Penn Propels Illini Past OSU in Columbus, 79-73
Jan. 6, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Senior forward Karisma Penn scored a career-high 34 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to propel the University of Illinois to a 79-73 win over Ohio State, which was ranked No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, in front of 4,516 fans at Value City Arena on Sunday. Penn made a school-record 16 free throws in 17 attempts as part of her second 30-point outing of the year and the Illini were unconscious from the free-throw line, shooting 88.2 percent (30-of-34) from the stripe.
It marked Illinois' first win at Ohio State in 12 years, since a 75-73 victory on Jan. 9, 2001, and snapped the Buckeyes' 31-game home winning streak, which was the second-longest in the nation. Illinois' 79 points were the most OSU has allowed this season and the Illini (8-6 overall, 1-1 in the Big Ten) now have won four of their last six, including a 2-1 record against teams who are ranked or receiving votes in the national polls.
"We've been talking to them about change and trying to get them to believe in themselves and believe that we're different and we're better, and they stepped up and made the plays when they had to," head coach Matt Bollant said of the Illini. "I'm really proud of our team. It was a game where we had to be warriors down the stretch and make plays, and they definitely did that. They competed and battled. Karisma was unbelievable down the stretch and some other people stepped up as well."
Penn, the reigning USBWA, espnW and Big Ten player of the week, has scored 98 points and 55 rebounds in Illinois' last four games, giving her four-game averages of 24.5 points per game and 13.8 rebounds per game. And she has four double-doubles in the last five games, missing the fifth by one rebound against Purdue. Penn also continued to play well in her home state, as she has scored 78 points in three career games in Columbus (26.0 ppg).
Illinois scored 11 of the game's final 17 points, with seven coming from the charity stripe as the Illini went 7-of-8 from the line in the game's final 2:00. The Orange and Blue also came up with key rebounds late, snaring seven of the game's final eight rebounds in the game's final four minutes and 10 of the last 13 over the final 7:25.
"We're just a better team (than in the past)," Penn said. "We're more resilient. We went into halftime feeling like we had played a bad 14 minutes of the first half, so only being down four, we knew that we could play better. And that's exactly what we did."
Illinois led 9-8 at the 15:54 mark of the first half after a tough, physical start to the game, then Bollant called for his team to switch to its "Buzz" defense. The Illini forced turnovers on Ohio State's next three possessions and induced five miscues and three missed shots while allowing only one made shot over the next nine Buckeye possessions as Illinois pulled out to an 18-12 lead that led to an OSU timeout.
The Illini scored the next basket to go up 20-12, but the Buckeyes (10-5, 0-2) reeled off a 16-0 run that gave Ohio State a 28-20 lead at the 3:59 mark. Illinois went without a field goal for 7:42 before Amber Moore hit a three-pointer at 3:40 to bring the Illini within 28-23 at the under-four minute media timeout.
Illinois cut the deficit to two with back-to-back layups late in the first half, but OSU sandwiched a pair of layups around a free throw by Penn to create a 35-31 Buckeye lead at the half.
The Illini used a 6-2 spurt midway through the second half to grab a 43-41 lead, but OSU star Tayler Hill scored the next five points to put the Buckeyes back on top, 46-43, with 13:09 remaining, as Bollant called timeout. After a turnover by the Illini, Hill drained a three-pointer late in the shot clock to extend OSU's lead to 49-43.
With Ohio State up 51-45, Kersten Magrum drew a foul and made both free throws, then Adrienne GodBold rebounded a miss by Hill and went the distance, laying it in to bring the Illini within 51-49. But the Buckeyes held strong for a while, extending their lead to 59-54 at the 5:40 mark.
But that's when Illinois made its run, as Penn scored seven straight points to put the Illini up 61-59. Hill sank a pair from the line to tie the score but GodBold drained a jumper to regain the lead. Hill tied it once again from the line, draining two freebies, but Illinois got three points on its next trip down the floor when GodBold made her first of two free throws and Penn rebounded the missed freebie, was fouled and made her pair from the line, pushing the Illini up 66-63 with 3:43 left.
But GodBold fouled out the next trip down the floor and OSU's Darryce Moore hit two free throws, bringing the Bucks within one. Taylor Tuck put up a three that missed, but Penn grabbed the offensive board and put it in. Moore made a layup on the other end, cutting the Illinois lead to 68-67 with 2:48 left.
Ohio State's Moore lost her cool soon after that, though, missing a layup the next trip down the floor then fouling out and drawing a technical foul for slamming the ball to the court. Amber Moore made 1-of-2 of the technical free throws, then Penn drained both from the stripe, pushing Illinois to a 71-67 lead.
OSU missed a three and Penn grabbed the board, then the Illini worked it in to Penn, who laid it in for a six-point Illinois advantage with 1:21 remaining. Hill nailed a three and Tuck missed a layup, but Penn again grabbed the offensive board and put it back for two. Then Hill drew a foul and missed both free throws, an oddity as she had made 49 of her 50 prior attempts before that.
Moore rebounded Hill's second miss and was fouled, then calmly sank both of her attempts from the line. OSU's Maleeka Kynard hit a three to bring the Buckeyes within 77-73 with 15 seconds left, but Moore was fouled off the inbounds play and drained two more freebies for the final 79-73 margin.
Illinois returns to action Thursday when it travels to Evanston to face Northwestern at 7 p.m., before hosting Michigan State on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m. in the annual Pack the Hall game, where all fans receive free admission.