Women's Basketball
Illini Fight but Fall Short in 66-61 Loss to Gophers

Amber Moore finished with 15 points, one of four Illini in double figures on Sunday.
Amber Moore finished with 15 points, one of four Illini in double figures on Sunday.

Feb. 9, 2014

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MINNEAPOLIS - Illinois led by seven with 4:10 remaining but Minnesota finished the game on a 17-5 run to pull out a 66-61 win over the Illini at Williams Arena on Sunday. Ivory Crawfordled four Illinois players in double figures with 18 points but she missed two-and-a-half minutes down the stretch after taking a blow to the face in a scrum under the basket.

"We really fought for 38 minutes and did a lot of good things, then it felt like we got caught up in the outcome a little bit down the stretch," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "Give Minnesota credit. (Rachel) Banham hit some big shots and (Amanda) Zahui (was tough) inside. Those two were a little too much for us down the stretch. But I thought Sarah Livingston stepped up. Amber (Moore) played a good first half and Ivory played great in the second half. And Livingston and Taylor Gleasonmade some big shots for us, too."

Crawford had 18 points in 25 minutes, making 5-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the arc. She added six rebounds and four blocks. Moore chipped in 15 and added four assists and two steals, while Gleason scored 11 points, including two treys. Livingston rounded out the Illini in double figures with 10 on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-2 from three-point range.

Illinois shot 35.1 percent (20-of-57) for the game but was 1-of-5 with two turnovers in the final three minutes. The Illini made 13-of-14 (92.9 percent) from the charity stripe but made just 29.6 percent (8-of-27) from behind the arc. Minnesota shot 48 percent (24-of-50) for the game, including 13-of-21 (61.9 percent) in the second half. The Gophers made 4-of-6 three-pointers in the second half and were 6-of-15 for the game. Minnesota also out-rebounded the Illini 38-27, but Illinois forced 21 turnovers while committing only 14.

The Gophers started hot, leading 9-2 just over three minutes into the game. But the Illini fought back, pulling within 16-12 before the Gophers scored four straight points to go ahead 20-12. The score stuck there for over three minutes before Minnesota's Rachel Banham drained two free throws.

But Ivory Crawford responded with a driving layup and Amber Mooredrained a three-pointer, pulling Illinois within 22-17. With their "buzz" defense flustering the Gophers, Crawford drained a pair at the free-throw line, cutting Minnesota's lead to three at the final media timeout of the half. During a stretch of 4:42, Illinois held the Gophers to 1-of-5 from the field and forced three turnovers to get back in the game.

After the timeout, Illinois worked its offense and found Crawford in the left corner for a three-pointer, tying the game 24-24. Minnesota snapped the Illini's 12-2 run with a three-point play by Amanda Zahui B., but Crawford hit two more free throws then Illinois forced a turnover by Banham and Amber Moorebanked in a running 12-footer with three seconds left to give the Illini their first lead of the game, 28-27, at intermission. Moore led Illinois with 11 points in the first half and Crawford added nine.

Minnesota scored the first five points of the second half but a sideline trap by the Illini forced a Gopher timeout with 17:38 remaining. A three-pointer by Banham put Minnesota up 35-30 but Sarah Livingstonand Crawford each hit a jumper to pull the Illini within one. After the Gophers got a run-out lay-up, the Illini went on a 9-2 run to pull ahead 43-39 after Livingston drained a trey.

After a missed shot by the Illini, Minnesota's Micaella Riché grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Nia Oden, but Riché elbowed Oden in the mouth and was assessed a flagrant foul after the officials reviewed the play. Moore drained both free throws then Taylor Gleasonwas fouled on the inbounds play and made 1-of-2, pushing the lead to 46-39.

A Gopher jumper snapped Illinois' 16-4 run then Banham drained a corner three after a media timeout. But Livingston answered with her second trey of the game from the top of the key, pushing the Illini lead back to 49-44 with 7:15 left. Banham cut Illinois' margin to two with a three-point play but the Orange and Blue responded with a 7-0 run that consisted of a six-foot runner by Crawford, a trey from the right win by Crawford and a pull-up 17-footer by Moore to go up 56-49. Banham drained a trey from the top of the key but Gleason responded with an 18-footer from the right corner, pushing Illinois' lead to 58-52 with 3:45 left.

Livingston blocked a shot by Zahui B. but the Gophers' Stabresa McDaniel gathered the loose ball and laid it in, pulling the Gophers within 58-54 with 3:26 to go. Crawford was hurt on the play and had to leave the game, and the Gophers scored the next eight points to pull ahead 62-58 with 54 seconds left.

Gleason stemmed the tide with a trey from the left corner, pulling Illinois within 62-61, but the Gophers got an open layup for Zahui B. on the other end, pushing their lead to 64-61 with 23.5 remaining. The Illini called timeout with 10.7 seconds on the clock to reset the offense and Gleason was bodied up on a high hedge by Zahui B. off the inbounds play, she lost the ball and Minnesota hit two free throws to seal it, 66-61.

Illinois' next game is Thursday at Iowa at 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.