CHAMPAIGN, ILL. – In a game that was back and fourth throughout, the Merrimack College women’s basketball team fell just short of beating the University of Illinois on Tuesday night. Senior Denia Davis-Stewart earned her sixth double-double of the season after scoring 26 points and pulling in 15 rebounds. Freshman Diamond Christian added a career-high 13 points off the bench in the loss for the Warriors. Grad student Courtney Clasen and sophomore Kate Mager chipped in with 10 and nine points each. Tonight, was the first time that Merrimack College has played a Big Ten opponent in women’s basketball. With the loss, the Warriors move to 5-4 on the season.
Score: Merrimack 72 , Illinois 75
Records: Merrimack (5-4) |Illinois (7-2)
Location: State Farm Center | Champaign, Ill.
- The Warriors opened up the game on a 12-8 run highlighted by seven points by Davis-Stewart which included a three. The Illini cut the first quarter lead to one after a three that found the bottom of the net by Brandi Beasley. A Davis-Stewart jumper with 29 seconds put the Warriors up four heading into the second quarter.
- With just over eight minutes left in the second quarter Merrimack took a six point lead off of two buckets by junior Alyssa Casey and Christian. Illinois tied the game up at 23 after a jump shot by Kennedi Myles. Towards the end of the quarter senior Emily Houle, Mager, and Clasen hit three balls on three straight possessions that put the Warriors up one heading into the locker room.
- Both teams went blow for blow for the first five minutes of the quarter until Illinois jumped out to a five-point lead after a jumper by Ali Andrews. Merrimack answered back two minutes after with a three ball by freshman Jayme DeCesare tied the game up. Illinois then went on a 5-0 run with 1:30 remaining in the quarter. Merrimack answered back once again with a Clasen jump shot and a Christian three.
- In the fourth, Merrimack took an early one-point lead on a Davis-Stewart jump shot. Illinois then rattled off eight straight points to take a 68-60 lead with 4:32 left in the ball game. A Davis-Stewart three put the Warriors down three with just under two minutes remaining. Merrimack began to foul down the stretch. After a missed free throw by Illinois, Mager came down the other end and knocked down a three to put the Warriors within one with eight seconds remaining. Merrimack fouled Petra Holesinska. She knocked down both free throws. Merrimack called a timeout down three. Mager got the shot off as time expired, but could not find the bottom of the net.
Notes and Numbers
- With her sixth double-double tonight, Davis Stewart ranks tied for sixth in the country in the category.
- The Warriors knocked down 13 out of 31 threes, which was good enough for 42% from long range. In addition, they also shot 46% from the field.
- Before the Warriors started for foul down the stretch, Davis-Stewart was the only Merrimack player to commit a foul during the game.
The Warriors host UMass Lowell next Saturday in their last game before Christmas break. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.