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 finishes on top in 15-point road win against Penn State

Jacoby Banks-Hull
Junior Adalia McKenzie shoots the ball during the game against Maryland on Feb. 12.

The Illini took a trip to Pennsylvania for a Thursday evening matchup against the Nittany Lions. After falling to Maryland on Sunday, the team battled back to defeat Penn State, putting them at 12-12 overall and 6-8 in the Big Ten.

Once again, no changes were made to the starting lineup. Senior guard Genesis Bryant, senior guard Makira Cook, junior guard Adalia McKenzie, fifth-year center Camille Hobby and senior forward Kendall Bostic took to the floor for this highly anticipated matchup.

Hobby grabbed the ball off the tipoff and began with a quick layup to get Illinois a pair of easy points. Penn State responded with the same layup, and Illinois was slow to respond. The Illini committed three turnovers in just the first three minutes of the game, and the Nittany Lions quickly developed a six-point lead. 

Penn State passed the ball well and got inside the paint early for simple points. Fortunately for Illinois, Penn State was unable to finish its three-pointers, going 0-6 to start the game. Bryant shot clean from deep and brought it to a one-point game with four minutes left of the first quarter (10-9).

With back-to-back three-pointers from freshman guard Gretchen Dolan, Illinois regained the lead at 15-12. This did not last, as Penn State was able to grab offensive boards and get second-chance opportunities in more than one instance. The Nittany Lions continued to push the pace and increase their lead, but by the end of the first quarter, the Illini seemed to be keeping up with their quickness. A steal and layup by McKenzie cut the lead to one after the first 10 minutes of the game (22-21).

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The second quarter began with a multitude of lead changes. Illinois was improving its rebound game and got back in transition smoothly to help it adjust to Penn State’s gameplay. There were two instances in which McKenzie got fouled on successful field goals, and with six minutes to go in the second quarter, she was the team’s leading scorer with 10 points as a result.

At the 5:00 mark of the second quarter, Illinois got up to a seven-point lead, looking more confident and relaxed on the floor. The team was shooting 57% from the field at this point — a much better start than their previous game. 

Cook continued to drive to the basket and score swift floaters, racking up 11 points. The team went on a 10-0 run to get them their largest lead so far at nine points. 

The Illini’s scoring run turned quickly into a scoring drought, going three and a half minutes without sinking any shots. Illinois broke its drought with a shot by Bostic in the closing seconds, but Penn State responded with a buzzer-beater, cutting the lead to 38-35 going into the second half. 

The Nittany Lions kicked off the second half with a quick layup to inch them closer to the Illini before regaining the lead at 39-38 off a turnover. Illinois went on a 6-0 run, continuing to exchange the lead with Penn State. Five minutes into the third quarter, Illinois was ahead 48-42 with half of its points coming from inside the paint. The Illini continued to inch their lead higher and were ahead by 11 entering the final frame (62-51). Illinois was shooting 56% from the field, while Penn State had lost 40% of its shots.

Bryant began the final quarter with a three-pointer, firing up the Illinois bench. Penn State’s offense had difficulty getting going in the fourth and Illinois continued to succeed, leading 71-58 with five minutes remaining in the game. 

The Illini reached a 20-point lead in the final three minutes of the game, with five athletes scoring in double-figures. The matchup ended victoriously for the Illini, finishing 86-71. The team returns to Champaign for a midday competition against No. 14 Indiana this Monday.



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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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