Illinois women’s basketball looks for win over Penn State in closing stretch of season

By Rachel Oh, Staff Writer

After putting up a good fight against No. 8 Maryland last Sunday, Illinois women’s basketball will try to redeem themselves with a Sunday afternoon game against Penn State at State Farm Center. Tipping off at 2 p.m., this is the first and only meeting between the Illini and the Nittany Lions this season, with their most recent result being a 90-72 Penn State victory last season. 

Penn State is led by head coach Carolyn Kieger and enters the game with a 13-13 record overall and a 4-11 reading in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions went 11-18 last season with a 5-13 mark in conference action. Illinois has a 19-7 overall record with a 9-6 reading in Big Ten play.

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With just three games remaining on the schedule, Illinois head coach Shauna Green is thankful that her next two matchups are at home. Boasting a scorching 11-2 record at home, the Illini have vigorously protected State Farm Center all season long.

“I mean right now at this time of the year, every game is important,” Green said. “All year we’ve stressed taking care of our home floor. It’s so important to take care of your home floor and nothing has changed now.”

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    In light of the gauntlet run known as the Big Ten that Illinois has been progressing through for the past few months, its not controversial to say that the Illini needed rest. Now having had a week off between games,  Green is adamant this closing stretch will separate the elite from the average.

    “It’s a grind this season in February. Everyone’s tired — everyone is mentally and physically drained, but who’s gonna rise?” Green said. “This is where you start separating you know elite teams and just average teams. You gotta lock in and be able to finish in February.”

    Having such a prestigious postseason track record at prior head coaching stops, Green’s experience gives her a sense of responsibility for leading her team and showing them how it’s done. 

    “You know not everyone’s been there,” Green said. “I try to lay things out for them very clear and what each thing means and what our mindset has to be right now. I give our kids credit because they’ve listened and they’ve embraced it and really have locked in.”

    Illinois is going into today’s game energized and ready to lock in to bring home a win in one of its final games of the season on home court.

     

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