Brandon Paul scored a game-high 19 points in the victory over Fulgor Omegna.
Aug. 19, 2011
Verbania, Italy -
Illinois closed out its trip to Italy in dramatic fashion with a come-from-behind 89-85 overtime victory over Fulgor Omegna Thursday night. The Illini finished their tour with a 3-1 record in full games and also defeated West Virginia in a 20-minute scrimmage and the Aviano Airmen Varsity in a 10-minute scrimmage.
Tonight the Illini found themselves in a back-and-forth game against Omegna, with the teams exchanging leads 12 times and tying on another 10 occasions. Illinois had the same scenario late as it faced versus the New Zealand National Team on Tuesday, trailing by four points late in regulation. And just like against New Zealand, the Illini scored the final four points against Omegna to force overtime. Tonight they came on a pair of offensive rebound dunks, first by Meyers Leonard with 20 seconds left to bring the Illini within two, and next by Crandall Head to tie the game at 78 with :13 remaining.
But while the Illini were unable to defeat New Zealand in overtime - falling on a last-second putback - this time the Illini finished the job. Brandon Paul made a jumper to break an 81-all tie midway through the extra period, and the Illini scored three straight points at the line following one free throw by Omegna to make the score 86-82 with 46 seconds remaining. Head then hit the shot of the game, nailing a 3-pointer from 27 feet as the shot clock expired to put the Illini ahead by seven points with only seconds left, clinching the victory.
Paul was the UI's top scorer for the second time on the trip, registering 19 points. He also had a game-high four steals. Tyler Griffey reached double figures for the fourth time in the four 40-minute games, scoring 15 points. Griffey had a double-double against Omegna, grabbing a game-high 10 boards, the highest rebounding total by a UI player on the trip.
A total of four Illini scored in double figures on the evening, with Head and freshman Tracy Abrams adding 11 points each. Abrams also tallied three steals.
Rounding out the scoring, D.J. Richardson had nine, Leonard and Nnanna Egwu had six each, Sam Maniscalco had five, Mike Shaw had four, and Myke Henry added 3. Leonard had a game-high four blocked shots, while Maniscalco added three steals.
The Illini are scheduled to return to campus Saturday night. UI fall semester classes begin on Monday.