2nd Half Rally Lifts Illini Over Gophers, 73-68

(From Illinois' Sports Information Office)

January 28, 2024

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Illinois fought back from an 11-point halftime deficit to secure a comeback victory over Minnesota, 73-68, at State Farm Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Fighting Illini trailed by as many as seven in the fourth quarter, though 12 points from Genesis Bryant and nine points from Camille Hobby in the final period of play helped the Orange and Blue snap a two-game skid and return to winning ways.

Illinois outscored Minnesota, 45-29, in the second half, while the Illini won the battle in the paint both in rebounding (36-34) and in points in the paint (36-26).

After scoring two points in the first half, Bryant scored 17 points while playing all 20 minutes after the break en route to a 19-point performance. Bryant knocked down two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, bringing her up to three on the day, while she also dished a season-high seven assists and grabbed five rebounds. Her two blocks tied a career-best mark, and she also recorded one steal.

Hobby scored the first four points of the afternoon and never slowed down, finishing with a season-high 19 points and six rebounds. Hobby shot 80% from the field in the fourth quarter, and her hook shot with 19 seconds to play clinched the victory. Tallying double figures in four of the last five games, Hobby also recorded one steal on the defensive end of the floor.

Makira Cook reached double figures in the second quarter before amassing a team-high 22 points. The Illini outscored the Golden Gophers by seven points in the third quarter, and Cook played a big role in that turnaround with 10 points in that frame alone. Pouring in double-digit points for the fifth game in a row, Cook also notched four assists, three rebounds, and one steal.

Kendall Bostic dominated on the glass once again, accumulating a team-high 17 rebounds to go along with six points. Bostic has now totaled 35 total rebounds over the last two games, and she also dished out a season-high five assists, the second-highest total in her career and her most in a game since the 2021-22 season.

The Illini's first four points of the day came from Hobby, who began 2-for-2 from the field. After the Golden Gophers took a 9-8 lead, the Orange and Blue used a 7-0 run to turn their one-point deficit into a six-point edge. Cook started the team's scoring stretch with a triple before Gretchen Dolan scored the final four points of that run over the span of 93 seconds. Cook's team-high five points in the first quarter gave the hosts a 15-14 edge through 10 minutes of play.

The two sides traded buckets through the first six minutes of the second quarter, with neither team holding more than a three-point advantage during that span. Cook moved into double figures with her second 3-pointer of the day, though the Golden Gophers scored the final 14 points of the first half.

The visitors held a 39-28 lead through 20 minutes. Six Illini scorers tallied at least one field goal, while Cook's 10 points were a team-high mark at the intermission.

Cook knocked down her third 3-pointer early in the second half, which cut the Illini's deficit to single digits. Trailing by 11 points with two-and-a-half minutes, Illinois used a 7-0 scoring run that included Bryant's first triple of the afternoon to cut their deficit to four points. Cook scored 10 points in the third quarter, though the Illini took a 54-50 deficit into the final period of play.

The Golden Gophers extended their advantage to seven points early in the fourth quarter, though the Illini's next seven points came from Bryant to cut the team's deficit to two points. Those seven points sparked a 16-3 run for the Illini, which put Illinois in front by seven points. Hobby and Bryant combined for all 16 points during that stretch, and the Illini never looked back.

The Orange and Blue fought off a late comeback effort from the Golden Gophers. Minnesota cut its deficit to one point with 35 seconds to play, but Hobby's jumper on a feed from Bostic extended the Illinois edge to three points with 19 seconds left on the clock. Cook hit clutch free throws late in the game to seal the win in front of a rowdy State Farm Center crowd.

Illinois (9-10, 3-6 B1G) begins a two-game road trip on Wednesday, when the Illini travel to the Wolverine State for a rematch with Michigan. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. CT on B1G+ from Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.

