Wheelchair basketball teams go winless on weekend


Sonny An | Senior photographer

Illinois’ Ryan Neiswender goes for a shot during the game against Missouri at the Activities and Recreation Center on Friday, February 13, 2015.The Illini won 53-46.

By Thomas Polcyn

In their first home tournament of the season, both the men and women’s wheelchair basketball teams failed to win a game.

The Illini Classic featured three teams: the Milwaukee Bucks, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and the Illini.

In game, one of the Illini women’s weekend, they squared up with the RIC men’s team. Due to a rough shooting day, the Illini lost 47-26. Kendra Zeman led the Illini with nine points and came up just short of her first double-double of the year, recording 11 rebounds.

For their second game the Illini women faced another difficult challenge against the Milwaukee Bucks men’s team. They dropped that game by a score of 63-40 but improved their output on offense. Gail Gaeng came back from a tough first game and put up 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Zeman had another very strong game with 11 points and six rebounds.

The team scoring output has not necessarily come together yet, but some of the players are starting to click heading into their college tournaments.

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    “There were definitely two players that stood out this weekend,” women’s head coach Stephanie Wheeler said. “Gail Gaeng stood out to me. In the first game she struggled with her ball handling but she really owned it and made sure to control the ball more in the second game.”

    Wheeler also thought Zeman stood out.

    “She’s our big post player and she bounced back strong from a tough weekend in Canada,” Wheeler said.

    The men also got off to a slow start in game one against the Milwaukee Bucks. They also faced a problem with scoring, as they shot just 20-for-51 as a team. Mak Nong led in scoring with 11 points to go along with five rebounds.

    In game two, the Illini men faced the RIC men’s team and ended up losing by a score of 43-41. The offense still seemed to struggle, but the Illini played solid enough defense to keep it a tight game. After trailing by 11 the Illini cut the deficit down to one but could not close out the victory.

    The Illini are still being led by assistant coach Katie Rogeau. Head coach Matt Buchi is coaching the USA men’s developmental team in Japan.

    The Illini will now have a two-week break before they head to Wisconsin-Whitewater to play in the defending national champions’ home tournament.

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