamm and Kyra Washington, so the depth of the Leathernecks’ rotation will be tested for the rest of the season. Flores, among others, stepped up in a big way in this one, as WIU put up its best shooting performance (50% from the field, 35% from 3) in nearly a month. 

 

Flores put up a respectable 14 points to justify her inclusion in the starting 5 and Elizabeth Lutz, who will also likely be asked to step into a larger role with the aforementioned injury issues, stepped up with 12 points of her own. The performances of the night, however, came from Kaufmann and Evan Zars, who continues to look more and more like a go-to player for WIU. Kauffman finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Zars racked up 16 and 13 as WIU dominated on the inside. The Leathernecks won the points-in-the-paint battle 46-26 and out-rebounded PFW 42-31 in a real show of heart and hustle. 

 

The one problem the ‘Dons posed for the Leathernecks was a little-known bench player by the name of Hannah Hess. She made a name for herself on Thursday night, hitting 5 of her 11 three point attempt as she was able to consistently find space in the WIU defense and manufacture open shots. Hess’ shooting actually had the ‘Dons in the lead in the second quarter after 3 straight makes, and caused a furious J.D. Gravina to call a timeout to straighten out his defense. The Leathernecks heard the message and despite a late push from Fort Wayne, were able to pull put an 11-point victory. Hess ended with a career high 19 points, while the ‘Dons also got a career high 19 from Riley Ott and another 18 from Anna Lappenküper. 

 

WIU (8-9, 2-2) will next play host to Denver on Sunday, January 12, with a 2 PM tip off set inside Western Hall, while the Mastodons (4-12, 0-3) will next face off with South Dakota State at home on Sunday, January 12 at 2 PM.

 

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The Leathernecks will return to Macomb where they will play their next three games against Purdue Fort Wayne (Jan. 9), Denver (Jan. 12) and Oral Roberts (Jan. 18). 

 

To start the year off right, the Leathernecks triumphed over North Dakota on the road in a double-overtime victory with a score of 79-78  Thursday (Jan 2). Then followed by a thrilling victory over South Dakota State with a score of 75-74 Saturday (Jan 4). These wins pushed their overall record to 7-9 in the season.

 

Western has progressed this season as they are ranked top 10 in four statistical categories as of January 6. They are 1st in free throw attempts, 6th in three-point field goals made, 7th in Free throws made, and 10th in steals.

 

The Leathernecks hold the advantage as they beat Purdue Fort Wayne in their last 5 matchups against them. In addition, Western is 5-2 when facing off against teams in Western Hall. With the Leathernecks on a hot streak to start the new year, they will bring the energy tonight (Jan 9) at 7 p.m against Purdue Fort Wayne.

 

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The Western Illinois men’s basketball team played host to the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons on Wednesday, January 8, and despite a relatively back-and-forth game, WIU was unable to pull out enough late stops in a 77-69 loss.

 

The ‘Dons did the bulk of their damage through star guard Jarred Godfrey, who finished the night with 26 points and 13 rebounds. His tenacity and ability to get into the paint, whether it was for a drive or following a shot for a rebound, was tough to handle for WIU as they could not seem to consistently put a body on him. Among the other major contributors for Fort Wayne was Deonte Billups, a Moline native. Billups, who famously was recruited to WIU, finished the night with 19 points on an amazingly efficient 8-9 shooting from the field. Godfrey’s line of rebounding was a theme for the ‘Dons, as they hammered WIU on the boards. PFW had 5 players rack up at least 5 boards en route to out-rebounding the Leathernecks 47-32, 14 of which were PFW offensive rebounds. 

 

Perhaps the biggest example of the 'Dons' tenacity was on the final possession of the game. With 58 seconds left, WIU had just cut its deficit to 8 on a Kobe Webster three and the ‘Dons had the ball. Electing not to foul and stop the clock, WIU forced PFW to take a contested shot, which they missed and unfortunately secured an offensive rebound. WIU again elected not to foul, forcing another contested PFW shot, which again fell to PFW on the rebound. At this point the shot clock was turned off, with WIU still trailing by 8, and Fort Wayne ran the clock down to triple zeroes. That type of hustle was ultimately the difference between the ‘Dons and Leathernecks.

 

It wasn’t all bad for WIU, however, as Kobe Webster and Ben Pyle combined for 35 points on 8-17 shooting from distance. James Claar had one of his best performances of the season, going for 14 points and 7 rebounds while adding 2 blocks as well. Zion Young added 10 points, 6 of which came on his first two shots of the game. There were some nice secondary performances around this group, with Kyle Arrington playing some tough minutes down the stretch and earning some big buckets to keep WIU in the game. DreShawn Allen played some key minutes in spelling CJ Duff and played tough defense, leading the team in steals with 3. 

 

Another trend that continued with the loss, WIU has won only once on the 2019-20 season while scoring less than 70 points. The Leathernecks (4-10, 1-3) will get another chance at their second Summit League win when they take on Denver at Western Hall on Saturday, January 11 at 2 PM. Purdue Fort Wayne (9-9, 2-1), next takes on South Dakota State at home on January 11 with a tip set for 7 PM.

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