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CHAMPAIGN — It might be the grimmest number on the ledger of the Illinois women’s basketball team.
When Matt Bollant’s bunch has trailed at halftime this season, its record was 1-11.
It’s not a place the Illini team wants to find itself, but that was the reality Monday night in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament: Eastern Illinois 29, Illinois 26.
Final: Illinois 62, Eastern Illinois 54
The Illini outscored Eastern Illinois 15-8 over the final seven minutes to secure a second-round WNIT victory Monday night at the Assembly Hall.
Illnois (18-13) advanced to a third-round matchup against Toledo. The location, date and time of that game are expected to be announced later tonight.
If you need a reprieve from basketball madness, the following is the latest on Tim Beckman’s attempt to resurrect a listing Illini football ship.
How about some good news:
Illinois vs. Eastern Illinois
7 p.m. today
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith So. 5-9 6.7
AUSTIN, Texas — Former Illinois star Stephen Bardo went on record last year to say he felt like the Illini quit on Bruce Weber and his staff at the end of the season that resulted in Weber being fired.
Bardo didn’t have great expectations for the Illini entering the season because of the way things unfolded a year ago, but he’s convinced the program is in good shape under John Groce.
Thanks to former Illini softball star Shanna Diller, I attended the Texas-Baylor softball game on Sunday. It was 50 degrees at first pitch and the folks in the stands were bundled up like I expect you all who are dealing with the snowstorm back home. A local weather person made reference to a “cold front.” These people don’t know how good they have it.
John Groce’s Illini saved their best for last.
In the center ring of basketball’s March Madness on Sunday, Brandon Paul and the Illini came within 64 ticks of joining the lineup of Cinderellas — La Salle, Wichita State, Florida Gulf Coast, Oregon — in the NCAA round of 16.
AUSTIN, Texas — Just like he did after the Senior Day win against Nebraska, Brandon Paul kneeled on the court Sunday night at Texas’ Erwin Center, head buried in his jersey wiping away tears. The moment three weeks ago was celebratory.
For large stretches, Illinois looked like the better team. The team that would head back to snowy Champaign-Urbana with a Sweet 16 date in Washington, D.C., this week. But Shane Larkin and Co. assured Illinois would return home to watch the rest of the NCAA tournament instead of preparing to play in it.
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
AUSTIN, Texas — Shane Larkin hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left and Miami kept possession on a ball knocked out of bounds that probably should have gone to Illinois, helping the Hurricanes hold on for a 63-59 victory Sunday night to advance to the NCAA round of 16.