Top-seeded WSU Cougars fall in WBIT semifinals to Illinois 81-58

Apr 1, 2024, 4:41 PM

WSU Cougars Illinois WBIT...

Makira Cook of Illinois shoots against the WSU Cougars in the 2024 WBIT semifinals. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Makira Cook scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half and Genesis Bryant finished with 18 points as fourth-seeded Illinois beat the top-seeded WSU Cougars 81-58 in the Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament semifinals Monday night.

Illinois Illini 81, WSU Cougars 58: Box score

Cook and Bryant combined to make 15 of 24 shots from the field and four 3-pointers. Adalia McKenzie added 14 points and Camille Hobby had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Fighting Illini.

Illinois (18-15) faces top-seeded Villanova (22-12) in Wednesday night’s championship game. Illinois won four postseason games in a single tournament for the first time in school history and is chasing the school’s first postseason tourney title.

Astera Tuhina led the Cougars with 20 points. Eleonora Villa added 14 points for Washington State (21-15), which produced a season-low point total. The previous low was 59.

It was never really close as the Illini shot 54% from the field.

Cook made six of her first eight shots to stake the Illini to a 23-14 lead after one and the Illini extend the margin to 42-28 at halftime.

But instead of fighting back, Washington State continued to fade. Illinois opened the second half on a 7-2 spurt, extending the lead to 19, then jumped out to a 54-30 cushion courtesy of Kendall Bostic’s 3-pointer with 5:06 left in the third quarter.

WSU managed to cut the deficit to 60-45 late in the third, but Illinois answered with seven straight and pulled away throughout the fourth.

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