Illinois’ miracle run through the Big Ten women’s tournament is over.
The slipper was finally removed from the foot of the weekend’s Cinderella in a 79-64 loss to Penn State.
Illinois shocked the league with surprise wins over sixth seed Wisconsin and third-seeded Michigan on Thursday and Friday.
Heading into the tournament, Illinois hadn’t won a game in a month in a half. They were close with single digit losses at Northwestern and in the regular season finale against Michigan, but when the final buzzer sounded, the Illini always fell short.
At Conseco Fieldhouse they found their rhythm and were within two of Penn State at the half, but the Lady Lions defense and points in transition ultimately wore down the Illini.
Penn State went on a 17-1 run midway through the first half, before Illinois answered with a 16-2 run to end the period, cutting the deficit to 35-33.
In the second half, Penn State used a full court trap which slowed the momentum Illinois built up before the break.
Maggie Lucas led the Lady Lions with a game-high 23 -points. The conference’s Freshman and Sixth Player of the Year was 5-of-9 from behind the arc and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
Julia Trogele chipped in 20.
Illinois got double-digit performances from freshman Amber Moore and Adrienne Godbold who scored 19 and 16, respectively.
As a team, the Illini shot just 39-percent from the field and turned the ball over 17-times compared to just 12-assists.
Penn State will face the winner of top-seed Michigan State and fifth-seeded Ohio State, Sunday. The Spartans and Buckeyes are playing in the night cap at Conseco Fieldhouse.