The Western Illinois women’s basketball team hit the road on Thursday to take on North Dakota State in their second Summit League game, and first in 2020. Things looked dicey at times as WIU really struggled with its shooting and allowed the Bison to stay in the game. Sam Pryor came through late, however, with a number of clutch plays as the game went to overtime and eventually double overtime, and WIU earned a hard-fought win, 79-78.
The shooting struggles have become an unfortunate trend of late for WIU, as including last night, WIU has not shot above 36% from the field since a loss in the Compass Challenge to Southern Illinois and has not shot above 30% from 3 since a win at home over Southeast Missouri State. It will be a difficult test for Head Coach J.D. Gravina and his staff to remedy the problem with the conference schedule coming hard and fast in the new year. A remedy that does not become any easier with the absence of Annabel Graettinger.
Now, this might seem all doom and gloom, but there were a number of positives from the Thursday night thriller. WIU played excellent defense, holding NDSU to marks of 37% from the field and 14% from 3 for the game. The Leathernecks additionally showed great resolve and fight in the fact that they did not let the Bison pull away at several key points late in regulation and both overtimes. The late play of Pryor was a huge factor as well, as the redshirt junior guard derives so much of her play from confidence. The clutch game-tying and game-winning shots in the two overtimes should do wonders.
A win is a win, and WIU will take them no matter how they come in light of the recent run of play. For them to pull out a victory, no matter the quality of opponent, in this game where the offense struggled speaks volumes about the “never say die” attitude of the team. WIU (7-8) now heads to Brookings, South Dakota for a matchup with the always-tough South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Saturday with a tip off set for 2 PM. North Dakota State (3-11) gets a bit of an extended break, with their next game coming Wednesday, January 8, on the road against Oral Roberts for a 7 PM tip.