CHAMPAIGN, Ill — Illinois will beat a Goliath soon.
The biggest women’s basketball game in Champaign in more than two decades saw Illinois come up short Wednesday night against a red hot No. 6 Indiana.
The effort was there. Just a rough late second quarter that bled into the third allowed Indiana to slip away with their seventeenth win of the season.
This would have been Illinois’ first win against a top ten ranked opponent since Nov. 27, 2014, where the Fighting Illini took down No. 9 Kentucky, 77-71.
Illinois was 1-2 against ranked opponents entering Wednesday, with hard-fought losses to Indiana and Ohio State with a combined point differential of 10. The first ranked win of the year for Illinois came at the expense of No. 12 Iowa, who the Illini beat 90-86 at home.
In a loud State Farm Center with the whole lower bowl packed in orange & blue, the Illini tried to make history.
Out of the gate neither team could miss, converting on both of their first two possessions. It seemed like this game was going to become a shootout the way both teams were flowing. That narrative would flip however in the second quarter.
Adalia Mckenzie was doing most of the work for the Illini on the offensive end — ending the first half with a team-high 13 points — but the one-two punch of Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes for Indiana was causing major problems for Illinois on the defensive end, as they both ended the first half with 11.
Foul trouble for Illinois was also paying its dividends. Kendall Bostic, Mckenzie, and Genesis Bryant played limited minutes due to early fouls, forcing Jayla Oden and Geovana Lopes to come off the bench in effort to pick up their slack.
The Illini had a rough end to the first half going 1-for-11 on field goals, only scoring 10 points total in the second quarter. This allowed Indiana to head into the locker room with an 6-point lead (37-31).
After Illinois made the first two baskets of the second half, Indiana would go on a quick 8-0 run to take any momentum the Illini were trying to muster.
Indiana’s paint presence along with its fast transition offense left Illinois’ defense searching for answers. When a team is shooting 60% from the floor, that’s hard to stop.
Late in the fourth quarter the Hoosiers started to get sloppy, and the Illini would take advantage. They would cut a 16-point lead in half with some big shots and tremendous defense.
The Illini fought hard all the way to the end, but the Hoosiers lead was too much to overcome.
Illini falls to 15-4 overall, and 5-3 in the Big Ten.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Genesis Bryant with a nice stop and pop transition three.
The cash from @genesisbryant_ gets Illini Nation going!— Illinois W Basketball (@IlliniWBB) January 19, 2023
Q1 2:50 | #Illini 17, Indiana 10 pic.twitter.com/LD07IpgoCv
Adalia Mckenzie could not be stopped on the baseline.
AND 1!@AdaliaMckenzie with the powerful finish— Illinois W Basketball (@IlliniWBB) January 19, 2023
Q2 2:48 | #Illini 29, Indiana 30 pic.twitter.com/dVIgUf0Rn7
Brynn Shoup-Hill causes a small earthquake with this huge three
That trey from Brynn has this place !— Illinois W Basketball (@IlliniWBB) January 19, 2023
Q4 5:00 | #Illini 63, Indiana 71 pic.twitter.com/jqemTM3LfO
TWEET OF THE GAME
does the outcome of this game establish whether that’s a first or last name? https://t.co/kGIcuNqpId— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) January 19, 2023
The Illini continue Big Ten play on Sunday at Northwestern.
It’s a 2 p.m tipoff on BTN+.