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Illinois runs through NKU, wins third straight

Illini stay undefeated at home.

TCR // David Pollak

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Shauna Green’s team made it look easy on Wednesday in their midweek match against the Northern Kentucky Norse.

While Genesis Bryant didn’t score very much, the team had a +/- of 27 when she was on the floor. Her ability to direct traffic and find the right passes helped Illinois around the basket.

The Illini left shoe marks all over the paint, out-scoring the Norse 26-22, out-rebounding them 49-29, and out-blocking and out-hustling them.

Illinois would win 74-52, advancing to 5-2, while Northern Kentucky fell to 1-6 on the season.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Illinois found success inside and outside early in this one. A pair of early Genesis Bryant three-pointers, wide-open jumpers and transition baskets helped Illinois jump out to an early lead, but it was the rebounding of Kendall Bostic that set the tone.

While Bostic couldn’t get on the scoresheet in the first quarter, she owned the paint, snagging seven rebounds — three on the offensive end. KB would finish the game with 15 rebounds, the most in the game.

The Illini defense suffocated any offensive rhythm that visitors tried to get into, managing four steals and three blocks in the first half.

In the first half, Northern Kentucky shot 1-of-14 from deep. The Norse would sink their first three-pointer with 42 seconds left in the first half, but it would only be to cut the Illini lead down to 15.

By halftime, junior Brynn Shoup-Hill already had her season-high in points with 12, and would finish with a career-high 15.

The second half was more smooth sailing for the Orange and Blue, with good game management from Green preventing any chance of a comeback.

The Norse were kept at bay in the second half, but the fourth quarter was when things started falling for NKU. The second units were in for both teams, and the Norse would outscore Illinois 20-15 in the quarter, but it was never going to be enough.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Blink and you’ll miss her: Illinois had 10 fast break points, including this snatch and score from Adalia Mckenzie.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois will host Michigan to open conference play on Sunday, a team that coach Green described as bigger and better at rebounding than most.

The wealth of playing time was shared with the bench down the stretch as a win was all but guaranteed.

“I really wanted everyone to get in there,” coach Green said. “I felt this was the last game where we might have this opportunity.”

Brynn Shoup-Hill’s career-high 15 points came at a good time for Green’s team.

“When she scores, it changes us,” Green said after the game. “It’s amazing what a few shots going through the basket does for her.”

Green said that a lot of what’s changed for Shoup-Hill and the rest of the team is playing with more confidence.

“She practices so hard. She hits shots in practice, she rebounds in practice. She’s doing everything that she needs to do,” Green said. “It will pay off, and tonight you saw it pay off for Brynn.”

STAT SHEET SPOTLIGHT

  • Brynn Shoup-Hill (ILL): 15 points*
  • Kendall Bostic (ILL): 8 points, 15 rebounds**
  • Makira Cook (ILL): 13 points, 8 rebounds
  • Macey Blevins (NKU): 24 points*
*Career-high **Season-high

UP NEXT

Illinois will start its Big Ten season on Sunday when they host the Michigan Wolverines (7-2).

After Wednesday’s game, coach Green took to the mic, wanting a larger crowd for the Big Ten opener.

“We need more people than this. We need this place full,” she said.