Illinois women’s basketball roll two 2-0 start


Chatrice White shoots a layup during the game against Robert Morris at State Farm Center on Tuesday. The Illini won 66-48, the first time they’ve won consecutively in almost a year.

Illinois women’s basketball did something in Tuesday night’s 66-48 win over Robert Morris at State Farm Center that it hadn’t accomplished since December of 2013. 

The Illini won two games consecutively. 

It makes sense, considering Matt Bollant’s squad went just 2-14 in conference play last season. 

“It was also the first time since ‘08-09 that they’ve started 2-0 as well, so hopefully there’s going to be a lot of firsts this year,” Bollant said. “It’s a lot more fun to win.”

Illinois was carried by two of its freshman. Center Chatrice White and guard Brooke Kissinger had big impacts in only their second game in orange and blue. White poured in 23 points to go along with eight rebounds in just 21 minutes. Kissinger added 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

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They both acknowledged that after two games, they’re starting to feel more comfortable on the court.

“A couple games under your belt makes you feel really good, and the court feels like its our new home,” White said. 

Kissinger played a big part in White’s offensive success, hitting her fellow Nebraska native on multiple cuts to the hoop for easy finishes. 

“It’s more because of our chemistry, since we’ve played together since sixth grade,” Kissinger said. “I kind of have a feel for her and where she’s going to go and when she’s going to go.”

Kissinger also knocked down two 3-point shots for the Illini, something expected from the sharpshooter. However, the made threes caused the Illinois bench to go crazy, because they were the first, and only, made threes of the team’s season. 

“Yeah it was definitely nice to finally break that spell,” Kissinger said with a laugh. “I couldn’t stop smiling after that first three.”

Illinois also received a large contribution from yet another newcomer. Brittany Carter, the senior transfer from Ball State, posted a double-double in her second game with the Illini, with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Bollant was happy Carter was able to use her lengthy frame as a guard to crash the boards.

Most importantly in Bollant’s eyes, the Illini once again capitalized on his calling card as a coach. The team forced Robert Morris to turn the ball over 27 times, after forcing IPFW to turn it over 35 times in the season opener. The onslaught of turnovers was paired with Illinois winning the rebounding battle, something it didn’t do in the opener. 

“Our defense for 30 minutes was really solid,” Bollant said. “We forced 15 turnovers in the first half and (Robert Morris) is a really skilled team.”

With the newcomers starting to get their footing, Bollant wants the Illini to keep growing on the defensive end with higher levels of competition quickly approaching on the schedule. 

“Hopefully we can keep growing and make that our identity — as a team where we’re really hard to score against, and the defense is going to show up every night,” Bollant said.

Brett can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @Blerner10.