The least-enjoyable part of the Siena women's trip to Champaign, Ill., this weekend?
Surely its game against the University of Illinois.
As coaches like to say ... "bigger, stronger, faster, better."
Those were the advantages Illinois had over the Saints Sunday afternoon, taking an 85-53 victory.
If these eyes are any indication, Illinois was by far the best non-conference opponent a MAAC women's team is likely to play this season.
The Illini are loaded at every position, return every starter from a year ago and added the No. 3 recruiting class in the country. On top of that, they had a game under their belt (an overtime loss at Temple on Friday), so that setback probably provided a little extra motivation for the host team.
Illinois is picked to finish in the upper half of the Big Ten this season, and it's easy to see why. To beat it, opponents will have to handle its speed and athleticism, and Siena struggled with that, committing 31 turnovers in the contest.
Eight turnovers in the game's first seven minutes enabled the Fighting Illini to run out to a 22-8 lead. Siena got to within eight, 42-34, late in the first half and seemed to have somewhat solved the winners' athleticism edge.
And, then, Illinois scored twice at the end of the half on put-backs after the Saints failed to adequately block out, and had a 50-36 lead at the intermission.
Illinois forced more turnovers at the start of the second half and converted most of those opportunities to grab a 72-39 lead before Siena could get anything going again offensively.
The Saints made the trip so that its senior guard, Allie Lindemann, could play a game in her home area.
"It was good to come home," said Lindemann, afterwards. "I've always wanted to play a game on this floor. It meant a lot to me."