Necks to compete in compass challenge

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Western Illinois women’s basketball team will travel to Carbondale to partake in the Compass Challenge. The Leathernecks come into the weekend with a 3-6 record and most recently an 82-68 road loss to the Bradley Braves. They are led by junior point guard Olivia Kaufmann who averages 14.4 points a game, and senior guard Taylor Higginbotham averaging 12.4 a game. Kaufmann also dishes it out with 25 assists, and right behind her is junior transfer Annabel Graettinger with 18. On the defensive side of the ball Higginbotham leads the team in steals with 20, and right behind her with 19 is Kaufmann.

On Friday at 4:30 p.m., the Leathernecks will take on the Eastern Illinois University Panthers who enters the contest with a 3-3 record. They have dominated in their three wins, averaging a 44-point margin in their wins. Both teams have played Butler and Bradley. They both lost to Butler by 39+, however, the Panthers only lost to the Braves 67-64. They have a nice 1-2 punch from the sophomore players, who are both averaging 13.8 points. Taylor Steele and Karle Pace clearly have not been affected by the sophomore slump. The Leathernecks will need to lock these two down to disrupt the Panthers offense, giving them a great chance to win.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., Western will face the Northern Illinois University Huskies who have a 4-3 record. The Huskies have a high-powered offense, averaging 77.3 points a game, generated by their only two seniors on the team. Courtney Woods who averages 20.1 points per game and Mikayla Voigt, who averages 15.1 a game. The biggest problem the Necks will face is the Huskies height. They have eight players over 6’0”, and Western has zero. If the Necks can consistently crash the boards and limit Northern on the offensive glass, they will have no problem with the Huskies.

After this weekend, the Necks will have 12 days before they go to Las Vegas to play at the Holiday Hoops Classic. They will play UTEP on Dec. 20, and Furman on Dec. 21. They will have exactly one week off until they start Summit League play. They host the defending Summit League champs the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, led by reigning Summit League Player of the Year, Macy Miller. Then two days later, they will host the Denver Pioneers. Then they will have three-road games in-a-row against Oral Roberts, North Dakota State and North Dakota.

It will be a jammed pack for the Necks, but expect them to gain momentum going into conference play so they can make another run for the Summit League title.

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