Iowa 69, UI women 56
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jolette Law's college homecoming didn't have a storybook ending.
Returning to the school where she earned four Big Ten titles as a player, Law watched her Illinois women's basketball team falter in the final 10 minutes of a 69-56 loss to Iowa on the Hawkeyes' Senior Night.
"It was very emotional (to) hear the fans cheering for me and to look up and see those banners hanging," Law said. "Iowa will always be a special place for me because this is where I got my start, but it was bittersweet coming back tonight because I think our team had an opportunity to get a win and didn't."
Illinois cut a 17-point deficit to four with 9:57 to play on Fabiola Josil's three-point play. But the Hawkeyes weren't threatened further, pushing the lead to 10 less than two minutes later.
"When we were making our run and got it down to four in the second half we made a couple crucial mistakes that gave Iowa extra chances. Just like that, it was back to 10," Law said. "We needed to play with a sense of urgency and continue attacking when we had them on their heels."
Jenna Smith led Illinois with 20 points and eight rebounds. Josil shot 6 of 7 and finished with a career-high 13 points. Lacey Simpson added 10 points, nine rebounds and four as- sists.
With one regular season game remaining – Sunday at Minnesota – the Illini appear headed for the 8 vs. 9 game in the Big Ten tournament next Thurs- day in Indianapolis, likely against Wisconsin. Illinois will finish as the No. 9 seed – the same seed it was a year ago – unless it loses at Minnesota while Michigan wins at Indiana. In that case, Illinois will go to Conseco Fieldhouse as the No. 10 seed.
Iowa moved into a third-place tie with Michigan State, which lost at home Thursday to Minnesota.
The Hawkeyes got 13 points and 11 rebounds from Kachine Alexander, who is waged in a tight battle with Simpson for the Big Ten's rebounding lead. Alexander had the lead entering Thursday's play with 155 (9.7 average). Simpson, who had 154 coming in (9.6 average), was tied with Ohio State's Jantel Lavender for second place.
Kamille Wahlin added 13 points for the Hawkeyes, and Wendy Ausdemore chipped in 10.