Illinois women’s basketball drops to 6-1 on season following 83-80 loss to Delaware

By Conor Blount, Staff Writer

Less than 24 hours after a 27-point victory against Charlotte, Illinois women’s basketball matched up against Delaware in the second leg of the Daytona Beach Invitational. Despite going on a 7-0 run in the final seconds of the game to cut Delaware’s lead to one point, Illinois was unable to complete the comeback and fell 83-80 to the Delaware Blue Hens.

While only having one double-digit scorer, Illinois dominated in its last outing. Holding Charlotte to just seven points in the third quarter and putting together several big scoring runs, Illinois maintained a double-digit lead for the majority of the game. Sophomore guard Adalia McKenzie led the team in scoring with 17 points, while also grabbing six rebounds and two steals.

After losing the tip, Illinois was able to get the stop on defense before coming up empty on its first offensive possession. On the Illini’s next possession, junior guard Makira Cook found junior forward Kendall Bostic for Illinois’ first points of the game. Over the next minute and a half, Illinois racked up six more points to jump out to an early 8-0 lead.

The two teams traded buckets until the 3:15 mark when Delaware went on an 8-0 run of its own to tie the game late in the first quarter. A free throw made by McKenzie gave Illinois a 22-21 lead going into the second quarter.

On Illinois’ first possession of the second period, Cook was able to pick up two points after two offensive rebounds from Bostic gave Illinois extra chances to score. Delaware refused to back down, keeping the game within five points, but never gaining the lead, until a three-point make with 1:32 left in the half gave Delaware a 38-36 lead. Another made jumper for the Blue Hens resulted in a 40-36 lead at halftime.

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    Facing its first halftime deficit of the season, Illinois’ leading scorer was senior guard Jada Peebles who had eight points on perfect shooting from the field. Despite a poor shooting night for Cook (3-10), she was still able to impact the game with her playmaking as she picked up five assists in the first half. Bostic picked up three fouls in the first half and was only able to play nine minutes as a result.

    McKenzie got the second half going for the Illini with a made jumper on their first possession, before picking up a steal and tying the game at 40-40 on the next play. McKenzie split a pair of free throws before sophomore forward Brynn Shoup-Hill drained a three to give Illinois a four-point lead. Sophomore guard Jayla Oden was unable to convert the fast break layup after grabbing a steal on defense, but McKenzie was there to grab the offensive rebound and pick up two more points.
    A couple of turnovers by Illinois allowed Delaware to go on a 6-0 run and tie the game at 46-46, but a layup by McKenzie gave the lead back to the Illini. A last-second three pointer by the Blue Hens gave them a 53-50 lead going into the fourth quarter.

    Two minutes into the fourth quarter, junior guard Genesis Bryant was fouled on a three point attempt and made all of her free throws to tie the game at 57-57. Delaware took the lead back with a made jumper, and then the teams traded free throws for much of the quarter. Delaware’s lead got as large as eight with 13 seconds left in the game, but Illinois refused to go down and scored seven points in six seconds to bring the Delaware lead to 81-80 with six seconds left.

    Delaware split a pair of free throws, which would have given Illinois an opportunity to tie or take the lead, but the Illini failed to come down with the rebound and had to foul Delaware once more. Down 83-80 after the second pair of free throws, Illinois did not have enough time left to try and tie the game.

    McKenzie led the game in scoring with 22 points, while also getting it done on the defensive end. Finishing the game with five steals, McKenzie also reeled in 10 rebounds to secure her first double-double of the season. Cook’s shooting struggles continued in the second half, as she made just two shots on eight attempts. However, Cook was efficient from the free throw line (5-6) and ended up with 16 points by the end of the game. Cook was also extremely effective as a playmaker, totaling 10 assists with just two turnovers.

    Illinois women’s basketball will be back in action this Wednesday, continuing its away stretch as they face off against Pitt.



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