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Illinois women clinch first 20-win season since 2008

Cook, Bryant, and Bostic! Oh my!

CHAMPAIGN, Ill — 20 wins.

Illinois dominated struggling Penn State, 85-62, Sunday afternoon to collect its 20th win of the season in Genesis Bryant’s return to the court.

Illinois (20-7 overall, 10-6 Big Ten) has reached 20 wins for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign.

The victory also ends a 7-game winning streak for Penn State in Champaign dating back to 2009, as the Illini improve to 12-2 at home this year.

The Illini have had an incredible season, but as of late they have hit a rough patch in play. Their last outing saw a resurgence in their shooting, but the absence of junior guard Genesis Bryant took its toll, as the Illini turned the ball over 25 times against top-ranked Maryland.

Against Penn State on Sunday, the Illini looked to get back on track with Bryant returning to the court following her injury. Her return made a huge impact on the game. Coming off the bench helping take pressure off the other Illini guards and limiting turnovers allowed Illinois to find its rhythm on offense, assisting in the winning effort.

Out of the gate Jayla Oden, who started during Bryant’s absence, scored the first 5 points for the Illini as the ball got rolling early. Great defense allowed the Illini to close out a strong first quarter along with an Makira Cook buzzer beater as the cherry on top.

Bryant was also getting in on the fun. Going 3-of-4 from behind the three-point line, torching the Lady Lions’ defense. Kendall Bostic had a quick double-double only 14 minutes into the game. She led the Illini with 14 points, as they went into the half with a 17-point lead.

A 21-4 run over the opening 6 minutes of the second half gave the Illini a runaway lead. The three-headed monster of Cook (18 pts), Bryant (21 pts), and Bostic (22 pts, 18 rebs) were going nuclear, and no one could slow them down.

A big win that featured Hall of Fame coach Theresa Grentz’s banner ceremony, Bryant’s return to the floor, and free nuggets for those in attendance — I call that a perfect Sunday afternoon.


Bryant is lethal from behind the arc.

Cook at the buzzer.

Cook and Bryant heating up.

Nice find by Brynn Shoup-Hill gives Bostic the easy two.



Only two more regular season contests before the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis.

Illinois’ will be celebrating their seniors during their last home game against Nebraska Wednesday night.