CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – History. For the first time in nearly eight years, Illinois knocked off a ranked opponent on its home court, taking down No. 12/10 Iowa, 90-86, in front of a rowdy and energetic State Farm Center crowd on Sunday afternoon.
Off the back of a career-high 24-point performance from Genesis Bryant, the Illini held off the Hawkeyes at home to improve to 13-2 on the season and 3-1 in Big Ten play.
Illinois led for the final 23 minutes of action, fighting off Iowa comeback attempts and extending their winning streak to six games.
The fastest 4 points you might ever see 👀@genesisbryant_ with the finish then @AdaliaMckenzie takes a turn!— Illinois Women's Basketball (@IlliniWBB) January 1, 2023
Q4 2:31 | #Illini 84, Iowa 77 pic.twitter.com/qhBk4M4hQ6
Makira Cook scored 20 points in the win, her sixth straight game with at least 20 points. Kendall Bostic registered her fourth double-double of the season with a career-high 17 points and 12 rebounds while shooting a perfect 7/7 on her field-goal attempts. Adalia McKenzie scored 16 points and made a season-high five assists.
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Illinois and Iowa traded baskets early, with neither team able to take control in the first quarter. The Illini's biggest lead came after Cook hit shots on back-to-back possessions to put the hosts ahead by three, but the Hawkeyes battled back and eventually led by five after 10 minutes of play.
Needing a spark early in the second quarter, Illinois used a 9-1 run that included a Jada Peebles 3-pointer and two McKenzie field goals to turn a five-point deficit into a three-point lead halfway through the frame.
The Illini frequently turned offense into defense, a trend that helped Illinois close the half on a 12-3 run. Cook, full of confidence and energy, scored seven straight Illini points before Bryant recorded the team's final five points of the half. A Bryant 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded pushed Illinois' advantage to 11 points at the break.
Cook led the way offensively with 16 first-half points after the Illini shot 66.7% during the second quarter. Illinois made five blocks and two steals in the first 20 minutes of play and led 44-33 heading into the final two quarters of action.
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Illinois took its largest lead of the afternoon early in the third frame, pushing its advantage to 13 points. After the Hawkeyes cut their deficit to single digits, the Illini closed the quarter on a 12-5 run as it took a 67-58 lead into the final frame. Bostic led the team with eight points in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter shooting 100% from the field.
Bryant took over in the final 10 minutes of play for the Illini, scoring 14 of her 24 points in the frame. The Hawkeyes cut the Illini advantage to a single point, but a 5-0 Illinois run, which included a Bryant 3-pointer, extended the team's lead to six. Eventually pushing the advantage up to seven points with under two minutes to play, Illinois made stops and hit its free throws to pull out the four-point victory.
Illinois will return to State Farm Center on Thursday night at 8 p.m. CT to take on in-state conference rival Northwestern.