Champaign, Ill. – The Gophers women’s basketball team lost for the fourth time in five games on Thursday night.
And this time, the once-ranked Gophers fell to Illinois, a team that was in an even bigger slump.
The Illini broke a seven-game losing streak with a 95-69 victory over the Gophers at the State Farm Center.
Three players for Illinois (12-11, 3-8 Big Ten) scored 22 points or more.
Sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. had 26 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Gophers (17-6, 6-5).
The home team shot 47.4 percent in the first half to take a 48-36 lead and never trailed in the second half although the Gophers got within three points — the first time at 57-54 and again at 64-61 on Shayne Mullaney’s layup with 10 minutes, 55 seconds left.
But the Illini answered with an 11-0 run to take a 75-61 lead, scoring the final six points on Jacqui Grant’s three jump shots. Illinois also scored the final 12 points of the game.
Grant finished with 29 points, Ivory Crawford with 23 and Kyley Simmons with 22.
This was the second game back for Crawford, Illinois’ leading scorer, who had missed six games because of a knee injury. Crawford also had 11 rebounds and eight assists for a near triple-double.
Illinois shot 45.5 percent, slightly better than the Gophers’ 42.4 percent, but had a 52-30 dominance on the boards.
The only Gophers, besides Zahui, in double figures were freshman guard Carlie Wagner with a career-high 19 points and Shae Kelley, a senior forward, with 10. The bench was scoreless.
Champaign has been a tough place for the Gophers to win in recent seasons. Minnesota beat the Illini 66-61 at the Barn in their only meeting last season, but the Gophers’ last victory on the road in this series was on Jan. 3, 2009.