Illinois women’s basketball claims McBride Home Braggin’ Rights victory over Missouri

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Sidney Malone

Guard Adalia Mckenzie dribbled the ball avoiding the opposing team during a match on Nov. 13. On Sunday the Illini achieved a 76-66 victory over Missouri during the McBride Home Braggin’ Rights match at Columbia, Missouri.

By Conor Blount, Staff Writer

Coming off a nail-biting victory over Butler, Illinois was back on the road for the McBride Home Braggin’ Rights game against Missouri. Junior guard Makira Cook was unable to travel with the team due to an illness, but Illinois stepped up in her absence to claim a 76-66 victory over the Tigers.

Cook was vital in Illinois’ last match, leading the team in scoring with 23 points while also earning her fourth 20+ point scoring game in a row. In addition to Cook’s impressive scoring, sophomore guard Adalia McKenzie and junior forward Kendall Bostic had phenomenal nights on the glass as they grabbed 12 and 11 rebounds respectively.

The Illinois starting lineup experienced a rare change in light of Cook’s illness, with junior guard Genesis Bryant and senior guard Jada Peebles getting their first starts of the season. McKenzie, Bostic and sophomore forward Brynn Shoup-Hill filled out the rest of the starting lineup.

A miscommunication on tip resulted in Missouri claiming the first possession, but stout defense from  Peebles resulted in an airball for the Tigers. On Illinois’ first go at the offensive end, McKenzie found Bostic for an open midrange jump shot.

Early three-pointers made by Peebles and Shoup-Hill facilitated an early 12-4 lead for the Illini, forcing Missouri to call a timeout. Illinois’ lead grew to as large as 11 in the period (17-6) which quickly evaporated as the Tigers closed the quarter on a 14-2 run.

Going into the second quarter, Illinois trailed 20-19 with McKenzie leading the way in scoring with seven points. Despite allowing the big run to close the quarter, Illinois played impressive defense on the three-point centric Tigers as they made just one of their six attempts.

Good ball movement from Illinois resulted in Bostic getting an easy look under the basket to retake the lead at 21-20. As the Illini looked to build on their lead, Bryant stripped the ball away from the Tigers on defense before Bostic picked up a key offensive rebound and bucket on the offensive end.

Illinois’ rigid defense was once again on full display, as Tiger turnovers frequently turned into Illini points. A three point make from Shoup-Hill with 3:23 remaining in the half gave Illinois a 38-27 edge, matching its highest of the game. A pair of three point makes from Mizzou in the final minutes slightly cut into Illinois’ lead, bringing the score to 40-33 at the break.

With a 20 point per game scorer missing from their lineup, Illinois stepped up as a group to fill the scoring void. The Illini had six scorers contributing to their 40 point first half with McKenzie leading the way with 10 points. On top of eight points, Bostic was leading the game in rebounds (5) and the team in assists (3).

After missing her first attempt of the half, McKenzie got the second half scoring started with a tough layup over two Tigers. Continuing to assert herself, McKenzie nailed another contested layup through contact and converted the and-one free throw.

Through the first six minutes, the third quarter had been an even back and forth until back to back layups over bigger defenders from McKenzie and a transition bucket from Bryant resulted in Illinois’ lead exploding to 56-43. A pair of unanswered makes from Mizzou cut the lead to eight, but yet another successful drive by McKenzie coupled with a deep three from Bryant reclaimed Illinois’ 13-point lead by the end of the third quarter.

Bryant came firing out of the gates in the fourth quarter, sticking a difficult reverse layup before setting up Bostic for an easy layup of her own. Shoup-Hill dialed it up down the stretch, dropping two three pointers and picking up a block on the defensive end.

Mizzou attempted to rally late in the game, but it ended up falling short as Illinois claimed a 76-66 victory.

Illinois finished with two 20-point scorers in McKenzie (21) and Bryant (20), on top of double digit scoring outputs from Bostic (14) and Shoup-Hill (12). Bostic posted her third double-double of the season as she reeled in 10 rebounds, while Bryant stuffed the stat sheet with six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Shoup-Hill had an extremely impressive night shooting the ball, making four of her five three point attempts which nearly tied her combined three point output through the rest of the season (5).

Illinois women’s basketball will return home this Wednesday to face off against Florida Atlantic as they seek to tie the win total of their most successful season since 2019–20.

 

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