Illinois women’s basketball falls to No. 3 Ohio State after suffering late collapse

Forward+Kendall+Bostic+prepares+to+shoot+the+ball+during++a+game+against+Iowa+on+Jan.+1.%0AThe+Illini+faced+a+tense++and+close+match+against+Ohio+State+on+Sunday+which+unfortunately+ended+in+a+81-87+defeat+for+the+Illini.+

Photo courtesy of Craig Pessman/Illini Athletics

Forward Kendall Bostic prepares to shoot the ball during a game against Iowa on Jan. 1. The Illini faced a tense and close match against Ohio State on Sunday which unfortunately ended in a 81-87 defeat for the Illini.

By Conor Blount, Staff Writer

Just three days after beating Northwestern for its fourth conference win of the season, Illinois women’s basketball traveled to Columbus in search of a win over No. 3 Ohio State. The Buckeyes were undefeated coming into Sunday, having gone 16-0 overall and 5-0 against Big Ten opponents. Despite a 17-point lead in the third quarter, the Illini were ultimately on the losing side by the end of regulation as the Buckeyes came back for an 87-81 victory.

In its last outing, Illinois saw major contributions from just about everyone who touched the floor. All five starters ended the night with double-digit scoring totals, with junior guard Makira Cook’s 23 points leading the way. On top of scoring, Cook also picked up six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Bostic was also big in the win, earning her second straight double-double.

After winning the tip, junior guard Genesis Bryant got things going for the Illini with a made three-point shot. Through the first media timeout, the score was knotted at 15 each, with neither team holding more than a three-point lead at any point in time. After each side picked up a quick two points coming out of the timeout, neither team would crack the scoring lid for several minutes. The dry spell was ultimately broken by a Bryant three-pointer that brought the score to 20-17 with 2:29 remaining.

By the end of the first quarter, the score was 22-22 with Bryant’s ten points leading the Illini. Bryant undertook a sizable playmaking load in the period, picking up a game-high three assists. Nine of the Buckeyes’ 22 points came at the free throw line, as they attempted ten shots to Illinois’ zero.

The second quarter began where the Illini left off, after a steal by Cook set up yet another three-pointer by Bryant. Sophomore forward Brynn Shoup-Hill quickly picked up another steal for Illinois before assisting Bostic on a layup (27-22).

Once again, Illinois was able to capitalize off of an Ohio State turnover and a layup by Cook pushed the lead to 30-24. The Illini followed this up with Cook setting up Bostic for a layup that forced the Buckeyes to take a timeout (32-24).

Following the timeout, Ohio State was able to get some offense going with a made three pointer and a free throw that cut Illinois’ lead to six, but a layup from Bryant and a jumper from sophomore guard Jayla Oden pushed the lead to double digits (38-28).

Despite a late offensive surge by Ohio State, the Illinois lead was still ahead by double digits going into half (47-37) behind an impressive second quarter. Bostic exploded into being Illinois’ leading scorer with 16 points, while Bryant was not far behind with 15 points. On top of her scoring Bostic also reeled in seven rebounds and blocked two shots. Bryant was still leading the game in playmaking with five assists.

Opening things up in the second half for the Illini was Bryant who knocked down her fourth three of the day. Shoup-Hill followed this up with a three of her own, before Bostic drilled a midrange jumper that pushed Illinois’ lead to 55-40.

After a couple of free throws pushed the score to 57-40, the Buckeyes went on an 18-1 run that tied the game at 58. Bostic finally broke Illinois’ offensive woes with a layup, but Ohio State drilled a three on the other end to take their first lead since midway through the first quarter. Oden responded with a layup through contact that gave Illinois a 63-61 lead after a converted free throw.

A tough conversion from Bostic in the final seconds of the third quarter brought the score to 65-65 heading into the final period of play. Illinois had five turnovers in the quarter and shot the ball at a well enough clip, but gave up 28 points in the quarter that led to the Buckeye resurgence.

The Buckeyes started the fourth on a 6-1 run, claiming an early five point lead. Bryant stepped into a midrange shot in transition that cut the lead to three with 7:50 remaining in the quarter, but Ohio State responded with six unanswered points. Illinois saw a four point swing in its favor over the next couple of minutes that resulted in a score of 79-74 with 3:49 left in the game.

A block by Shoup-Hill was negated by an Ohio State steal that pushed its lead back to seven. Cook answered with a touch bucket of her own, but the Buckeyes responded with a three pointer to bring the score to 84-76. Down by eight, Shoup-Hill drilled a deep three point shot to keep Illinois alive.

But it was too little too late for Illinois at this point, as Ohio State continued to get points on the offensive end while Illinois desperately needed stops. The Illini failed to win the free throw game, and the Buckeyes managed to close the game out by a final score of 87-81.

Despite the blown lead, Illinois saw a couple of stand out performances. Bostic led the team with a career-high 27 points while also picking up her third double-double in a row (14 rebounds). Bryant also cracked 20 points on impressive efficiency, missing just five shots and making four three point shots.

The Buckeyes volume at the charity stripe helped them greatly in the win, shooting 32 free throws compared to 11 by the Illini.

Illinois women’s basketball will be back in action next Sunday at Minnesota, looking to bounce back from this loss.

 

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