Shorthanded Grizzlies topple Western Illinois

The last time the Oakland University women’s basketball team played Western Illinois, it was upset in the first round of the 2010 Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.

In that game, the Golden Grizzlies allowed the Leathernecks to shoot 44 percent en route to a 68-57 loss.

On Saturday, however, it was the defense that helped OU (10-6, 4-1) rout WIU (4-10, 2-2) to a final score of 64-38.

The team limited Western Illinois to 28.8 percent shooting from the field, including just 16 points in the first half. No player on WIU’s roster scored more than eight points, which was the second time that OU’s defense held an opponent without a double-digit scorer this season.

Junior Brittany Carnago tallied 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks to lead the Grizzlies defensive charge.

Sophomore Bethany Watterworth led the Grizzlies offensively with 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.

“It’s a great league win for us,” Watterworth said. “We hadn’t played a game in over a week so we were itching to get out. We’re happy with the win and now we’re getting focused for IUPUI on Monday.”

Oakland coach Beckie Francis was happy with her team’s effort in the win.

“I was really pleased with how the team followed our game plan,” Francis said. “We wanted to get (the ball) inside to Bethany (Watterworth) and (Brittany) Carnago, and I thought our players threw some great passes.”

“Everything we worked on in practice, they executed. They were focused and just really wanted it for 40 minutes.”

Despite the Leathernecks’ ability to force turnovers – they had forced 20 or more in nine games this season – Francis started two freshmen guards, Zakiya Minifee and Malika Glover. It was Glover’s first collegiate start.

With several injuries affecting Oakland’s backcourt, Francis and her coaching staff came to the decision to start Glover based on Glover’s efforts over the course of the season.

“We just thought, ‘why not try it,’ and she has been practicing and playing really well,” Francis said. “There was some pressure, and she really delivered. I was really proud of her.”

The win extends the team’s seven-game winning streak at the O’rena. The Grizzlies will get a chance to continue their run at home with another Summit League game on Monday against IUPUI. Tipoff for that game is 6:30 p.m.