CHAMPAIGN, Ill — Illinois continues to roll in anticipation of its Big Ten schedule.
Following a home win over Canisius, Illinois (4-2) collided with Central Connecticut State (1-5) for the second game of the Illini’s five-game homestand.
They met for the first matchup between the two programs, as the Blue Devils were coming off their first win of the season.
The Blue Devils were not able to make it close. The Illini controlled the matchup culminating in an 89-50 win.
“We had a lot of players that were able to score, but then also more importantly come in and rebound at a high level,” said head coach Shauna Green after the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Illinois kicked off the game with visible aggressiveness.
Kendall Bostic opened the game in the paint for a bucket. Meghan Kenefick, however, followed with a three-point bucket, which would be the most exciting play for the Blue Devils as Illinois dominated the entire first quarter.
Quickly the Illinois defense forced multiple air balls on Central Conneticut. Facing a physically smaller team, Illinois clearly did not hesitate to force movement in the paint.
Illinois forced its way through the paint multiple times, going on a 12-3 run with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.
Illinois had its handful of blocks and steals in the first quarter, and ended the frame up 22-5.
In the second quarter, the Blue Devils settled in as Illinois struggled defensively. The Illini took more chances and missed shots, particularly on midrange and three-point shots.
Central Connecticut opened the quarter on a 7-4 run.
Illinois played tough defense throughout most of the first half, however. Quality defense paid off as the Illini had forced 8 steals by the end of the first half.
“Sometimes it’s harder because they’re so little and they’re also five out a lot,” Green said. “To be able to handle them easily on the boards was something we were really focused on.”
The Illini entered the second half with a 40-23 lead.
In the third quarter, Makira Cook opened the scoring for the Illini with a three-point bucket. Illinois maintained a tight defense and did not let Central Connecticut drive into the paint, forcing the Blue Devils to take rushed three-point shots.
Central Connecticut came out with more efficient shooting. Ultimately, however, CCSU struggled to make it close.
In the fourth, Illinois once again went on a scoring frenzy, going on a 10-0 run as the game wound down.
Adalia McKenzie finished the game with a season-high 20 points, complemented by the 18 points from Kendall Bostic.
“Just staying consistent on the floor you know putting that work in is truly hard work does pay off,” McKenzie said about her performance.
The Illini have gained momentum over the last couple of games, among the standouts has been Adelia McKenzie. If McKenzie can continue her level of play throughout the season, she can propel this team to greater aspirations.
But Illinois still has a lot to prove. They have the opportunity to make a statement against Michigan in December to finish out their homestand.
The Illini distributed minutes across the roster and displayed their abilities in multiple facets of the matchup.
“It’s how do you impact the game?” Green said. “If you do that defending, or if you do that diving on the floor for loose balls. We talk about it nonstop, that is our culture.”
- The Illini shot 89% from the free-throw line.
- Illinois shot 32% from the three-point line.
- The Illini scored 50 points from the paint and able to take advantage of the size mismatch.
TWEET OF THE GAME
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Illini will have a week to rest before they continue their homestand against Northern Kentucky.
Tipoff will be on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. and can be streamed on BTN+.