Jenna Smith had 14 points and 10 rebounds Thursday night
March 22, 2007
Manhattan, Kan. - Illinois' 2006-07 season came to a close Thursday night in Manhattan, Kansas, with a 66-51 loss to Kansas State in front of 1,747 fans at Bramlage Coliseum on the third round of the postseason WNIT. The Illini trailed by just one at halftime, but KSU pulled away with a 9-0 midway through the second half to move onto the quarterfinals. Illinois finished the season 19-12 overall, finished fourth in the Big Ten, and advanced to the postseason for the 10th time in the last 11 years.
"We did some very good things this year," said head coach Theresa Grentz after her 12th season at Illinois came to a close. "We're young, we fought and won a couple key games, and we got some good experience in this tournament. Overall, I think we had a very good season."
Kansas State (18-14) shot 46 percent from the field and forced 20 Illinois turnovers to help overcome a 40-25 rebounding edge for the Illini. In fact, KSU held a 24-9 edge in points off turnovers, equaling the overall difference in the game. The Wildcats extended a 43-40 lead with a 9-0 run to make the score 52-40 with 8:38 remaining.
Jenna Smith and Erin Wigley countered with back-to-back buckets to bring Illinois back to within eight, but KSU's Kimberly Dietz answered with a one of her five threes to kill any UI comeback thoughts.
"I take my hat off to Kansas State," said Grentz. "They hit some key shots and Deb Patterson's teams always play very hard. They got after it. We knew it was going to be a nip and tuck type of ball game; you expect that in the postseason."
Smith led Illinois with 14 points and 10 rebounds, giving her six double-doubles on the season, but most of her damage was done in the first half. Sophomore Lori Bjork finished with 13 points, but had an off shooting night, hitting 4-of-13 overall and 2-of-9 from behind the arc.
Wigley, the lone senior on this year's squad, closed out her Illinois career with six points and four rebounds. She finished her career tied for 18th on the UI career scoring list with 1,023 points.
Illinois shot 39 percent for the game (20-of-51) and just 23 percent from three-point land (3-of-13).
The Orange and Blue will now get some time off before starting off-season work. The Illini will return their entire starting line-up and nine of their top 10 scorers next season.