Women’s Basketball Looking to Find Its Way in Summit League

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At Baxter Arena (pictured above), Omaha is 4-4 at time of publication. Away from home, the Mavs are 2-7. Photo courtesy university communications.

Kenneth Pancake
SPORTS EDITOR

At the beginning of the season, the Mavericks put 96 points on USC Upstate. Despite losing seven of their last eight games, having only one team member averaging double digit scoring on the season, and sitting on the cusp of missing the conference tournament, there is still hope.

After a 5-7 non-conference start, Omaha women’s basketball has gone 1-4 in the Summit League and has an overall record of 6-11 as of Jan. 18.

Over their last eight games, Omaha has lost to teams such as Bradley, North Dakota and Western Illinois. Their one win comes against North Dakota State – enough to keep UNO out of the figurative ejection seat. Only eight of the conference’s nine teams will make the postseason conference tournament.

Despite that, there’s some encouraging points in this young squad.

Since conference play began, three Mavericks are averaging double-digit scoring on a per-game basis. Overall, only Rayanna Carter averages a double-digit number, with 10.1 points per game. This improvement in offensive firepower comes at just the right time for Claire Killian (averaging 12.8 points per game in the Summit) and Elena Pilakouta (10.4 points per game in the Summit).

In addition, their shooting has improved immensely. Since entering into conference play, Omaha stepped up their perimeter presence with 35 percent from the three-point line. The season average sits at just above 30 percent. Free-throw accuracy has been above the team average in the last five games as well with a 6 percent improvement.

Another encouraging aspect of Omaha’s game is the presence of Kalen Phillips, who scored a career-high number of 25 during UNO’s road trip to Macomb, Illinois. While Western Illinois would go on to win that game, Phillips sank seven three-point shots. Meanwhile, Mariah Murdie and Elena Pilakouta both nearly achieved a double-double, with 11 points and nine rebounds for both.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Leathernecks’ offensive overload. Taylor Higginbotham, Annabel Graettinger and Olivia Kaufmann led the Western Illinois scoring effort with 20, 19 and 17 points, respectively.

After a Sunday game at Baxter Arena against South Dakota, Omaha will play Purdue Fort Wayne in Indiana on Jan. 23 before taking on South Dakota State in Brookings, South Dakota on Jan. 26. The South Dakota State matchup will be available on select television channels, as well as on 1290 KOIL; the matchup against Purdue Fort Wayne will be called on 1180 Zone 2.

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