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Illinois loses on buzzer beater, falls to 5-5

The Illini are on a skid.

TCR // Craig Pessman

West Palm Beach, FL — A heartbreaking loss for the Illini in the Sunshine State.

Illinois (5-5) fell victim to late game heroics Wednesday at the West Palm Beach Classic, falling to Arkansas 60-59, making this the first time under Shauna Green where the Illini have dropped three straight games.

The Illini found themselves in yet another tightly-contested matchup for the second time this week, and just like in the Braggin’ Rights game against Mizzou, things just didn’t go the Illini’s way.

Kendall Bostic (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Makira Cook (17 points, 11 rebounds) both put on great performances in their first game in Florida, but the Arkansas trio of Taliah Scott, Samara Spencer, and Saylor Poffenbarger proved to just be enough to squeak by Illinois at the buzzer.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Arkansas from the tip meant business, going on a quick 7-0 run to open things up. Illinois was able to break the ice and find its footing with a reliable Adalia McKenzie layup.

The Illini were steadily finding their way back late in the first, taking their first lead of the game on a pair of Cook free throws at the three minute mark.

Big early minutes from Illinois’ Camille Hobby proved to be an early difference maker in favor of the Illini, playing sound defense and adding to the score with four points of her own, two coming at the first quarter buzzer.

The second quarter saw the Illini start off cold, with no one really taking the lead on the offensive side of the ball. However, once again behind the Illinois defense they were able to keep Arkansas at bay, only trailing by three heading into the locker-room.

We saw a different Illinois come out of the half – they were on a mission, going on a 11-2 run to grab their largest lead of the contest. The duo of Cook and Bostic was proven to be a problem for the Razorbacks, as attacking the glass seemed to be a point of emphasis by Coach Green and her team.

Arkansas was able to roll with the punches however, not letting Illinois truly run away with it. Behind Samara Spencer and Taliah Scott the Razorbacks kept the lead in sight.

Foul trouble would end up being a huge turning point in this game, Arkansas having Scott, Maryam Dauda and Saylor Poffenbargerd with three fouls. Illinois with McKenzie and Cook all with three fouls impacting their time on the court.

Illinois shot 62% in the third quarter, propelling them to a three point lead after three quarters.

Out of the quarter Arkansas was able to close it to within one, with a quick Spencer three out of the break.

In the third Genesis Bryant was able to get things going for the Illini on the offensive end, adding a few points of her own in the mix. She was also thought to make the first Illini three point shot of the game, but due to no initial call by the referee and not having the benefit of replay, it was declared a long two — which would have been a difference maker down the stretch.

The Illini were able to retain their three point lead heading into the final quarter.

Illinois’ Cook and Arkansas’ Spencer started trading blows in the fourth in favor of their teams. Keeping the game within striking distance of each other.

As the game started to trickle down to the wire a pair of Arkansas free throws had the Razorbacks trailing by only 1 with under two minutes remaining.

Out of a timeout, Illinois was looking for a big defensive stand and it came in the form of a Camille Hobby block keeping the lead in favor of Illinois with a minute remaining.

Illinois, looking to go up by two possessions, decided to go with a Bryant three that fell short, however, Bostic fought her way to a massive offensive rebound that led to a foul.

Off the inbound, after milking some clock, Cook drove to the rim looking to seal the game but missed the mark. Arkansas with 6 seconds remaining drove the ball down the floor, electing not to call timeout, and Maryam Dauda was able sink a game-winning layup with no time remaining.

SOUNDS SMART

  • Illinois did not make one single three-point attempt, going 0-8 from deep.
  • This is the first time Illinois has lost three straight games in the Shauna Green era.

UP NEXT

The Illini will face UTEP for game two of the West Palm Beach on Thursday at 12:15 p.m.

The game will be available on FloHoops.