P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Brandi Beasley Sr. 5-6 11.6*
G Petra Holesinska R-Jr. 5-10 16.7
G Jada Peebles Fr. 5-10 12.7
F Kennedi Myles Fr. 6-2 11.3
F Ali Andrews Sr. 6-2 13.0
FYI: Jada Peebles and Kennedi Myles continue to reward Nancy Fahey for the trust the third-year Illini coach has placed in the freshmen duo from the beginning of the season. Peebles has turned in efficient shooting efforts in back-to-back games (13 of 22, including 5 of 6 from three-point range) while Myles is averaging a double-double (11.3 points, 10.3 rebounds).
Off the bench
G J-Naya Ephraim So. 5-9 7.0
G Courtney Joens Sr. 5-10 7.7
G Jeanae Terry Fr. 5-11 7.7
*Season average from 2018-19 season
Illinois State (1-1)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Mary Crompton R-Fr. 5-8 2.5
G TeTe Maggett Sr. 5-8 18.5
G Juliunn Redmond Jr. 5-11 6.0
F Megan Talbot Sr. 6-2 3.0
F Lexi Wallen Sr. 6-0 11.5
FYI: It’s a homecoming for Lexi Wallen on Saturday with the 2015 News-Gazette Female Athlete of the Year returning to Champaign. The former St. Thomas More standout has made a successful switch from volleyball to basketball. After a four-year volleyball career at Illinois State, Wallen joined Kristen Gillespie’s women’s basketball program mid-season for the 2018-19 campaign. A season later, Wallen ranks second on the Redbirds in scoring at 11.5 ppg.
Off the bench
G Paige Saylor Jr. 5-5 5.5
G McKenna Sims Fr. 5-8 4.0
F Lexy Koudelka So. 6-2 4.5
Site: State Farm Center (15,544), Champaign.
Radio: Mike Koon will have the call on WDWS 1400-AM.
Online: Stream available on BTN Plus.
Series history: Illinois leads all-time series 21-15.
Last meeting: The Illini lost 69-68 to the Redbirds on Dec. 21, 2012, in Champaign.
FYI: Illinois State has won three of the past four meetings against Illinois, with the Illini’s last win coming Dec. 7, 2011, in Normal, as Ivory Crawford led Illinois with 16 points off the bench in the 66-56 road win.
Joe Vozzelli Jr.’s storylines
Leave it to Beasley
Brandi Beasley was back on the court Friday afternoon putting up shots before Illinois’ practice at State Farm Center. Beasley — who missed the Illini’s first three games in concussion protocol — was cleared to return to the court on Thursday and will make her season debut Saturday against Illinois State. “She’s ready to roll now,” coach Nancy Fahey said Friday of the 5-foot-6 senior guard, who ranked second on Illinois in scoring (11.6 points) last season. “We’re happy to get her back. ... Now, we get some depth back (with Beasley). We can do some different things.”
Jada Peebles’ minutes have steadily increased in her first three games wearing an Illini uniform. The 5-foot-10 guard out of Raleigh, N.C., has started all three games. She logged 22 minutes in the season opener against Chicago State before playing 30 minutes against Holy Cross and lastly 38 minutes against Austin Peay. “It was just playing my game and finding my game within it, and then seeing my role as it came together,” Peebles said of adjusting to college basketball. “Not having a specific role coming in but seeing it as it came through.”
Petra Holesinska’s response to her 0-for-10 shooting performance last Saturday against Holy Cross? The redshirt junior guard out of Vracov, Czech Republic, was back in the gym at Ubben Basketball Complex the following morning. “I think you just have to have the next game mentality to realize games like this are going to happen,” Holesinska said. “I’m glad that it happened this early in the season rather than February or March. It’s just about being confident in what you do.” Holesinska responded in the next game with a team-leading 19 points during a 76-62 home victory over Austin Peay on Wednesday night.
Prediction: Illinois 72, Illinois State 66
Starting fast hasn’t been a problem for Illinois, with the Illini outscoring their first three opponents by a combined margin of 63-25 in the first quarter. But Illinois has struggled to sustain that effort for 40 minutes (as games against Holy Cross and even Austin Peay showed). It won’t be a runaway, but the Illini will improve to 4-0.