Home Official News Releases Bulldogs fall in WNIT second round to Fighting Illini, 48-44

Bulldogs fall in WNIT second round to Fighting Illini, 48-44

photo of Jill Martin
Jill Martin

ILL. –- A remarkable season for the Drake women’s basketball team came to a
close on Monday, March 24, when the Bulldogs were defeated by Illinois, 48-44, in
the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

A pair of free
throws made by Lacey Simpson with four seconds remaining propelled Illinois to
their victory over the Bulldogs.

Drake set the
stage for a dramatic ending in the affair as senior Lindsay Whorton
(Independence, Mo./Truman) brought Drake to within one, 45-44, on a jumper in
the lane with 43 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs
denied the Fighting Illini on the ensuing possession but the rebound on Lori
Bjork’s three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining went off a Drake defender and
kept the ball in the hands of Illinois.

Having been
whistled for only one foul up to that point in the second half, the Bulldogs
were forced to commit six fouls just to send Illinois to the line.

The strategy
almost worked as Bjork made her first free throw with six ticks left before
missing the second. The loose-ball rebound fell into the hands of Simpson who
secured the win with her heroics at the line.

The Bulldogs
concluded their campaign at 23-11 following the setback, while Illinois moved
onto a third-round date with Marquette at 20-14.

“I’m really
proud of the way we defended tonight as we did an excellent job of executing
our game plan” Drake head coach Amy Stephens said. “We knew how hard it would
to score offensively but we still put ourselves in position to win the

Drake finished
the contest shooting 35.2 percent, while Illinois exited the contest connecting
on 42.9 percent of its attempts.

Jordann Plummer’s (St. Louis, Mo./Cardinal Ritter) 11 points directed the
Bulldog attack. Senior Jill Martin (Norwalk, Iowa/Norwalk) finished her
record-setting Drake career with 10 points, including a team-high six rebounds.
Whorton added nine points in her final tilt as a Bulldog.

Simpson paced
all scorers with 14 and she was joined in double figures by Chelsea Gordon and
Jenna Smith with 10 points apiece.

registered a 35-28 advantage on the boards, which converted in a 28-18 scoring
margin in the paint.

committed only 12 turnovers, including only three in the second half, while
forcing the Fighting Illini into 16.

After a slow
start which saw the Bulldogs fall behind 8-0, Drake on the strength of baskets
from five different players went on a 12-0 run to assume a 12-8 advantage at
the 10:16 mark.

The Fighting
Illini went back ahead 15-12 before Martin hit her second first-half
three-pointer to knot the contest at 15.

From there,
the two sides exchanged baskets before Illinois closed the initial stanza on an
8-0 run to take a 25-19 halftime lead.

Drake finished
the first half shooting 33.3 percent, while the Fighting Illini connected on
42.9 percent of their attempts.

Martin paced
all scorers in the first 20 minutes with eight points.

After a Gordon
basket to start the final 20 minutes gave Illinois an eight-point lead, 27-19,
the Bulldogs rattled off six unanswered points to cut the margin to 27-25.

The Fighting
Illini fired back a run of their own as Illinois went on an 8-0 skein to take a
37-27 lead with 13:18 remaining.

The Fighting
Illini went 7-for-10 to start the final half before the Bulldogs defense went
to work holding Illinois without a field goal on eight straight possessions,
while going on a 12-4 run to shrink the margin to two, 41-39, with 3:27

A Smith jumper
at the 3:15 mark ended a 7:40 stretch without a field goal for the Fighting
Illini and put Illinois ahead, 43-29, setting the stage for the action of the
final minute.