SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Omaha women’s basketball team dropped an 84-82 decision to top-seeded Western Illinois Monday afternoon in the Summit League semifinals at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
The Mavericks closed the Summit League Tournament with a 16-15 record, while the Leathernecks improved to 25-6 overall and advanced to Tuesday’s championship game against IUPUI.
Senior Mikaela Shaw paced UNO with a game-high 29 points on 11-for-22 shooting from the floor, including a 5-for-5 effort at the line. Shaw added eight rebounds and four assists. Senior Michaela Dapprich added 24 points on 10-for-21 shooting with a pair of three-pointers. Dapprich finished with seven rebounds and a pair of assists.
Sophomore Ellie Brecht hit five three-pointers off the bench for 15 points, while senior Abi Lujan had six points and six boards. Junior Remy Davenport had a team-high seven assists and five points.
Emily Clemens had a triple-double to lead the Leathernecks with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Morgan Blumer went for 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting with six three-pointers. Olivia Braun had 15 points and seven assists, while Taylor Higginbotham had 10 points and seven boards.
Omaha shot 47.6 percent (30-for-63) from the floor, while Western Illinois connected on 42 percent (29-for-69) of its shots. UNO hit 44.4 percent (12-for-27) of its shots from beyond the arc, compared to 34.1 percent (14-for-41) by WIU. The Mavericks were 90.9 percent (10-for-11) from the stripe; in contrast, the Leathernecks were only 70.6 percent (12-for-17).
The first quarter was the opposite of Sunday’s quarterfinal as the Mavericks found themselves down 7-0 after just 2:03 of play. Omaha head coach Brittany Lange used an early timeout to calm her Mavericks. Her words found their mark as Omaha responded with a 14-7 run to tie things up with 2:32 left in the first quarter. Sophomore Courtney Vaccher got things started by making a pair of free throws. Following a Leatherneck missed shot, Shaw found her range from just inside the free throw line. The next possession led to a trey from Shaw to pull UNO within two. After the two teams had exchanged baskets, a three-pointer from Brecht tied things up at 14-all. Shaw put Omaha ahead briefly on a layup at 16-14. Before the quarter ended, the two teams exchanged baskets sending the contest into the second period with Western Illinois leading 22-20.
Shaw opened the second with a pair of free throws to tie the game at 22-all. UNO took the lead with 6:32 left in the half on a Brecht trey. The Mavericks held a slight edge over the next two minutes, but a 13-2 run gave UNO a 47-36 advantage with 1:22 remaining. Dapprich ignited the Omaha run with a jumper off an assist from Davenport. Brecht then hit a pair of threes to advance the lead to six, and another trey from Dapprich gave the Mavericks an 11-point cushion. A Clemens three-pointer in the closing minute cut Omaha’s lead to 47-39 at the break.
Trailing coming out of the locker room the top seed scored the first four points of the second half to draw within 47-43. A three-pointer from Davenport and a Dapprich jumper brought Omaha’s lead back to nine points with 6:47 left in the period. Western Illinois outscored UNO 14-5 over the next 5:36 to tie things up. Shaw knocked down her second three of the game to put the Mavericks back in front 62-59 at the end of the third quarter.
Omaha moved the lead back to six points in the opening 90 seconds of the fourth quarter. Western Illinois countered with threes from Braun and Clemens to draw even at 67-67. Over the next 3:06, UNO was able to go ahead by as many as three points, but WIU would answer the challenge. A Michelle Farrow three-pointer put the Leathernecks up one, but Lujan countered with a trey of her own to give the Mavericks the lead. Consecutive three-pointers from Blumer pushed the Western Illinois lead to four with under two minutes left to play.
Omaha’s Lujan cut the lead to one under a minute to play. Following a Clemens free throw, Shaw had a chance to put the Mavericks ahead, but her shot was off target. UNO got one last chance after WIU missed two free throws, but were unable to get a shot off before time expired.