Joseph Bertrand had a team-high 14 points in Illinois' 78-68 win over Roma Selezione.
Aug. 13, 2011
Rome, Italy -
After two-and-a-half days sightseeing throughout Rome, the Fighting Illini took the court tonight for the first time, defeating Roma Selezione 78-68 in Illinois' first game of its 2011 Italy Tour. As expected, the Illini were rusty early, but used a third-quarter surge where they doubled up the hosts in the scoring column to pull away and earn the 10-point victory.
Coach Bruce Weber started guards Sam Maniscalco, Crandall Head and Joseph Bertrand to go along with Tyler Griffey and Nnanna Egwu. That lineup was based on the players who won the most games in last Saturday's scrimmage at the Assembly Hall. But the plan was to evenly distribute the minutes and it worked, with 11 players logging at least 13 minutes and no one more than 21. If not for foul trouble by freshmen Nnanna Egwu and Myke Henry, those minutes would have been even more equally distributed. Illinois' depth and constant rotation of fresh players to apply pressure defensively took its toll. The Illini grabbed 13 steals and forced 22 turnovers, and held a dominant 43-to-22 advantage on the boards. Neither team shot very well, but the Illini capitalized on its 20 offensive rebounds.
Bertrand led the Illini in scoring, totaling 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He also had a team-high five assists to go along with four boards. Griffey also scored in double figures with 11 and was the UI's top rebounder, grabbing eight boards, including four on the offensive end.
Egwu and fellow freshman Tracy Abrams scored eight points each while Maniscalco, D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul netted four apiece. Rounding out the scoring, Ibby Djimde had five points, Meyers Leonard finished with four, and Mike Shaw added one. Rookies Shaw and Djimde also did well on the glass, grabbing six and five boards, respectively.
The Illini will leave Rome Sunday morning and drive to Florence where the team will stay the next two nights. Illinois' next game is Tuesday in Forli against the New Zealand National Team. Tip-off is scheduled for 11 am Central Time.