MACOMB, Ill. - After having its three-game winning streak snapped against Florida Atlantic, Western Illinois women's basketball looks to start a new streak against Loyola (Chicago) inside Western Hall on Saturday (Nov. 23) at 4:30 p.m.
The Leathernecks (3-2) defeated the Ramblers (1-3) for the first time last season, snapping a four-game skid.
Western Illinois will be holding a Teddy Bear Toss on Saturday, as well, with donated stuffed animals being displayed at McDonough District Hospital's Festival of Trees event, then donated to hospital patients.
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LAST TIME OUT: Western Illinois had its three-game winning streak snapped by Florida Atlantic, who defeated the Leathernecks 81-77... Liz Skotowski hit six triples, marking the 10th time in program history a Leatherneck has accomplished the feat... She finished one trey away from tying the program record of seven... Ashley Luke collected her fourth double-double of the year, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds, also adding four assists... Tori Niemann set new career highs in points (17), rebounds (8), and steals (4)... Michelle Maher added 12 points and seven assists, Rebecca Henricson totaled six points, four rebounds and four assists, and Paige Harmon racked up seven points and three assists... After going 6-of-7 from 3-point range in the first half, Western Illinois finished the game 8-of-17 from long distance.
SCOUTING THE RAMBLERS: Led by first-year head coach and WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, Loyola is off to a 1-3 start to the 2013-14 season... Swoopes, a four-time WNBA champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist, is in her first season of collegiate coaching, previously spending one year as a high school assistant... Simone Law, a preseason First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, returned from injury to play in her first game and score eight points at Eastern Illinois, an 81-80 loss... Taylor Johnson leads the team in scoring at 15.3 ppg... Tiana Karopulos is right behind at 13.8 ppg, while Troy Hambric is averaging 12.3 ppg and a team-high 9.8 rebounds per game... Ayrealle Beavers leads the squad in assists, dishing out 6.5 per contest... Molly Crosby is scoring 6.5 ppg, while ranking second on the team with 7.5 boards per game.
SERIES HISTORY: Loyola leads the all-time series, 4-1... Western Illinois snapped its four-game skid last year by winning 65-61 in Chicago... The ramblers won previous matchups in 2010, 2009, and twice in 1983... Graduated senior Saule Kontautaite hit five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 25 points to lead Western... Michelle Maher also scored in double figures, while Ashley Luke had seven points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
THIS DATE IN HISTORY (Nov. 23): Western Illinois beat Long Beach State in Fairbanks, Alaska on this date in 2001 by a 70-61 score…In 1999, WIU topped American, 64-58... Western is 2-5 on Nov. 23 all-time.
PROTECTING THE ROCK: After finishing 15th in the nation with a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio last year, Rebecca Henricson has tallied 25 assists while committing just five turnovers so far in 2013-14, the second-best ratio in the Summit League... She had one turnover or less in the first four games this season...As a team, Western Illinois has finished with more assists than turnovers in each of the last four contests.
STRONG START: Western Illinois is off to its best start since the 2005-06 season... The Leathernecks started that season 4-1, and finished the year with a 23-7 overall record... This is just the eighth time in program history the Leathernecks won three of the first four games; six of the previous seven times, Western Illinois finished the season with a record above .500.
ATOP THE SUMMIT: Ashley Luke leads the conference with four double-doubles and four 10-rebound games... She also leads the league with 11.0 boards per game... Rebecca Henricson is second in assist/turnover ratio (5.0) and assists per game (5.0)... The Leathernecks have three of the conference’s top four in steals: Tori Niemann is second (2.6/gm), while Henricson and Michelle Maher are tied for third (2.2/gm)... Luke and Maher are both in the top 10 in the league in scoring; Luke is fifth at 14.4 ppg, and Maher is tied for seventh at 14.0 ppg... As a team, Western Illinois is more than three points ahead of the second-highest scoring offense (81.0 ppg)... The Leathernecks also lead the league in scoring margin (+10.4), assists per game (20.2), steals per game (9.6), turnover margin (+5.0), and offensive rebounding (13.4/gm).
70 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: In head coach JD Gravina’s tenure, the Leathernecks are 20-4 when scoring at least 70 points, including 3-1 this season... When scoring 69-or-fewer points, Western is 9-33 over the same timespan.
SPREAD THE WEALTH: Eight of the nine Leathernecks who have seen game action have had a game scoring at least nine points, while seven have had at least one game scoring 17 points or more... Through five games, five different Leathernecks have led the team in scoring on a given night... Individual Leathernecks have scored in double figures 20 times already this year.
STRONG RETURNERS: The Leathernecks welcome back eight returners from the 2012-13 roster... Rebecca Henricson is the lone senior and serves as the team captain, also serving as the floor general as the point guard... Ashley Luke is the reigning Summit League ‘Newcomer of the Year’ and was the lone All-Summit League honoree a year ago... Michelle Maher is back for her sophomore campaign after averaging in double-figure scoring her freshman season... Liz Skotowski, Paige Harmon and Sophie Reichelt all enter their sophomore seasons after shooting 38 percent or better from beyond the arc off the bench their first season... A pair of transfers will see their first action in Purple & Gold after sitting out games last season to meet transfer requirements: Marley Hall, a junior forward, and Tori Niemann, a junior guard.
