Illini fall to Badgers in final game of season before Big Tens

With seeding implications for the Big Ten Women’s Tournament on the line, Illinois faltered in the last conference game of the season against Wisconsin, losing 72-60 in Madison, Wis., on Sunday.

The loss drops Illinois into a two-way tie with Wisconsin for ninth place in the Big Ten standings.

Illinois will take the No. 10 seed at the Big Ten Women’s Tournament as the tiebreaker for seeding is head-to-head record, and Illinois has lost twice to Wisconsin this season.

“The message going forward is that we have to work for 40 minutes and do all the little things in order to keep playing,” Illinois head coach Jolette Law said. “Today, we played well for a half and then got away from what was making us successful.”

Illinois was able to grab a lead in the first half fueled by Adrienne GodBold’s performance off the bench. GodBold had 14 points and two steals in the first half to pace the Illini to a 34-29 halftime advantage.

“She’s a gamer,” Law said. “Anytime we need a basket or a stop, she’s there. I was hoping everyone else would feed off of it. There were times when the shot clock was winding down, she was confident in taking the three or posting up. She did all the little things. Hopefully she keeps it up.”

Illinois couldn’t sustain their lead on the road in the second half, however, falling victim to a 17-7 Badgers run to end the game. Illinois couldn’t find a scoring option outside of GodBold, and Wisconsin shot 67 percent from the field in the second half.

“I think we thought the game was over at halftime,” Law said. “We didn’t come out with that same fire. I told my team that the first four minutes (of the second half) were going to dictate how the whole 20 minutes were going to go. In those four minutes, Wisconsin didn’t back down and we stopped doing the little things.”

GodBold finished the game as Illinois’ leading scorer with 23 points. Karisma Penn contributed 12 points in just 13 minutes of playing time due to foul trouble.

Forward Kersten Magrum also returned to action for the first time since Jan. 29 after being held out for post-concussion symptoms. Magrum added seven points and four rebounds in limited time and will be a key factor in Illinois’ success at the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament, which begins Thursday in Indianapolis.