ST. PAUL, MN – Leatherneck women’s basketball played Saturday afternoon (Jan. 21), defeating the Tommies of St. Thomas 77-75 at Schoenecker Arena in St. Paul, Minn. The result gives Western its second-consecutive victory and win no. eight on the season.
“It felt good to win, you know how hard road wins are. It seems like not a lot of things have gone our way this season, even in the last couple, so it’s nice to win a close game and it’s fun for our players to win with a game-winning shot,” head coach JD Gravina said. “It was a pretty wild game with a ton of runs; that was one of the more up-and-down games I’ve played as far as runs. It was never like a 17-2 run but a ton of 8-0 runs both ways. I’m just proud that we were able to fight on the road and its nice to get the win.”
The game opened with a frenetic pace as both teams forced turnovers and looked to push the pace. After the Tommies brought it to within four points at 11-7 with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter, the Leathernecks outscored UST 9-4 down the stretch, a period capped off by Jada Thorpe banking in a triple from the top of the arc with less than a second remaining in the quarter.
After Addi Brownfield and Kennedy Flanagan buried three pointers to build the team’s biggest lead of the game at 26-11 with 8:30 remaining in the quarter, St. Thomas fought back and went on a run of its own, finishing the half on a 19-9 run as Western held a 37-34 lead at the break.
UST out-scored WIU 22-16 in the third quarter and carried that momentum early in the fourth, but Western had several players step up and make key plays down the stretch. Mallory McDermott hit back-to-back threes in the middle part of the fourth quarter to cut an eight-point deficit to just two with just over five minutes remaining in the game. The Leathernecks then took a lead two-and-a-half minutes later after Anna Deets’ 2-2 effort at the line, setting the stage for a wild finish.
“I thought Mal was someone who put in a good performance,” Gravina said. “Coming in, it’s hard – she was sitting on the bench for a little longer maybe than she’s used to but she still came in and hit two huge threes.”
The Tommies started by hitting two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to tie things up at 75 apiece before a Western Illinois timeout. After nine seconds of trying to find a look, the Leathernecks called another timeout, meaning it would be WIU ball on the baseline with six seconds remaining in the game. Addi Brownfield then received the inbounds pass and get around her defender before finding a wide-open Carla Flores on the low block, who banked in a right-handed layup with less than one second remaining in the contest. The Tommies’ full-court heave was no good and the game ended at 77-75 in favor of the Leathernecks.
“I was the distraction, so I was screening for Anna and I think my defender either left with her or went to double AB and I was wide open, so I just cut to the basket. I was looking at AB like ‘pass me the ball I’m right here’ and I just went up and finished,” Flores said. “It’s very exciting, mainly for the team. I think we needed a team win and, on the road, it makes it much better so it’s just super exciting.”
Anna Deets once again led the team in scoring with 21 points and five rebounds, making 10-11 at the line and marking her third-consecutive game with 20+ points. Addi Brownfield recorded her third-straight double-digit scoring game with 16 points on 6-12 shooting and 2-3 from deep, also finishing with four rebounds, six assists, one block and four steals. Alissa Dins scored 11 and grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds while recording two blocks and four steals. Mallory McDermott scored nine in 20 minutes of action while Flores finished with eight points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal. Jada Thorpe scored five while Elizabeth Lutz had three steals.
“Addi had some big plays down the stretch and being willing to make that last pass was huge,” Gravina said. “You draw a play to get her going to the basket and the defense doubled, a lot of kids would have probably forced something up but she had her head up and made a good pass.”
As a team, Western Illinois shot 27-54 (50%) from the field, 8-20 (40%) from deep and 15-19 (78.9%) at the line, with assists on 16 of those made baskets. WIU blocked five shots and finished with 14 steals while forcing 23 total Tommy turnovers, converting those into 19 points off turnovers and 10 fast break points. WIU controlled the paint with 36 points in the paint to UST’s 26, also converting six offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points.
The Leathernecks are back in action next week, facing South Dakota (Jan. 26, 7 p.m.) and South Dakota State (Jan. 28, 2 p.m.) on the road.
Copy By Western Athletic Communications