It was yet another brutal stretch for the Illinois Women's basketball team as they, again, lost both of their conference games this week in ugly fashion.
Granted, it's not as if Illinois is playing bad teams. In fact, quite the opposite. Rutgers (16-2, 4-0) and #18 Iowa (15-2, 3-1) are two of the best teams in the Big Ten. Rutgers, in fact, has won 11 in a row on its way to first place.
That winning streak included a lopsided win over Illinois, as Rutgers held the Fighting Illini to just 37 points in their 39 point victory. Alex Wittinger led the Illini with 16 points. No one else scored in double digits, and star guard Brandi Beasley was held scoreless in the rout. For Rutgers, it was Nigia Greene who led the Scarlet Knights with 18, spearheading a balanced attack with contributions from all over their roster.
I truly believe Nancy Fahey will get this team on track and playing competitive ball. But as we sit here today, it's hard to see any positives going forward in this season. Also, we're the only school with zero conference wins in Men's and Women's Basketball and Football so far ((shrug emoji)).
As for the other game on the docket, the Illini put forth a far more spirited effort, giving Iowa a game before they pulled away late in an 84-71 victory.
Wittinger again was the star, as she paced the Illini with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Ali Andrews also added 13 points in 18 solid minutes. The Hawkeyes had their hands full with both forwards all game, but it was the guard play that was the true difference.
HIGHLIGHTS: Alex Wittinger earned her 2nd 20-point scoring game and her 8th double-double of the year, and Ali Andrews posted 13 points on 50-percent shooting in today's loss to #18 Iowa pic.twitter.com/evFWieDSBA— Illini W Basketball (@IlliniWBB) January 7, 2018
6'3" junior forward Megan Gustafson poured it on with 34 points and 12 rebounds in a herculean effort. She was joined by guard Alexis Sevillian (21 points) and former Ms. Illinois basketball Kathleen Doyle (15 points and 10 assists), as the Iowa trifecta wore down Illinois as the game progressed.
It's going to be a long season for Illinois fans, and it's not getting any easier as the Big Ten looks pretty loaded this year. Illinois will try to end their five-game losing streak as they take on Nebraska Wednesday night.