Illinois women’s basketball earns second win of Shauna Green era

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Sidney Malone

Guard Jada Peebles looks for an opening against Alcorn State on Sunday. The Illini remain undefeated with the team’s 90-59 victory against Alcorn.

By Conor Blount, Staff Writer

Coming off a blowout victory in their season opener, Illinois women’s basketball took on Alcorn State at State Farm Center, earning a 90-59 victory to remain undefeated through their first two games. 

In Illinois’ last time out their defense was elite, holding LIU to single digit points in each of the first three quarters. On top of stellar defense, junior forward Kendall Bostic earned a career high 16 points while securing 11 rebounds for the sixth double-double of her career. 

After losing the tip, Illinois’ defense picked up right where they left off, forcing a missed layup and a steal on Alcorn State’s first two possessions. 

Illinois’ guards had it going early on offense, as sophomore Adalia McKenzie and junior Makira Cook assisted one another on Illinois’ first two three point makes. 

By the end of the first, Illinois had accrued a 13 point lead (23-10), with Cook leading the charge on offense with seven points and Bostic effectively protecting the paint. Illinois’ defense did not allow a basket for the first 4 minutes of the game,  

Cook landed another shot from behind the arc to start the second quarter for the Illini, with junior guard Genesis Bryant following her lead a couple of possessions later. Illinois found themselves with another three point play after sophomore guard Jayla Oden was fouled on a cut to the basket.

At halftime, Illinois had grown its lead to 26 points (51-25) off of the backs of a season high 28 point quarter. Allowing 13 points in the quarter, Illinois once again did not allow a basket for the first four minutes of the quarter.

Cook still led the Illini in scoring with 12, while Bryant was not far behind with 11. On top of leading the team in scoring, Cook was tied with Bostic as the team’s leading rebounder (5) along with having the most assists on the team (3). 

After Alcorn State opened the third quarter on an 13-2 run to cut Illinois’ lead to 15, head coach Shauna Green was forced to take a timeout to get Illinois back on the same page. 

Coming out of the timeout, McKenzie connected through a foul on a heavily contested layup but was unable to convert at the freethrow line. Alcorn State responded with a three on the other end, which was quickly nullified by Cook knocking down a three of her own.

After a good defensive possession by Illinois, McKenzie converted another layup through a foul, this time making the free throw to convert the three point play. A pair of threes by senior guard Jada Peebles late in the third gave Illinois some more breathing room going into the fourth.

Despite the run, Illinois’ lead had only dropped to 21 (72-51) by the end of the third. McKenzie led the Illini in scoring for the quarter with nine points, while Cooks put up six points and created several open looks for her teammates to earn an additional two assists. 

Illinois settled back into the swing of things for the fourth quarter, only allowing three points on the quarter while going on a 13-0 run to stretch their lead to 32 by the time the final buzzer sounded.

Cook stuffed the stat sheet for the Illini, earning game highs in points (21), assists (5), and rebounds (9). Cook also picked up two steals and a block on the defensive end. The Illini finished with four people in double figures: Cook (21), McKenzie (17), Bryant (15) and Peebles (14). 

Both Cook and Peebles shot extremely efficiently from deep, with each knocking down four of their five attempts. After going zero of six from deep in Illinois’ season opener, this was a tremendous bounce back game for Peebles. Combined with plenty of hours in the gym, Peebles believes a confident mentality was also what helped her get back to form.

“I think it was just letting go of the game,” said Peebles. “It was just the mentality of having confidence and going ‘Ok so the first shot didn’t go in, the next shot will.’ Just having the more positive mindset of, ‘next shot is going in, next shot is going in.”

Illinois women’s basketball will be back in action this Wednesday against McNeese State at State Farm Center as they look to claim yet another dominant victory.

 

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