Well hopefully this season is the end of Illinois revenue sports being so non-competitive.
As it stands right now, Illinois isn't a very appealing brand. That includes women's basketball, which, again, took a couple of hard losses as they inch further and further into irrelevancy.
Against Michigan State last Tuesday, the defense was there but lack of offensive execution was too much to overcome as the Spartans pulled away in the second half on their way to a 67-55 victory.
For Illinois, it was the same song, different verse. Brandi Beasley had a nice bounce back game with 19 points, and Cierra Rice surprised with 13 points in one of her best efforts of the season.
HIGHLIGHTS: Cierra Rice & Brandi Beasley finished with season-high scoring numbers against Michigan State, and Beasley led all scorers with her 19 points pic.twitter.com/9oMEx6Xsxb— Illini W Basketball (@IlliniWBB) January 17, 2018
But again, with Illinois athletics, if it's not one thing, it's another. Alex Wittinger, who has been rock solid all year, was neutralized offensively and no one else stepped up to fill the gap. Third quarter defense was also spotty as Illinois allowed Michigan State to hang 24 points on them in the frame, led by sixth year senior Branndais Agee who finished the game with 18.
On Saturday, it was somehow worse, as Illinois posed few problems for No. 19 Michigan as they throttled the Fighting Illini 86-42.
Michigan holds Illinois to just four points in the third quarter, 14th time this season U-M has allowed single digits in a period. #goblue— Michigan Women’s Basketball (@umichwbball) January 21, 2018
This one was over by halftime as Michigan doubled up the Illini on the scoreboard, with four players finishing in double figures, piloted by Katelynn Flaherty with 27 and Hailey Brown with 17.
Illinois had no one in double digits, as Alex Wittinger and Cierra Rice (who had a nice week) led the team with eight points apiece.
This week once again proved that Illinois has a very long way to go to climb out from this ignominy. Nancy Fahey must recruit, recruit, recruit to get the necessary players for this rebuild to really get off the ground floor (or out of the basement). Then again, that is true for all major sports at the University of Illinois.
For now, they'll have to hope for better results as they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in State College, searching for their first Big Ten win.