Last-minute noncall ends chances for a win



By Wesley Deberry

The first time it’s called luck. The second time a coincidence. After the third time it’s routine. The Iowa Hawkeyes have swooped into Champaign four straight times and left victorious.

However, Monday night’s game was all but routine as controversy loomed in the air after the final seconds ticked off the clock in a 60-58 Iowa victory.

“We thought that there was a foul,” Illini head coach Jolette Law said. “We heard a whistle blow before the buzzer went off.”

Law and her staff did hear a whistle from the referees, but it was ruled an “inadvertent whistle,” and the game was officially over.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Iowa guard Kristi Smith was the smallest person in the Hawkeyes starting lineup, but she made the biggest shot. With six seconds left Smith hit the game-winning jumper to finish with 16 points. For the Illini, the time remaining was not enough to attempt a shot to even the score.

The Illini starters had a heavy work load in Monday night’s game. Forward Chelsea Gordon, center Jenna Smith and guard Rebecca Harris played a full 40-minute game. Other Illini starters forward Danyel Crutcher and Lori Bjork had a combined 11 minutes of rest throughout the game. Iowa’s bench production was superior to the Illini’s; freshman Chelsea Buher scored the Illini’s only two points off the bench.

Law said she “saw something on the bench she didn’t like,” and that prompted her not to go to the bench as she usually does.

In the first half the Illini (11-7, 3-4 Big Ten) seemed to be back with vengeance after their last-minute loss to Ohio State. Smith made her presence felt in the first half with 16 points and eight rebounds for Illinois. Iowa centers Stacy Schlapkohl and JoAnn Hamlin had no answer for Smith in the paint besides fouling. Each picked up two personal fouls in the first half trying to stop Smith. As the half wore on Smith was double- and triple-teamed in the paint. She finished the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Lori Bjork went 3-of-5 from three-point range in the first half, and her three-pointer with just under a minute to play in the first half put the Illini up 35-31 at the conclusion of the first half. Bjork finished the game with 12 points.

All season, though, the Illini have had trouble playing a full 40-minute game. Late in first half Iowa (11-7, 4-3) went on a 10-0 run cutting the Illini 11-point lead to one. Forward Wendy Ausdemore scored eight straight points for the Hawkeyes during the run.

“We didn’t play defense,” Law said. “Down the stretch in crucial situations we did not execute.”

The tide turned against the Illini in the second half when they relinquished the lead for the first time in the game with 8:44 left.

Law said she emphasized to her team in the huddle, “If you don’t play defense on a team of this caliber, I knew that it was going to come down to the last couple of seconds of the game.”

The closing minutes of the game became a back-and-forth battle with the Illini coming up short. They will get another chance quickly as the team will play Michigan State at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Assembly Hall.