MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois women's basketball is set to open regular action at home on Tuesday (Nov. 13) against the Crusaders of Clarke. The contest will be played at Waste Management Court in Western Hall at 7 p.m.
In its season opener at Iowa State on Sunday (Nov. 11), the Leathernecks fell 84-65 despite leading the Cyclones by two, 40-38, at the half. Four scored in double figures with Saule Kontautaite pacing the squad netting 16 points, while Michelle Maher, Rebecca Henricson and Charnelle Reed each contributed 10 apiece.
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A LOOK AT THE CRUSADERS: Clarke, a member of the Midwest Collegiate Conference, brings an overall mark of 1-4 into Tuesday's matchup and is a member of the NAIA... Jenna Kotas leads the Crusaders in scoring with a 14.2 ppg average and is followed by Anna Hahn at 11.2 ppg... Hahn also paces the squad in rebounds averaging 8.6 per game... Amanda Hamilton has a team high 26 assists (5.2 apg average)... Defensively, Breland Prochaska has 12 steals (2.4 spg average) and Brianne Boals follows closely behind with 11... Three seniors, three juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen make up the Crusader roster... Clarke is coached by third-year head coach Don Adams.
THE SERIES: This is the first meeting in Western Illinois women's basketball history.
LEATHERNECK LEADER: In his first season at the helm, head coach JD Gravina and his staff helped the squad to a Summit League Tournament semifinal appearance in 2011-12... The team's 12 victories accomplished is a Western Illinois Division I era best first-year record for a head coach.
RACKING UP RECORDS: In 2011-12 the Leathernecks set a program scoring record netting 2,050 points, surpassing the previous high by more than 100 points (1,943 in 2003-04)... Western made 722 field goals, good for ninth place on the season 'Top 10', and the 391 free throws were eighth-most in a season... A big reason why Western set a scoring record last year was due to the accuracy behind the 3-point line. The Leathernecks shattered the season 3-point FG record, hitting 215 last season. That bested the previous record by 60 from four years ago... Senior guard Saule Kontautaite rewrote the record book hitting 67 triples. She broke the 11-year-old record of 62 held by Doshia Woods... As a team Western shot 32 percent from beyond the arc... Senior Michele Salvatori hit 33 3-point field goals from beyond the arc last year. That moved her into a tie for 10th place on the Western career chart with 75. She moved to within two of a share of eighth place... Fellow senior Saule Kontautaite is on the verge of joining Salvatori among the career leaders. Thanks to her season-record 67 treys, she needs eight more to join the 'Top 10'... Amanda Walker holds the record with 146 all-time.
SUMMIT LEAGUE PRESEASON PULSE: Western Illinois senior guard Saule Kontautaite earned a spot on the preseason All-Summit League selections while the Leathernecks were picked to finish seventh in the poll, announced by the league office. Head coaches, sports information directors and select media members voted in the poll... Last year Kontautaite was voted as the league's 'Newcomer of the Year', and this year earned a spot on the preseason Second Team. She averaged 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game while setting a program record hitting 67 3-point field goals. The senior guard started in 12 of her 31 games played... South Dakota State received 22 of the 25 first-place votes and was picked to repeat receiving 330 points. Kansas City, the tournament runner-up last year, received a first-place vote and tallied 260 points. Oakland (234) and North Dakota State (221) went third and fourth, respectively. IUPUI earned a first-place vote with 213 total points for fifth... South Dakota registered 151 points, just ahead of Western's 138 points. Fort Wayne got the other first-place vote and recorded 96 points while Omaha's 43 points rounded out the preseason poll.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN: Western Illinois has 16 on the roster, however, head coach JD Gravina will have two waiting to be eligible next year... The squad will be led by five seniors - Saule Kontautaite, Michele Salvatori, Karis Phillips, Christina Jones and Jackie Rieger. There are four juniors - Rachel Evans and Rebecca Henricson were joined in the off-season by Tori Niemann and Marley Hall. Niemann transferred from Missouri and Hall came from Illinois State. Both have to sit out this season to meet NCAA requirements. Western's lone sophomore is Martyna Kudziela. Redshirt-freshman Ashley Luke came from Green Bay, but since she sat out last year she received a waiver from the NCAA just prior to the first exhibition game. Five freshmen will be making their Leatherneck debut this year: Charnelle Reed, Michelle Maher, Liz Skotowski, Paige Harmon and Sophie Reichelt.