FRESH FACES: In addition to the eight returners, the Leathernecks also welcome four newcomers in 2013-14... Mallory Boyle was an ESPN 3-star recruit and is expected to make an impact as a true-freshman... Michelle Farrow also enters from the high school ranks after picking up All-Area accolades during her prep career... Western also brings in two more transfers from four-year programs who will have to redshirt the upcoming season to meet transfer requirements: junior Faith Lois, a 5-11 guard who spent her first two seasons at Nevada-Reno, and Ciara Marlow, a 5-7 sophomore guard who averaged double-figure scoring in her rookie season at Division III Aurora University.
PRESEASON RECOGNITION: A trio of Leathernecks received preseason recognition... Ashley Luke was projected as ‘First Team All-Summit League’ through voting of conference coaches, media members, and sports information directors, as well as by College Sports Madness... Luke was the only underclassman to be named to either the First or Second Team by the conference... Additionally, Michelle Maher was tabbed as ‘Second Team All-Summit League’ and Mallory Boyle was projected to be ‘Summit League Freshman of the Year’ by College Sports Madness... The conference preseason poll projected Western Illinois to finish sixth in the Summit League in 2013-14... The Leathernecks received 146 points in the poll, just behind Denver (169) and Fort Wayne (179)... South Dakota State received the majority of the first-place votes (27 out of 30) in the poll and led the pack with 319 points.
HISTORY BEFORE THE TIP: For the first time in program history, the women’s basketball team will be playing 15 home games inside Western Hall in 2013-14... Last year was the first time the team had ever played 14 contests in Macomb in one season... Of the eight nonconference games at home, five are Division I programs: Florida Atlantic (Nov. 20), Loyola-Chicago (coached by WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes - Nov. 23), Saint Louis (Nov. 30), Southeast Missouri State (Dec. 7) and SIU-Edwardsville (Dec. 19)... Playing at home under should bode well for the Leathernecks; last year, Western finished 10-4 inside Western Hall compared to 4-12 on the road and at neutral sites.
WESTERN SIGNS ONE FOR 2014-15: On the first day of the 2013-14 early signing period (Nov. 13), Emily Clemens signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Western Illinois women’s basketball family for the 2014-15 season... Clemens, a 5-4 point guard from Muscatine H.S. (Iowa), is a two-time All-State honoree... She averaged 12.3 points, 4.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 steals her junior year after totaling 12.5 points, 7.0 assists, 3.7 steals and 2.9 rebounds per contest her sophomore season... She has also shot better than 41 percent from beyond the arc each of her past two seasons.
GRAVINA SETS ANOTHER STANDARD: Head coach JD Gravina holds a 26-35 record through his first two years at the helm of Leatherneck Basketball. No other coach in the program’s NCAA Division I history has won more games in their first two years of coaching than Gravina... With the last 2012-13 win over Oakland, Gravina took sole possession of first moving past Leslie Crane (25)... Gravina joins Bea Yeager (first two years team moved to Division I level) as the only coaches with at least 10 wins in each of the first two seasons, and Gravina is the only coach to win at least 12 games each season.
ATTENDANCE ON THE RISE: The Leathernecks’ 2012-13 regular season finale against Oakland brought 1,156 fans to Western Hall - the second highest attendance in program history. The total surpassed the previous season-high of 848 against South Dakota State (‘Think Pink’ event)... The record is 1,384 against IUPUI in March 2004... That was the third time last year Western drew at least 800 fans for a game... The 644 average home attendance in 14 games is the largest average since the 2006-07 season (660 avg./12 games)... The 1,156 attendance for Oakland was the last 1,000+ attendance since February 27, 2006 (1,001 vs. Kansas City).
3-POINT SHOOTING RECORDS SET: In the team’s 98-55 win over William Woods, Western Illinois broke the program record for 3-pointers in a game, connecting on 16 of them... Against Florida Atlantic (Nov. 20), Liz Skotowski hit six 3-pointers, falling one short of the program record, but marking just the 10th time a Leatherneck has accomplished the feat... Seven different Leathernecks sank a triple en route to the record of 16... For the second season in a row last year, Gravina’s program broke the team’s single-season 3-pointer record... The Leathernecks finished 2012-13 with 235 treys, breaking the record set in the previous season by 20... Saule Kontautaite broke her own season record of 67 3-pointers by sinking 68 in 2012-13... Michelle Maher connected from long distance 60 times during her freshman campaign, fourth-most all-time.
THREE STRAIGHT: Ashley Luke was named the 2012-13 Summit League ‘Newcomer of the Year’, marking the third straight season a Leatherneck received the honor... Saule Kontautaite was the 2011-12 recipient, while Sadie Webb earned the recognition in 2010-11... Luke earned the honor by averaging 10.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in her redshirt-freshman season... She was also named ‘Second Team All-Summit League’ and to the ‘Summit League All-Newcomer Team’.
NATIONALLY SPEAKING: Western Illinois women’s basketball finished the 2012-13 season ranked 15th nationally in 3-point field goals per game, connecting on an average of 7.8... Current senior Rebecca Henricson ended her junior year ranked 15th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, racking up 2.2 assists per turnover... With 15.4 assists per contest, the team ranked 36th nationally...The Leathernecks also finished in the top 65 in fewest fouls committed per game (51st - 14.4), assist-to-turnover ratio (53rd - 0.95), and ranked 63rd in 3-point field-goal percentage (63rd - 33.1 percent).
TALE OF TWO SEASONS: In her redshirt-freshman season, Ashley Luke got stronger as the year went on... After not scoring more than seven points in any of the first nine games, she scored in double figures in 22 of the last 26 games, including all five in 2013-14... Including the first two games this season, Luke tallied four consecutive double-doubles... She has posted eight double-doubles in the past 10 games, including four double-doubles in five games this year.