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Illinois falls short in Braggin’ Rights matchup against Missouri

Illinois unable to stop Mizou’s bigs and guard Mama Dembele

TCR // Craig Pessman
TCR // Craig Pessman

gooCHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The women’s Braggin Rights’ rivalry matchup did not disappoint.

Illinois (5-4) was close to stealing one Sunday afternoon at State Farm Center, but ultimately couldn’t stop Missouri’s Mama Dembele and Hayley Frank in a 69-66 loss.

The Illini, who were coming off a tough loss against Michigan, found themselves facing a similar team that was coming off a tough loss against Kansas State.

Kendall Bostic dished out 18 points as she had her work cut out for her facing Mizzou’s Frank and Micah Linthacum.

Genesis Bryant caught fire late in the second half, shooting four three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Illinois wasn’t able to build enough momentum to finish out Mizzou.

HOW IT HAPPENED

After a slow start for both squads, a tight matchup ensued, as Brynn Shoup-Hill opened up the scoreboard for the Illini with a three from downtown.

Mizzou caught some momentum shooting a couple of threes and was able to find Frank in the paint.

The Illini kick-started their offense with ball distribution and quality shots. However, the Illini found themselves in a battle as the score was knotted at 16 at the end of the first quarter.

Illinois caught some heat going on an 8-0 run in the second quarter. At the break, Kendall Bostic led all scorers with 11 points as the Illini led Mizzou 30-25 going into the locker room.

Mizzou took control halfway through the third quarter, as an aggressive Mizzou offense translated into points for Mizzou.

Dembele scored on multiple fast breaks as the Illini struggled to find their footing in transition defense.

While Mizzou had taken the lead, following a timeout Illinois noticeably sharpened its defense translating into 4 steals in the third quarter.

Going into the fourth quarter momentum was starting to shift back to the Illini’s side as went on a 7-0 run.

Mizzou opened up the fourth with a three by Abby Feit, but Genesis Bryant responded with 2 three-point shots of her own.

Mizzou responded accordingly as Dembele and Grace Slaughter were able to find the paint and Mizzou went on multiple runs in the fourth.

“They went on a couple of runs and there was a possession where we would miss a shot or something like that or take a quick shot, I think it’s just being able to make those changes quicker,” Bostic said.

What ensued was a battle between Bryant’s three-point shots against Mizzou’s fast break starring Dembele.

“We’re gonna go to whoever's hot and you know, Gen was hot in that fourth quarter,” Bostic said. “I think I got going initially, then Gen and Makira stepped up.”

Mizzou went on a 7-0 run culminating in a 65-61 lead for the Tigers as the clock wound down. Illinois couldn’t catch a break on defense.

“I’ve been saying that all year but this the first time after a game I’ve been happy with our defense,” said Illinois head coach Shauna Green.

Following a timeout, the Illini responded with a fast break off a ball screen as Makira Cook cut the lead to 3 with 31 seconds left on the clock.

As the game was nearing its end things got chippy between Makira Cook and Frank with emotions high as the Illini time was running out.

A couple of missed free throws by Mizzou kept Illinois in the game. While it looked like the Illini were closing in, ultimately it was too little too late as Mizzou closed the game by shooting their free throws.

Ultimately, The Illini weren’t able to stop Mizzou’s bigs and found themselves in a couple of mismatches. Bryant and Bostic had solid games, but it wasn’t enough against Mizzou.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois showed a lot of resilience against Mizzou, responding to high adversity being down late, but now the Illini are in dire need of a big-time win.

Shauna Green’s squad will have the opportunity to get a win against a high-quality Arkansas team this upcoming Wednesday.

Despite losing two straight, Green says she still feels good about where the team finds themselves.

“I know we’re gonna continue to get better because of this week, and this week is gonna make us better,” Green said.

SOUNDS SMART

  • Mizzou shot 30% from three-point range, as the Illini were successfully holding off Mizzou’s three-point shooting
  • Illinois had 6 points off fast breaks as compared to Mizzou’s 16, Illinois failed to stop Mizzou in the paint

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

UP NEXT

How will Illinois be able to respond to two straight losses? We’ll find out this Wednesday as the Illini will travel to Florida.

The Illini will face Arkansas in West Palm Beach at 10 a.m. CST. The game will be available on FloHoops.