Illini Claw Mizzou To Score Season's Biggest Win To Date

By W. Elijah Smith - IlliniGuys Contributor

December 18, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy IlliniGuys)

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Adalia McKenzie scored a game-high 21 points as Illinois, without leading scorer Makira Cook, went on the road to deliver a convincing 76-66 win at Missouri Sunday afternoon.

The win represents Illinois’ biggest win to date under new head coach Shauna Green.

The Illini (10-2) played strong in the opening minutes, taking a 17-6 lead as McKenzie scored five points and Genesis Bryant added four.  Mizzou answered with a 14-0 run to take a 20-17 lead. But the Tigers’ turnovers proved costly in this game, as Illinois scored 19 points off 12 Missouri turnovers in the first half alone and 28 points off 17 mistakes for the game.

Illinois was trying to get the win without Cook, who averages a team-best 17.9 points per game and leads the team in assists but stayed in Champaign due to illness. A crucial moment came at the 6:19 mark in the second quarter, when McKenzie had to leave the game with a game-high 10 points but also her second foul.  However, Illinois built onto their lead without their top two scorers to go into halftime with a 40-33 advantage.

“They just had a look in their eye tonight,” says Illinois head coach Shauna Green, who experienced her first Braggin’ Rights game.  “At every timeout and every break, they just were determined.  I knew that we were going to win this game.  They just stepped up.”

Hayley Frank led Missouri (11-2) with 18 points and scored back-to-back baskets early in the 3rd quarter to pull the Tigers within five points at 42-37.  But Missouri never got any closer.

McKenzie hit 9 of 16 shots from the field and ended the game playing defense on the bigger Henry, holding her to just three points in the final 15 minutes.  Bryant scored 13 of her season-high 20 points in the second half to provide more offense for the Illini.

Kendall Bostic delivered her third double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.  Brynn Shoup-Hill turned in her best night as an Illini with season-highs of 12 points and four three-pointers. 

The Illini get their first win in the series since 2019 and are now 7-9 against the Tigers all-time.  Illinois is also now 9-1 when scoring 70 points or more. They’ll host Florida Atlantic in Champaign on Wednesday (12pm, BTN+). 

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