Women’s basketball defeats Wisconsin

By Wesley Deberry

INDIANAPOLIS – At tip-off, the votes were already cast for the Big Ten player awards and the correlations for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament were already made. Wisconsin’s senior guard Jolene Anderson was the media selection for Big Ten Player of the Year and the Illini sat in the ninth seed at the Big Ten Tournament.

But after a 73-58 victory against the Badgers and a damage control style defense against Anderson, the Illini could consider circulating a petition to recount all votes and recalculate all seeds.

Illini center Jenna Smith stated her case for why she should have taken the conference’s top honors Thursday, scoring a team high 21 points and tying fellow teammate Rebecca Harris with a team best 10 rebounds.

Smith was one of three Illini in double figures. Harris came in a close second with 19 points followed by forward Lacey Simpson with 15. As a team, the Illini shot 46 percent from the field and 62 percent from beyond the arc.

“They were all in it together,” Wisconsin guard Jolene Anderson said. “Some of us were in it together on our team but as a whole boat everybody just didn’t come ready to play.”

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On the defensive end of the court, forward Chelsea Gordon was assigned to the toughest matchup of the night: stop Anderson. Though Anderson ending the game as the leading Badger scorer with 24 points, during a crucial 20-to-9 run by the Illini she was held to just two points.

“She (Anderson) has won a ton of awards and deservedly so,” Gordon said, adding that she enjoys the challenge of guarding a premier scorer.

The Illini were able to hold Wisconsin to just 31 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc during the game.

The Illini’s early second half run gave them the breathing room they needed after going into half up by just a 34-28 margin.

Badger head coach Lisa Stone said she was confident at the half after her team still managed to keep the deficit low despite coming out flat. She tried to motive and energize her team in the locker room but to no avail.

Law took full advantage of the sizable lead in the second half and rested Smith who finished the game with a season-low playing time of 30 minutes.

There will be little time to savor this victory as the Illini will have less than 24 hours to regroup before playing the top-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes at 5 p.m. on Friday. The regular season series is deadlocked at one a piece with each of the teams taking a win on their home court.

“This is another opportunity,” Law said “We paid to play another 40.”

Ice baths, dinner and watching film were all on the Illini agenda before their match-up with Ohio State.

“It’s less than 24 hours and I’m not going to bombard my kids with a lot of pattern and sets,” Law said. “It’s really going to come down to concepts.”