Illini women’s basketball drops third straight game to No. 11 Colorado

With or without head coach Matt Bollant, the Illinois women’s basketball team can’t seem to shake its recent tailspin.

For the third consecutive game, the Illini (5-5) couldn’t seem to mend their problems on both sides of the ball. Poor shooting and poor defending caused Illinois to lose its third consecutive game by more than 20 points, as No. 11 Colorado (8-0) dominated the second half of the game to win 79-56 at home. Assistant head coach Mike Divilbiss coached the team in place of Bollant because he was experiencing flu-like symptoms prior to the game.

“We did not shoot the ball very well,” Divilbiss said. “We’re beating ourself. … We feel like we’ve played against a very good team tonight, and we’re very proud of our effort, but we keep making mistakes.”

“We’re just trying to grow and get better still. We have grown a lot. … I’m really pleased with them, but we still have to keep growing.”

Down just eight points at half, Illinois struggled coming out of the break, as Colorado held Illinois to just 20 percent shooting in the half. The Buffaloes shot 48.4 percent for the game to the Illini’s 30.8. The Buffaloes also shot 42 percent from beyond the arc to the Illini’s 27.8.

Illinois played relatively well defensively, forcing Colorado to commit a season-high 21 turnovers. But the Illini could not take advantage of the Buffaloes’ mistakes, as they were only able to get 15 points off the turnovers. Colorado dominated the paint, grabbing 51 rebounds to Illinois’ 30. Colorado also outscored Illinois 15-5 on second-chance points.

“We couldn’t convert turnovers into baskets,” Divilbiss said. “We had opportunities and we didn’t convert them. I didn’t think we took too many bad shots tonight. We didn’t get sped up. … We did a great job tonight of not doing that. I thought our choices were a lot better, but we just didn’t convert.”

Jacqui Grant was the lone Illini to shoot over 50 percent from the field, hitting seven of her 12 shots overall and two of three from the 3-point line. She finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one block. The next best Illini was Amber Moore, who had 16 points, but shot 5-for-16 from the field. The Buffaloes got a concerted effort from forward Arielle Roberson, center Rachel Hargis, guard Jasmine Sborov and reserve forward Jen Reese. All four players scored over 10 points in the game, with Roberson leading the way with 17.

The Illini get only a day’s rest before returning to State Farm Center to face Seton Hall (7-1) on Monday night.

Blake can be reached at [email protected]