Rice injured in Illinois women’s basketball’s home loss


Tyler Courtney | The Daily Illin

Guard Cierra Rice sprints up the court during the game against Tennessee State at Parkland College on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Illinois won 98-43.

By James Boyd, Staff writer


There wasn’t a sell-out crowd at the State Farm Center when the Illinois women’s basketball team took on Memphis on Thursday, but it was still loud.

The Illini invited several local elementary schools to its non-conference matchup, totaling roughly 1,300 people. Illinois lost 64-54, but the youngsters showed a lot of enthusiasm for their hometown team no matter the score.

The only time the gym went silent was when guard Cierra Rice drove to the basket during the first quarter.

She missed her layup, but was not able to make it down to the other end for defense. The Illini called a timeout and Rice was helped off of the floor due to an apparent foot injury. She went straight to the locker room and did not return.

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    “We took her away to have x-rays and that’s all I know,” head coach Matt Bollant said. “I thought (her absence) hurt us at first. Cierra is a big part of us and was a big part of our fourth quarter the other day. I think her going down probably rattled us a little bit.”

    Rice was wearing a boot and using crutches after the game.

    Freshman Petra Holesinka was given extended playing time due to Rice’s injury and she did not disappoint.

    Holesinka nailed three three-pointers on her way to 13 points in just 10 minutes of action in the first half. She finished the afternoon with 18 points, going 6-for-12. In the team’s previous game against UAPB she only score two points, but she still wasn’t satisfied with her performance.

    “(I still) think I missed many open shots, especially in the beginning of the game,” Holesinka said. “I thought that was my problem.”

    Bollant said that Holesinka is one of the best shooters on the team, but after the first two games of the year she still hadn’t made her first career three-pointer. Bollant believes her confidence went up after she saw one of her shots go in off of a lucky bounce.

    “It got her going,” Bollant said. “Shooters have to be able to step in and make shots. She can. When we do our statistics, she’s one of our best kids and has been one of the best kids since I’ve been here even as a freshman. We chart a lot of shooting stuff and she does really well.”

    Sophomore Alex Wittinger was the only other Illini to score in double-figures. She scored just 12 points after a season-high of 23, but still managed to record her straight third double-double. Wittinger shot 60 percent from the field, but the Tigers used a two-two-one zone to keep the ball out of her hands.

    Holesinka said that when teams are keying in on Wittinger, other members of the team must step up. Bollant agreed but added that the Illini also has to find different ways of getting Wittinger the ball. He said that his forward is too good of a scorer for her to see limited action on the offensive end.

    “They did collapse on the middle a lot,” Wittinger said. “Just finding the open spots was harder to do. But we could’ve done a better job at it. We just didn’t make the extra pass to get open. We also took a lot of good shots but didn’t make them, which was kind of a bummer.”

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