By John Bohnenkamp
MACOMB, Ill. — The furious start couldn’t be duplicated at the finish.
Western Illinois’ women’s basketball team had a 14-point third-quarter lead get away in an 87-85 overtime loss to Kansas City on Saturday afternoon at Western Hall.
The Leathernecks (12-10 overall, 3-8 Summit League) lost for the eighth time in their last nine games, but it was a game in which they had their chances.
Anna Deets’ 3-point attempt in the closing seconds missed, and Danni Nichols couldn’t get a putback shot off in time.
The defeat spoiled a brilliant start to the game for the Leathernecks, who scored 35 first-quarter points. They made 13-of-19 shots, including 9-of-10 3-pointers.
“It was kind of emotion-driven,” Western Illinois coach JD Gravina said. “Just come out guns blazing and be ready to battle.”
The Leathernecks led 66-52 with 41 seconds left in the third quarter, but Kansas City (18-5, 8-4) outscored them 27-13 the rest of regulation time to force overtime.
Kiara Bradley’s 3-pointer with one second left tied the game after Western Illinois’ Evan Zars missed two free throws seven seconds earlier that could have clinched the win.
“They got hot for sure,” Gravina said of the Roos’ comeback. “And we kind of made some bad decisions. A bad decision hurts that possession, but for us it hurts two or three in a row. We have to learn how to play in the flow of the game.”
Western Illinois led 84-81 in overtime before Bradley scored five consecutive points. Her 3-pointer with 2:37 to play gave the Roos a lead they would not give up.
Still, the Leathernecks had a chance at the end after Naomie Alnatas made just the first of two free throws. Deets had an open shot, but it was long. Nichols scrambled for the loose ball, but couldn’t get a shot off at the buzzer.
“We had an option there, get a 3-pointer or a two,” Gravina said. “I actually thought we did a really good job of attacking. I thought we got a really good look. Hard to complain.
“They hit a ton of shots, got some rebounds there at the end. But we gave ourselves a chance.”
Jada Thorpe led Western Illinois with 22 points. Nichols had 19. Elizabeth Lutz had 16, and Deets finished with 13.
Alnatas finished with a triple-double — 29 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. Bradley had 20. Paige Bradford had 17 points and 14 rebounds.
The Leathernecks have three consecutive road games coming up, needing to break out of their current struggles.
“We just have to play at a high level every night,” Gravina said.
Photo: Western Illinois guard Elizabeth Lutz (left) talks to her teammates coming out of a timeout.