Women’s season ends in first round of NIT

By Derek Barichello

Women’s basketball’s season came to an end Wednesday night when the Illini fell in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament to Indiana State 72-60 in Terre Haute, Ind.

The loss concluded a 17-13 season for the Illini. It was the first time the Illini have been eliminated from the NIT in the first round.

In the game, the Illini jumped out to an early 17-5 lead, but the Sycamores rallied back to tie the game going into halftime.

With the Illini down three points early in the second half, the turning point came when senior forward Angelina Williams picked up her fourth foul with 13:23 remaining in the game. With Williams out, the Illini fell behind by eight points before Williams came back in with six minutes to go.

When Williams re-entered the game it was too late; she was not able to bring the Illini back as the Sycamores shot 53.6 percent in the second half. The closest the Illini would get was six points.

“When I came back in, I wasn’t really in the flow of the game,” Williams said.

The Illini were not pleased with their defense in the second half, allowing the Sycamores to outscore them 41-29.

“It was a lack of communication on our part,” said senior guard Tiffanie Guthrie. “We did not communicate well enough.”

Another key to the game was turnovers. The Illini committed 20, which converted to 15 Indiana State points. Conversely, the Sycamores turned the ball over just nine times, for six Illinois points.

In the final game of their collegiate careers, the Illini’s seniors shined; Williams and Guthrie both finished the game with 16 points and guard Jere Issenmann added eight.

Head coach Theresa Grentz was upset that the team was unable to pull off a victory.

“I give a lot of credit to all three of our seniors,” Grentz said. “They are wonderful kids. I wish things could have turned out different for them.”

Despite the loss, the Illini were able to beat the Sycamores on the glass, outrebounding them 44-27. Guthrie led the way for the Illini, pulling down 11 rebounds for her fourth-straight double-double.

One of the controversies around the game was the site of the competition. Grentz believed the game would have been a home game for the Illini, if it were not for a concert event being held at the Assembly Hall on Wednesday night.