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 falls short in tough battle against Wisconsin

Olivia McAfoos
Junior Adalia McKenzie shares a high-five with head coach Shauna Green during a timeout against Truman State on Oct. 30.

Big Ten matchups have proved to be a challenge for the Illini (6-7, 0-3). The team left its first matchup of 2024 just six points behind the Badgers and were outrebounded 47-35. With this loss, Illinois is ranked second to last in the Big Ten, needing a win to get back on its feet.

No changes were made to the starting lineup, with familiar faces once more on the court. The game began with senior guard Genesis Bryant, senior guard Makira Cook, junior guard Adalia McKenzie, junior forward Brynn Shoup-Hill and senior forward Kendall Bostic. This starting lineup is now 3-6 on the season.

Tipoff was obtained by Cook, but a steal from the Badgers set them up to score the first points of the game. After regaining possession, Cook scored a floater to get Illinois on the board.

After this, Wisconsin went on a 6-0 scoring run, but Cook quickly changed that with another field goal. Bostic also scored her first points of the game with an assist from McKenzie. Soon after, Bryant scored her first shot of the game, bringing the score to 10-8 with Wisconsin leading. The matchup was proving to be a pretty even one, with both teams comparable in size and skill.

The first quarter ended with a one-point differential, Wisconsin leading 13-12. The second quarter began with a layup from Wisconsin after an offensive board. Head coach Shauna Green showed frustration from the sidelines with the amount of offensive rebounds Wisconsin was able to get.

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The Illini soon took their first lead of the game with a layup by McKenzie, now leading 16-15. Despite the close game, Green made quite a few substitutions, seeing early minutes from fifth-year guard Jada Peebles, fifth-year center Camille Hobby, sophomore guard Kam’Ren Rhodes, sophomore forward Shay Bollin and freshman guard Gretchen Dolan. The Illini had not gone as deep in their roster these past few games as competitions continued to intensify, but Green has always been adamant about exposing these players to conference matchups.

Green called her first timeout halfway through the second quarter, after Wisconsin scored another field goal off an offensive rebound. Wisconsin was dominating in rebounds, especially on the offensive end, having nine while Illinois only had four at this point.

The first half proved to be a balanced matchup overall, bouncing back-and-forth with scoring and lead changes. After 20 minutes, the half closed out with Wisconsin leading by one (26-25), and Illinois ready to continue fighting. Wisconsin outrebounded Illinois 24-15, so Illinois was looking to change this and prevent any more second chance points.

“We just gotta stay focused, and honestly we gotta want it,” McKenzie said. “I literally felt like Wisconsin just wanted it more than us. And it’s not like we don’t want to work hard, I just think it’s all about our mindset. We need to have a self-reflection and just get back to doing what we do. We love the game and we work so hard for it, but we gotta play like that.”

The second half started off rather rocky for the Illini, as they were unable to finish the shots they were taking. At this point they were 13-37 from the field, and while the Badgers were similar to this percentage, they took more advantage of the opportunities that came their way.

The Illini went on a scoring drought for three and a half minutes, and began a full-court press on the Badgers with two minutes remaining. In the last minute of the third quarter, the team started to heat up and score six straight points to tie it up at 39. At the very last second of the quarter, Cook scored a three-pointer from the logo to retake the lead, and fans at the State Farm Center went crazy.

In just the first minute of the fourth quarter, both teams were demonstrating how physical and resilient they could be, but Wisconsin ultimately pushed its lead to eight (52-44).

With two minutes to go, Bryant sank a three-pointer and cut the lead to four. Illinois was desperate to get its first win over a Big Ten team, but even after a strenuous fight, the team was unable to exit the game victoriously.

“We need to be better,” Green noted. “You can’t score 61 points and beat anyone in this league; we gotta figure out our offense.”

Illinois travels to Lincoln this Thursday to face off against Nebraska, which is listed in third place for the Big Ten. The Illini need to display maximum effort against future competitors in order to end successfully with wins on their shoulders.



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About the Contributor
Tess Eken
Tess Eken, Assistant Sports Editor
Hi everyone! My name is Tess and I’m currently a junior studying communications with a minor in Spanish. I joined The Daily Illini because I wanted to combine my love for sports with my love for writing, so I get the best of both worlds here! Outside of journalism, I love baking and spending time with my friends and family. If you have any questions or just want to talk sports with me, feel free to email me using the button below. I-L-L!
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