Chatrice White puts up dominant performance in Illini basketball loss to Ohio State

By Daniel Dexter, Staff writer

In Monday’s 80-70 loss to Ohio State, Illinois women’s basketball center Chatrice White was the focal point of the Illini’s gameplan — putting up 26 points and 10 rebounds.

White took 30 shots in the game, which was more than double Illinois’ next leading shot-taker. Ohio State was fully aware of how dangerous White could be and double-teamed her on most possessions.

Head coach Matt Bollant said he likes to see White take so many shots in the game as long as she makes about half of them. Although, in situations where White is doubled and can’t put up a good look, he wants to see her pass the ball out onto the perimeter to the open teammate.

The ball movement strategy was successful in the first quarter for Illinois, which sank its first five 3-pointers.

“That’s something that we have worked on and seen quite a bit,” Bollant said. “(White) is getting better as a passer. … She just needs to see it early enough.”

Illinois contains Kelsey Mitchell

Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell concerned the Illini coming into Monday’s game. The sophomore’s 26.4 points per game before Monday’s contest was the highest in the Big Ten.

Against the Illini, Mitchell put up 22 points, but was limited to a 42 percent field goal percentage — well below her season of average of 55 percent.

“She is a great point guard and made a lot of shots,” White said after the game. “In the first half, we tried to shut her down. I think our guards did a good job of defending. She is going to make some because she is a great player. For us to keep her down and not let her get going was big for us.”

Ohio State found offensive production from guard Ameryst Alston and forward Alexa Hart, who put 24 and 18 points in the game, respectively. Alston was sent to the line six times and sank all 12 of her free throws.

Illinois struggles to find second Big Ten win

The Illini remain at the bottom of a competitive Big Ten and have not recorded a win since their first conference win against Wisconsin on Jan. 17.

Still the team maintains an air of positivity as it enters the final month of regular season play. Bollant said after the game on Monday that he is proud of the way his team competed against the No. 7 team in the nation.

The players echoed their coach’s sentiment and took time after the loss to meet at the center of the court where guard Kennedy Cattenhead encouraged her teammates to not lose the morale.

“(Cattenhead) has been telling us what our coaches have been saying, which is that we are really close and these last few games have proven that,” White said. “We just have to play that complete game. She was saying that we have to play as hard as we can in practice, so it doesn’t change when we come into the game. I think that’s pretty well known by everyone on the team.”

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