Still Searching For First Big Win - Illini Fall in Disappointing Fashion 67-61 to Wisconsin

A year after qualifying for the 2023 NCAA Tournament, Illinois has still yet to defeat a power conference opponent after falling 67-61 at home to a Wisconsin team that was blown out in its first three league games.

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer

January 7, 2024

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

The calendar may have turned to 2024 but the Illinois women’s basketball team has still not recorded a victory against a power conference opponent.

The Illini dropped its third straight Big Ten Conference game and seventh straight contest to a power conference foe on Sunday in a 67-61 defeat to Wisconsin. The Badgers arrived at State Farm Center Sunday after losing its first three Big Ten games (vs. Iowa on Dec. 10, at Purdue on Dec. 30 and a home title vs. Nebraska on Thursday) by a combined 24.3 points.

Illinois (6-7, 0-3) missed eight of its first 10 attempts from beyond the three-point arc Sunday and its perimeter scoring duo of Makira Cook and Genesis Bryant needed 30 field goal attempts to get to a combined 32 points (13 of 30 combined from the field).

Wisconsin (8-6, 1-3) got 27 points from sophomore guard Serah Williams. Williams, who participated in the 2022 All-Canadian All-Star Game in Toronto before signing with Wisconsin, had 17 of her points in the second half.

Illinois, which was down most of the first three quarters, managed to take a 42-41 advantage following a Cook three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer but the Badgers used an 8-0 run to start the final quarter to widen out its lead.

While Illinois returned a mostly veteran roster from its 2023 NCAA Tournament appearance, Wisconsin’s 10 underclassmen stands tied with Minnesota for the most on a team in the Big Ten Conference. Wisconsin ended last season 11-20 overall including a 6-12 mark in league play - which was the most conference wins in program history since the 2010-11 campaign. Illinois women's basketball returned 93.4 percent of its scoring from the 2022-23 season and is believed to be the second-highest percentage across Division I women’s basketball. Among those returners are all five starters and 10 total players from last season.

Adalia McKenzie finished Sunday with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds but had only four points and three rebounds in the final 20 minutes of play.

Before Sunday, Wisconsin was the lone Big Ten program that Illinois had achieved consistent success against before second-year head coach Shauna Green arrived in Champaign. The Illini arrived in State Farm Center Sunday having won four of its last five games against Marisa Moseley’s Badgers program and the last time Wisconsin won in Champaign with fans in attendance was Jan. 28, 2019.

After losses to Michigan, at No. 14 Indiana and Wisconsin to open league play, Illinois again will try for its first victory against a power conference opponent on Thursday when they play back to back road games at Nebraska on Thursday night (7 p.m. CST, Big Ten Network) and at Northwestern on Sunday (2 p.m., Big Ten Network-Plus).

Podcasts

June 14 Weekend (S3,Ep44)

Listen

Terrence Shannon Jr. NOT GUILTY with Mitch Gilfillan (Lawyer Covered Case on X) #369

Listen

Illini FB 2024 Preseason KFord Ratings #368

Listen

June 7 Weekend (S3,Ep43)

Listen

Illini Legend Deon Thomas #367

Listen

Tai Streets Founder of MeanStreets Sports #366

Listen

May 31 Weekend (S3,Ep42)

Listen

Carl Berman of NetScouts Basketball Talks Illini Euro Commits #365

Listen

Instant Take on Kasparas Jakucionis Commit #364

Listen

May 24 Weekend (S3,Ep41)

Listen

Illini Legend Stephen Bardo - #363

Listen

Tyler Underwood 1-on-1 #362

Listen

May 17 Weekend (S3,Ep40)

Listen

Illini Legend David Williams & His Charity Golf Outing on June 8 #361

Listen

Huge Portal Kombat Win for Bret Bielema #360

Listen