Illinois drops first game in weeks at Indiana 79-56


Ryan Ash

Jeanae Terry dribbles against Valparaiso on Dec. 2.

By Nithin Reddy, Assistant Video Editor

The Illinois women’s basketball team lost to Indiana 79-56 on Thursday. The Illini went with a different look against the Indiana Hoosiers, starting senior forward Lyric Robbins in place of junior guard J-Naya Ephraim for the first time all season.

“We wanted a punch off the bench, it was more of a strategical thing,” said head coach Nancy Fahey. “We play two point guards, so we decided to bring one off the bench. We knew Indiana was big, so we were looking for a little different size because we were going to do some zone.”

Indiana got off to a hot start led by three-point shooting and stout defense to go up 8-1 in the first three minutes of the game. Indiana continued to stretch their lead, as high as 15 points. After the first quarter, the Hoosiers led the Illini 23-9. The 21-day layoff between games seemed to have affected Illinois early on.

“I would especially say coming out the first quarter with a lot of our turnovers seeing stuff full court, actually going at full pace, there’s only so much we can do against each other,” said sophomore forward Kennedi Myles, “We play against our practice players, they work hard, but at the same time they’re not a Big Ten team that we’re competing against.”

In the second quarter, the Illini tried to cut the lead but were unable to close the gap as the Hoosiers led by double digits throughout the period. Led by sophomore forward, Mackenzie Holmes, the Hoosier lead grew to 22 points after Indiana ended the half on a 13-3 run to go up 42-20.

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Turnovers were a big factor in the first half as the Illini gave up the ball 14 times compared to just six for Indiana.

“Indiana is one of the best defenses, I think 14th in the country,”  said Fahey. “We knew that execution was going to be big and that was the difference in the game.”

 By then the game was all but over. The third quarter saw Indiana grow their lead up to 27 points, and the fourth quarter featured the two offenses as both teams ran up the score. In the end, the Hoosiers finished 2020 on a high note with the blow out win, dropping the Illini to 2-3 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.

 The Illini played Indiana close in the second half, being outscored by just one point. Fahey, however, did not see too many positives.

“We’re not trying to do morale victories, we’re just trying to win ball games,” said Fahey, “[In the second half] we were just trying to break that down and do a better job running our offense and not letting [Indiana] dictate our offense.”

After the game, Fahey looked distraught with the team’s performance. Myles led the team with 15 points and sophomore guard Jada Peebles added 11 points of her own, but their 11 combined turnovers were detrimental for the Illini, especially in the first half.

The Illini will come back home Sunday to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at the State Farm Center.


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