Western Illinois women’s basketball: Second-Half Proves Turning Point


MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois women’s basketball team began the Summit League journey against the preseason favorite South Dakota on Sunday (Dec. 29) inside Western Hall.
Part of four league doubleheaders, the Leathernecks strung together short runs throughout the game, but the Coyotes answered each with a strong second-half in a 65-96 defeat.  
“I thought we came out and played really hard, and we played really physically,” head coach said JD Gravina. “In the second-half South Dakota was making some adjustments and got more physical around the basket. I think we let ours drop just a touch and they were able to get some easier scores around the basket.”
“When five things or a couple of bounces don’t go your way to start the second half, that really just kills you. I think that happened, and they are too good of a team to let that happen to and recover from.” 
Olivia Kaufmann completed an and-one out the first media timeout to make 7-8 in the first quarter. The Leathernecks used that momentum to earn its first lead of the game (12-10, 3:44) behind a Sam Pryor three and Annabel Graettinger acrobatic layup. 
Before both sides entered halftime, Elizabeth Lutz snatched a USD pass and drilled the last-second layup to head into half and make it a one-possession game (35-38, USD). 
However, the second half favored #22 South Dakota. 
The Coyotes came out and shot over 65 percent from the field and perfect (10-10) from the free-throw line to pull away from the Purple and Gold. 
Western Illinois hits the road for action against North Dakota State (Jan. 2) and South Dakota State (Jan. 4) before returning home against Purdue Fort Wayne (Jan. 9).

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