Iowa too much for Illini

Iowa too much for Illini

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

An early 10-0 run in the second half was the turning point in the women’s basketball game as the Illini fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes 71-60 Thursday night at Assembly Hall.

Both teams went back and forth in the first half as the Hawkeyes had its usual high scoring first half with the Illini never letting the Hawkeyes get ahead by more than eight points.

But for every run the Illini made, the Hawkeyes had an answer, as Iowa’s offense (73.1points per game) lived up to its hype.

Early in the first half, senior point guard Janelle Hughes, playing in her last home game, scored seven of the first 11 points for the Illini and ended up with nine points in the half.

Iowa freshman center Megan Skouby followed up her strong game against Michigan by scoring 12 points in the first half, going 6-for-8 from the field.

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Senior guard Crystal Smith also scored 12 in the first half for the Hawkeyes who shot 53 percent from the field in the half as they went into halftime up 40-35.

“We wanted to get the ball inside and I thought we would be able to get the ball inside,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder.

The Illini started the second half scoring the first four points, but, the Hawkeyes, responded with a 10-0 run to make the score 50-39.

Illinois managed to erase the deficit to get the game to within six points, but Skouby grabbed an offensive rebound to put the lead back to eight at 58-50.

“We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” Hughes said.

After senior guard Maggie Acuna hit a three-pointer to bring the Illini to within five at 60-55, the Hawkeyes scored five points of their own to increase their lead to 10 points at 65-55.

“We did a great job of responding to their runs,” said Iowa forward Krista Vandeventer.

The Illini were never able to get any closer than that as they fell to 13-13 overall and 5-10 in the Big Ten.

Freshman guard Lori Bjork and junior forward Erin Wigley led the Illini with 15 points apiece.

“I thought the effort was there, but at this level it’s not good enough sometimes,” Bjork said.

The Hawkeyes were led by Smith who scored 23 points (11 in the second half), and by Skouby who scored 18.

“(Smith) is a very good player and I don’t think you can stop, you can only contain her,” said Illini head coach Theresa Grentz.