Basketball: Womens’ hope slashed by Hawkeyes

By Derek Barichello

Women’s basketball’s hopes of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid were crushed Thursday night when Iowa defeated the Illini 87-63 in Iowa City.

With the loss, the Illini move to 6-9 in Big Ten play, which sends them to seventh place in the conference – meaning they cannot finish .500 in the Big Ten.

With a standing in the RPI at No. 77, the Illini have no hopes of an at-large berth. Without getting an at-large berth, the Illini would have to win the Big Ten Tournament to play in the NCAA Tournament.

The Hawkeyes shot the ball well, finishing the game shooting 61.5 percent from the field and 61 percent from beyond the arc. Hawkeye guard Abby Emmert, who had not made a three-point field goal going into the game, made all three of her three-point attempts.

“Iowa shot the ball really well,” said head coach Theresa Grentz. “You have to give them a lot of credit. Their size caused us a lot of problems.”

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Early in the game, the two teams went back and forth exchanging baskets.

The Hawkeyes decided to start the game playing man-to-man defense, but after the Illini had success on the offensive end, switched to zone defense. The Illini failed to adjust and it cost them the game.

“We were able to get some looks early,” Grentz said. “They went to zone and we didn’t penetrate. Against that defense we need to make sure we take good shots.”

Senior forward Angelina Williams had a tough night. Williams recorded 17 points, but shot just 7-24 doing so.

“I think (Angelina) felt like she had to do it all tonight,” Grentz said. “When her shots weren’t falling, she pressed and tried to force some things.”

Grentz said the loss was not due to a lack of effort.

“I’m proud of the team,” Grentz said. “They gave everything. That is a testament to our players.”

The Illini return to action on Sunday when they host Michigan at 2 p.m. at the Assembly Hall. In their last meeting in Ann Arbor, Mich., Illinois defeated the Wolverines.

It is important for the Illini to win to maintain seventh place in the Big Ten so they can play the tenth-ranked team in the tournament.

The Wolverines are 1-14 in the Big Ten and 5-21 overall.