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

No. 23 Illini women’s basketball begins season with massive 61-point victory in exhibition game

Olivia McAfoos
Forward Brynn Shoup-Hill shoots for three during exhibition match on Monday.

Effort is always maximized on the court at the State Farm Center for the Illini women’s basketball team. No. 23 Illinois hosted Truman State in its exhibition game this Monday, ending with a 61-point victory over the Bulldogs.

The crowd watched in awe as the big screens showed the team’s introduction video, as they do with every home game. The matchup began with a familiar lineup for the team, including senior guard Genesis Bryant, senior guard Makira Cook, junior guard Adalia McKenzie, junior forward Brynn Shoup-Hill and senior forward Kendall Bostic.

The first quarter started off with a bang, with Cook scoring back-to-back three-pointers in the first few minutes of the game. The crowd erupted with cheers and the energy remained intense, with a total of eight three-point shots made by the Illini in the first 10 minutes.

Swiftness and efficiency were two components the Illini succeeded in within the first half of the game. Fifth-year guard Jada Peebles racked up two steals with her five minutes in the first quarter. Bostic dominated in the paint with five offensive rebounds to help the team advance their score.

Another loud roar came from the stands as sophomore guard Kam’ren Rhodes sank a two-point buzzer-beater to end the first quarter. The Illini entered the second quarter with a 16-point lead over the Bulldogs.

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While the Orange Krush only took up a few rows of seats in the student section, their loud cheers and enthusiastic chants were heard throughout the entire arena. There is no doubt that the regular season home games will include even more applause and encouragement from Illini fans as so many of them were thrilled with the Associated Press preseason poll ranking they obtained.

“They’re a difference maker, the Orange Krush,” said head coach Shauna Green. “You see the difference they make at men’s games. If they can be down there heckling and harassing the other team, that helps us.”

The second half started off strong for the Illini, forcing numerous turnovers in just the first few minutes. Despite this being an exhibition game, Illinois treated the game as if it were a regular season Big Ten matchup, hustling back and forth from hoop to hoop.

Shoup-Hill dominated in the third quarter, getting three rebounds, two of which were offensive. Additionally, fifth-year center Camille Hobby was forceful underneath the rim, going 3-6 in field goals. Not only that, but the team went 10-10 in free throws, actively using fouls to their advantage.

“Coach Green definitely pushes me,” Hobby said. “That’s just the pace that we play, it’s really exciting and it’s a lot of fun too … It’s really rewarding being able to play with everyone.”

Just a mere four points away from 100, the Illini entered the final quarter leading 96-50 over the Bulldogs. Green and head coach Theo Dean for the Bulldogs exchanged friendly conversation throughout the game.

At the 7:48 second mark during the fourth quarter, Illinois was up by 50, racking up 100 points total. Then, in the remaining two minutes of the game, freshman guard Cori Allen sank an eye-catching three-point shot to bring more electricity to State Farm Center.

One thing is for certain: Their energy and determination were maintained throughout the entire matchup.

The huge victory over the Bulldogs did not disappoint Illini fans, but Green is adamant about improving the team’s defense in order to be extra prepared for their upcoming games.

“We had our closed scrimmage earlier this year,” Green said. “I liked it because we learned a lot, we had a couple weeks to really get better at some things … We have to get better defensively … we gotta be sharper and more disciplined defensively.”

The Illini begin their official start to the 2023-24 season on Nov. 7 back in the State Farm Center with a matchup against Morehead State.



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