The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Notes, player grades from Illinois men’s basketball’s last-second loss at Penn State

Angel Saldivar
Sophomore guard Ty Rodgers surges past Michigan’s defense in the second half on Feb. 13.

All seemed well for No. 12 Illinois men’s basketball in the second half of its meeting with Penn State. The Illini were cruising, leading by as many as 14 in the second half and by 10 points with 2:30 remaining. However, a 13-2 run for the Nittany Lions over the final 150 seconds completely flipped the script and handed the Illini a 90-89 loss.

Wake-up call?

Illinois has responded to losses all season long and has never lost back-to-back games. It seemed like Illinois had truly turned a corner after its loss at Michigan State; however, Wednesday night was the Illini’s worst loss of the season by far. It could have an even stronger effect on their response, but the response may be too little, too late. Illinois no longer controls its destiny in the Big Ten title race and is relying on other teams beating No. 3 Purdue before the end of the season.

Illinois’ starting five players are indicated with *.

*Marcus Domask (C+)

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Wednesday night was steady for Domask. He knocked down just under half of his shots en route to 15 points and had a really good first half as a playmaker. However, his six assists were dragged down by four turnovers and Domask was on the floor for Penn State’s last-minute run. He had to waste a timeout after getting trapped in the corner on one of Illinois’ several failed inbounds plays which was not particularly detrimental but as a veteran, he has to be able to take charge on inbounding plays and beat the press.

*Terrence Shannon Jr. (B-)

Shannon’s career-high 35 points were lost in the dramatics of the game’s final score. Penn State truly looked lost on defense when Shannon had the ball, and it felt like every one of his drives resulted in a basket or free throws. Once he got to the free-throw line, things became a bit more shaky for Shannon, as he hit just 13-19 (68.4%) despite entering the night as an 80% shooter from the stripe. Shannon also had four turnovers — one of which was in the final 30 seconds and resulted in an extremely costly basket for the Nittany Lions.

*Coleman Hawkins (D)

There’s no way to sugarcoat Hawkins’ performance. He hit just three of his 11 shots and Penn State had his number on drives, ripping the ball out for turnovers on several occasions. The defense was solid most of the night, but it was not nearly as game-changing as he has shown it can be in the past. The final 18 seconds are all that matter, however, as Hawkins missed both free throws while leading 89-87 before fouling a three-point shooter on the final possession to give Penn State the win.

*Ty Rodgers (B-)

Rodgers had a pretty good first half but was battling foul trouble in the second. In just 16 minutes, he made all three of his shots and came down with seven rebounds. Five of his rebounds were offensive, and they turned into seven second-chance points for the Illini on top of his lone steal, which also led to a three-pointer. He also had an efficient night as a playmaker, dishing out three assists to just one turnover via offensive foul. Rodgers would have made more of an impact if he had not picked up his third and fourth fouls with 17:11 and 8:28 left on the clock, but was effective while on the floor.

*Quincy Guerrier (C-)

Guerrier simply did not provide much for Illinois against Penn State. He only played in 14 minutes and took three shots, making a three-pointer and a dunk. Guerrier finished with three fouls, but it didn’t seem like it was what was holding him back. This is the fifth time in seven games that Guerrier has finished with less than 10 points, and his rebounding has also taken a sharp decline. He still leads the team at 7.0 rebounds per game, which makes four rebound nights like Wednesday stick out.

Justin Harmon (D)

Harmon played more minutes than Rodgers and Guerrier, going 1-4 from the floor for two points while grabbing four rebounds and throwing four assists. Similar to the other four on the floor at the end of the game, much of his performance is dictated by the collapse. Harmon checked in with 1:17 remaining while Illinois led 89-82 but did nothing to prevent eight unanswered points from Penn State. He was able to get open and take the ball up the floor on Illinois’ final possession of the game, something that had become a commodity down the stretch, but did not knock down the go-ahead shot.

Luke Goode (C)

Despite providing valuable shooting support for Illinois, Goode was still very negative on the defensive end. He finished with nine points on 3-5 from distance but the Nittany Lions still outscored the Illini during his minutes. 

Amani Hansberry (N/A)

Hansberry finished with four points and three rebounds in six minutes against Penn State.

Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn (N/A)

Gibbs-Lawhorn had two points and a rebound in six minutes against Penn State.

Dain Dainja (N/A)

Dainja made two free throws against the Nittany Lions.



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About the Contributors
Conor Blount
Conor Blount, Senior Sports Reporter
My name is Conor Blount. I’m a junior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. I joined The Daily Illini in the summer of 2022 as a beat writer for the sports section and am now one of three assistant sports editors. My first beat was women’s tennis before I moved to women’s basketball in the spring. I also had the pleasure of covering several former Illini at the 2023 NFL draft and NBA summer league. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the email below.
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
Hey there, you might recognize me as the photographer who's often at community events in Champaign-Urbana with a camera in hand. I'm currently finishing my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois. Since my first year in 2020, I have been capturing moments for the Illini Media Company, and I've recently become the Assistant Photo Editor. Filmmaking is another passion of mine – shoutout to my film club Illini Film and Video! Keep an eye out, as you could see me filming the next big hit on campus. When I am not using the camera, I am usually playing the drums. Should you have any inquiries, please don't hesitate to send me an email!
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