ATHENS, OHIO- Sophomore Alex Wittinger posted a season-best 25 points and freshman Courtney Joens tallied a career-high 13 points on Thursday at Ohio, but the Illini fell to the Bobcats, 80-68. Illinois scored a season-high 32 points in the fourth quarter with contributions from seven different players. Illinois falls to 5-8 on the season, and will open Big Ten play against Iowa on Dec. 28.
“I give Ohio a lot of credit,” head coach Matt Bollant said. “They are a really good basketball team. They went almost undefeated last year at home. With four seniors and two juniors, they are a veteran team that took advantage when we made mistakes. I thought Alex [Wittinger] did a great job tonight, going 12-for-16 from the field and Courtney [Joens] gave us a lift off the bench.”
In addition to her 13 points, Joens added a career-high eight rebounds on the night. Freshman Brandi Beasley joined Joens and Wittinger in double-figures with 12 points, and Beasley tied her career-high with six assists.
Wittinger led the Illini with eight points to start the game as she was 4-for-6 in the first quarter. As a team, the Illini shot 50-percent from the floor in the first period, but trailed 23-16 heading into the second quarter. Beasley dished all three of Illinois’ assists in the first quarter, and also led the squad with two boards.
The Orange and Blue started the second quarter on a 6-2 run, holding the Bobcats without a field goal for more than two minutes to start the period. With four points in the period, Wittinger crossed into double-figure scoring numbers for the 11th time this season and the 24th in her career. Illinois held Ohio to just 23-percent shooting in the second quarter, outscoring the Bobcats 10-9, but UI trailed Ohio 32-26 at the half. Beasley dished four assists before the break to mark her seventh game this season recording four or more dimes.
The Illini and the Bobcats traded buckets to start the second half, but Ohio used a 17-0 run to extend its lead. Wittinger and Beasley combined for Illinois’ 10 points in the period as Beasley joined Wittinger in double-digit scoring before the final quarter.
Illinois continued to fight through the final period of the game, putting up a season-high 32 points and outscoring the Bobcats 32-21, but the Orange and Blue could not come back. Freshman Courtney Joens grabbed six rebounds for the Illini in the fourth quarter to finish with a career-high eight boards. A 12-for-16 night from the field contributed to Wittinger’s 25-point performance, the 12 made field goals notched a new career-high for the Illini sophomore.
“We certainly have played a tough schedule,” Bollant said of Illinois’ nonconference slate. “Ohio has an NCAA tournament team; Central Michigan has one of the best teams they have had in ten years. South Dakota has a chance to win their league as does George Washington, so those are four teams that could be in the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully, that will prepare us for Big Ten play.”
The Illini will open Big Ten play on Wednesday, Dec. 28 against Iowa at 3 p.m. in the State Farm Center. The game will air on the Big Ten Network.
Stay tuned to FightingIllini.com for the latest on Illinois women’s basketball.
- The Fighting Illini closed out the nonconference season with an 80-68 loss to the Ohio University Bobcats. Illinois still leads the overall series history, 2-1.
- The Orange and Blue shot over 40-percent from the field for the sixth game this season.
- Illinois tied their season-high with 32 points in the paint, and scored a season-high 32 points in the fourth quarter.
- Three Illini scored in double-figures on Thursday night. The Orange and Blue have had two or more players in double-digits in 11 games this season.
– Sophomore Alex Wittinger had her third 20-point game of the season and sixth of her career on Thursday night after a 25-point performance.
– Wittinger had three blocks in the game, her ninth multi-block performance of the season. Wittinger moved up to No. 10 on the career blocks list in the Illini record book. The sophomore now has 85 blocks in her career.
– Wittinger tied her career-high with 12 field goals made.
– Freshman Brandi Beasley scored 12 points for her seventh double-figures scoring total of the season.
– Beasley led the Illini for the fourth-straight game with six assists.
– Beasley tied her career-high with six assists.
– Beasley had her fifth game this season with multiple assists and multiple steals.
– Sophomore Jaelyne Kirkpatrick tied her career-high with four free throws made.
– Freshman Courtney Joens had a career-high 13 points.
– Joens has hit a three-pointer in seven of the last eight games.
– Joens had a career-high eight rebounds.
– Freshman Meagan McNicholas recorded her first assist in the fourth period.
Courtesy Jenny Dewar – U of Illinois