Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: Illinois 82, Northwestern 71

Daily file photo by Alyce Brown
Senior forward Paige Mott battles in the paint.

Fresh off a wire-to-wire, dominant victory against Wisconsin, Northwestern traveled to Champaign to take on Illinois in a rematch of January’s 40-point Illini drubbing.

The grudge didn’t fare much better for the Wildcats (8-15, 3-9 Big Ten), who lost 82-71. Grad transfer guard Maggie Pinia scored a team-high 15 points for NU.

The Fighting Illini (11-11, 5-7 Big Ten) leapt to a 13-6 lead midway through the first quarter, outrebounding the ‘Cats 9-3. They extended the lead to 20-12 by the quarter’s end. 

Illinois capitalized on poor NU shooting and frequent fouling throughout the second quarter. Though Pina sank a three-pointer to cut the lead to eight points with four minutes in the second frame, the two teams went to the locker room with the Fighting Illini up 15. 

The ‘Cats attacked with renewed vigor as the second half began, going on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to just 10. Paige Mott scored six of their seven points out of the gate. Illinois responded, however, and the score hovered around a 10-point Fighting Illini lead through most of the third quarter.

At the end of the third quarter, however, the Fighting Illini forced a two-minute NU scoring drought, extending their lead to 15 and never looking back. To add insult to injury, Illinois’ Genesis Bryant converted an acrobatic layup as time expired in the third quarter to extend the lead to 19.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game.

  1. Same struggles sour hopes of a series split

Thursday’s game felt like a carbon copy of the January matchup in Evanston, where the ‘Cats shot a measly 26.9% from the field. 

In the first half, NU made only 10 buckets on 31 attempts, good for a 32.2% rate. They also went 2-for-11 from three-point range.

Though its shooting improved in the second half –– a 53.3% clip –– the team couldn’t pull itself back into the game.

The one difference between this game and the last? The margins were closer. In January, the Illini shot 48.5% from the field, scoring 92 points. Today, they shot 49.1% but only scored 82.

There is an interesting pattern that pops up in NU’s schedule — the ‘Cats have beat Wisconsin twice. Both times, they have then lost to Illinois by double digits or more four days following that victory. 

  1. Fouls galore

Junior guard Melannie Daley checked out of the first half after picking up her third foul. Shortly into the second half, sophomore guard Caroline Lau picked up her third and fourth fouls. Junior forward Caileigh Walsh also picked up her third in the third quarter. 

Lau fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.

Illinois, spending most of the game in the bonus, capitalized. They shot 23-27 from the free throw line, outshooting NU at the stripe by nine points. 

NU had 21 personal fouls to Illinois’ 20. The whistles were active on Thursday.

  1. Nuggets for everyone!

The State Farm Center offers a promotion, similar to NU’s Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich ritual, where if an opponent misses two straight free throws, each fan will be treated to free chicken nuggets. With a little more than two minutes left in the second quarter, Walsh clanked two back-to-back from the charity stripe, securing poultry for all in attendance. As the broadcast pointed out, the crowd went wild.

The ‘Cats will now lick their wounds and return home for a Valentine’s Day matchup with Purdue.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @HenryFrieman

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