Women compete with men’s teams

By Josh Birnbaum

Although they lost both games this weekend, the Illinois women’s wheelchair basketball team fared well for having faced two of the top men’s teams in the country.

The team matched up against the top-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks on Friday at IMPE Gym, losing 70-31.

“We played really well in the first 10 minutes, and then they put their starters in,” said junior Carlee Hoffman, the top scorer with 13 points. “They pressed us a bit, but they had to press us with their best guys.”

The biggest problem for the women was their 18 turnovers, from which the Warhawks generated 23 points.

“We had 18 turnovers. You’re not going to do a good job against any team, especially Whitewater … with these 18 turnovers,” coach Mike Frogley said. “So you take that off the board and it’s a closer ball game.”

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The game was especially significant for Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy, whose boyfriend plays for Whitewater.

“He bumps me around, but that means he respects me and treats me like everyone else,” O’Kelly-Kennedy said.

The ladies’ Saturday game against the Edinboro University Fighting Scots was a much closer match, with Illinois losing by only 9 points, 48-57.

Edinoro started off on a 9-0 run, and by the half, Illinois was down 17.

The ladies came back in the second half, however, holding Edinboro to just 28.1 percent shooting, and outscoring the Scots by eight points. Hoffman nailed a three-pointer in the last 10 seconds of the game, bringing her total to 26.

“That’s a lady scoring 26 points against the third best men’s team in the nation,” Frogley said. “She has an uncanny knack for knowing what’s needed in the game.”

Despite the difficult play, the women felt good about the weekend.

“I think there’s a level of intensity we get when we play men’s teams and really good men’s teams,” said Sarah Castle, another one of the top scorers for both games. “We don’t get to slack off because it just ends up being embarrassing.”

Frogley attributes the women’s good play to focus and execution.

“I think one of the things that helped the women that didn’t help the guys was that the women went in with the mentality that … we’re not really expected to win,” he said.

“The idea of winning or losing didn’t really become a distraction,” Frogley said.