Cold Shooting Derails Illini Against #16 Nebraska
Jan. 12, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Unusually cold outside shooting prevented Illinois from upsetting No. 16 Nebraska in Sunday's Pack the House game, as the Huskers simply out-shot the Illini on the way to a 75-56 victory in front of a season-high 3,306 fans at State Farm Center Sunday. During the game, the crowd broke the world record for the most people wearing paper crowns in one place, as approximately 1,800 fans donned the colorful crowns that were distributed as fans entered the arena.
Junior guard Ivory Crawford led the way for Illinois with 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting and freshman forward Jacqui Grant scored 15 on 6-of-11 from the field, but the rest of the squad shot just 9-of-34 (26.4 percent) from the field, and the team shot 2-of-27 (7.4 percent) from three-point range. Crawford is now averaging 21.8 points per game over the last four
"We got off to a poor start then really busted our butt and played hard the rest of the half to kind of get back in the game and cut it to four (at halftime)," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "At the start of the second half, they made a little run, then we cut it back to six. Then I think we let the fact that we missed some shots and missed a lot of open threes affect our energy. We just didn't defend in the second half the way we did in that first half. But I'm proud of Ivory; she really battled and competed. And Jacqui did some good things as well. We just didn't have a great effort top to bottom."
The Illini forced 18 Husker turnovers, three more than their season average entering the game, but converted only 13 points off those miscues, while Nebraska scored 18 points off 15 Illinois turnovers - including 16 off UI's seven second-half bobbles. Nebraska also shot 47.2 percent from the field and 90 percent (18-of-20) from the free-throw line, making more from the stripe than the Illini attempted. In the second half, the Huskers shot 56.7 percent, including 64.7 percent (11-of-17) inside the arc.
Illinois struggled offensively from the jump, missing its first four shots and 10 of its first 12 as Nebraska ran out to a 15-4 lead at the 10:14 mark. But the Illini finally got a few shots to fall as Alexis Smith penetrated the Husker zone and made a layup, then Crawford hit a jumper in the paint. Crawford knocked down another jumper and Grant hit one with 7:32 to pull the Illini within 19-12.
Nebraska expanded the lead to 11 with 3:50 left but Illinois held NU to only two points the rest of the half, as the Huskers shot 1-of-4 from the field and made four turnovers over that span. The Illini capitalized, with Grant and Crawford combining for a 9-2 run to finish the half and trail only 26-22 at intermission.
Amber Moore knocked down the Illini's first trey of the afternoon - after the team went 0-for-14 from beyond the arc in the first half - but Nebraska went on a 6-2 spurt after that to lead 35-27. A Nia Oden jumper brought the Illini within 37-31 with 14:38 remaining but Nebraska scored the next six points and eight of the next 10 to pull ahead 45-33. Crawford tried to keep the Illini in the game, scoring the team's next seven points, but the Huskers used a 7-0 spurt over 1:50 to go ahead 59-41 with 7:49. Illinois never got closer than 15 after that and Nebraska led by 21 before Taylor Gleason hit a late jumper for the final 75-56 margin.
The Orange and Blue return to action on Wednesday when they head to Evanston to face Northwestern. The game will begin following the Wildcats' men's basketball game against Michigan State, which tips off at 6 p.m., giving the women's game an approximate starting time of 8:30 p.m.