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    Wildcats Fall in Big Ten Tournament

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM In her final collegiate game, senior Ifeoma Okonkwo scored 17 of her game-high 26 points in the second half.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    In her final collegiate game, senior Ifeoma Okonkwo scored 17 of her game-high 26 points in the second half.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Illinois Box
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    March 2, 2006

    Box Score

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Senior Ifeoma Okonkwo (Spring, Texas/Klein Oak) left it all on the court, single-handedly keeping Northwestern in the game, but in the end Illinois' balanced attack proved to be too much as the Wildcats fell, 60-49, Thursday evening in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament.

    "I'm very proud of the team," said head coach Beth Combs. "The way we fought tonight was indicative of how far we've come this season."

    Junior A.J. Glasauer (Freiburg, Germany/Theodor Heuss-Gymnasium) rattled off six of NU's first 12 points of the game as the 'Cats trailed 15-12 at the 12-minute mark. The two teams exchanged baskets over the next seven minutes before Illinois closed the half with a 10-2 run that gave the Illini a 30-25 halftime lead. Okonkwo led all scorers at the break with nine points and five rebounds.

    Illinois inflated the lead to 13 points midway through the second half. It was then that Okonkwo stepped up her game. The senior ran off 11 straight, unanswered points to pull Northwestern within two, 45-43, with 6:24 left.

    A layup by Melissa Miller (Bloomington, Minn./The Breck School) locked the score at 45, but that was as close as the Wildcats would get. Illinois answered with a seven-point spurt to push the score to 54-47 with 2:17 remaining and hit its free throws down the stretch to claim the 60-49 win.

    Okonkwo was all over the court diving for loose balls, grabbing rebounds and making hustle plays. She scored 17 of her game-high 26 points (11-of-23) in the second stanza. It was the eighth game this season the senior has eclipsed the 20-point plateau and the 17th time she has scored in double figures.

     

     

    Miller and Glasauer both finished with six points and Glasauer added four assists.