MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinios women's basketball heads to Fargo, N.D. with an overall record of 9-8 and Summit League mark of 2-3 to challenge North Dakota State who is 7-11 overall and 3-3 in conference play this Saturday (Jan. 19).
Last time out, the Leathernecks dropped a league game 86-51 to the 2012 Summit League defending champion South Dakota State on Thursday (Jan. 17). Two members of the team reached double figures including Ashley Luke with 13 points and Rebecca Henricson with 10 points.
Saule Kontautaite and Luke each pulled down a team-high six rebounds, while Henricson posted a team-high three assists in the game. Michelle Maher and Luke recorded two steals to lead the team, while three Leathernecks recorded one block apiece including Jackie Rieger, Rachel Evans and Luke.
Western Illinois shot 29.2 percent from the floor, 22.2 percent from long range and 58.3 percent from the charity stripe, while South Dakota State shot 50.8 percent from field goal range, 40.9 percent from beyond the arc and 61.9 percent from the free throw line.
Who: Western Illinois (9-8 Overall, 2-3 Summit)
at North Dakota State (7-11 Overall, 3-3 Summit)
Where: Fargo, N.D. • Bison Sports Arena (5,830)
When: Saturday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.
Series History: North Dakota State leads 8-3
The Dog (88.3 FM) and WMQZ (104.1 FM)
Talent: Michael Broskowski (play-by-play), Logan Sell (color)
LAST TIME OUT: The Leathernecks dropped its Summit League matchup at South Dakota State on Thursday (Jan. 17) 86-51... Ashley Luke paced the Leatherneck offense with 13 points and was joined in double figures by Rebecca Henricson who posted 10 points for the third time this season... Saule Kontautaite and Luke each pulled down a team-most six rebounds, while Henricson led the team with three assists... Michelle Maher and Luke each had a team-high two assists... Three Leathernecks recorded a block in the game including Luke, Jackie Rieger and Rachel Evans... Western shot 29.2 percent from the field (19-for-65), 22.2 percent from beyond the arc (6-for-27) and 58.3 percent from the charity stripe (7-for-12).
A LOOK AT THE BISON: Summit League member North Dakota State brings an overall mark of 7-11 and a conference record of 3-3 into the Saturday (Jan. 19) evening matchup including league wins over Kansas City 59-48, Oakland 60-59 and IUPUI 71-68... The Bison defeated Oakland and IUPUI with last second shots... Katie Birkel and Dani Degagne lead the Bison offense with 227 points (12.6 ppg) and 218 (12.1 ppg), respectively... Pacing the team in rebounds is Marena Whittle with 134 (7.4 rpg)... Degagne has a team-most 38 steals (2.4 spg), while Birkel leads the team in assists with 48 (3.0 apg)... A pair of Bison, Degagne and Liz Keena have a team-high eight blocks (0.5 bpg) on the year... The North Dakota State roster consists of three freshmen, five sophomores, two juniors and six seniors... The Bison are led by fifth year head coach Carolyn DeHoff.
SERIES HISTORY: In all-time meetings, North Dakota State leads Western 8-3... The last time these teams clashed, on Feb. 25, 2012, the Bison took the win 73-53 in Fargo, N.D.... The last time the Leathernecks defeated the Bison was on Dec. 2, 2011 in Macomb by a score of 68-65.
UP NEXT: Western Illinois women's basketball returns to Western Hall for two home conference matchups against South Dakota on Thursday (Jan. 24) and Kansas City on Saturday (Jan. 26)... Thursday's game is slated to begin at 7 p.m., while Saturday's tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Macomb.
FLAWLESS: The Leathernecks are a perfect 7-0 when playing on Waste Management Court in Western Hall this season... The home stand includes an 85-35 win over Clarke, a 69-55 victory over Valparaiso, a 70-53 win against William Woods, a 70-68 win over Eastern Illinois, a 92-81 victory over Bradley, an 87-52 win over Chicago State and most recently a 71-44 conference win over Omaha... These seven games are among the eight highest scoring efforts of the season for Western.
MAKING CHANGES: In his second year at the helm of the women's basketball program, head coach JD Gravina has helped his team accomplish its best start to a season in seven years... The team's current record of 9-8 is the best since the 2005-06 season when Western began the year with a 15-2 record in its first 17 games... The 2005-06 squad went on to win the regular season conference title and play in the WNIT.
