Macomb– Western Illinois women's basketball started their 2019-20 season as they took on the Maryville Saints in an Exhibition game at Western Hall Tuesday. Maryville got off to a great start as they outscored the Fighting Leathernecks in the first quarter of 17-10. The Leathernecks then kicked it into gear as they outscored the Saints the remaining quarters.
Sophomore Evan Zars had an excellent performance in her debut as a Leatherneck with her first double-double adding 17 rebounds and 10 points. Sophmore Danni Nichols led the team with 22 points closely followed by Senior Olivia Kaufmann with 20 points.
Nichols was the first player to put points on the board once she made a three-pointer into the first two minutes in the first quarter. The Leathernecks were able to hold on to their lead for the first four minutes until the Saints made a layup to take a 6-5 lead. The Leathernecks struggled to score as the Saints applied that pressure in the first.
Junior Grace Gilmore kicked off the scoring momentum in the second as she ignited the Leatherneck comeback. The Leathernecks went on a 9-3 scoring run. By the end of the first half, the Leathernecks led the Saints 33-29.
During the start of the 2nd half, Western forced another run for eight points making the score 39-31. Following, Kaufmann went on a five-point run of her own supplemented with a three-pointer from Zars. The Saints tried to keep up but the Leathernecks already had their momentum going. By the end of the third, the Fighting Leathernecks led the Saints 57-48.
A jump shot from Kaufmann in the fourth quarter kicked off an 11 point lead. Their largest lead of the game came at two minutes remaining as senior Annabel Graettinger sealed the deal with a dagger to put the Leathernecks up 73-59. The final score of the game was 78-61 as the Leathernecks secured the win.
The Leathernecks will be back in Western Hall on Tuesday, October 29 for their second exhibition game against Quincy. Their season opener will tip-off November 5, as they head down to Missouri. The original story can be found on goleathernecks.com