Illinois faces off against Rutgers for seventh matchup

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Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Ali Andrews shoot the ball during the Illinois game against Maryland on Thursday.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

After a loss against Maryland on Jan. 23, the Illinois women’s basketball team will play at Rutgers Thursday.

Illinois (10-9, 1-7) is coming off a 79-60 loss to then-No. 20 Maryland on Jan. 23. Rutgers (15-4, 5-3) lost to Michigan, 71-57, Sunday.

The two teams have faced off seven times in their programs’ histories, with the Illini coming into Thursday’s game with a 1-6 record. The Illini’s only win against the Scarlet Knights came on Jan. 7, 2017.

Illinois has played Rutgers once already this season, as well as in the month of January. The Illini lost to Rutgers Jan. 9, 75-51, in Champaign.

“Rutgers is a team that will press you, has great length and scores a lot from their defensive turnovers,” said head coach Nancy Fahey. “We put a lot of time in handling that this week and being better prepared.”

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    Junior guard Petra Holešínská leads the Illini in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game, and is currently tied for 11th in the Big Ten in scoring, alongside Maryland guard Kaila Charles. She scored 18 points against Rutgers in the teams’ last matchup Jan. 9.

    Rutgers guard Arella Guirantes scored 21 points against Illinois on Jan. 9. Guirantes, who is averaging 19.4 points per game, is second in the Big Ten in scoring. Penn State’s Kamaria McDaniel is first in scoring at 20.1 points per game.

    The two teams are more evenly matched in scoring, with Rutgers averaging 68.0 points per game and Illinois 64.6. Defensively, Rutgers is first in the Big Ten, giving up an average 54.7 points per game. Illinois gives up 70.4 points per game.

    Despite a strong Rutgers defense, Holešínská thinks the Illini have improved from the last Illinois-Rutgers matchup.

    “(In) the Rutgers game, we played pretty well, except the third quarter,” Holešínská said. “I feel like if we can put 40 minutes together, we have a pretty good chance to win there.”

    After the Rutgers game, Illinois returns to Champaign to play the Wisconsin Badgers (10-10, 2-7).

    The two teams have not yet played this season and are tied in the series, 37-37. Illinois and Wisconsin also split last year’s series, with both teams winning at home and losing on the road.

    Wisconsin forward Imani Lewis is leading the Badgers in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game.

    The teams will play at the State Farm Center at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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