CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Miami University women’s basketball team was able to cut an 18-point deficit down to only three points in the second half, but could not complete the comeback as it fell to Illinois, 73-60, in the first round of the WNIT on Sunday. The RedHawks finish the season at 19-13, while the Fighting Illini improve to 17-13 and advance to the second round.
Seniors Courtney Osborn and Kirsten Olowinski each had strong performances in their final game in a Miami uniform. Osborn finished with a team-high 19 points, while also dishing out five assists and bringing in seven rebounds. Olowinski just missed a double-double, finishing with eight points and a team-high 14 rebounds.
The RedHawks kept themselves in the game by outrebounding the Fighting Illini, 42-31. That included 14 offensive caroms. Illinois used its athleticism and aggressive defense to force Miami into 26 turnovers, which it turned into 25 points.
It could not have started better for the RedHawks as Osborn found Haley Robertson for a three-point basket to start the scoring. A jumper from Olowinski and another three-pointer from Haley Robertson would give Miami an 8-0 lead and force an early Illinois timeout at the 17:24 mark.
The Illini came out of the break using their aggressive “buzz” defense that is designed to force the opponent into turnovers that they can convert into easy points. While the RedHawks held tough, the defense forced them to miss several shots. Illinois got hot from behind the arc and went on an 18-2 run that gave it an 18-10 advantage with 12:03 remaining in the half.
A three-pointer from McCue stopped the bleeding and started the ‘Hawks on an 8-4 run of their own that was capped by an Olowinski three-point play. Illinois All-Big Ten forward Karisma Penn hit a jumper in the final minute to send Illinois into the break in front, 37-22.
Miami shot 30.0 percent (9-for-30) during the first half, while the Fighting Illini shot 48.4 percent (15-for-31). McCue led the RedHawks with seven points in the period.
Similar to the beginning of the game, Miami came out the aggressors to start the second half. A 9-0 run to begin things cut the Illini lead to 37-31 with 16:59 to go. Osborn scored five points during the stretch, while Olowinski and Hannah Robertson also had baskets.
Illinois ended the run with a three-point basket from Amber Moore. The RedHawks kept fighting as jumpers from Jessica Rupright and Haley Robertson helped make it a four-point contest at 42-38 with 13:52 remaining in the game.
The Illini pushed the lead back to eight at 48-40 at the 13:13 mark. Miami had one last run in it, as jumpers from Hannah Robertson and Osborn would cut the deficit to only three at 51-48 with 10:37 to go. The ‘Hawks shot would go cold as Illinois went on a 14-4 run that would make it 65-52 at the 6:29 mark. Osborn would try to keep Miami in it as she hit eight consecutive free throws down the stretch, but the Illini would not let the score go back under double-digits as they finished off the 73-60 win.
Miami outscored Illinois, 38-36, in the second half. Haley Robertson joined Osborn in double figures with 12 points. The RedHawks shot 33.9 percent (20-for-59) for the game, while the Fighting Illini shot 44.3 percent (27-for-61). Moore led Illinois with 25 points, while Penn contributed 20.