Illinois women’s basketball claims dominant victory in first round of Daytona Beach Invitational

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Sidney Malone

Junior gaurd Makira Cook dribbles the ball during the second half against Alcorn State on Nov. 22.

By Conor Blount, Staff Writer

After opening its season on a five-game home stretch, Illinois women’s basketball traveled to the Daytona Beach Invitational to face off against Charlotte, claiming a 70-43 victory. Illinois’ record improved to 6-0 following the win, with another game against Delaware tomorrow.

In its last time out, Illinois earned a dominant 29-point victory over Oakland. Junior guard Makira Cook led all scorers with 18 points to go along with three rebounds, two assists and a steal. On top of Cook’s scoring, Illinois had three other double-digit scorers along with nine points from junior guard Genesis Bryant.

Junior forward Kendall Bostic was the first to strike on offense, dropping a layup off of an assist from Cook. Charlotte responded with a make of its own, but Cook quickly took the lead back for the Illini on the next possession.

For much of the first quarter, neither team was able to gain much footing over the other. However, after tying the game at 10-10 with 4:37 left in the quarter, Illinois did not allow Charlotte to score again until the second quarter. In that time, Illinois went on a 13-0 run off the backs of sophomore guard Adalia McKenzie, who had nine points and two steals during that time.

After allowing Illinois to jump out to a large lead, Charlotte’s defense was much tighter in the second quarter. Being held to 14 points and zero three-point makes, Illinois could not get much going on the offensive end. Despite the impressive defensive adjustments in the second quarter, the 49ers were unable to cut into the lead as Illinois outscored them 14-13 during the period.

At halftime, Illinois held a comfortable 37-23 lead over Charlotte. McKenzie remained the top scorer with 13 points, while Bostic was the second-leading scorer with eight points. The playmaking load had been split across the team, with six Illini totaling ten assists.

The second half was another defensive battle, with neither team willing to budge for the other. In the first six minutes of play, a total of nine points had been scored across both teams. With 2:49 remaining in the third quarter, Bryant grabbed a defensive rebound before passing the ball to senior guard Jada Peebles who landed a transition three for Illinois, its first three point make of the game. A pair of made free throws via graduate forward Geovana Lopes, giving Illinois a 50-30 going into the final period of play.

Already with a 20-point lead, Illinois opened the fourth quarter on a 8-2 run to push its lead even higher. Beginning at the 6:02 mark, Illinois went on another run as they scored nine points within the next minute and a half, bringing the score to 67-36. Illinois did not score again until a last minute three pointer from freshman guard Kam’Ren Rhodes, but its lead was so large that it did not matter. Ending with a final score of 70-43, Illinois claimed its sixth blowout victory of the year en route to its first 6-0 start since 2014-15.

For the first time this season, Illinois only had one double digit scorer (McKenzie), however this had little impact on the outcome of the game due to six Illini having eight or more points. Bostic and Lopes led the team with seven rebounds, while McKenzie pulled in six. Cook, Bostic and Bryant carried much of the playmaking load, with each having four assists.

Illinois women’s basketball will be back in action tomorrow for the second leg of the Daytona Beach Invitational, looking to remain undefeated as they face against Delaware.

 

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