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Illinois women likely on verge of top 25

The Illini just keep winning.

TCR // David Emuze

Illinois wrapped up its non-conference schedule and reopened Big Ten play this week. It featured many milestones individually, and as a program — but more importantly it saw the Fighting Illini go 1-0 against two tough opponents.

Illinois (11-2 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten) vs. Florida Atlantic (8-2 Overall)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill — “Today was a good day.

No one has been playing better basketball than Genesis Bryant late this December. After setting a new career-high in points during the win over Missouri, she follows it up with a triple-double against Florida Atlantic.

This was the third triple-double ever recorded in Illinois WBB history. The last time a player conquered the feat for Illinois came in 2018 when Alex Wittinger completed it with points, rebounds, and blocks.

After FAU scored the opening basket, the Illini put them in the rearview mirror. With Jayla Oden and Kendall Bostic controlling the paint, it allowed Genesis Bryant, Brynn Shoup-Hill, and Jada Peebles to fire at will from behind the arc. The Illini as a team shot 50% from deep (13-26).

This marks yet another win for Illinois without their top scorer Makira Cook, who is still recovering from illness. With Cook out and second-leading scorer Adalia McKenzie having an unusual rough game from the field, the Illini showed that this this team has some remarkable depth that can compete with anyone.

Illinois stays undefeated at home, increasing its home-winning streak to 7 games at the expense of Florida Atlantic.

Final: Illinois 81 - Florida Atlantic 46

Illini Top Performers:

  • Genesis Bryant: 22 pts | 10 rebs | 12 ast | 8-14 fg | 5-8 3pt — Triple Double
  • Brynn Shoup-Hill: 14 pts | 4 rebs | 2 ast | 5-9 fg | 2-5 3pt
  • Jayla Oden: 14 pts | 4 rebs | 2 ast | 5-11 fg | 2-5 3pt
  • Kendall Bostic: 4 pts | 9 rebs | 2-2 fg

Illinois (12-2 Overall, 2-1 Big Ten) at Wisconsin (4-10 Overall, 0-3 Big Ten)

MADISON, Wis — Quiet please, class is in session.

In the first half Wisconsin came to play. In a season where nothing seems to be going right for the Badgers they gave the Illini a run for their money. Behind some great play by Serah Williams and Brooke Schramek — who went a combined 8-11 from the floor — Wisconsin was giving Illinois a scare.

With this being Makira Cook’s return to the hardwood after her two-game absence, she was determined to get back into a rhythm. That rhythm never came in the first half. Cook went a mere 3-for-10 with 9 points in her 18 minutes of action. She wasn’t the only Illini struggling as the team shot 42.4% from the field — allowing this underachieving Wisconsin team to stick around trailing by only 6 at the end of the half.

I don’t know exactly what Shauna Green did in the locker room at half, but the Illini came out with some confidence.

With some weight off their shoulders Illinois went on a 11-2 run that highlighted a strong third quarter defensively. This got the ball rolling for Cook and her running-mate Adalia McKenzie.

Wisconsin got the game within 10 in the fourth quarter, but the Illini slammed the door on the potential comeback.

Final: Illinois 79 - Wisconsin 63

Illini Top Performers:

  • Adalia McKenzie: 26 pts | 8 rebs | 6-11 fg | 14-15 ft — Career-high in Points
  • Makira Cook’s: 23 pts | 4 rebs | 7-17 fg | 6-6 ft
  • Genesis Bryant: 14 pts | 3 rebs | 4 ast | 5-9 fg | 2-4 3pt
  • Kendall Bostic: 6 pts | 9 rebs

Coming Up

The Illini will open up the new year, with a huge matchup against No. 12 Iowa on Sunday. I can’t think of a better way to bring in the new year by being at State Farm Center to cheer on the Illini.

Illinois vs. No. 12 Iowa — Sunday, 2 p.m. at State Farm Center.

They will be staying in town as Northwestern will be the task at hand on Jan. 5.

Illinois vs. Northwestern — Thursday, 8 p.m. at State Farm Center.

A full week of competition will wrap-up in Columbus, as the Illini take on No. 3 Ohio State.

Illinois vs. Ohio State — Sunday, 12 p.m. at The Schottenstein Center (Ohio)

Big Ten Standings (as of Friday morning) — Rank us

  1. #3 Ohio State (14-0 Overall, 3-0 Big Ten)
  2. #12 Iowa (11-3 Overall, 3-0 Big Ten)
  3. #14 Michigan (12-1 Overall, 2-0 Big Ten)
  4. #4 Indiana (12-1 Overall, 2-1 Big Ten)
  5. Illinois (12-2 Overall, 2-1 Big Ten)
  6. Nebraska (10-4 Overall, 2-1 Big Ten)
  7. #16 Maryland (10-3 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
  8. Minnesota (8-5 Overall, 1-1 Big Ten)
  9. Purdue (10-3 Overall, 1-2 Big Ten)
  10. Michigan State (9-5 Overall, 1-2 Big Ten)
  11. Penn State (9-4 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
  12. Northwestern (6-6 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
  13. Rutgers (6-8 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)
  14. Wisconsin (4-10 Overall, 0-3 Big Ten)