White scores career-high in losing effort against Michigan

By Daniel Dexter

Tweet: The #illini women’s basketball team dropped its sixth straight game despite center Chatrice White scoring a career-high 35 points

Center Chatrice White gave it all she could, but couldn’t stop Illinois women’s basketball team from dropping its sixth straight game.

The Illini (8-14, 1-10 Big Ten) traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the Wolverines (12-10, 4-7 Big Ten). Illinois fell behind early and never recovered as it lost a high-scoring battle on the road 96-83. White led the game with a career-high 35 points along with 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of play.

“I thought (White) was special,” head coach Matt Bollant said. “I told her before the game that I thought she is the best five in our league, and she played like it.”

White’s career day was overshadowed by the Wolverines’ fast start. Behind guard Katelynn Flaherty’s 14 points, Michigan ended the first quarter with a 10-point lead.

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Bollant pointed to defensive breakdowns as being the main problem in the first quarter. He said that too often Flaherty, who finished the game with 36 points, was left open and took advantage of her opportunities.

Illinois picked up its offensive game in the second and third quarters, outscoring Michigan in the third. White, who had just four points in the first quarter and faced foul trouble, picked up her game the rest of the way.

Illinois managed to cut Michigan’s lead down to just six points with a 3-point field goal by guard Brooke Kissinger late in the third quarter. But with the score at 54-48, Flaherty once again capitalized off two Illinois mistakes and scored consecutive 3-pointers off Illini turnovers.

“We had the momentum and cut to six,” Bollant said. “We turned it over and she made and three. And then we turned it over again, and she hit another three. And just like that it was back up to 12. She was a difference maker for them for sure.”

With those six points, Michigan swung the game back in its favor and took control the rest of the way. Although White scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, that wasn’t enough to get the job done. The Wolverines scored 25 points in the fourth quarter and finished the game with a 56 percent field goal rate.

Illinois had a productive game on offensive, sinking 47 percent of its shots and 45 percent from beyond the arc. The team’s 83 points ended up being its highest scoring total since its win over Tennessee State on Nov. 24.

The defense was what hindered the team in the game, which Bollant credits in large part to forward Alex Wittinger being out with a broken finger. She is expected to return sometime this week, but her absence was certainly felt on the defensive end in Sunday’s game.

“We have to get better defensively,” Bollant said. “We just didn’t do enough. Michigan is a great offensive team, but we just didn’t do enough to stop them.”

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