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 sweeps Northwestern with 11-point victory at home

Sophomore+Forward+Shay+Bollin+celebrates+the+victory+against+Northwestern+with+fellow+teammates+on+Thursday+night.
Angel Saldivar
Sophomore Forward Shay Bollin celebrates the victory against Northwestern with fellow teammates on Thursday night.

The Illini rallied back after a tough loss against Purdue to come out on top against Northwestern for the second time this season. Scoring 44 points in the paint and leading the entire way, the team was able to get its leverage back and return to 0.500 on the season (11-11 overall, 5-7 conference).

The starting lineup remained, with senior guard Genesis Bryant, senior guard Makira Cook, junior guard Adalia McKenzie, fifth-year center Camille Hobby and senior forward Kendall Bostic. After tonight’s win, this lineup moved to 6-4 on the season. 

Northwestern began with the ball but soon turned it over for Bostic to score a quick layup. The visitors got their first points through two free throws on their next possession.

The Illini’s offense started off strong, going 4-4 from the field in the first four minutes. Their defense was working well too, stopping much action from occurring in the paint for the Wildcats. 

At the first media timeout, Illinois was leading 11-6 in large part due to its ball movement, passing the rock around to Hobby, Bostic and McKenzie for easy jump shots. Cook was also driving to the hoop and scoring despite numerous bodies guarding her. 

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    “I really wanted a great start,” said head coach Shauna Green. “We came out, and our defense was really, really good and energized, and we were focused …We’ve been really, really good at most of our starts …Those are some things we’ve been talking about and working on, and they executed.”

    Sophomore forward Shay Bollin scored Illinois’ first three-pointer of the game to give it an eight-point lead. The first quarter concluded with Illinois on top 20-12, going 64% from the field. 

    Northwestern continued to shoot threes in the second quarter, but none of them were falling, starting 0-6 from behind the arc. Illinois reached its highest lead at this point with seven minutes to go in the second quarter, leading by 11 (27-16).

    The crowd erupted after Bollin scored another three-pointer with two minutes left in the half. The Illini kept driving in the paint to score, continuing to pull ahead of the Wildcats. The half ended with Illinois slowing things down, but Northwestern scored a buzzer-beater three-pointer to cut into the lead. Illinois led 41-26 going into the second half, even with Cook not seeing any minutes in the second quarter. 

    Northwestern kicked off the second half with an easy layup and a free-throw to get the quarter going. Bryant scored three easy free throws after getting fouled behind the arc, keeping Illinois’ lead at 15 (48-33). 

    With four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Wildcats were inching ahead and cut the lead to six. The Illini did not let this get in their head, however, and they continued to get aggressive on offense and maintain the upper hand. The third quarter rounded out with a layup by Bryant to bring the score to 63-44 over Northwestern. 

    Illinois reached a 20-point lead with eight minutes to go, consistently making good plays each time Northwestern attempted to lessen the point differential. Northwestern began a heavy full-court press during the last stretch of the game, but it did not affect Illinois.

    This game had an immense amount of free throws, with 23 of Illinois’ points coming from the line. The game finished with an Illini victory, 82-71, and they stay in Champaign for their next game this Sunday against Maryland. 

    “Just a great bounce back,” Green noted. “Now, we gotta use this, we gotta learn, we gotta get better and tighten some things up going into a big game on Sunday against Maryland.” 

     

    @tess_eken

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