Offense fails to score in second loss

It was nothing new for the Illinois women’s basketball team when it went down by as many as 10 in the second half.

The Illini had come back from sizable deficits late in the last two games against Alabama and Wake Forest to pull out victories.

But whether it was ineffectiveness down the stretch, Marquette guard Angel Robinson’s 32 points or poor shooting, something was different for the Illini on Wednesday, as they lost to the Golden Eagles, 65-55.

“I think just saying that we always come back is an excuse,” center Jenna Smith said. “We need to keep a lead and come out better.”

The Illini’s inability to put together 40 minutes of good basketball frustrated head coach Jolette Law.

“We were just waiting on someone to pick us up,” Law said.

The Illini offense didn’t click from the start, and Jenna Smith scored eight of the Illini’s 12 points in the first 12 minutes. Fortunately for them, neither did Marquette’s, and the Illini only trailed 13-12.

Freshman Karisma Penn struggled early, shooting 1-for-7 during that time period before foul trouble took her out for the rest of the half.

“She got a couple fouls early and got frustrated,” Law said. “She turned it on in the second half, but it was just unfortunate that she got the two fouls so early.”

Illinois finally showed some life, though, as a Macie Blinn 3-pointer jump-started a 7-0 run and the Illini looked like they might pull away.

They went cold again, though, and were down 30-23 at the half.

Marquette was able to break down the Illini defense in the second half, shooting 10-for-19.

For the game, Marquette shot 31 free throws, making 21. The Illini shot 11, making only four.

“They did some things that we weren’t comfortable with,” Law said.

Robinson was on all night, shooting 9-for-13, including 3-for-3 from behind the arc.

“We allowed her to do whatever she wanted to do,” Law said. “Once she got going in the second half, you can’t let her get that momentum going.”

Center Jenna Smith was the only Illini to finish in double digits, as she scored 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting.

But for Smith, the Illini’s struggles were all about defense.

“We didn’t play team defense,” Smith said. “We were late, and people were putting their heads down. We needed to be more up-tempo on defense and we just weren’t.”