POSTGAME NOTES

Player Notes:

  • Genesis Bryant scored 12 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter while also totaling seven assists, five rebounds, two blocks, and one steal.
    • Bryant's seven assists were a new season-high mark.
      • Her most since finishing with a career-high 12 assists in her triple-double performance on Dec. 21, 2022.
    • Her two blocks equaled her career-high, which she set while at N.C. State.
      • Her only other two-block performance came on Dec. 6, 2020, against Coastal Carolina in the third game of her college career.
    • Bryant hit three 3-pointers, shooting 50% from behind the arc.
      • Now has seven games this season with at least three triples.
  • Makira Cook poured in a team-high 22 points while adding four assists, three rebounds, and one steal.
    • Cook's 22-point effort marked her second 20-point game of the season and the 24th overall of her career
      • Cook has hit double figures in each of her last five appearances.
        • Has scored in double figures in nine of the last 10 and 13 of her 16 games this season.
    • Cook knocked down a season-high three 3-pointers.
      • Her most since knocking down four on March 2, 2023, against Rutgers.
    • Cook's four assists signal her fourth outing with at least four helpers in her last five games.
      • Has doled out at least four assists nine times this season.
  • Kendall Bostic tallied six points and a team-high 17 rebounds in addition to five assists, one block, and one steal.
    • Bostic's five assists were a new season-best tally and the second-highest mark of her career.
      • Came up one assist short of her career (6), which occurred on March 2, 2022, against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament.
    • Reached the double digit rebound mark for the eighth time this season
      • Has double-digit rebounds in consecutive games for the first time this season.
      • Her 35 rebounds over a two-game stretch is a new career-best mark.
    • Sunday's game marked Bostic's 100th appearance at the collegiate level.
  • Camille Hobby amassed 19 points and six rebounds while making her seventh start of the season.
    • Her 19-point performance tied her season-best total, which came on Jan. 14, 2024, at Northwestern.
      • She has scored at least 12 points in 4 of the last 5 games
    • Scored nine of her 19 points in the fourth quarter after scoring six points in the first half.
      • Started 2-for-2 from the field and accounted for the Illini's first four points of the afternoon.
    • Hobby went 9-for-13 from the field, including 4-for-5 in the fourth quarter.
      • Nine field goals made ties her career-best mark, which she set while at N.C. State.
        • Her only other game with nine field goals came against Pitt on Feb. 26, 2023.
  • Gretchen Dolan accounted for all five of the Illini's bench points for the second consecutive game.
    • Dolan shot 2-for-3 and made her first two shots of the day.
      • Those two baskets came in the span of less than one minute in the first quarter.

Team Notes:

  • Minnesota won the tip, and the Golden Gophers also opened the scoring.
  • Three Illini finished in double-digit scoring (Cook, Bryant, Hobby).
  • The Illini used a 7-0 run from 3:30 to 1:57 in the first quarter to turn a one-point deficit into a six-point advantage in the span of just 97 seconds.
  • A 7-0 scoring run for the Illini in the span of 44 seconds from 2:21 to 1:37 in the third quarter cut Illinois' deficit to four points.
    • The Illini closed the third quarter by making five of their final seven field-goal attempts of the frame.
  • Illinois used a 12-0 run over the span of four minutes in the fourth quarter (6:11 to 2:11) to turn a five-point deficit into a game-high seven-point advantage.
    • Bryant scored eight points during that run, including two 3-pointers.
  • The 11-point deficit is the largest deficit the Illini have overcome in a win this season.
  • The Illini held Minnesota to 15 points or less in three of four quarters and are up to 40 quarters of holding opponents to 15 points or less on the season.

Misc. Notes:

  • Starters: Makira CookGenesis BryantAdalia McKenzieKendall BosticCamille Hobby
    • This lineup is now 4-3 on the season.
  • Shauna Green is now:
    • 31-20 at Illinois
    • 158-70 as a Division I coach
    • 187-95 overall
  • Illinois vs. Minnesota: 42-31 (73rd meeting)
  • Illinois is now 6-5 when wearing white uniforms this season.
  • UI is now 7-4 in home games this season.
  • The Illini are now 5-8 in games starting before 5 p.m. CT this season.
  • The Illini are now 3-4 in January.

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