Women’s basketball begins season

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini women’s basketball team has four games over the Fall break beginning Friday night. That night the Illini travel to the Gentile Center in Chicago and go up against a Loyola Ramblers team whose coach will be in her first game at the college level.

The Ramblers had a record of 7-21 last season and their head coach Shannon Reidy will get her first taste of college basketball after coaching at Marion Catholic High School.

Their leading returning scorer is junior forward Jenna Real who averaged 9.4 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game.

After the Illini play the Ramblers, they head to the altitude of Colorado to play three games in four days starting on Nov. 23 when they face the Northern Colorado Bears in Greeley, Colo.

The Bears finished 12-16 last season playing as an independent. Their returning leading scorer is junior guard Jena Fosdick who average 8.2 points per game and 2.9 assists per game.

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This season marks the last season for the Bears as an independent before they move into the Big Sky conference next season.

Two days later, the Illini face Utah State in the Coors Classic in Boulder, Colo.

The Aggies went 14-14 last year and return all five starters from last year’s team. Three of those starters averaged more than 10 points per game. The Illini have never met the Aggies or the Bears in each other’s histories. The Illini will either play Colorado or Northern Iowa on Nov. 26.

The Illini begin the season coming off an 2-0 exhibition record in which junior center Audrey Tabon averaged in double figures all three games.

“The center position was a question mark coming into this season, but she is vying for that position and looking forward to it,” said Illini head coach Theresa Grentz.

Another impressive performer during the preseason was freshman guard Lori Bjork. The Iowa native hit five of 11 three-pointers during the two exhibition games and is set to continue her starting role.

“She is someone who gives her all every day in practice and in the games,” Grentz said.

Bjork along with five of her other classmates will be playing their first college basketball games on Friday.

The Illini have a couple of injury concerns with junior forward Erin Wigley sitting out one of the exhibition games with a back problem. Wigley is expected to play tonight.

“We keep a close watch on it,” Grentz said.

The other injury concern is redshirt freshman Megan Nyquist who tore her ACL in an exhibition last season and is still out indefinitely.

“She is doing her treatment and the doctors tell me that everything is going well,” Grentz said.