Illini Women’s Hoops Survive Road Test at Butler 65-63

Illinois improves to 9-2 in 2022-23 season with a 65-63 victory over Butler inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer

December 11, 2022

Despite making a name for herself this season as a perimeter shooter, Jada Peebles decided to showcase her defensive skills in the final moments of an Illinois victory.

In order to secure a 65-63 victory at Butler inside historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, Peebles, who came into the game on Sunday afternoon leading the Big Ten Conference and fourth in the nation in three-point shooting percentage, executed an athletic block of a three-point attempt by Tenley Dowell with seven seconds remaining.

Peebles, who finished the contest with five points and three rebounds, obtained the loose ball off her own block and allowed Illinois (9-2) to run out the clock to secure its second true road victory and third victory away from Champaign this season. The block of the three-point attempt was just Peebles sixth of the season and 20th of her career.

Once again, Makira Cook led the charge for the Illini as the transfer who followed first-year Illinois head coach Shauna Green from Dayton posted 22 points and only sat for two of the 40-minute affair. Sophomore guard/forward Adelia McKenzie delivered her second straight double-double outing with 13 points and 12 rebounds with four of those boards being on the offensive end and being a key factor in the Illini having a 14-0 advantage in second chance points.

Butler (5-5), which is a program rebounding from a 1-27 campaign that saw them go winless in 18 Big East Conference games last season, was able to slow the pace of this game down and control Illinois’ perimeter shooting threats as the Illini converted on just 4 of 14 three-point attempts but after a 18-11 second quarter that included a 16-4 run over a period of nearly eight minutes, Illinois controlled the lead for the rest of the afternoon. Butler sophomore Sydney Jaynes controlled the paint offensively as the 6-foot-3 forward from nearby Brownsburg, Ind. led all scorers with 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting including a trio of three-point shots.

Following the Illini’s run into the halftime locker room to take a 29-24 lead after 20 minutes of action, Cook took over the contest offensively. The 5-foot-6 scoring point guard had 14 of Illinois’ 19 third quarter points and six of the team’s eight made field goals. Cook came into Sunday as one of 10 players from the Big Ten Conference in the top 75 in individual scoring per game at 17.5 per contest and eclipsed her average with back-to-back jumpers with five minutes left to go in the game.

Once Butler took a 51-50 lead off a three-pointer by Jaynes with seven minutes and 40 seconds to go, Illinois managed to score the next 11 points over three minutes and 41 seconds to give them a cushion to cruise to its ninth victory in a season for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

With this week being consumed by academic finals, Illinois will now have seven days to soak in this win before playing another road game in the women’s version of the Braggin’ Rights game against a Missouri squad (Dec.18 at 4 p.m.) that has jumped out to a 11-1 start to this season.

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