NATIONALLY SPEAKING: Western Illinois women's basketball is currently nationally ranked 13th in three-point field goals made per game (7.9), 41st in assists per game (15.6), 47th in personal fouls per game (14.3), 56th in three-point field goal percentage (33.9), 76th in assist to turnover ratio (0.88) and 100th in blocks per game (3.9)... Rebecca Henricson is the lone Leatherneck ranked in the 'Top 100' in a category owning the 53rd spot with an assist to turnover ratio of 1.79.
LEADING LEATHERNECKS: Saule Kontautaite paces the Leatherneck offense with a total of 222 points (13.1 ppg) this season... She also leads the team in field goals with 81 (4.8 fg/g) and minutes played with 502 (29.5 min/g)... Rebecca Henricson has team-high numbers in steals with 31 (1.8 spg) and assists with 59 (3.5 apg)... Ashley Luke is just shy of a 100 rebound season with a total of 98 (5.8 rpg)... Rachel Evans has tallied a team-most 13 blocks (0.8 bpg), Michelle Maher has a team leading 36 threes made (2.1 3fg/g) and Jackie Reiger has a team-high 40 free throws (2.4 ft/g)... Leading the team in field goal percentage shooting 62.5 percent (5-for-8) and three-point field goal percentage shooting 50.0 percent (6-for-12) is Liz Skotowski... A trio of Leathernecks own a free throw percentage of 1.000 (2-for-2) including Karis Phillips, Sophie Reichelt and Liz Skotowski.
CAREER THREEES: Two members of the Leatherneck senior class are climbing the career three-point 'Top 10' list... Saule Kontautaite is currently in sixth place with 101 threes made and is one away from tying the fifth place mark of 102 held by Doshia Woods (2000-01)... Michele Salvatori ranks ninth in the standings with 84 percent and is five threes from tying the eighth place mark of 90 held by Michelle Nason (1991-92).
MOVING ON UP: With 12 contests remaining in the regular season, the Leathernecks now occupy the No. 4 spot on the Team Season 'Top 10' list in threes made in a season with a total of 135 after netting a total of six from long range at South Dakota State on Thursday (Jan. 17)... With 19 more threes, Western can tie the No. 3 mark of 154 set by the team in 2008-09... The school record stands at 215 threes made, which was set by the 2011-12 squad.
CONFERENCE ONLY STATS: Western ranks within the 'Top 5' in several categories when looking at conference games alone... The team is first in three-point field goals made with 135 (7.9 3s/g), second in blocked shots with 67 (3.9 bpg) and assist to turnover ratio (0.9), third in scoring offense with 1101 points (64.8 ppg) and three-point field goal percentage (33.6), fourth in field goal percentage (40.1), field goal percentage defense (40.1) and defensive rebounds with 438 (25.8 rpg) and fifth in scoring margin (+1.5), steals with 144 (8.5 spg) and rebounding offense (36.7).
SUMMIT LEAGUE 'TOP 10': When looking at total games played, many members of the Leatherneck squad rank among the 'Top 10' statistically... Saule Kontautaite is fourth in threes made with 34 (2.0 3s/g), ninth in scoring with 13.1 points per game and 10th in field goal percentage (43.1)... Rebecca Henricson ranks second in assist to turnover ratio (1.8), fourth in assists per game (3.5) and seventh in steals per game (1.8)... Ashley Luke is third in field goal percentage (48.6) and fifth in offensive rebounds with 41 (2.4 rpg)... Charnelle Reed owns the top spot in three-point field goal percentage (46.2) and is 10th in threes made with 24 (1.4 3s/g)... Michelle Maher is second in threes made with 36 (2.1 3s/g) and Rachel Evans is eighth in blocks with 13 (0.8 bpg).
KONTAUTAITE PRESEASON ALL-LEAGUE, WESTERN PICKED SEVENTH: Western Illinois senior guard Saule Kontautaite earned a spot on the preseason All-Summit League selections, while the Leathernecks were picked to finish seventh in the poll, announced by the league office. Head coaches, sports information directors and select media members voted in the poll... Last year, Kontautaite was voted as the league's 'Newcomer of the Year', and this year earned a spot on the preseason Second Team. She averaged 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, while setting a program record hitting 67 three-point field goals. The senior guard started in 12 of her 31 games played... South Dakota State received 22 of the 25 first-place votes and was picked to repeat receiving 330 points. Kansas City, the tournament runner-up last year, received a first-place vote and tallied 260 points. Oakland (234) and North Dakota State (221) went third and fourth, respectively. IUPUI earned a first-place vote with 213 total points for fifth... South Dakota registered 151 points, just ahead of Western's 138 points. Fort Wayne got the other first-place vote and recorded 96 points, while Omaha's 43 points rounded out the preseason poll.