Illinois women’s basketball earns decisive 35-point victory off back of Bryant triple-double

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Sidney Malone

Forward Brynn Shoup-Hill attempts to make a pass against Alcorn on Nov. 13. The lllini continue their win streak with a win against Florida Atlantic during today’s holiday game.

By Conor Blount, Staff Writer

Following its double-digit victory over Missouri in the McBride Home Braggin’ Rights game, Illinois women’s basketball returned home to face Florida Atlantic for its last nonconference matchup. Despite the absence of their leading scorer, junior guard Makira Cook, the Illini cruised to an 81-46 win over the Owls.

Junior guard Genesis Bryant and sophomore guard Adalia McKenzie were vital in the Illini win over Missouri. Earning her first career start in the absence of Cook, Bryant scored a career-high 20 points while also having six rebounds, five assists and two steals. McKenzie led the team in scoring with an efficient 21 points to go along with three assists and two rebounds. Sophomore forward Brynn Shoup-Hill, who had been struggling with her three-point shot to start the season (5-26), made four of her five attempts from three-point distance.

After losing the tip, Illinois allowed a floater on its first defensive possession that was nullified just seconds later by a layup from McKenzie. Three consecutive turnovers by Florida Atlantic allowed Illinois to jump out to an early 7-2 lead, which quickly exploded into a 17-6 lead due to efficient three-point shooting.

After Illinois allowed four uninterrupted points by the Owls, senior guard Jada Peebles brought the ball into the midrange to end Illinois’ scoring drought (19-10).

A six-point swing for the Illini brought the score to 25-10 by the end of the first quarter, with 15 of Illinois’ 25 points coming from Peebles and Bryant. On top of scoring, Bryant picked up three assists in the quarter while Bostic’s efforts on the defensive end earned her two blocks.

Bryant was the first to move her way into double-digit scoring after Bostic found her for a corner three that pushed Illinois’ lead to 28-10. The stifling Illinois defense did not allow the Owls to score until the 4:53 mark of the second quarter, by which point the score was 38-12.

Sophomore guard Jayla Oden came alive in the second quarter, scoring ten points in under three minutes off of two three point makes and two tough layups.

Peebles became the third Illini to enter double digit scoring in the second quarter after clever off ball movement got her open for a corner three, bringing the score to 49-19.

At halftime, the key to Illinois’ success lay primarily in its efficiency from the three point line where the Illini were shooting a blistering 10-17 compared to the Owls’ 2-10 mark. In her second career start, Bryant had picked up 15 points and seven assists which were both game highs.

Oden’s ten point run in the second quarter put her just six points shy of her career high and despite a quiet game on the offensive end, Bostic had picked up eight rebounds and two blocks.

Illinois started the third quarter right where they left off as Bryant found Shoup-Hill and McKenzie for wide open layups. A couple of possessions later, Bryant picked up her tenth assist of the game after feeding Bostic in the post, marking her first career double-double.

After picking up a steal on the defensive end, Bryant drained her fifth three pointer of the night to become the first 20 point scorer of the game with 2:57 remaining in the third.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Illinois lead had grown to 71-29 off of the backs of three double digit scorers along with nine points each from Shoup-Hill and McKenzie.

After Oden set her up for a good look from behind the arc, freshman guard Kam’Ren Rhodes nailed her first shot of the game to bring the score to 76-38.

With 4:11 remaining in the game, Bryant grabbed her third offensive rebound (ninth total rebound) which resulted in a layup for Shoup-Hill. On the following defensive possession, a miss from the Owls resulted in Bryant’s tenth rebound of the game turning her first career double-double into the first triple-double in Illinois women’s basketball history.

“I almost didn’t know what to do,” joked Bryant. “I was like ‘Is the game going to stop?’ But no, it was fun. At first I didn’t even notice that I was on pace until my teammates started telling me and I was like ‘Oh… wow, I need to get some more rebounds.’ so I started crashing really hard after that.”

The Illini coasted to a final score of 81-46, moving their record to the best it has ever been at this point of the season (11-2). On top of Bryant’s historic triple-double, the Illini saw big performances from Oden and Shoup-Hill who each had 14 points on excellent efficiency. Bostic’s impressive defense showed up in the box score as well, finishing the game with nine rebounds and three blocks.

Illinois women’s basketball will be back in action on Thursday as they go on the road to Wisconsin for its third Big Ten matchup of the year.

 

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