LINCOLN, Neb. — In a night where everything was going wrong, the Illini found a way to win.
Despite Genesis Bryant’s early injury and poor shooting, Illinois exploded on late 20-0 run to propel past Nebraska in Lincoln, 72-64.
Road struggles have been a theme of late for Shauna Green’s squad, and for nearly three quarters of the game, it looked as if they would continue.
Down by double digits for most of the game, Illinois made a few attempts to cut the lead down during the third quarter, but the team couldn’t sustain any runs.
Without one of its leaders in Bryant, Illinois (19-6, 9-5 Big Ten) still trailed late in the third quarter by 10. In a game highlighted by impressive shooting woes, something even more impressive ensued: the Illini flipped a switch.
Except they didn’t just flip a switch. They broke it into a million pieces.
Led by quick points from Kendall Bostic and Jayla Oden, Illinois went on an 8-0 run to end the third quarter down 51-49.
With all the momentum back on their side, were the Illini going to stop there? Not a chance.
In a matter of minutes, the game was seemingly over. Oden scored a few more buckets to start the fourth, and from the top of the key, she nailed a three-point dagger to give Illinois 20 unanswered points.
Yes, you read that correctly. A 20-0 run.
Now down 10 points itself, Nebraska (14-10, 6-7 Big Ten) attempted a comeback of its own, but Makira Cook’s big shots down the stretch put the game away.
Everyone in orange became unstoppable. In the last 11 minutes of game time, the shooting differences were staggering: Illinois made 12 of its last 18 shots and Nebraska made 1 of its last 11.
With all the excitement from tonight’s game, Kendall Bostic managed to get a “quiet” double-double — her ninth of the year — recording 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Along with Oden, Jada Peebles was a huge boost off the bench as well, making a pair of threes in the second half.
Although they may enjoy the win tonight, the Illini’s future is largely in doubt. Bryant’s apparent ankle injury in the first quarter caused her to miss the remainder of the game.
She was seen using crutches after the game, and the true extent of the injury is currently unknown.
By winning without one of their stars, however, the Illini are still proving that they have what it takes to stay in contention in a very tough Big Ten.
Makira Cook (ILL): 22 pts (9-22 FG), 5 reb, 4 ast
Adalia McKenzie (ILL): 16 (6-16 FG) pts, 7 reb
Jayla Oden (ILL): 12 pts (5-7 FG), 6 reb
Alex Markowski (NEB): 14 pts (6-9 FG), 10 reb (3 off)
Sam Haiby (NEB): 15 pts (9-11 FT), 8 reb, 4 ast
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Show us your moves, Adalia.
.@AdaliaMckenzie said see ya— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) February 10, 2023
Q2 2:20 | #Illini 25, Nebraska 33 pic.twitter.com/8sLuXkxKJo
The X-factor of tonight’s game.
3️⃣@JaylaOden— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) February 10, 2023
Q4 5:50 | #Illini 59, Nebraska 51 pic.twitter.com/xqjLxVqYIW
Bryant’s injury won’t stop her from celebrating the comeback win.
Brought the juice #Illini | #HTTO | #OneWay pic.twitter.com/jKqZNVikwJ— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) February 10, 2023
Crunch time played to perfection.
.@IlliniWBB used a 20-point scoring run, it's longest in Big Ten play, to overcome a 10-point deficit in the third.— Illini Stats & Notes (@IlliniStats) February 10, 2023
They allowed just one field goal in the fourth quarter.#Illini | #HTTO
They just keep breaking records.
Correction: With tonight's win, #illini WBB is guaranteed non-losing B1G record for first time in 10 years. Simple math not so simple for me.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) February 10, 2023
After this exhilarating comeback, things don’t get any easier. The Illini go to College Park to face No. 8 Maryland on Sunday.
The game will air on BTN+ at 12 p.m.