Defense Rules Day in 65-47 Win at Northwestern
Jan. 10, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. - Senior guard Adrienne GodBold scored a game-high 20 points and Illinois forced 34 Northwestern turnovers to run away from the Wildcats, 65-47, at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday. The Illini recorded 24 steals - a school record for a Big Ten game and the second-most in Illinois history - on the way to their second-straight conference road victory, something the Orange and Blue hadn't accomplished since 2003-04.
"To go on the road and only shoot 33 percent for the game and win by 18 says a lot for our defense, so I'm really proud of our team," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "We had a lot of players step up. I'm really happy for Adrienne, she probably had 70-100 people here and she kept fighting and battling, and made some plays.
"We did a better job in the 'buzz' (defense), for sure. We made life pretty tough for their point guard. She had eight assists and zero turnovers last week against Indiana, and she had 15 turnovers tonight, so that says a lot for our defense."
Northwestern's 47 points are the fewest by an Illini opponent this season and its 19 first-half points also are a season-low by an Illinois foe. The Orange and Blue limited the 'Cats to 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) shooting from three-point range in the game and 30.8 percent overall from the floor.
In addition to her 20 points, GodBold pulled down eight rebounds and snagged five steals, including three on back-to-back-to-back possessions to start the second half. Amber Moore drained 4-of-9 three-pointers on her way to 16 points, while grabbing six boards, and Karisma Penn scored 13 points, hauled in eight rebounds and recorded six steals.
The Illini out-scored Northwestern 26-18 in the paint and by a 23-13 margin off turnovers. Illinois grabbed the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Penn with 10:02 remaining in the first half and built a lead that grew as large as 21 points with 1:13 left in the game.
The Illini pulled ahead 6-3 at the 15:50 mark by holding Northwestern without a field goal for over three minutes, but the Wildcats' Maggie Lyon tied it up with a three-pointer at the 15:26 mark. Later in the half, with the game tied at 10, Penn drained a pair of free throws then GodBold grabbed a defensive rebound. After she recovered a loose ball on the offensive end, Moore drained a deep two, pushing the Illini ahead 14-10 with 9:20 left.
Moore drained a three to give Illinois a 17-10 lead, missing its next five shots and committing two turnovers as Northwestern climbed back in with a 5-0 run of its own before GodBold drew a flagrant foul and hit 1-of-2 free throws to make the margin 18-15 with 3:34 left.
A three-pointer by Moore put the Illini up by six, but Northwestern drained a pair of free throws after a foul by GodBold. But the Illinois senior responded on the other end, putting in a layup. The Illini couldn't get anything to fall in the last 1:16, though, and the Wildcats hit two more free throws to pull within 23-19, the lowest-scoring half by an Illinois opponent this season.
On Northwestern's first four possessions of the second half, the Illini asserted themselves defensively, with GodBold recording three steals and the Wildcats shooting an air ball that went out of bounds. By the first media timeout of the half, at the 15:51 mark, Illinois had forced seven Northwestern turnovers and held a 28-23 lead.
The Illini went on a tear from that point, out-scoring the 'Cats by a 12-2 mark over the next 2:44 to cap a 14-2 run that gave Illinois a 40-25 lead with 13:07 remaining. The Orange and Blue continued to pressure Northwestern, building the lead as large as 51-33 at the 7:30 mark.
Illinois returns to the Assembly Hall on Sunday for its first home game since Jan. 2 when it hosts Michigan State for the annual "Pack the Hall" game with a 3 p.m. tipoff.