Illinois opens up Big Ten campaign on the road against Nebraska


Ryan Ash

Sophomore Jeanae Terry shoots the ball during the game against Valparaiso Dec. 2. Terry recently announced she is transferring to Purdue.

By Nithin Reddy, Staff Writer

The Illinois women’s basketball team will take on Nebraska Thursday to open up their Big Ten schedule. The team is coming off of a close three-point win over Omaha, with sophomore guard Jada Peebles coming up big down the stretch. With the shortened non-conference schedule, head coach Nancy Fahey believes these games are important.

“Missing the scrimmages really does make a difference, but I think everyone is doing that right now,” Fahey said. “As much as you can simulate practice, it’s different when the lights go on.”

Nebraska has only played two game this season and have won them both by double digits. Early on, the Cornhuskers have had a balanced attack with four players averaging over 10 points per game. The Nebraska defense, however, has been even more impressive, forcing their opponents to shoot just 29% from the field.

That is not a welcome sight for the Illini who have struggled in their own right shooting. In their last two games, the Illini have shot just 33% from the floor, and three-point numbers get even worse, as the Illini made just five of their last 39 attempts from beyond the arc.

Some of the struggles can be attributed to a small sample size, along with the fact that it is still very early in the season. It’s worth noting, though, that the Illini lost their top three shooters from a season ago.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Luckily for the Illini, they have made up for their shooting struggles by using their size, and junior forward Geovana Lopes and redshirt junior center Eva Rubin have been vital for an Illini team that was plagued by size issues a season ago.

Rubin missed the Illinois’ loss to Valparaiso but did play against Omaha and will be a go tomorrow. Rubin will be crucial for the Illini, as she will likely be matched up against Nebraska’s 6-foot-5 senior center, Kate Cain. This is not Rubin’s first time facing Cain.

“I had a chance to play against her a little bit in a couple of close scrimmages when I was at Arizona State,” Rubin said. “It’s fun to play against her again in a real game.”

The Illini have struggled to play against zones in their last two games, but Nebraska tends to play mostly man-to-man defense.  Fahey is still preparing for the possibility of some zone looks.

If the Illini are going to beat the Cornhuskers, they will likely need big performances from Peebles and sophomore guard Jeanae Terry. Peebles is coming off of her best game of the season, as she scored a season-high 15 points along with some important shots down the stretch.

Terry, on the other hand, started the season strong with a 24-point, 8-rebound outing against Indiana State followed by a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double against Valparaiso.  However, Terry struggled against Omaha in the team’s most recent game, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting. If the Illini are going to win, they’ll need Terry to bounce back.

Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Illini faced the Cornhuskers only once a season ago, with Illinois falling 80-58.



[email protected]