SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The eighth-seeded Omaha women’s basketball team advanced to the Summit League Championship Final with a 69-55 win over fifth-seeded Western Illinois on Monday afternoon at the Sanford Pentagon.
The Mavericks move to Tuesday’s title game with a 7-12 overall record while the Leathernecks conclude their season with an 8-16 record.
Leaders for Omaha
Claire Killian had a game-high 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, including 6-of-7 from beyond the arc. Elena Pilakouta had 10 points and five assists while Sarah Schmitt added 10 points and four assists. Josie Filer chipped in eight points and totaled a game-high nine rebounds.
Leaders for Western Illinois
Evan Zars led Western Illinois with 16 points and nine rebounds and Grace Gilmore had 16 points and six rebounds. Carla Flores rounded out the Leathernecks in double-figures with 10 points.
Omaha shot 54.5% (24-of-44) to Western Illinois’ 40.4% (23-of-57). The Mavericks shot 8-of-14 from beyond the arc and outrebounded the Leathernecks 31-24. Omaha led by as many as 18 in the second half and held the lead for a total of 37:34.
Inside the First Quarter
Omaha scored six consecutive points on a pair of Killian three-pointers to grab a 14-11 lead with 1:37 left in the quarter. Killian led the Mavericks with six points while Pilakouta chipped in four points. Omaha shot 54.5 percent in the opening quarter while limiting the Leathernecks to 33.3 percent from the floor.
Inside the Second Quarter
Back-to-back scores by Lauren Frost and Pilakouta stretched the lead to 22-13 before the climbed back within three at 28-25 with 2:48. The two teams traded layups in the final minute to send Omaha into the locker room with a 30-27 lead. The Mavericks shot 66.7 percent from the floor with Killian and Frost scoring six and five points apiece.
Inside the Third Quarter
Omaha’s defense stifled the Leathernecks, holding Western Illinois scoreless for a little over six-minute span while going on an 11-0 run. Filer stretched the Omaha lead to 42-29 with an old-fashioned three-point play with 4:20 left before adding another three-point play with 1:44 left give the Mavericks a 51-34 lead.
Inside the Fourth Quarter
Western Illinois trimmed the deficit to 53-43 with 8:02 remaining before the Mavericks responded with a 7-0 run. Sophie Johnston connected on a three-pointer and layups by Schmitt and Pilakouta grew the Omaha lead to 60-43 with 5:49 left.
Killian capped the scoring on the day with a pair of free throws with 2:09 remaining while the Leathernecks added a pair of buckets in the final minute to clinch the 69-55 upset for the Mavericks.
Omaha will play in its first Summit League Championship Final in program history on Tuesday, March 9, taking on No. 2 South Dakota. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., and the winner advances to the NCAA Championship with the league’s automatic bid.