Illini women continue December slide

By Anthony Zilis


photo DI multimedia


Women’s loss adds to streak

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With two losses in as many games, December has thus far been a month the Illini women’s basketball team would soon like to forget.

The Illini extended their losing streak to six games Saturday with a 71-53 loss to in-state rival Bradley at the Lexus December to Remember Classic at the United Center in Chicago.

Illinois (3-6) was unable to recover from an 11-0 deficit in the first 2:24 of the game. The Illini were never within 10 points after a layup by the Braves’ Kelly Krumwiede put her team up 20-9 midway through the first half.

“We need to have a sense of urgency, we can’t get behind early and just expect to be able to fight back,” redshirt freshman guard Lydia McCully said after the game in a press release. “We need to fight right from the start.”

McCully scored 13 points to go with five rebounds and five assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Illini, who have been behind at the half in their previous eight games.

The stretch of recent losses has exposed the Illini’s lack of depth, with only eight bench points, as teams have been forcing the ball out of star center Jenna Smith’s hands. Smith finished 5-for-10 shooting with 14 points and only four rebounds. Junior forward Lacey Simpson was forced to take 19 shots in the loss and only cashed in on four on her way to 10 points.

Six-foot-four freshman Lana Rukavina received her first start of the season after a strong performance against Virginia on Thursday but played only a minor role in 12 minutes, finishing the game with only three points and a rebound.

Throughout the recent stretch head coach Jolette Law has emphasized her team’s lack of urgency.

“For us it’s all about effort, that’s the bottom line,” Law said. “I want my team to go out there and play with a sense of pride.”

The Illini were just never able to close the gap, and the Braves were able to empty their bench, playing a total of 13 players.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Bradley, they are a very good team and wanted it more today,” Law said.