ROME -- Illinois fell to the Netherlands National B Team, 82-72, on Saturday night in Rome, concluding its Italy Tour with a 3-1 record.
It was a quick turnaround for the Illini, who bused from Florence to Rome on Saturday to play their fourth game in five days. And they faced the Dutch in the hottest gym of the trip, with the on-court temperature hovering around 95 degrees during warm-ups. The Illini knew they would get their toughest test of the tour in this one, and it was physical and competitive throughout the game – which was stopped several times to reset a malfunctioning scoreboard.
The teams were tied at 20 following the first quarter but Netherlands pushed its lead open in the middle stages of the game, taking a 44-35 lead into halftime and extending it to 15 by the end of the third quarter. The Illini trailed by as many as 20 in the fourth before turning up the defensive pressure to stage a late-game comeback.
Illinois worked the deficit down to 77-70, and following another steal, had numbers in transition to try and make it a two-possession game. But there was a miscommunication on a pass up the court, with the ball sailing out of bounds. Netherlands then converted on its next opportunity, putting the game out of reach.
Illinois got a number of good looks on the night but struggled shooting the ball, making just 38.1 percent from the field (24-63), including 29.2 percent on threes (7-24).
Ayo Dosunmu topped the 25-point marker for the third time on the trip, leading the Illini with a game-high 27 points on 7-of-15 shooting (6-of-10 on twos). He was aggressive going to the basket and drew a number of fouls, racking up 12 of his points at the free throw line on 13 attempts. Dosunmu also led the Illini with six rebounds (tied with Da'Monte Williams) and four assists.
Tevian Jones and Giorgi Bezhanishvili joined Dosunmu in double figures, adding 10 points apiece. Jones went 3-of-7 from the field and knocked down two 3-pointers.
Trent Frazier and Alan Griffin, meanwhile, tallied eight points each.
Assistant Orlando Antigua served as head coach for tonight's game, as Coach Brad Underwood wrapped up his goal of giving each member of the staff the opportunity to lead the team for a game during the tour.
The Illini will spend the next three days sightseeing around Rome – highlighted by tours of the Colosseum and Vatican City – before flying back to the United States on Wednesday.