Illinois takes on Wisconsin in first round of Big Ten Tournament


Cameron Krasucki

Senior forward Ali Andrews shoots the ball during the Illinois’ game against Michigan State at State Farm Center on Feb. 26.

By Nithin Reddy, Staff Writer

The Illinois women’s basketball team heads to Indianapolis, Indiana, to compete in the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday. The Illini, once again, had a rough stint in Big Ten play, racking up a conference record of 2-16 including six-straight losses to end the season. In spite of the struggles, the Illini believe they can make a run in the tournament.

“Everyone is 0-0, so we are just going to practice and prepare for this Big Ten Tournament game,” said senior forward Ali Andrews.

Illinois enters the tournament as the N0. 13 seed and as a result, will face the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round Wednesday at 1 p.m. This will be the second time the Illini faceoff against the Badgers this season.  

During the first matchup, Wisconsin used a strong second quarter to take control of the game. The Illini did their best to fight back in the game, but a 12-point halftime deficit was too much for, and the Badgers pulled out a 73-64 victory. Wisconsin imposed its size and out-rebounded Illinois by 13.

In order for the Illini to advance in the tournament, they’ll likely need to contain Wisconsin’s big frontcourt. The Badgers are led by 6-foot-3 senior forward Abby Laszewski and 6-foot-1 sophomore forward Imani Lewis. The duo has combined to lead Wisconsin in both scoring and rebounding, collectively averaging 26.2 points and 15 rebounds per game. They also average over two blocks per game together, and for an Illini team that struggles to score inside, that will likely slow down the offense.

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Illinois will need big contributions from its upperclassmen in the tournament. They’re led by redshirt-junior Petra Holešínská, who leads the team in scoring at 13 points per game and three-point shooting at 41.8% with 71 made threes. However, Holešínská has had recent struggles, averaging a mere six points per game in her last three outings.

Throughout Holešínská’s cold stretch, senior guard Brandi Beasley stepped up for the backcourt. In the loss to Northwestern, Beasley scored 18 points, making four three-pointers and grabbed four rebounds. If Beasley can continue to score at ease from the perimeter, the Illini could be in a position to claim a victory.

If the Illini advance, they’ll face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, a team that had the Illini’s number this season. In the two matchups against Rutgers, Illinois was outscored by 55 points and struggled to manufacture much offense at all.  

If Illinois loses in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, it will likely be the end of the squad’s season and another disappointing outing for the group.

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