Women’s basketball can’t make Law’s homecoming a happy one

The Illinois women’s basketball team had 28 points in the paint, three players score in double figures and, in the second half, only two turnovers. Even with those statistics, it couldn’t spoil Iowa’s senior day Thursday night in Iowa City, Iowa.

The 69-56 loss all but locks the Illini (8-20, 4-13 …The Illinois women’s basketball team had 28 points in the paint, three players score in double figures and, in the second half, only two turnovers. Even with those statistics, it couldn’t spoil Iowa’s senior day Thursday night in Iowa City, Iowa.

The 69-56 loss all but locks the Illini (8-20, 4-13 in Big Ten) into the No. 9 seed for the Big Ten Tournament.

The Orange and Blue came out with a sense of urgency in the second half behind the usual big-time scoring performance from their junior All-American Jenna Smith. Smith put up a little more than her season average with 20 points to go with eight rebounds and two blocks.

With 52 percent shooting in the second half, the Illini kept the game relatively close. With 10 minutes to go, they cut Iowa’s lead to four. But the Hawkeyes came back strong with a 14-5 run.

“When we were making our run and got it down to four in the second half we made a couple crucial mistakes that gave Iowa extra chances,” Law said. “Just like that it was back to 10. We needed to play with a sense of urgency and continue attacking when we had them on their heels.”

Law has been pleading for consistency from her players, who have only beaten two different teams in the Big Ten – Indiana and Northwestern.

But the only consistency has been high volume turnovers in the first half and streaky shooting. In the first half, the Illini turned the ball over nine times and shot 35 percent from the field.

Thursday marked the first time Law returned to her old stomping grounds, where she played four years of college basketball. During her four years as a Hawkeye she helped lead her talented squad to four straight Big Ten titles. Law had mixed emotions after the game.

“It was very emotional to hear the fans cheering for me and to look up and see those banners hanging,” Law said. “Iowa will always be a special place for me because this is where I got my start, but it was bittersweet coming back tonight because I think our team had an opportunity to get a win and didn’t.”

The Illini cap their season Sunday in Minneapolis, Minn., against the Golden Gophers as they look to bounce back from three straight losses.