Illinois women’s basketball second half surge fails to top Penn State

Guard+DeMyla+Brown+dribbles+towards+the+hoop+during+the+game+against+Wisconsin+on+Jan.+9.+The+Illini+fell+to+Penn+state+72-90.+

Photo courtesy of Farrell Shine/Illini Athletics

Guard De’Myla Brown dribbles towards the hoop during the game against Wisconsin on Jan. 9. The Illini fell to Penn state 72-90.

By Angelle Cortes, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois women’s basketball fell to Penn State on Sunday afternoon 90-72 in University Park. 

The Nittany Lions looked hungry on the court as both schools were fighting for their second conference win. 

PSU started the game off with Shay Hagans racking up four points for an early lead. Defensively, the Nittany Lions were solid on the court. 

Using a full court press on the Illini made them look shaky and struggle to find avenues to pass. With PSU defense strong, getting into the paint for some points was hard, and Illinois was forced to shoot from the arc. 

Aaliyah Nye made the first six points for the Illini after hitting two triples from the arc. Due to the full court press from PSU, Illinois wasn’t able to smoothly move the ball around the court to find an opening in the paint, which hurt in the scoring category. 

The combination of Hagans and Makenna Marisa was unstoppable as they had already hit double-digit scoring by the second quarter. 

First quarter saw Illinois trying to find spaces to shoot, but it was ultimately double teamed or immediately pressed on to give the ball away for the turnover. 

Defensively, the Illini struggled to stop fouling, allowing PSU to get some easy points at the line to extend the lead. The Nittany Lions were already dominating on the court, and Marisa made it clear with hitting a buzzer beater three to end the quarter with a double-digit lead 24-14. 

In the second quarter, PSU was playing off the energy from the first 10 minutes and held a lot of confidence on the wood. 

Hagans was just all over the place whether it be on offense or defense. If she got a jumper, the next couple of seconds she would be on the other side of the court almost getting a steal from an Illinois pass. 

PSU scored a total of 25 points while Illinois were only able to muster a mere 12 points going into the halftime break. 

Coming out of halftime, Illinois looked like a completely different team offensively. An early burst from De’Myla Brown, Sara Anastasieska and Geovana Lopes helped the Illini get eight points off the bat. Despite the third quarter still heavily controlled by PSU, Illinois found some pockets to drive to the basket, get some fast ball movement and get some points in the paint. 

Illinois put on a show in the third quarter scoring 27 points, but defense still lacked as they allowed the PSU to put up 29 points. 

Going into the last 10 minutes, the Illini were down 25 points but still didn’t give up. Within the first five minutes, Illinois went on an 11-0 run and looked to have broken down PSU. Anastasieska’s triple knocked PSU’s lead to just 14 points, and Illinois was getting close. 

The Nittany Lions found themselves missing shots, fouling and giving up turnovers, which the Illini took full advantage of. 

In the last five minutes, the Illini scoring slowed down a little, which allowed the Nittany Lions to regain some footing and strengthen to lead to nearly 20 points. 

Brown finished as the top scorer for the Illini with 19 points while the Nittany Lions’ Marisa and Hagans ended with 25 and 17 points, respectfully.  

Illinois’ next game will be Thursday in Champaign against Purdue. 

@AngelleCortes

[email protected]