By JOHN BOHNENKAMP
MACOMB, Ill. — November ended for the Western Illinois University women’s basketball team with the Leathernecks still searching for answers.
The 84-69 loss to Tarleton State on Wednesday at Western Hall dropped the Leathernecks to 1-5 on the season. And with the Summit League schedule opening in late December, time is ticking away.
“It’s hard to keep talking about how we’re making slow improvement, but I do think we are,” Western Illinois coach JD Gravina said. “It’s just hard to see it on the scoreboard.”
The Leathernecks, who only trailed 13-12 at the end of the first quarter, were outscored 29-12 in the second quarter by the Texans, who made 10-of-15 shots, including 5-of-7 3-point attempts, in the quarter. Western Illinois was just 3-of-12 from the field in the quarter.
“They just knocked down everything and set the tone,” Gravina said. “They’re really quick, but they shoot it really well.”
“They just got momentum,” said Western Illinois guard Jada Thorpe, who led the Leathernecks with 18 points. “Basketball is a game of runs, and I think they shot it really well and we took a while to get our threes going.”
Western Illinois was just 4-of-20 in 3-pointers through the first three quarters before hitting three in the fourth quarter.
Fourteen of Tarleton State’s 26 field goals were 3-pointers.
“They come in and shoot lights out,” Gravina said. “We got good shots early and made hardly any.”
The Leathernecks also made 22 turnovers that were converted into 20 points by the Texans.
“I think we’ve just got to do a better job of communicating,” Thorpe said. “We’ve got pretty good chemistry, but it’s just something we’ve got to work on.”
Teresa Da Silva led Tarleton State (4-2) with 21 points.
The Leathernecks have five nonconference games left before opening conference play on December 19 at North Dakota State.
“I feel like it sounds like a little bit of a broken record to them, like, ‘Hey, stick with it. You know, we’re getting better,’” Gravina said. “We’ve tried to take some steps (forward). Last year we had the great nonconference (schedule) and then we struggled in conference. Now we’re going to be a little more battle-tested for the conference season.”
Photo: WIU coach JD Gravina (second from right) talks with his staff during a timeout in Wednesday’s game.