Nittany Lions roar, add to Illini’s losses

By Derek Barichello

The women’s basketball team did not have an answer for Penn State guard Adrienne Squire and it cost them.

Squire scored 28 points on the way to a 78-52 Nittany Lion victory. It was like d‚j… vu for the Illini who fell behind early, again, 30-21 at half. And any time the Illini would rally in the second half, Squire would hit a big shot to shift the momentum.

“She was wide open,” head coach Theresa Grentz said. “(Penn State) did a good job in their zone and moving her around. We have to give them credit for getting her those shots.”

Squire passes that credit to Penn State’s fast paced-offense which put the game away in the second half with an 8-2 run piggybacked with another 10-0 run four minutes later. The Nittany Lions scored 16 points in transition.

“We ran transition plays and Brianne (O’Rourke) and Mashea (Williams) gave me the ball,” Squire said. “I was open so I kept shooting and ended up with a lot of baskets.”

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Squire ended up with seven three-pointers, the most allowed by an Illini team since Lindsey Lieser of Minnesota hit seven on Jan. 28, 2001.

Once Squire got hot, it opened up the interior game for the Nittany Lions, who outscored the Illini 38-16 in the paint.

“Adrienne Squire hit those shots and it meant our posts had to step up,” Grentz said.

Illinois did not get a point from a guard until Janelle Hughes hit a free throw with 7:09 remaining in the game. Freshman guard Lori Bjork, who had 27 points on Wednesday, was shut out. All in all, the Illini guards collected only 10 points.

Instead, the Illini received contributions from sophomore forward Danyel Crutcher, who finished with 18 points and junior center Audrey Tabon who scored 11.

The loss was the eighth in a row for the Illini (12-11, 4-8) and marks the longest losing streak since 1987-88 when the team lost 11 in a row.

With the loss, the Illini, who started 4-1 in the conference, fell behind the Nittany Lions to the eighth spot, only three games away from the Big Ten tournament.

The Illini hope to end the losing skid when they travel upstate to face Northwestern (2-10, 6-18) at 7 p.m. on Thursday.