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

Bryant scores 31, Illinois women’s basketball suffers tough defeat against Notre Dame

Sofia Klein
Senior guard Genesis Bryant faces a Morehead State player during the fourth quarter of the Illinois women’s basketball season opener on Nov. 7. Bryant scored 31 points in the game against Notre Dame on Saturday.

Illinois women’s basketball was only able to ride the wave after its huge win for a few days after falling short to No. 16 Notre Dame, 79-68. Turnovers were detrimental to the Illini, with the Fighting Irish scoring 31 points off these errors.

To the pleasure of Illini fans, senior guard Makira Cook was back in the starting lineup, making her season debut in Washington D.C. for the team. The remaining four in the lineup were familiar faces, including senior guard Genesis Bryant, junior guard Adalia McKenzie, junior forward Brynn Shoup-Hill and senior forward Kendall Bostic.

The first quarter started off a little slow for the Illini. About two and a half minutes into the game, Bryant sunk a successful jump shot to get the team on the board. However, turnovers were a killer component at the start. With 4:32 left in the first quarter, Illinois already had six turnovers under its belt.

Notre Dame had the lead the entire duration of the quarter. McKenzie had a solid start to the game, forcefully making her way to the rim to score two layups. Cook scored her first bucket of the season with two minutes left of the quarter, but the Fighting Irish stayed tough on the court and had a lead as high as 10 points over the Illini.

The Illini were able to close the gap slightly after the first 10 minutes, finding themselves down 21-16 going into the second quarter. They had a total of eight turnovers, with Bryant and Cook having three each. These two women, along with McKenzie, were the only ones to score for the Illini in the first quarter as Bryant went 3-4 in field goals, having eight points total.

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    Notre Dame made it clear their defense was going to be a challenge for Illinois. Bryant sank a three-point shot to bring the score to 21-19, but Notre Dame soon responded as well with another three-point shot to increase the lead to five once again.

    With four minutes left of the half, the pace picked up for the Illini. Bryant was 6-6 in her free throw attempts and with a traveling call against the Fighting Irish, the ball returned to the Illini and Bostic made her first layup. This cut the lead to one and made the score 28-27.

    After cutting it to a one-possession game, Notre Dame went on a 9-0 run to close out the half. The Illini were down 37-27, and five of their players had two or more fouls. Bryant was the top scorer, with 15 points going into the second half, but there was minimal scoring coming from the rest of the players on the team.

    McKenzie got the team going at the start of the second half, with a smooth layup and strong rebound. She had 10 points, five rebounds and a steal in total at this point, but Notre Dame was not letting up. Their aggression on both ends of the court is what helped them maintain a large lead. With seven minutes left of the third quarter, the Illini were down 46-33, with four players in foul trouble.

    There was immense pressure on the ball from the Fighting Irish, making the Illini visibly frustrated on the court. Notre Dame dominated in offensive boards, having 13 while Illinois only had two. Given this, Notre Dame was also extremely powerful in the paint, and while Illinois still looked solid in their shooting, it was overshadowed due to Notre Dame’s ability to rebound and get points off these rebounds.

    With three minutes left of the third quarter, Notre Dame was up 55-40 over Illinois. The Fighting Irish continued to get steals, rebounds, make assists and have control over the ball, which was ultimately what destroyed the Illini, as they struggled to defend the pick-and-roll sequences.

    At the 6:45 mark of the final quarter, Notre Dame had a 20-point lead over Illinois. The Illini did not look as cohesive as they had in previous games and there was very little passing on the court, with only five assists the entire game.

    Bryant ended as the top scorer with 31 points, nine of which were from three-point shots. Additionally, McKenzie reached a season-high 17 points and eight rebounds.

    When Illinois scored and made impressive plays, the bench was still very active and enthusiastic for their teammates. Maintaining energy throughout the game is a crucial part of Illinois’ program. The team returns to Champaign on Nov. 26, with their next five games being at home.



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