Bostic/Cook/Bryant Lead Illini to WBIT Championship

Bostic/Cook/Bryant Lead Illini to WBIT Championship

by: Steven Stremming, Excel H Sports/United States Basketball Writers Association

How do you describe the Inaugural WBIT Women’s basketball championships?

Well, if you were in Indianapolis, Indiana, Monday and Wednesday of this week at the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse and were able to see the joy and effort placed by all four semifinalist teams and a raucous crowd each night, that answer would be HUGE SUCCESS.

Monday, Illinois downed Washington State and Villanova downed Penn State to reach last night’s grand finale at Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University.

Last night, it was a game of runs in the first half.

The game started with a onslaught of offense from Head Coach Shauna Green’s Illini and then a counter punch from Denise Dillon’s Wildcats.

One of the largest keys to the game were the first half fouls committed by Makira Cook, Senior, Cincinnati, Ohio, which benched her for a substantial part of the half.  We’ll get back to Cook in a bit.

Putting the Illini down by three at the half to Villanova, 32 to 29.

The Wildcats first half lead was largely due to Junior, Lucy Olsen, Collegeville, Pennsylvania. as she scored 16 of those 22 points. Look for Olsen to be on many pre-season All America lists next season. She can flat play the game.

With Kaitlyn Orihel, Jr, Newton, Pennsylvania, having an off-shooting night, Moorestown, New Jersey’s, Bella Runyan and Doylestown, Pennsylvania’s, Senior Maddie Burke stepped up and met the challenge by canning long range jumpers and short spot up jumpers.

The third quarter was the decisive quarter in the game as Shauna Green dispatched Adalia McKenzie, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Junior to play defense on Olsen. In fact, in the presser after the game Green commented, “I told her I don’t care if you score another point, guard her (Olson).

And McKenzie did as she and her Illini teammates held Lucy to just six points.

For the Illini, the third quarter was the emergence of Cook, who was saddled with two first half fouls.

Cook took control of the tempo of the game and played with fire as she scored 22 points after the break.

While Cook and Genesis Bryant, Senior, Jonesboro, Georgia were leading the team from their guard positions, Kokomo, Indiana’s, Senior, Kendall Bostic, was as usual, efficient on both ends of the floor.

Bostic came out in the third quarter and continued her sizzling shooting and controlling the boards, much as she did against Washington State on Monday.

Illinois in the second half of the WBIT Championship game outscored the Wildcats, 42 to 25.

For the night, Illinois was led by Cook’s 27 points, five assists, and nine of seventeen shots from the field including a stellar five of six from behind the arc.

Bryant scored 17 on six of thirteen from the floor, five rebounds and four assists.

Bostic was seven of ten from the floor, 15 rebounds, including three offensive boards and 15 points on the night.

Camille Hobby has to be mentioned also with an eight-point scoring night and ten boards.

For Villanova, the aforementioned Lucy Olsen lead the way with 22 points, five assists, six rebounds but Illinois forced Olsen to shoot 25 times for the game.

Bella Runyan would be the only other double-digit scorer for the Wildcats with eleven.

Illinois end the season with their first ever championship in Women’s basketball and a 19 and 15 mark.

Villanova ends their season with a 22 and 13 mark.

The WBIT All-Tournament team is as follows:

Makira Cook, Illinois, Most Outstanding Player

Genesis Bryant, Illinois

Kendall Bostic, Illinois

Lucy Olsen, Villanova

Leilani Kapinus, Penn State

It was a solid, well ran tournament by the NCAA, Indy Sports Corp and Butler University. I heard many fans, media and photographers speak glowingly of the inaugural event.


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