Illini remain winless on the road
January 23, 2017
At the end of the third quarter of Illinois’ women’s basketball’s game against Ohio State on Sunday, Illini guard Jaelyn Kirkpatrick dribbled the ball up the court for the final shot of the period.
She attempted to throw the ball inside to freshman Sarah Overcash, but it was stolen by Buckeyes’ junior Asia Doss.
Doss shot the other way and knocked down a running three-pointer at the buzzer. She then “Hit Dem Folks,” a hip-hop dance which originated in Georgia, before heading over to her team’s bench.
The three-pointer put Ohio State ahead by 31 points and was the highlight of the Buckeyes’ 88-64 victory in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes’ Kelsey Mitchell scored a game-high 22 points behind six made threes, and junior Stephanie Mavunga led the way defensively with nine rebounds and four blocks.
Freshman Brandi Beasley helped the Illini start strong by nailing her first three shot attempts and put Illinois ahead 6-0.
Sophomore Sierra Calhoun finally put the Buckeyes on the board, with just under eight minutes left in the first quarter. Ohio State then reeled off five more points to take the lead — they never looked back.
In the first half Illinois struggled to find any offensive rhythm, but Beasley did her best to keep the Illini within striking distance. A jump shot by the freshman moved her up to 13 points in the afternoon. With 1:34 left in the half, the team only trailed by three points. But Mitchell answered with a three-pointer and sparked a 9-0 run by the Buckeyes that put any chance of an Illinois comeback out of reach.
Sophomore Alex Wittinger recorded her seventh double-double of the season, but struggled to score against a tall Buckeye squad. Wittinger scored just two points in the first half and shot just 5-15 from the field.
Ohio State used its length and size to pressure Illinois from the start of the game. The Buckeyes used a full-court zone press against the Illini which caused several turnovers. Ohio State capitalized off of those mistakes by scoring in transition and getting to the foul line.
Illinois’ defensive scheme was not as effective. Ohio State shot just 44 percent from the field, but the Illini’s 2-3 zone allowed for many open looks beyond the arc. The Buckeyes made their visitors pay by knocking down 15 three-pointers.
The win helped Ohio State improve to 7-1 in the Big Ten and extended their conference win streak to three. It has been nearly two years since the last time the Illini defeated the Buckeyes, and the all-time series now stands at 49-20 in favor of Ohio State.
Illinois left Columbus, Ohio, still in search of its first road win of the season. The team is now 0-8 on the road and 0-4 in conference when playing away from the State Farm Center.
The Illini will return home to take on Maryland on Thursday night, and a win could put the team back at .500 in conference play. Illinois’ next chance at a road victory will be Sunday when it travels to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on Penn State.