Women's Basketball
Late Surge Gives Illini 76-66 Win Over Gophers

Amber Moore scored Illinois' last nine points as part of a season-high 25 on Sunday.
Amber Moore scored Illinois' last nine points as part of a season-high 25 on Sunday.

Feb. 10, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Junior Amber Moore scored Illinois' last nine points and the Illini finished on a 16-6 run to secure a 76-66 win over Minnesota in front of 2,703 fans at the Assembly Hall Sunday. Moore finished with a game-high 25 points, Karisma Penn added 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Adrienne Godbold posted 20 and 10, respectively, as the Orange and Blue (14-9 overall, 7-4 in the Big Ten) finished the season sweep of the Gophers (15-10, 4-7) following a 91-86 victory in Minneapolis on Jan. 28.

"We told them before the game that (the Play 4Kay initiative) is a great cause to play for and fight for, and to have great joy," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "We're a really good basketball team when we play with joy, we have smiles on our faces and we're excited about our teammates. I thought we did that at the start of the game and down the stretch, which is really pivotal."

The Illini's 7-4 Big Ten record moves UI into a tie for fourth place in the conference standings and is their best at this point of the Big Ten season since the 2000-01 campaign. Illinois has now won four straight games against Minnesota at the Assembly Hall and has forced more turnovers this season (542) than all of 2011-12 (536). The Orange and Blue are now 11-2 when scoring 70-plus points, 10-1 when Moore hits three or more three-pointers and 8-1 when Penn breaks the 20-point mark.

"Obviously, Amber, Adrienne and Karisma were all really fantastic," Bollant said. "They made plays when they had to. Leadership is the ability to make plays when you have to and all three of them led really well, especially late in the game. And I thought Alexis (Smith) did a great job at the point. She got us into our offense and had a poise about her that was important. It was great to have a great crowd - 2,700 fans - and to have them being loud and vocal and passionate about our team was really fun to see."

Illinois led 32-27 at half and maintained that lead through much of the second half. But Minnesota used an 8-3 spurt to tie the game at 58 with 5:54 remaining. The teams traded baskets before Illinois went on a 7-0 run as Minnesota missed six straight shots, putting the Illini up 67-60. The Gophers drew within 67-63, but Moore drained a three-pointer with 1:27 left, then made 6-of-6 free throws in the final minute to put the game away.

Moore hit 6-of-13 from the field - including 5-of-12 from three-point range - and nailed 8-of-8 free throws for her 25 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. Penn made 8-of-13 field-goal attempts and blocked three shots while posting her 11th double-double of the season in a 40-minute effort. GodBold was 9-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the line in her fourth double-double this season, adding three assists and two steals. Smith also controlled the flow of the game well, dishing nine assists with only one turnover.

Illinois out-rebounded the Gophers 34-27 and made 5-of-12 three-pointers after starting the game 0-for-6 from long range. The Illini also out-scored Minnesota in the paint, 34-28, and off turnovers by a 25-18 margin.

In the first half, Illinois used a 7-2 run to open up an 11-6 lead with 14:19 remaining, but Minnesota scored seven straight points over a span of 2:34 to go ahead 19-17 with 6:03 left. But Moore broke a field goal drought of 2:45 with the Illini's first three-pointer of the game, igniting a 10-0 burst that included another trey by the junior sharpshooter.

With Illinois leading 27-22 at the three-minute mark, GodBold made a layup and Moore drained another trey to push the lead to 10. But the Orange and Blue missed their last three shots of the half and Minnesota cut the margin to 32-27 at the break.

The Illini have eight days without a game before returning to the court next Monday, Feb. 18, when they host Wisconsin at the Assembly Hall at 6:30 p.m. That begins a week where Illinois has three games in five days.