Illini fall to Wildcats in regular-season closer


Cameron Krasucki

Senior guard Brandi Beasley looks past a defender during the match against Michigan State in the team’s 72-58 loss on Wednesday. The Illini finished the regular season with an 11-18 record.

By Nithin Reddy, Staff Writer

The Illinois women’s basketball team fell to the Northwestern Wildcats, 75-58, in Evanston, Illinois, Saturday.

The No. 14-ranked Wildcats claimed their ninth-straight victory, while the Illini dropped their sixth-straight game. This season has gone in the opposite direction for the two teams — Northwestern claimed at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title for the first time in 30 years, while Illinois is second to last in the conference.

The Illini were led by senior guard Brandi Beasley’s 18 points, four rebounds and three assists, as well as senior forward Ali Andrews who had 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

​The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair where each team went on mini runs.

With just 3:13 left in the first quarter, the Illini trailed the Wildcats by only one point. Northwestern ended the quarter on a 7-0 run after junior guard Lindsey Pulliam made two three-pointers. In the first quarter, both teams shot well from the perimeter, with the Illini making three of their four three-point attempts and Northwestern making four of their seven attempts. The Illini struggled on the glass, and it showed up as the hosts took five more shots in the first.

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​In the second quarter, Northwestern continued to expand the lead, reaching as high as 16 points. Going into the half, the Illini trailed 36-25. In the first half, the Illini struggled to manufacture offense. Illinois shot just 8-for-27 from the field, and their eight turnovers only made matters worse.

“To me, the biggest thing was the height disadvantage,” Beasley said. “You can’t really scheme against size.  We just weren’t able to get position against those taller players and stop them from getting second-chance points”

​In the third quarter, the Illini couldn’t cut the lead. As the pace of play sped up, Northwestern continued to dominate on the glass and scored 24 points in the period. The Wildcats won the quarter by seven and led 60-42 after the third.

​By the time the fourth quarter started, there was little doubt about the outcome.  Northwestern raised their lead to 27 points halfway through the fourth.  After the Wildcats took most of their starters out, the Illini started to cut the lead, but it was too little too late. Northwestern cruised to a 17-point victory.

​After the game, the Wildcat fans rushed the court and celebrated with a dance-off at half court.

“They played a really good game, and they’ve been doing well this season,” Andrews said. “Props to them.”

The loss concluded the Illini’s regular season, and they finished with a record of 11-18 overall, 2-16 in conference play. Illinois’ next game will be in the Big Ten Tournament, where they’ll face the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round. Illinois faced Wisconsin on Feb. 2, and the Badgers came away with a 73-64 win.

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