MILWAUKEE, Wis. — No. 23 llinois traveled north for a test on the road early in the season against the Marquette Golden Eagles. Shauna Green’s team never looked quite comfortable, falling behind early after some foul trouble, and never led after the 9:01 mark of the second quarter. Marquette’s Liza Karlen and Jordan King would combine for 34 points as Illinois lost 71-67.
Preseason all-conference honoree Makira Cook was unavailable again. She missed the season opener against Morehead State with a day-to-day injury.
Illinois falls to 1-1 on the season while Marquette remains unbeaten, 2-0.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first quarter was a tight contest. Both teams had trouble taking care of the ball, with the hosts turning the ball over five times to Illinois’ four. The Fighting Illini would lead 16-14 after the first ten minutes, but fouls on would spell trouble for Shauna Green’s team.
Genesis Bryant and Adalia McKenzie picked up fouls early into the second quarter, relegating them to the bench and leaving the Illini without two of their starting guards.
A 12-0 run in the second quarter would give the Golden Eagles an 11-point lead, but a Kendall Bostic-inspired run would cut the lead to three going into halftime.
Illinois continued to play catchup in the third quarter and did so by taking better care of the ball. An 11-point lead would be cut down to six heading into the last ten.
The Illini had all of the momentum in the fourth quarter and would outscore the hosts 17-15 in the final quarter.
After missing much of the first half due to foul trouble, three-pointers on back-to-back possessions from Genesis Bryant cut the Marquette lead to just one. With seven minutes to go in the game, they were Illinois’ first points from deep.
Despite the solid run, it would be too little too late for Illinois.
“We can’t win like that. We just can’t. We had wide-open looks, and we couldn’t knock them down,” Green said after the game.
Camille Hobby’s 18 points off the bench would have been the focal point had Illinois finished on top. She led Illinois’s scoring and was one of three players in double-digits: Bostic had 14 and Bryant had 11.
Marquette’s Liza Karlen had 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Green said, “I don’t think she missed a wide-open look.” Four Golden Eagles were in double figures including Jordan King, who was nine of ten from the charity stripe for 19 points.
“Much improved from the other night,” is how Shauna Green described the way the defense played.
Illinois is still waiting for Makira Cook to return from injury, and while her absence was overshadowed by Genesis Bryant’s 32-point performance against Morehead State, her shot creation was needed in Milwaukee.
“It’s a good test. We’ll learn from it,” Green said.
Illinois will be back at State Farm Center to host Saint Peter’s on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus.