COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rank ‘em.
In Shauna Green’s first season at the helm of Illinois, the Illini nearly picked up their biggest win in program history on Sunday afternoon: blowing a 17-point third-quarter lead in a 87-81 loss at undefeated No. 3 Ohio State.
The win would have been Illinois’ first against a top-five opponent since beating No. 5 Georgia on Jan. 2, 2000. The Illini only have two such wins in program history (also 1982 vs. No. 3 Long Beach State).
A win would have all but guaranteed that Illinois (14-3, 4-2 Big Ten) would be ranked come Monday for the first time since just after the turn of the century (Nov. 27, 2000).
In Columbus on Sunday, both teams came out firing. Trading punches left and right, with the first quarter ending knotted up at 22s. Ohio State realized they were in for a game.
Illinois’ defense was lethal in the second quarter, causing multiple empty possessions that eventually led to a 3-minute scoring drought for Ohio State. While the Buckeyes struggled, the Illini couldn’t miss.
Behind Genesis Bryant (20 points, 5 assists, 4-of-9 from three) and Kendall Bostic (27 points, 15 rebounds) Illinois had a 10-point lead heading into the half (and as many as 17 points in the third quarter).
But No. 3 Ohio State would not go down easy, going on a quick 17-3 run late in the third while Illinois went on a field goal drought of 4 minutes. Illinois’ lead slipped as they headed into the fourth tied at 65.
The Buckeyes didn’t stop there. Some monster runs by Ohio State saw Illini’s hopes slowly deteriorate. Illinois Makira Cook’s was their last hope.
Some major buckets and assists from Cook brought Illinois back to within 5, under two minutes of play. But some empty possessions down the stretch allowed Ohio State to escape the monster upset at home.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
This is how you start a ball-game.
Nasty put-back by Jayla Oden.
Bryant using her inner Mamba Mentallity.
Bostic with her Daily Double-Double
TWEET OF THE GAME
A week off.
Illinois returns to the court next Sunday in Minneapolis to take on the Golden Gophers.