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No. 22 Illinois women fend off Michigan State 86-76

Illinois women's basketball team huddle
The five Illinois starters (from left: Brynn Shoup-Hill, Adalia McKenzie, Genesis Bryant, Makira Cook, Kendall Bostic) huddle during their game against Michigan State Sunday evening.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Makira Cook tallied 26 points, Genesis Bryant scored 21 and Adalia McKenzie added a double-double to help No. 22 Illinois beat Michigan State 86-76 on Sunday.

Cook sank 8 of 21 shots from the floor and all 10 of her free throws for the Fighting Illini (17-5, 7-4 Big Ten Conference). Bryant made 5 of 9 shots with three 3-pointers and hit all eight of her free throws. McKenzie contributed 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Kendall Bostic scored 10 and finished a rebound shy of a double-double.

Kamaria McDaniel led the Spartans (11-10, 3-7) with 23 points. Taiyier Parks had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Moira Joiner added 11 points and six rebounds and DeeDee Hagemann had 10 points and eight assists before fouling out.

Hagemann had seven points, McDaniel scored five and Joiner added four as the trio led Michigan State to a 16-13 lead after one quarter.

Jayla Oden came off the bench to score all six of her points in the second quarter and the Fighting Illini used a 10-0 run to grab a 28-22 lead with 4:12 left before halftime. Abbey Kimball hit a 3-pointer to end the run, but Bostic answered with a layup and Bryant buried a 3-pointer to ignite a 9-0 spurt that led to a 37-29 Illinois lead at intermission.

Michigan State battled back in the third quarter, closing to within 53-51 on a three-point play by Hagemann at the 2:49 mark. But Cook hit two free throws and Bostic scored the final six points as the Illini took a 61-52 lead into the final period.

Bryant sank a 3-pointer, McKenzie hit a jumper and Illinois pushed its lead to 66-54 just 63 seconds into the fourth quarter. McDaniel made a 3-pointer to cut the Spartans’ deficit to 76-72 with 1:07 left. Bryant and Cook both went 4 for 4 at the foul line in the final minute to preserve the win.

Illinois shot 51% overall and made 5 of 12 from beyond the arc (42%). Michigan State shot 46% overall but just 30% from distance (8 of 27).

Spartans coach Suzy Merchant didn’t travel with the team following a ‘minor one-car accident due to a medical incident’ on Saturday morning, the school announced. Merchant, 53, is in stable condition and undergoing testing at a local hospital. Dean Lockwood served as interim coach against Illinois.

The Fighting Illini cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 27, 2000, earlier this month under first-year coach Shauna Green.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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