In front of the second-largest crowd of the season – an estimated 3,558 people – IU (15-7, 8-5) lost its third consecutive game Sunday, falling 66-59 to Illinois (7-17, 3-10).
The Hoosiers got off to a slow start and found themselves down by 10 points at 6:31 in the first half.
But the team didn’t quit.
The Hoosiers went on a 12-3 run with 2:35 left in the half, cutting the lead to three.
In the second half, the Hoosier came out with more intensity and took a 38-35 lead with 14:03 to play but could not extend the margin.
“We kinda lost our way a little bit,” Legette-Jack said. “I think we got caught up in ‘We got to win, we got to win, we got to win,’ and winning isn’t always about a number on a board. Winning can be about you being able to look in the mirror after the game is over. I think we lost that concept, and we are going to have to figure out how to find it and we will. We certainly will.”
IU’s 19 turnovers also hurt the team.
Junior point guard Jamie Braun, who had nine of them, didn’t think the Illini defense was responsible.
“It really had nothing to do with those guys,” Braun said. “I just wasn’t thinking before I was throwing the ball. I was kinda just going all over the place.”
Illinois was up seven with just more than four minutes to play, but senior Whitney Thomas hit a clutch 3-pointer to cut the lead to four.
Then she committed a costly foul – her fifth – which took her out of the game with 3:24 to play. Illini center Jenna Smith, who led all scorers with 21 points, went to the free-throw line.
Legette-Jack then picked up a technical foul a minute later for arguing with an official.
Thomas finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Her 10 rebounds made her the second player in program’s history to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
Legette-Jack said the accomplishment is not one many athletes attain.
“Only the great ones know how to pursue the hard work of the defense and the pursuit of a rebound and also have the ability to put the ball in the hole,” she said.
Thomas said the team is more important than individual feats.
“We just have to get better, that’s what it comes down to – us getting better and coming together as a team,” she said.
With the three consecutive losses, the Hoosiers will need to find answers before Thursday’s home game against Michigan State.
“My concern is that we don’t lose our spirit,” she said. “The spirit is what guides us and sustains us, and if we drop our spirit because the ball doesn’t go in the hole, then what are we really left with.”
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