Women's Basketball
Illinois Season Ends with Heartbreaking WNIT Loss at ISU

 
Jenna Smith had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in her final game as an Illini. (photo by Beth Unser)
Jenna Smith had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in her final game as an Illini. (photo by Beth Unser)
 

March 28, 2010

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NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois' 2009-10 women's basketball season came to a close Sunday afternoon with a heartbreaking 53-51 loss to Illinois State in front of 4,459 fans at Redbird Arena in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. In a game that was nip-and-tuck the whole way, the Illini had two chances to tie it in the final seconds but couldn't get them to fall. Illinois finishes the season with a 19-15 record.

Senior star Jenna Smith gave the Illini a 51-50 lead with 1:43 to play, but a three-pointer by ISU's Katie Broadway with 17.5 seconds left proved to be the difference as it gave the Redbirds a 53-51 lead. On Illinois' final possession, sophomore Lydia McCully drove strong to the hoop, but her short jumper in traffic with five seconds left was in and out. Smith got an offensive rebound under the hoop but was off on her putback attempt just before the clock ran out.

Freshman Karisma Penn led Illinois in scoring with 13 points, while Smith had 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks in her final game at Illinois while playing much of the game in foul trouble. Senior Lacey Simpson had six points and 10 rebounds in her final game, moving up to fourth on the UI career rebounding list in the process. Freshman Kersten Magrum had 11 points and McCully added nine for the Illini, who shot 37 percent for the game and 31 percent from the line.

The game was close for most of the first half before Illinois State (28-7) pulled out to a 28-19 lead with three minutes left in the half. Illinois cut the deficit to 30-24 at halftime and then started the second half on a 9-2 run to take a 33-32 lead at the 15:53 mark. Neither team led by more than four the rest of the way as the momentum swung back and forth for the final 15 minutes of play.

Illinois State outrebounded the Illini 37-33 and shot 38 percent for the game and 46 percent from behind the arc. Nicolle Lewis led the Redbirds with 14 points and nine rebounds.

The game marks the end of a career for three Fighting Illini seniors - Jenna Smith, Lacey Simpson and Whitney Toone. Smith ends her career as the all-time leader in points (2,160), rebounds (1,217), blocks (231), field goals attempted (1,639), double-doubles (53), games started (121) and minutes played (4,561). Simpson will also go down as one of the best in school history, leaving with school records for steals (368) and games played (135) while also ranking second in UI history in games started (118), second in minutes played (4,165), second in blocks (163), third in assists (451), fourth in rebounds (900) and 17th in points (1,166).

This year marked the first time in school history that Illinois reached the quarterfinals of the postseason WNIT and the 12th time in the last 14 years that the team reached postseason play. Illinois State advances to the semifinals and will host California on Thursday, April 1.

Illinois-Illinois State WNIT Quarterfinal Postgame Notes
Jenna Smith finished her Illinois career as the all-time leader in points (2,160), rebounds (1,217), blocks (231), field goals attempted (1,639), double-doubles (53), games started (121) and minutes played (4,561). She is second all-time at Illinois in field goals made (811), free throws made (488) and games played (130), and finishes fifth on the UI career free throw percentage list (.811).

• Smith also finished her collegiate career ranked second in Big Ten history in rebounds (1,217), ninth in blocks (231), 10th in points (2,160) and 10th in field goals made (811).

• Smith set several single-season records her senior year, including the Big Ten single-season rebounding record with 387 and the Illinois double-doubles record of 21. She also reset her own Illinois single-season blocks record (70) in 2009-10. Her free throw percentage of .884 this season ranks as the second-best total in school history and the sixth best in Big Ten history.

Lacey Simpson is the UI career steals record holder, ending her career with 368. That mark also ranks second in Big Ten history, trailing only Stacey Thomas' record of 372 steals set at Michigan from 1997-00.

• At Illinois, Simpson also ranks first all-time in games played (135), second in games started (118), second in minutes played (4,165), second in blocks (163), third in assists (451), fourth in rebounds (900) and 17th in points (1,166).

Karisma Penn scored 13 points against ISU, moving into fourth on the UI freshman scoring list (369). She is also the freshman blocks record holder, with 57 this year.

• Today marked head coach Jolette Law's 100th career game coaching at Illinois. She is 49-51 through three seasons.

• With six blocked shots today, Illinois finishes the season with 206 total blocks. That total ties for the second-highest season blocks total in Big Ten history behind only the conference record of 211 set by the 2006-07 Michigan State Spartans.

• Illinois finished the season winning six of its last eight games. The only losses during that stretch were to No. 10 Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament and on the road at Illinois State in the WNIT Quarterfinal.

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