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Illinois women open Braggin’ Rights week with win

The Illini may be ranked for the first time in a while.

TCR // David Emuze

Sunday marked the 16th time the Fighting Illini and the Missouri Tigers have squared off with Braggin’ Rights on the line. Before the game, Illinois held a 9-6 advantage over Missouri in this annual matchup, but last time out the Illini dropped the contest, 84-65.

Missouri so far has been stellar. They were 11-1 with their only loss coming against No. 6 Virginia Tech (73-57). The Tigers take pride in their defense, as it ranks 18th in the nation allowing just 53 points a game to opponents. Missouri’s last game against Jackson State saw them break a Missouri single-game record with 14 steals.

This game was set to be good one with both teams separated by 1 in the NET rankings — Illinois being 32 with Missouri holding on at 33.

Illinois wanted to hand Missouri its first loss at home, and return to Champaign with Braggin’ Rights.

Illinois (10-2 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten) at Missouri (11-2 Overall) — Braggin’ Rights

COLUMBIA, Mo. — No Cook, no problem.

With Illinois’ leading scorer Makira Cook unable to make the trip to Columbia due to illness, there were a lot of questions surrounding who would carry her offensive workload. The Illini found their answer in junior guard Genesis Bryant.

Tremendous defense by Illinois highlighted a tight first half, even though its offense saw scoring droughts of up to 5 minutes.

It was rough at times, but the Illini were looking to get everyone involved on offense. Seven out of the eight players who saw the court scored at least 4 points — Adalia McKenzie led the Illini with 10 at half.

The Illini held a 7-point lead over Missouri out of the half, but they knew someone needed to step up and help McKenzie in the scoring department.

Bryant was up to the task. From behind the arc and in the paint, Bryant’s 13 points in the second half elevated her to a career-high 20 points. Scoring wasn’t the only thing she set her mind to as she was snagging the rock and dishing it out for six rebounds to complement her five assists.

Although short-handed, the Illini leaned on everyone to step up in big ways. With McKenzie’s double-digit points, Bostic’s double-double, Shoup-Hill’s four three-pointers, and Bryants’ career-high the Illini win this one and walk away with Braggin’ Rights.

Final: Illinois 76 - Missouri 66

Illini Top Performers:

  • Adalia McKenzie: 21 pts | 2 rebs | 3 ast | 9-16 fg
  • Genesis Bryant: 20 pts | 6 rebs | 5 ast
  • Kendall Bostic: 14 pts | 10 rebs | 3 ast
  • Brynn Shoup-Hill: 12 pts | 7 rebs | 1 ast | 4-5 3pt

Coming Up

On Wednesday, Illinois will be back home taking on Florida Atlantic. FAU is 7-1 as of Monday, with a game against Chicago State Monday night. FAU’s only loss came against Miami, 75-42.

Illinois vs. Florida Atlantic — Wednesday, 1 p.m. at State Farm Center.

The Illini will also return to Big Ten action next week, as they head up to Madison to take on the Badgers. Wisconsin sports a 4-9 overall record, with an 0-2 record in Big Ten play.

Illinois vs. Wisconsin — Thursday, Dec. 29th, 6:30 p.m. at Kohl Center (Wisc.)

Big Ten Standings (as of Monday morning)

  1. #3 Ohio State (11-0 Overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
  2. #4 Indiana (11-0 Overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
  3. #12 Iowa (9-3 Overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
  4. Nebraska (9-3 Overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
  5. #19 Michigan (10-1 Overall, 1-0 Big Ten)
  6. Illinois (10-2 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
  7. Purdue (9-2 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
  8. #15 Maryland (9-3 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
  9. Minnesota (7-5 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
  10. Northwestern (6-5 Overall, 0-1 Big Ten)
  11. Penn State (8-4 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
  12. Michigan State (7-5 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
  13. Rutgers (6-8 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
  14. Wisconsin (4-9 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)