CHAMPAIGN — Alex Wittinger shared a hug with Jaelyne Kirkpatrick, who was dressed in an orange pullover around the bench. Sarah Shewan, who was a couple actions behind Wittinger, followed by also sharing an embrace with Kirkpatrick.
A Point out Farm Middle group of 1,532 supporters greeted the a few seniors on the Illinois women’s basketball crew with a standing ovation with 38 seconds still left in regulation as Wittinger and Shewan walked off Lou Henson Courtroom for the last time.
But, immediately after the remaining seconds elapsed off the clock, and the final buzzer sounded, the severe reality of what the scoreboard explained established in for the Illini.
Illinois was not equipped to give Wittinger, Kirkpatrick and Shewan a profitable send out-off in the final household match of their occupations, with Penn Point out spoiling the social gathering, handing the Illini a 76-65 loss on Sunday afternoon.
“It sucks,” an psychological Wittinger explained in the postgame press conference. “That is for certain.”
“That is how a lot these fellas treatment,” Illini head mentor Nancy Fahey explained minutes immediately after Wittinger still left the podium. “The damage it truly is a signal of how limited this crew (is) and the adore that they have for every single other and the drive they have to put wins on the board. That is why it really is hard for every person.”
Wittinger — despite finishing with a crew-high 12 factors and 8 rebounds — had a hard third quarter (a few fouls in the span of 5 minutes). Her fourth foul followed Kamaria McDaniel’s drive to the basket.
With Wittinger on the bench, the Nittany Lions turned a 5-stage benefit into a 13-stage guide, 59-46, in the final 3:18 of the penultimate quarter.
“We wished to be aggressive attacking (Wittinger),” Penn Point out head mentor Coquese Washington explained. “She’s just so gifted. She has a turnaround jumper. You are unable to halt it. You are unable to guard it.
“We wished to make her participate in the two ends of the floor. The good news is for us, she picked up a couple fouls,” Washington ongoing. “They’re certainly a various crew without the need of her on the floor. We were being equipped to form of extend our guide with her absence. That proved to be probably the difference in the match.”
Down by 19 factors with 7:49 still left in regulation, the Illini (10-18, 2-15 Large Ten) produced their ideal endeavor at a comeback, many thanks to a 12- run with Wittinger again on the floor.
Brandi Beasley delivered a spark with a few straight produced jumpers, J-Naya Ephraim’s and-1 participate in brought the gamers on Illinois’ bench to their ft, and Ali Andrews’ phase-again a few-pointer lower the deficit to 67-60 with 3:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It gets to the stage the place you don’t have any other choice,” Wittinger explained. “You’ve just got to preserve preventing, got to preserve working. That is we had to do and tried using to do.”
Even with momentum on Illinois’ facet, Penn Point out (12-15, 5-11) continue to had the evaluate of the Illini.
Amari Carter’s jumper in the paint followed by Siyeh Frazier’s rapidly-break layup served the Nittany Lions regain a double-digit guide, 71-60, with 2:40 to go.
“We got it near, and then enable them ideal again up on top rated,” Fahey explained. “We switch the ball around two or a few moments (late in fourth quarter). … Our defensive changeover was not really sound yet again (Sunday).”
Penn Point out outscored the Illini 16-13 on the rapidly break and knocked down 10 a few-ideas, together with 8 in the very first 50 percent, en route to shooting 52.8 percent from the subject. Illinois shot 45 percent to counter, with Arieal Scott and Beasley contributing 10 factors every single.
McDaniel led all scorers with 20 factors, with Jaida Travascio-Environmentally friendly adding 19 factors, 16 of which came in the very first 50 percent.
“We performed with a large amount of poise down the stretch,” Washington explained. “We had a couple belongings there the place Illinois, and Beasley and Wittinger in individual, were being genuinely aggressive wanting to get pictures. We responded, and taken care of (their) pressure really nicely at the end of the match. We got a couple of breakaways and that form of stemmed the tide for us.”