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Illinois women’s basketball loses to George Washington

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Illinois women’s basketball loses to George Washington

Illinois' Brandi Beasley (1) drives to the basket during the game against Wake Forest at State Farm Center on Wednesday, November 30. The Illini lost 79-70.

Illinois' Brandi Beasley (1) drives to the basket during the game against Wake Forest at State Farm Center on Wednesday, November 30. The Illini lost 79-70.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Brandi Beasley (1) drives to the basket during the game against Wake Forest at State Farm Center on Wednesday, November 30. The Illini lost 79-70.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Brandi Beasley (1) drives to the basket during the game against Wake Forest at State Farm Center on Wednesday, November 30. The Illini lost 79-70.

By Jacob Diaz, Staff writer

With time expiring in the first half, George Washington women’s basketball team inbounded the ball, and pushed it upcourt to forward Kelli Prange, who was just a few feet inside of the halfcourt line. Prange paused, measured and fired, and as the shot rattled around the rim, the Illini had hope.

But the shot dropped into the net, symbolically sealing the deal for the Colonials.

In its first road game of the season, the Illinois women’s basketball team kept up with George Washington for the first six minutes of the game.

With 4:09 left in the first quarter, Illini guard Brandi Beasley hit her second jumper in 30 seconds to make the score 11-10 in favor of George Washington, but it was all downhill from there for the Illini, and Illinois lost 72-56.

For the rest of the first quarter, the Colonials went on a 17-0 run that lasted two and a half minutes into the second quarter. The Illini struggled against the Colonials stifling defense, and their own defense was outmatched by the balanced George Washington attack.

The Colonials employed a 1-2-2 zone against the Illini — a defensive scheme the young team has not seen this season. The defense gave the Illini headaches all game, as they struggled to break it down and create good shots.

“We needed to get some more movement against the 1-2-2,” head coach Matt Bollant said. “They did a pretty good job matching (the defense) up to what we wanted to do.”

For Bollant’s side, the hole continued to grow through the third quarter, as five Colonials scored at least eight points on the night and three in double digits. The Colonials only shot 40 percent from the floor, but going 16-16 from the free throw line and out-rebounding Illinois 48-25 the helped them out the game out of reach.

Noticeably missing from the floor for long stretches of the game was Alex Wittinger, the Illini’s leading scorer and rebounder. Wittinger — who is averaging double-doubles —  got into foul trouble early in the first half after picking up two fouls on one Colonial possession, and didn’t make much of an impact as the game went on. She finished with just six points and three rebounds.

One bright spot for the Illini was the offensive display that Brandi Beasley put on in the first half to try and keep her team in the game. Beasley scored 14 points in the first half, keeping the lead within reach for the time.

“Brandi was really good in the first half,” Bollant said. “But we need more people to step up and make shots. We need more than one scorer in the first half. You need to get two, three, four kids playing well and making shots and we just didn’t have that.”

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