STATE COLLEGE, PA. (WCIA) — Ayo Dosunmu may have been a game time decision but when the game was on the line, the Illinois sophomore stepped up once again. Dosunmu scored a game high 24 points, including the final field goal of the game with just 16 seconds left, to give the Illini a four point lead and a 62-56 win at No. 9 Penn State. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for an Illinois team hungry to get its star back.
Dosunmu missed Saturday’s game at Rutgers after going down on the last play at Michigan State exactly one week ago. The Illini’s best player remained a question mark leading into Tuesday night’s game against the Nittany Lions. Dosunmu went through shoot around and pregame warm-ups, then made the start. He went 9-of-15 from the floor, to go along with four rebounds and a steal, showing little to no signs of the injury.
“I mean, I’m not 100% not but at least I know that I’m 200% locked in mentally so I can go out there and give it all for my team,” Dosunmu said. “Having that Mamba Mentality I just knew that our team needed a win, this would be a big win so I just wanted to come out here and do whatever I can to help my team win.”
“Whenever Ayo is on the floor we’re always happy,” Illinois freshman center Kofi Cockburn said. “We trust him. We know that he steps up and he makes tough shots and he makes tough plays. He’s a true leader and a true point guard and we just love when he’s around to give us that confidence, that leadership.”
The Illini (17-9, 9-6 B1G) won their fourth conference road game of the season, tying them with Maryland and Penn State as the only teams in the Big Ten with four. Illinois also snapped a six-game losing skid to the Nittany Lions (20-6, 10-5) that dated back to 2015.
Kofi Cockburn added 14 points and seven rebounds playing just 23 minutes. Penn State star Lamar Stevens was held to 13 points and nine rebounds, he came into the game averaging nearly 18 per game. Illinois head coach Brad Underwood first praised Da’Monte Williams for his defense on Stevens, who missed 8 of his 11 shots.
“Da’Monte didn’t score a point tonight, grabbed four rebounds but I was so comfortable with him on the court guarding him,” Underwood said. “We put a little package together to try to bother him.”
The Illinois win is the first victory over a Top 10 Big 10 team on the road win in 12 seasons. It also snaps an 18-game road losing streak to ranked opponents that dated back to 2012.