Indystar.com says Three games into the Big Ten Tournament, women’s basketball teams that swept regular-season series from their postseason foes have been sent home one-and-done from Conseco Fieldhouse.
Eight-seeded Indiana completed the surprising first-day trend today with a 59-53 loss to Illinois, which had dropped a 13-point game at home to the Hoosiersjust one month ago. IU (14-16) had also defeated the Illini 50-48 in Bloomington, Ind., two months ago.Not this time. Down by as many as 11 points in the second half, the Hoosiers rallied twice to a two-point deficit in the final minute but to no avail. The lllini hit four clutch foul shots in successive possessions then came up with a steal in the final seconds and made two more free throws to clinch it.
Illinois senior center Jenna Smith, an All-Big Ten performer playing with a sore hamstring, dominated IU’s smaller inside players with 23 points and 19 rebounds. She also had four of the team’s nine blocked shots.
The ninth-seeded Illini (16-13) advance to Friday’s third quarterfinal against top-seeded Ohio State (27-4). The 10th-ranked Buckeyes are defending conference tournament champions as well as the No. 1 seeds for a record sixth consecutive postseason. But Illinois upset the Buckeyes and reached the tourney finals as a ninth seed two years ago before losing to Purdue.
The Hoosiers couldn’t generate much offense early except for senior guard Jamie Braun, who had 10 of her 13 points by halftime.
Regular-season leading scorer Jori Davis struggled from the outset with only one first-half field goal. The junior guard, who averaged 16.6 points in the regular season, got hot later on to finish with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting.
IU trailed just 26-25 at halftime despite shooting 28.6 percent (10-of-35) from the field. And it stayed that way. With 1:01 remaining and the Hoosiers trailing 53-48, they had made 20-of-70 field goals for the same shooting percentage.
Earlier in the afternoon, seventh-seeded Michigan knocked off Northwestern 67-54 and sixth-seeded Penn State broke open a close game in the second half for a 63-52 win over Minnesota.
The Wolverines (17-12) advance to the quarterfinal round against second-seeded rival Michigan State (21-8) at 11:30 a.m. Friday. After that, the Lady Lions (17-12) will face third-seeded Iowa (17-12).
Purdue, a seven-time winner of this tournament, is the fifth seed and will try to keep its season alive in an 8:30 p.m. Friday finale against fourth-seeded Wisconsin (20-9). The Boilermakers (14-15) must win this tourney to earn an automatic berth for the NCAA Tournament.
Attendance for the three-game session was announced at 5,438. Four quarterfinal games will be played today. The semifinals are at 5 p.m. Saturday with the ESPN2 title game at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.