CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Ohio Bobcats came to Champaign looking for a fight. They challenged the No. 8 Illini, who just managed to squeeze out a win. They Bobcat bench was chirpy, but a clutch three-pointer from Da’Monte Williams, and a pair of free throws for Ayo Dosunmu sealed the deal.
Trent Frazier then added some insurance, stealing the Ohio inbound pass, and drawing a foul. The Bobcats proved themselves to be the biggest test so far for the Illini, who won 77-75 for their third win of the season.
“Just going out there and giving it my all, and just putting my team in the best position that we can win,” says Williams. “I feel like that was the biggest thing for me, and just locked in even more on defense, and knocking down shots for us.”
Williams earned his first career double-double, while Dosunmu scored 27 points, also earning his 1,00th career point. This also marked the first time Dosunmu scored 20+ points three games in a row. But overall, head coach Brad Underwood wasn’t pleased with the energy the team showed on the court, who turned the ball over 16 times, costing them 21 points.
“That’ll tell you about where we were at mentally, along with our free throw shooting, that’s about how excited we were to play today, and that’s unacceptable. Give Ohio credit, that was a veteran team who was playing a Top-10 team, and they had every desire to come in here and beat our ass, and almost did,” says Underwood.
Kofi Cockburn earned another double-double, while freshman Adam Miller scored in double figures for the third-straight game. But the star on the court was Ohio’s Jason Preston, who knocked down 31 points to lead the team. He tested the Illini big time, who won their first two games of the season by a 50 point margin or more.
“I like to say this is a blessing in disguise, because you don’t really want to be playing, winning by 30-40, and then you play a good team and face adversity,” says Dosunmu. “So I’m glad we had that. This group of guys, we faced our first piece of adversity.”
A huge test for the Illini will come on December 2nd, when they travel to Indianapolis to face No. 2 Baylor in the Jimmy V. Classic.