MACOMB, Ill. - The Fighting Leatherneck women's basketball team cruised to a 71-44 Summit League win over Omaha on Saturday (Jan. 12) afternoon, keeping its flawless 7-0 mark in Western Hall. The victory brings Western to 9-7 overall and a 2-2 record in The Summit League.
In the opening half, the Leathernecks never trailed Omaha (11-5, 3-3) using eight three-pointers to take control of the game and head to the locker room with a 37-22 advantage. Michelle Maher had the hot hand knocking down four of her seven shots from long range, while Michele Salvatori, Rebecca Henricson, Charnelle Reed and Saule Kontautaite each added one apiece.
After staying even in points within the first six minutes of the second half, Western Illinois scored on back-to-back possessions with a Jackie Rieger layup and two free throws from Henricson to push the lead to 19.
With a 20-point lead and just over four minutes remaining in regulation, head coach JD Gravina looked to his bench to close out the game. Paige Harmon knocked down Western's first three-pointer of the second half at the 2:33 mark, then Reed and Karis Phillips followed suit hitting one apiece from long range. Also netting points in the final four mintues of play was Liz Skotowski with two from the charity stripe.
Ashley Luke reached double figures for the fifth time in the last seven games with 12 points in the contest, while Maher used four three-pointers to post 12 points. Also reaching double figures was Rieger, who matched her season-high of 10 points for the third time this year.
Henricson matched a career-high with six rebounds in the game, while Rieger matched her season-high mark also pulling down six boards. Henricson's five steal performance also matches her career-high. A trio of Leathernecks dished out four assists including Salvatori, Henricson and Kontautaite.
The squad shot 46 percent from the field (23-of-50), 57.9 percent from beyond the arc (11-of-19) and 87.5 percent from the charity stripe (14-of-16), while holding Omaha to 30.8 percent from the floor (16-of-52), 35.7 percent from long range (5-of-14) and 87.5 percent from the line in the game (7-of-8).
On Waste Management Court in Western Hall this season, the Leathernecks have outscored opponents by an average of 22 points, and averaged 10 3-point field goals per game.
"A big thing we talked about after the IUPUI game was that you can't go out and play every team like they're the same," Gravina said. "Tonight we did a really good job of adjusting and when you're hitting shots everything gets a little bit easier, but that was because we were sharing the ball. I don't remember us taking a bad shot all night."
Western resumes Summit League play on the road next Thursday (Jan. 17) at South Dakota State and Saturday (Jan. 19) at North Dakota State. Each game is slated to begin at 7 p.m.