MACOMB, Ill. – The Omaha women’s basketball team erased Western Illinois’ 25-point fourth quarter lead Wednesday evening but fell short 78-70 at Western Hall.
With the loss, the Mavericks are 6-11 overall (1-3 Summit League), while the Fighting Leathernecks improved to 7-12 (3-3)
Leaders for Omaha
Senior Kalen Phillips led the Mavericks, scoring a career-high 25 points to lead all scorers. The Ellisville, Miss., native shot 7-of-11 from the field with seven 3-pointers and a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line.
Freshmen Mariah Murdie and Ellena Pilakouta each missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds apiece. Murdie added two blocks and two steals, while Pilakouta had four blocks, two assists and two steals. Junior Rayanna Carter chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Redshirt freshman Kylee Coulter scored a career-best nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field.
Leaders for Western Illinois
Taylor Higginbotham’s 20 points led three players in double figures for the Fighting Leathernecks. Annabel Graettinger had another 19 points, and Olivia Kaufmann added 17.
Omaha hit 41.3 percent (26-of-63) of its shots from the field, including 32.3 percent (10-of-31) from behind the 3-point arc. The Mavericks converted only 57.1 percent (8-of-14) of its free throws and outrebounded the Fighting Leathernecks 40-39.
Western Illinois outshot Omaha for the game, connecting on 42.6 percent (26-of-61) of its attempts, including 9-of-27 from behind the arc. The Fighting Leathernecks also hit 17-of-22 free throws.
Inside the First Half
Western Illinois got off to a fast start as the Fighting Leathernecks jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first five minutes of the game. Graettinger and Kaufmann combined to score 12 of WIU’s opening 14 points. Murdie and Coulter combined for seven straight for the Mavericks to cut the deficit to 17-14. Kyra Washington’s second 3-pointer of the period put Western Illinois ahead 22-16 heading into the second quarter.
The Fighting Leathernecks scored the first five points of the second quarter to extend the lead to 11. Omaha responded with a 5-0 spurt keyed by a 3-pointer from Coulter and a jumper from Cater to make it 27-21 with 7:39 left in the first half. Western Illinois outscored Omaha 13-12 the rest of the period and took a 40-32 lead at the break.
Inside the Second Half
Western Illinois came out strong in the third quarter, outscoring Omaha 10-3 in the opening 2:34. The Fighting Leathernecks scored the final three points of the frame and held a 62-40 lead after three quarters of play.
Down 65-40 with less than nine minutes left the Mavericks rattled off 10 of the next 12 points to pull within 65-50. Phillips scored all 10 points for Omaha, started the burst with a 3-pointer, followed by four free throws and another trey. Western Illinois’ Danni Nichols interrupted Omaha’s surge by making 1-of-2 free throws. Moments later Murdie converted a pair of layups to make it 66-54 with 3:39 remaining. Phillips hit three straight 3-pointers to cut the lead to 76-68 before fouling out with 37 seconds left. Graettinger pushed WIU’s lead to double figures with a pair of free throws. Carter delivered the final bucket of the game to make the final 78-70.
News and Notes
• Omaha dominated off the bench with 45-15.
• The Mavericks out-blocked the Fighting Leathernecks 6-0 and held a 40-39 edge in rebounding.
• The Mavericks tied a season-high with 10 3-pointers against WIU.
• Phillips scored 22 points in the fourth quarter for Omaha.
• Pilakouta blocked a career-best four shots.
The Mavericks return to action on Sunday, Jan. 20 as Omaha hosts South Dakota at 2 p.m. in Baxter Arena.