CHAMPAIGN — The Fighting Illini women’s basketball team dropped their seventh straight game Monday. The Nebraska Cornhuskers scored 11 of the game’s final 18 points to win 57-53.
Coach Nancy Fahey’s team had given up an average of 81 points in its first six Big Ten games. She was gratified by the improvement on defense.
“We’ve put a lot of time into our defense,” Fahey said. “We’ve struggled offensively, so you want to make sure you’ve done a better job stopping people, keeping their point totals down.”
The Illini also out-rebounded the Cornhuskers 41-36.
“A big emphasis tonight was our boards,” Fahey said. “We improved in that area, but we’ve just got to find some more folks to show up offensively right now.”
Freshman guard Aaliyah Nye returned from a foot injury to score a career-high 15 points in her first game since December 10th, also against Nebraska. She is the second freshman guard named Aaliyah from central Michigan to return from a December 10 injury in as many games, following Aaliyah McQueen’s return against Northwestern last Thursday.
Fahey was glad to have the extra scoring.
“We’ve missed her since she’s been out,” Fahey said. “She just does so many good things for you — expands the floor, hits shots, is very offensive minded. It was a big boost to have her back.”
Nye connected on 3-7 shots from three-point range, and sparked a 9-0 Illini run in the second quarter. She said she was delighted to be back in action.
“It feels great,” Nye said. “I’m glad that my team believes in me to get me the ball, even though I’ve been out for so long.”
Eva Rubin and Kennedi Myles each added nine points for the Illini. Myles grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Sam Haiby scored 22 points to lead Nebraska. Annika Stewart added 12 points off the bench, and Ruby Porter scored 11. Kate Cain led the Huskers with ten rebounds.
Nebraska is now 8-5 on the year, and 6-4 in the Big Ten. Illinois drops to 2-8 overall, and 0-7 in the conference. They’ll have an opportunity to pick up their first conference win when Penn State visits on Thursday. The Nittany Lions are just 1-6 in conference, and 4-7 overall. That game tips at 6:00 PM Central Time.
Rob McColley covers University of Illinois sports for WILL.