Leathernecks surge late to topple Illini

Leathernecks surge late to topple Illini

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois turned a second-quarter deficit into a double-digit lead with a 19-0 run Tuesday against Western Illinois.

Giving up a similar run in the fourth quarter proved the Illini's undoing in Western Illinois' 77-67 win at State Farm Center.

"We gave away too many transition shots and open looks to a team that does that well," Illinois coach Nancy Fahey said. "I thought our execution offensively was good at times and then it dipped later in the game and we gave them second shots. We're not going to wash this away. We're going to learn from it."

The Leathernecks (4-1) finished the final three minutes, 44 seconds on a 15-2 run as Illinois (3-2) had a dozen turnovers in the second half and committed several costly mistakes in the closing minutes of the game. Western Illinois converted those into points with 15 points off turnovers in the second half after posting zero in the first two quarters.

Kennedy Cattenhead sparked Illinois' second- quarter run and made all six of her shots in the first half. The redshirt senior guard led the Illini with 18 points, while Brandi Beasley (12 points), Petra Holesinska (11 points) and Alex Wittinger (10 points and 12 rebounds) rounded out Illinois' top scorers.

Western Illinois' 10-point victory was its first against a Power 5 opponent since Dec. 23, 2005. Taylor Higginbotham hit 5 of 6 three-pointers and led the Leathernecks with a game-high 24 points.

That was only part of Western Illinois' own quartet of double digit scorers. Olivia Kaufmann — the niece of former Illini great Andy Kaufmann — had 13 points for the Leathernecks, and Emily Clemens had 11 points on the strength of 8 of 12 free throw shooting.

Illinois will be back in action at 5:30 p.m. Friday against UC Irvine in its first game of the New Mexico Thanksgiving Tournament.Taylor Hanneman was 5 of 8 from beyond the arc for Western Illinois and chipped in 19 points.