Illini Can't Overcome Hawkeyes, Lose 69-55
Feb. 13, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Illinois shot 50 percent from three-point range but turned the ball over 21 times and was out-scored by 26 points in the paint as Iowa took a 69-55 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday. Freshman guard Ashley McConnell hit 3-of-5 treys, the first three triples of her career, and led the Illini with 13 points. Amber Moore chipped in 11, including 2-of-4 from long range, and made three steals as Illinois fell to 9-16 overall, 2-10 in the Big Ten.
"Offensively in the first half, we just struggled to get in a rhythm," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "But I thought we played really hard defensively. In the second half, we just needed to get a few more stops and give ourselves a chance to get back into the game and we weren't able to do that. Credit Iowa, they're a really good basketball team. I thought Ashley (McConnell) played her best game of the year offensively and Taylor Tuck gave us a lift, but we need more than two. We just didn't get enough players playing well tonight."
The Illini shot just 29.2 percent (7-of-24) in the first half but held the Hawkeyes to 37 percent (10-of-27), including 1-of-9 (11.1 percent) from three-point range and trailed only 29-20 at the break. But Iowa used a 14-6 spurt near the midpoint of the second half to pull away for its 20th win of the season. Illinois held the Hawkeyes to 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from three-point range but Iowa out-rebounded the Illini 40-23, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Illinois led 5-2 early but had four empty possessions in a row as Iowa used a 10-0 run to go ahead 12-5. A Sarah Livingston jumper snapped the spurt and Alexis Smith drained two free throws as the Illini held the Hawkeyes scoreless for 5:08 before Samantha Logic hit two free throws to push Iowa's lead to 14-9.
Amber Moore drained a pull-up 15-footer to draw within three but Iowa got a run-out and a jumper to push its lead back to 18-11 at the under-8 timeout. The Hawkeyes scored seven straight points, extending their lead to 21-11, before Taylor Tuck hit a jumper from the elbow with 5:40 left.
After Iowa pushed its lead to 25-14, Ashely McConnell canned the first three-pointer of her career and Amber Moore followed by draining her first of the night to pull Illinois within 25-20. But the Hawkeyes scored the last four points of the half to lead 29-20 at the intermission.
Iowa came out of the locker room hot, scoring the first seven points of the half to complete an 11-0 run before McConnell drained a three from the right wing. McConnell hit another trey to pull Illinois within 10 then Iowa sandwiched two layups around a six-foot runner by Ivory Crawford to give the Hawkeyes a 40-28 lead with 14:46 left.
A three-point play by Alexis Smith cut the margin to nine but Iowa scored the next seven points to go ahead 47-31 before Taylor Tuck drained a trey. Smith got a bucket and Amber Moore made 1-of-2 at the line but Iowa scored seven of the next nine points to lead 56-39 with 7:48 left.
McConnell drained two free throws after the under-8 timeout and Moore canned another trey to pull within 59-44, spurring a timeout by Bollant to set up his defense. But Iowa scored the next four points and Illinois never threatened from there as Iowa finished off a xx-5x win.
The Illini host Michigan on Sunday at 1 p.m. for their annual Play 4Kay pink game to help raise awareness for breast cancer.