Illini drop second game of season to Valparaiso 62-59


Ryan Ash

J-Naya Ephraim shoots the ball during Illinois’ game against Valparaiso Wednesday night at home. The Illini fell 62-59 to the Crusaders.

By Nithin Reddy, Assistant Video Editor

The Illinois women’s basketball team lost to Valparaiso 62-59 Wednesday night at home, is now 1-1 on the season. The Illini were led by sophomore guard Jeanae Terry who finished the game with 16 points and 13 rebounds, her first double-double of the season. Two other Illini scored in double figures — sophomore guard Jada Peebles and sophomore forward Kennedi Myles, who also recorded a double-double.

The Illini looked strong early on the defensive end. Aside from a missed assignment that led to a putback, the Illini stifled Valparaiso’s offense allowing just two points in the first six minutes.

Offensively, Terry started out strong again with two quick baskets along with five rebounds, but during a fastbreak opportunity Terry fell to the floor writing in pain. Luckily for the Illini, Terry was able to walk off the floor on her own strength and checked back into the game soon after.

“I got tripped while dribbling so I fell, but when I fell my ankle turned inside,” said Terry. “It was fine I got it taped and I was ready to go.”

After one quarter, the Illini led 13-6. In the second quarter, the Crusaders offense came alive. Led by junior guard Carie Weinman and sophomore forward Cara VanKempen, Valparaiso was able to take a 25-24 lead with 4:32 left in the half. They finished the second quarter strong going 5-9 from the three-point line and shooting 50% from the floor. The Crusaders led 31-29 heading into halftime.

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The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair. It looked as though the Illini might pull away after Terry hit a three with just over eight minutes left in the quarter, but Valparaiso continued to climb back as their three-point shooting kept the game close. Last-second free throws gave the Illini a five-point lead heading into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, offensive struggles once again emerged. After the Crusaders tied the game at 56-56 with 6:41 left in regulation, no points were scored for nearly two and a half minutes. Geovana Lopes broke the scoreless streak with a layup to give the Illini a small lead. Valparaiso was switching back-and-forth between zone and man and it worked well against Illinois.

“If you’re in a zone and you don’t hit outside shots it becomes pretty effective. They basically just said you have to hit some outside shots,” said head coach Nancy Fahey.

Terry would make a free throw before Valparaiso’s senior guard Grace White cut the Illinois lead to just one point with 1:30 left in the game.

The Illini would get two cracks to extend the lead but were unable. The Crusaders came down the next possession and senior forward Caitlin Morrison drove down the lane to go up by one point. Terry would turn the ball over and Valparaiso added another point to their total as they led 61-59.

Illinois would have some quality looks including a missed tip by Terry that would have tied the game with 10 seconds left. A missed free throw kept the Illini in the game trailing by three points. In the final possession of the game, Terry had an opportunity to send the game into overtime but her three-pointer in the left corner would not fall.

The Illini struggled shooting the ball from outside. They shot just 1-16 from three and 10-22 from the line, and Fahey believes there was a ripple effect.

“They take a shot and they hit it and we didn’t. Sometimes when [shots] don’t go in it’s like you catch a cold and everybody caught it. It’s kind of contagious,” said Fahey.

The Illini were missing their starting center Eva Rubin who was out due to an ankle injury she endured in practice. The Illini will stay in Champaign as they take on Omaha Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.


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