Early deficit too much for Illini against Golden Gophers


Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Athletics

Senior forward Lyric Robins presses forward during the game against Minnesota on Wednesday. Illinois fell to Minnesota 83-73

By Nithin Reddy, Staff Writer

Despite a late comeback, the Illinois women’s basketball team fell short to Minnesota 83-73 on Wednesday night.

It was a struggle for the Illini from the get-go. Minnesota came out prepared and ready to bring the fight. The Golden Gophers got off to a quick 9-0 start, five of which came from sophomore guard Jasmine Powell, forcing Illini head coach Nancy Fahey to call a quick timeout.

The Illini didn’t help themselves the rest of the quarter, unable to pick up their offense and trailing Minnesota by 16 after 10 minutes.

“I can speak to that they were hitting a lot of shots, but we were not doing anything defensively. We looked like our feet were just so slow,” said Fahey. “They were shooting really really well, but that’s also because we didn’t put our hand up and weren’t playing defense.”

The second quarter continued to favor the Golden Gophers. Minnesota’s offense continued to frustrate the Illini and the Golden Gophers lead went as high as 25. The Illini would cut the lead a bit, but at the half, Minnesota led 42-25.

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The first half was marred by three point and transition defense for Illinois, allowing Minnesota to get out to an early and large lead.

“We were too worried about getting beat on defense, because if you’re playing someone that far out that’s always a possibility to get beat. We were focused on the drive rather than the shot, and they were more focused on the shot rather than the drive,” said sophomore guard Jada Peebles.

Starting the second half Minnesota was trying to put the game away and it looked like they had after sophomore guard Sara Scalia gave Minnesota a 29-point lead and forced the Illini to call a timeout.

Despite the large deficit, the Illini didn’t give up. They slowly chipped away at the lead and with a little over three minutes left, freshman guard Aaliyah McQueen’s layup brought Illinois within 10 points.

Thanks to an effective full-court press, the Illini forced Minnesota to play faster and made mistakes as a result. Illinois would cut the lead to seven, but never got closer and were unable to complete the improbable comeback.

Minnesota had a balanced attack with three players scoring in double digits and two others with eight points each.

The Illini on the other hand was led by their backcourt of sophomore guards Jada Peebles and Jeanae Terry.

“Jeanae and Jada have been our anchors for a bit here. They’ve shown up for several games right now and doing a great job. The consistency of the other spots needs to be developed,” said Fahey.

Peebles scored a team and career-high 21 points, establishing another career-high with five made threes. Terry, on the other hand, continued her stellar play. She nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds. Terry has now recorded four double-doubles in her last five games.

The Illini will come back home to face Indiana who they lost to earlier in Bloomington.



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