PISCATAWAY, NJ — On to the Big Ten Tournament.
In its best regular season since 1999, Illini women’s hoops ended it Sunday afternoon with a 75-53 win and a very convincing sweep over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
This is Illinois’ first road win against Rutgers in six tries. It also guarantees the Illini the 6-seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a first-round bye.
Illinois (21-8 overall, 11-7 Big Ten) last time out suffered an uncharacteristic loss on its home-floor to Nebraska. The Illini were without two of their most impactful players that night in Brynn Shoup-Hill and Jayla Oden, who have combined for 40 starts over the course of the season.
With Shoup-Hill and Oden out in this contest, the Illini were better prepared in their second go-around.
T enty-one #Illini | #HTTO | #OneWay pic.twitter.com/Pden0zKomA— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) February 26, 2023
Illinois came-out of the gate on fire. A 15-2 run to start the game gave the Illini an early lead. Jada Peebles, who is filling in for Shoup-Hill, started off perfect from behind the arc with three 3-pointers.
The Illini were able to hold Rutgers scoreless the last three minutes of the first quarter to obtain a quick 13-point lead.
The defense would continue in the second quarter for the Illini, forcing Rutgers into 12 turnovers and 28% shooting in the half. Illinois went into the half up 37-21.
Rutgers’ offense was starting to flow in the the second half, but on the other end the Illini could not miss with multiple big runs that diminished any hope Rutgers had.
Fourth quarter saw the Illini rest their majority of their starters in perpetration for the tournament on Thursday.
Shauna Green & Co. completely turned this program around in one regular season — but she’s not satisfied.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Peebles starting off hot
3️⃣-3️⃣-3️⃣@jpeebs_ with three early treys!— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) February 26, 2023
Q1 5:00 | #Illini 11, Rutgers 6 pic.twitter.com/jhgp8Kmg96
Cook slicin ‘n dicin
’s open! @makiracook called #NCAAWBB x @IlliniWBB— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) February 26, 2023
Genesis Bryant with the stand-still three
It's raining in Piscataway ☔@genesisbryant_— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) February 26, 2023
Q3 5:35 | #Illini 45, Rutgers 23 pic.twitter.com/obxD5bc65v
Peebles leaving it all on the floor
Baseline cash from @jpeebs_— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) February 26, 2023
Q4 7:30 | #Illini 65, Rutgers 40 pic.twitter.com/Apj2KehDLM
Illinois BTT Tidbits
- Illinois is 1 of 6 schools who have never won the Big Ten Tournament.
- Illinois has three appearances in the Big Ten Tournament championship game (1997, 1999, 2008).
- Last year, Illinois was the worst seed in the tournament (#14). They managed to move on to the second round with an upset over #11 Wisconsin.
- Illinois has played Wisconsin in the past three tournaments.
- In 2011, Illinois was the bottom seed yet again, but they managed to make it all the way to the semifinal where they would lose to #2 Penn State by five points.
- Shauna Green captured two conference tournament titles during her time with the Dayton Flyers (2017, 2020).
Illinois will be playing in the Big Ten Tournament Thursday in Minneapolis.
Around 8 p.m. CT tipoff.