After a tough second quarter, Indiana suffers crushing 86-66 loss at Illinois

  • 02/19/2024 8:10 pm in

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Teri Moren watched on the sideline in a squatted position with a long face. She looked back at the bench, shaking her head with her hands in the air, looking for answers. The team she had been so used to seeing on the court wasn’t there. A rare sense of disconnection filled the Indiana bench. For the first time in a long time, the team that is usually the bully got bullied by its opponent.

Indiana suffered its fourth season loss to Illinois Monday afternoon in blowout fashion. The Hoosiers fell 86-66 to Illinois at the State Farm Center, snapping a 16-game winning streak against the Illini. It’s the first time since Feb. 13, 2013, that IU hasn’t come out on top when facing Illinois, and this time around, in uncharacteristic fashion, Indiana looked lost throughout the 40-minute game.

“It felt like we got bullied all afternoon. That’s exactly the word I used with our players.” Moren said.

After a back-and-forth start to the game, Indiana regained the lead with 19 seconds left in the first quarter on a jump shot by Chloe Moore-McNeil. But Illinois answered with a layup from Genesis Bryant to close out the first quarter and the Hoosiers never led after that.

Illinois’ plan was simple. Attack the basket and score at the rim. Illinois’ guards feasted on that concept all game and cruised to their 13th win. Bryant, Makira Cook, Gretchen Dolan, and Adalia McKenzie combined for 62 points.

Illinois finished with 42 points in the paint, nearly half their game total.

“We couldn’t keep them in front of us,” Moren said. “We didn’t have any great rim protection with our bigs, and so when you when you play a team like this, you gotta be connected. You gotta help each other. You gotta really be in the spots to show some gaps… We just did a poor job. I don’t have any other reason other than we were not good.”

The second quarter was especially hard for the Hoosiers. Illinois outscored Indiana 26-11 in that span and held Indiana to three made shots in the ten minutes.

It was another loss for the Hoosiers where they struggled in either the second or third quarter. Against Stanford and Iowa, the second quarter set the Hoosiers back. Against Iowa, it was the third quarter, and now, when taking on the Illini, the middle parts of the game continued to be problematic.

“I have no idea,” Moren said postgame. “I don’t have an answer for that. I really don’t know why our second quarters sometimes we come out and we’re flat. I have no idea. We’ve tried to switch some things in the third quarter out of halftime to get out there a little bit earlier and get us warm back up… I wish I knew because if I knew in those previous games, what exactly it was, I’d be working like crazy to figure those out, what the solution is to that. Like I said, it was a beyond-poor second quarter for us.”

The loss was IU’s third Big Ten defeat of the season and fourth overall. Indiana is still near the top of the Big Ten, but is two games behind Ohio State and a game behind Iowa, which comes to town on Thursday night.

Monday’s loss is a significant setback for IU’s conference title hopes and could put the Hoosiers in jeopardy in terms of hosting NCAA tournament games. The Hoosiers were the No. 15 overall team in the selection committee’s top 16 team reveal last week.

“You have to flush it,” Moren said. “We gotta move on. We got a really good Iowa team that comes into the hall on Thursday night, and as Mack (Mackenzie Holmes) said, we have three games left in the Big 10 season, and we gotta figure some things out.”

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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