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

Illinois women’s basketball rebounds with lunchtime beatdown of Saint Peter’s

Jacoby Banks-Hull
Sophomore forward Shay Bollin takes a jump shot against Saint Peter’s defense during the fourth quarter. Bollin finished the night with 14 points.

Looking to bounce back after a tough loss last Saturday at Marquette, Illinois (1-1) welcomed the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s (1-1) into the State Farm Center. Unfortunately for the Peacocks, it was the Illini who would strut their stuff, leading to a dominating win by a score of 103-33 for a packed house of kids on Field Trip Day.

Attendance was through the roof for the Illini’s annual Field Trip Day and the atmosphere did not disappoint. The State Farm Center rocked to the tune of 11,563 people in the crowd, of which head coach Shauna Green estimated 10,000 were children.

Once again with no senior guard Makira Cook, Green sent out the familiar lineup of senior guard Genesis Bryant, fifth-year guard Jada Peebles, junior guard Adalia McKenzie, junior forward Brynn Shoup-Hill and senior forward Kendall Bostic. Illinois was lucky enough to get a tuneup after its tough loss last weekend against a Saint Peter’s team with just one win dating back to the beginning of last season.

The Illini were able to take full advantage right out of the gate as Bryant hit a triple a minute into the game to give them a lead that they held all game. Illinois piled on in the ensuing minutes featuring a pair of threes from Peebles and a couple of tough layups from Shoup-Hill. Saint Peters had to call its first timeout of the game a mere four minutes and 12 seconds into the game, trailing 18-2. The Illini kept going at an unbelievable pace throughout the rest of the first quarter, holding the Peacocks to one singular field goal after that timeout. The vibes were high as Illinois led 27-4, but the first quarter did bring one piece of bad news. Freshman guard Gretchen Dolan left after only a minute of game time with an injury.

Like Cook, Green says they’re unsure of Dolan’s timeline and will continue to take her day to day. In her absence, the Illini saw role players emerge, like freshman guard Cori Allen and sophomore forward Shay Bollin.

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“We’ve had injuries, you know we have another injury,” Green said. “You gotta be ready. Today, even at half, I got on them a little bit because I thought our bench could’ve had a little bit more juice and a little bit more energy and they responded.”

Buckets from McKenzie, Bryant and Bostic extended the Illinois lead up to 33-4 before Saint Peter’s’ Jada Leonard took back a little momentum with a huge shot from beyond the arc. Another shot from Leonard and a layup from Rachel Kuhl gave the Peacocks seven points in a minute despite having only four total previously and leading to a little frustration from Green on the sideline. Peebles went on to drain two more triples to bring her first-half total up to 16 points as the Illini finished the half up 50-19.

The starters came back out to start the third quarter, but they would not be out there very long. It was a quiet quarter for the starters as Bryant and Shoup-Hill didn’t find the net at all and McKenzie picked up a solitary point from the free throw line. Peebles hit another triple for the road and Bostic secured her double-double, as she usually does, before they joined the rest of the starters on the pine for the remainder of the game.

This opened up the floodgates for the Illini’s bench squad to do their thing and show out for the kids, while also serving as a key opportunity for the starters to get some rest.

“No matter what happened in this game, whether they got a rest or they didn’t, we have a two-day prep,” Green said. “Normally we’ve been having a day off and then a two-day prep with all of our games, so this is our first game with a two-day prep without a day off in between.”

The bench picked up right where the starters left off on both sides of the ball. Allen picked up a quick six points on a couple of good post-ups to round out the quarter as well as Bollin and sophomore guard Kam’Ren Rhodes got themselves on the board for the first time. Illinois wrapped up the quarter with a comfortable 73-27 lead.

The fourth quarter opened with an easy layup from senior center Aicha Ndour and continued with sophomore guard Camille Jackson setting this pace as well. Ndour picked up a couple more buckets including an incredible show of athleticism as she finished a fast break off a Rhodes steal. Shay Bollin put on a show in the middle of the fourth, scoring 10 points over two minutes for Illinois, including both her first and second career made three-pointers.

The sophomore needed this more than anyone after facing adversity over the past few years. Bollin missed her junior and senior year of high school rehabbing from injury and transferred to Illinois after only getting into eight games as a freshman at Duke.

“I finally felt like I was just playing,” Bollin said. “That’s something I’ve been working through and I’ve been working hard on it. Struggling with injuries and going through the transfer process, I’ve been working a lot on my mind and just getting mentally tough … I just went out there and had fun.”

As the game came to a close there were chants of “We want a hundred” roaring through the crowd. Allen, Bollin and Ndour each picked up another basket as Illinois crossed the 100-point mark for the second straight year on Field Trip Day.

A 70-point margin of victory is nothing to scoff at, but Illinois (2-1) can’t think about that with Norte Dame next on the schedule. The Fighting Irish are currently ranked No. 16 in the AP poll and will face off against the Illini on a neutral court at the Citi Shamrock Classic in Washington D.C. on Saturday. The game tips off at noon.



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