Continue Fearing the Turtle: Slow Offensive Start Buries Illini in Home Loss to Maryland

Illinois’ trio of stars (Makira Cook, Genesis Bryant and Kendall Bostic) held in check during a 69-53 home loss to Maryland

Matt Stevens, IlliniGuys Staff Writer

February 11, 2024

Illinois head coach Shauna Green has repeatedly said her squad isn’t set up to survive down offensive performances from her top players and Sunday’s result proved her correct once again.

In a 69-53 loss to Maryland on Super Bowl Sunday, Illinois got just 19 combined points from 2023 All-Big Ten selections Makira Cook, Genesis Bryant and Kendall Bostic. Maryland’s pressure defense held the perimeter combination of Cook and Bryant to just 6 for 27 from the field and Bostic grabbed eight rebounds but connected on just one of seven shots in 32 minutes.

Illinois (11-12, 5-8 in Big Ten) is now 0-16 all-time against Maryland and Green drops her career record to 0-5 against a Terrapins program that has made 12 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

The four-point outing out of Cook was her lowest of the 2023-24 season and just the fourth time this season the 5-foot-6 guard from Cincinnati has been held under double digits.

The Illini defensive intensity helped keep Green’s team in the contest early as Illinois ended the final five minutes and 32 seconds of the opening quarter without a field goal. However, four early steals countered the 4 of 19 shooting as the Terrapins (14-10, 6-7 in Big Ten) had six turnovers in the first 10 minutes of action.

Illinois had numerous chances at the rim to cut into Maryland’s advantage as the Illini finished a disappointing 15 of 32 on layups and committed a turnover on nearly one of every five offensive possessions.

Maryland was led by four players in double figures including sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers. The daughter of former NBA player Brad Sellers, who was the No. 22 prospect in the 2021 recruiting class according to ESPN, finished Sunday with 18 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and a block. Cook, who played high school basketball in Ohio against the younger Sellers, forced the Maryland lead guard into six turnovers but missed her first eight attempts from the field before finally knocking down a three-pointer with four minutes and 36 seconds remaining to draw the Illini to just a 55-48 disadvantage.

Bryant suffered foul trouble Sunday as the senior guard picked up two fouls just 76 seconds apart in the opening quarter and never could get back into rhythm the rest of the afternoon. Bryant, who came in averaging 12 points per game in league play, connected on just 3 of 11 shots inside the three-point arc and played just 26 minutes.

Sunday represented just the fifth time this season that Bostic recorded less than a double-figure scoring effort but the two-point performance against Maryland makes it back-to-back contests for the 6-foot-3 forward from Kokomo, Ind.

With its trio of stars not shining inside State Farm Center Sunday, Camille Hobby attempted to pick up the offensive slack for the Illini with 16 points and 11 rebounds in a 35-minute effort.

Illinois got the deficit to 39-37 with two minutes and 33 seconds remaining in the third quarter but Maryland went on a 13-4 run to push the lead back to double digits in the fourth quarter to all but seal the Illini’s fifth home loss of the season.

Illinois will once again try to get back to a .500 overall record on Thursday when they travel to face Penn State in a 5 p.m. CST tip on Big Ten Network-Plus.

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