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Rutgers women's basketball loses Big Ten road opener

Senior center Kassondra Brown's 5 points and four rebounds were not enough as the Rutgers women's basketball team fell to Illinois. – Photo by

The Rutgers women’s basketball team fell to Illinois 80-62 last night. The Knights (4-7, 0-2) were defeated by the Fighting Illini (8-2, 1-1) in their Big Ten Conference road opener, which marked their third consecutive loss and second straight loss against an in-conference foe.

Rutgers took an early lead right from the tip-off on a layup from senior guard Awa Sidibe. A three-pointer by Illinois gave the Fighting Illini the lead for just under a minute until senior center Kassondra Brown got the Knights back on top with a jumper.

The first quarter had a break in scoring from the eight-minute mark up until the halfway point in the quarter. Illinois widened its lead over Rutgers with a jumper from Makira Cook, making the score 7-4.

This is where the Fighting Illini started to widen the lead, leaving the Knights in the dust. Rutgers was severely outscored in the first quarter, only putting up 10 points to Illinois’ 23.

The Knights had a hard time again in the second quarter, only scoring 12 points and finishing the half with 22 points. They collected fewer points in the entirety of the half than the Fighting Illini did in the first quarter alone.

Luckily, Rutgers was able to get out of the scoring rut after the halftime break. Whatever was said in the locker room during the break seemed to work, as the Knights were able to outscore Illinois in the third quarter 21-20 and trail by 1 point with a 20-19 point deficit in the fourth.

Though Rutgers did its best to fight back and managed to get some better scoring chances in the second half, it still wasn’t enough to combat the damage that was done in the first 20. Freshman guard Kaylene Smikle led the Knights in points again with 22 while Sidibe followed with 13 points of her own.

Guard Adalia McKenzie led the Fighting Illini with 22 points on the night and was followed by Cook who scored 20.

Rutgers will look to get back into the win column at the end of the week when it hosts Hampton at home this Saturday. Hopefully, the home-field advantage will be what the Knights need to get off of their losing streak and back into the win column. The game will also be the host of a Holiday Toy Drive at Jersey Mike’s Arena, with the tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. on Big Ten Network+ and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

For updates on the Rutgers women's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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