Thirty-five days after the Illini’s last conference win — and 756 days after their last home victory in Big Ten play — Illinois ha another.
Behind 40 combined points from senior Alex Wittinger and junior Brandi Beasley, the Illini pushed passed Wisconsin, 78-68, on Sunday afternoon at State Farm Center. Wittinger’s double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds) played just a role in one of the biggest wins of the Nancy Fahey era at Illinois, as the Illini clinched their first 10-win season since 2014-15.
It was a team effort from the Illini as they took down the lowly Badgers in a matchup of teams sitting at the bottom of the Big Ten. Junior Ali Andrews and freshman Arieal Scott posted double-digit scoring totals as Illinois improved to 10-14 overall and 2-11 in conference play.
“I’m really happy for the team,” Fahey said. “We know that we’re getting better everyday in practice, and we know we’re competitive in games, but we want to win. I was really proud of how we played for 40 minutes today.”
Now the question becomes if the Illini can really clime out of the Big Ten cellar. Earlier this season when Illinois had an almost flawless non-conference slate, which included narrow losses to Clemson and Sacramento State, it seemed like the Illini had finally turned a corner. That isn’t the case yet, but the schedule does lighten up down the stretch for Fahey and the Illini. A return trip to Madison and a Senior Day against Penn State are certainly opportunities for Illinois to finish the regular season with four conference wins (and 12 total), which would be a step up from Fahey’s first season and zero Big Ten victories.
With another monkey off the back — and this one at home — Illinois can focus on the future. Hopefully there are no more two-year streaks without a home conference win.
For vintage inspired, high quality, and well-designed University of Illinois apparel, check out Fourth and Kirby, and look for the TCR Collection while you’re at it!