Illini Can't Turn Corner At Michigan, Fall 69-60
Jan. 18, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Illinois pulled within six with 5:47 left in the game but Michigan made 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch and the Illini made just one of their next five field goals as the Wolverines took a 69-60 win at Crisler Center Saturday. Ivory Crawford led the way once again with 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting, Jacqui Grant chipped in 16 and Moore tallied 15 points. Illinois fell to 8-10 on the season, 1-4 in Big Ten play, while Michigan improved to 13-5, 4-1.
"Defensively, I don't think we played with the energy and enthusiasm that we saw Wednesday at Northwestern," associate head coach Mike Divilbiss said. "I think we continue to struggle in the area of giving and investing in your teammates, and playing for each other. It's an area that we've gotten a lot better at, but it's still rearing its head. It's happening less and less, for shorter periods of time. But we didn't play with energy defensively. We played well enough offensively to win but with the number of possessions that there were, we shouldn't have given up 69 points."
Crawford scored 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first half then Grant took over in the second half, putting in 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 3-of-3 three-pointers. For the game, the freshman from Park Ridge, Ill., was 6-of-9 from the floor, 4-of-4 from beyond the arc, and blocked a career-high five shots.
The Illini shot 43.9 percent (25-of-57) from the floor, compared to Michigan's 43.5 percent (20-of-46), but the Wolverines were 20-of-24 from the foul line, while Illinois was just 3-of-7. Illinois out-scored Michigan 26-16 in the paint and 14-6 off turnovers.
The Illini jumped out to a quick 9-4 lead at the 15:21 mark as Ivory Crawford started 3-of-3 from the field and Amber Moore added a trey at 17:27. Crawford made another layup with 14:06 left in the half, then Illinois went cold and the Wolverines reeled off a 14-0 run to pull ahead 18-11. Alexis Smith snapped the run with a driving layup at 8:10, ending Illinois' scoring drought that lasted nearly six minutes, but Michigan scored the next six points before Jacqui Grant drained a trey and a 15-footer to pull the Illini within 24-18 at 4:48.
Illinois switched to its "Buzz" defense and forced turnovers on five straight Michigan possessions, putting together a 9-0 run that cut the Michigan lead to 24-22 at the 3:31 mark and forced a Wolverine timeout. Crawford added another layup after the timeout to make the run 11-0, tying the game at 24, before Michigan's Siera Thompson drained a three in the corner. But Moore answered with a trey of her own and the teams traded baskets to make the score 29-29.
Wolverine guard Nicole Elmblad made 1-of-2 free throws and Shannon Smith drained three free throws to give Michigan a 33-29 lead at halftime. The Illini had 12 first-half points off turnovers compared to four for Michigan and held a 14-4 advantage in the paint, but the Wolverines' 8-of-9 effort at the line - while Illinois didn't attempt a first-half free throw - was the difference at the break.
Illinois came out cold in the second half, missing its first three shots and Michigan got a pair of run-out baskets to push its lead to 37-29, forcing Bollant to call a timeout with 18:06 left. The Illini scored six straight points after that timeout, forcing two turnovers and a missed shot by the Wolverines, but Thompson pushed the Wolverines' lead to 40-35 with her fifth three-pointer at 15:51.
After Crawford made 1-of-2 from the line, Michigan took advantage of four missed shots by the Illini, going on a 9-0 run that expanded its lead to 49-36. After an Illini timeout, Taylor Tuck took her defender off the dribble, made a layup and drew a foul, but wasn't able to convert the free throw. Jacqui Grant collected an offensive board the next time down the floor and put it back, cutting Michigan's lead to nine, but Madison Ristovski drained a trey for a 52-40 Wolverine advantage with 10:59 left.
Michigan built its lead to 59-45 with 7:36 remaining, but a jumper from Taylor Gleason and treys by Moore and Grant cut the margin to 59-53 at 5:47. A pair of free throws by Wolverine guard Shannon Smith pushed the lead to eight and Ristovski drained a trey, moving Michigan's lead back to double digits. Moore drove baseline on the next possession and converted a floater, cutting the margin to 64-55 with 3:28 left.
Michigan made 5-of-6 free throws after the final media timeout, building its lead to 69-55 before Moore made a pair from the line and Grant drained another three with 32 seconds left to pull within 69-60. But it was too little, too late as the Illini fell by that score.
Illinois returns to the state of Michigan on Thursday to take on the Spartans at the Breslin Center at 6 p.m. CT.