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What does Illinois Women’s Basketball Need to do for a Win?



Illinois Women's basketball
Indiana's Mackenize Holmes (54) knocks the ball away from Illinois' Genesis Bryant (1) during the first half of the Indiana versus Illinois women's basketball game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023

Illinois Women’s Basketball is in search of its first Big Ten Victory.

Illinois women’s basketball head coach Shauna Green is frustrated. Her body language on the sidelines and during the postgame presser says as much. At times, Green looked like a fan, leaning and attempting to will shots to go in, but they did not. Sunday afternoon’s 67-61 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers hampered Illinois’ chances at making the NCAA tournament. Shauna Green showed her frustration and disappointment during much of the game.

Sunday afternoon’s loss was a microcosm of the season. Wisconsin out-rebounded Illinois 47-35. They forced 18 Wisconsin turnovers but turned them into only ten points. There was too much one-on-one basketball, with ten assists on 26 made shots. Despite how ugly the game got, the Illini battled back, erasing an 11-point deficit late in the fourth quarter. Illinois got within two but could not turn the score in their favor.

Wisconsin came into Saturday’s game ranked 116th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, giving the Illini a Quad 3 loss. Illinois is 0-7 against high-major teams. “We need to be better,” Green said. “You can’t score 61 points and beat anyone in this league. We’ve got to figure out our offense. … We’ve got to score the ball. You can’t win at this level and in this league scoring 60 points. We’ve got to figure that out.”

Bryant and Cook need to make more shots.

Coach Green hit the nail on the head. You will struggle if you can’t score points in the Big Ten. Illinois women’s basketball scoring margin is +9.7 on the year but -10 against major high teams. They shoot 45 percent from the field but 41 percent against high majors. For whatever reason, the shots aren’t falling against better competition.

“I feel like it’s just about us,” Genesis Bryant said. “We’ve got to calm down, make layups, and hit simple shots. We got the looks we wanted. Just got to put ’em in.”

Bryant is shooting 31 percent and averaging 8.7 points in conference play. Her backcourt mate Makira Cook averages 18.7 points, but she’s shooting 40 percent and 33 percent from three-point range. Illinois has not played efficient basketball in conference play, so they are losing.

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Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.