Following a last-second victory against Purdue to close the regular season, Nancy Fahey and the Fighting Illini (7-19, 1-13 Big Ten) edged out Marisa Moseley’s Badgers (8-21, 5-13) 75-66 March 2 in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.
The Illini came out firing early on, establishing a 16-8 edge within the first 5:37 of the first quarter. But, they misfired on the final four shot attempts of the period, allowing Wisconsin to generate a 10-0 scoring run and a two-point edge heading into the second frame.
Both groups struggled finding offensive consistency throughout the second quarter. The Big Ten foes combined to shoot 1-12 from behind-the-arc and 12-32 from the floor. While it was a struggle offensively, UW had contributions from four different student-athletes to outscore the Illini and extend their advantage to three by intermission.
Wisconsin’s scoring deficiencies started hurting them in the second half as they scratched the scoresheet just once within the first seven minutes of the third. Illinois nailed all four of its 3-point attempts in the quarter compared to a dismal 0-6 effort from Moseley’s group. Kendall Bostic’s short jumper with 7:07 to spare ignited a 12-0 run over a three-minute stretch and within the blink of an eye, UW faced a double-digit deficit approaching the final stretch in perhaps its final bout of the 2021-2022 season.
The Badgers played well during crunch time but failed to score the bulk of its points until the halfway mark in the fourth. Katie Nelson and Julie Pospíšilová left it all on the floor, combining for 18 of the 23 total points in the period. Illinois’ Aaliyah Nye canned a dagger with 58 seconds remaining, and from that point on, UW intentionally fouled the Illini. For the second straight season, UIUC defeated Wisconsin in the first round of the conference tournament.
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In her final game under coach Moseley, Nelson shot 11 of 21 from the field for a game-high 21 points, as well as eight assists in 40 minutes for UW. The versatile Pospíšilová notched 17 points with three makes from behind-the-arc. Sophomore Halle Douglass logged 15 points and eight rebounds for a solid performance as well. Brooke Schramek struggled mightily, missing all 15 of her shot attempts after averaging nearly 15 points over the last two contests.
For UIUC, Aaliyah Nye, the leading scorer for the 2021-2022 squad, delivered five 3-point field goals for 17 points and snagged five rebounds in 32 minutes on the hardwood. Forward Erika Porter scored 15 points while shooting 63.6% clip from the floor and Kendall Bostic, who dominated the glass against UW earlier this year, grabbed 16 rebounds in the win.
After gaining some momentum with wins down the stretch, a first-round exit in the Big Ten tournament is a disappointing finish in an otherwise optimistic first season for Marisa Moseley.