The Daily Illini

Illinois women’s basketball unsuccessful on road trip, but find star in Beasley

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Illinois women’s basketball unsuccessful on road trip, but find star in Beasley

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

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Going into Wednesday night’s game against South Dakota, the Illinois women’s basketball team knew that it needed to improve on it’s performance against George Washington in it’s first road game.

In the second part of a tough non-conference road trip, the Illini got off to a great against a very competitive Coyotes team. Leading by as much as nine, the Illini went into halftime with a two point lead.

Freshman guard Brandi Beasley put in another good performance for the Illini, with 10 first half points and six rebounds. Alex Wittinger, who was coming off of two off-performances, looked better in the first half, with five points. Freshman Ali Andrews played solid defense and earned herself more minutes in the second half.

But when the second half came, things started to go south for Illinois. South Dakota guard Jaycee Bradley, who only had three points at halftime, started heating up, and by the end of the game had 23.

The Coyotes went on a 19-6 run from the middle of the third quarter into the fourth, during which they took the lead from Illinois. South Dakota never looked back, winning 77-68 and dropping Illinois’ record to 3-6 on the season.

The Illini were wary going in to the game of South Dakota’s Allison Arens, who averages over 20 points per game. Illinois did a good job against Arens, limiting her to seven points and forcing her to commit four turnovers.

However, they were not prepared for the Coyotes’ center Abigail Fogg, who gave the Illini headaches all night. The center scored 25 on the Illini, including going 2-4 from three point land. Fogg only averaged seven points per game going into the game, but she showed her class against the Illini.

The structure of this game has been a recurring theme for the Illini. In both the loss against Wake Forest, and last Sunday’s loss to George Washington, Illinois started the game well, but couldn’t keep the pressure up throughout the game.

Despite the loss, the Illini were able to take some positives away from the game. Head coach Matt Bollant called the game the most complete three quarters of basketball the Illini have played all season.

“We just didn’t get enough stops on the defensive end,” Bollant said. “But this was the highest-level game we played in all year. I was really proud of our effort, we just have to be a little bit more aware on the defensive end.”

Beasley led the Illini in points for the second straight game, finishing with 24 points, 18 of those coming from three pointers. Beasley has greatly elevated her game on this road trip, and has been far and away the Illini’s best player during the stretch.

“Brandi played a great game,” Bollant said. “She shot very well, including six threes, and we were really proud of her effort.”

While the Illini return home without any wins form this road trip, if Beasley can continue playing at their losing streak may not last much longer.

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@Jacob_Diaz31

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