Penn, GodBold Lift Illini Over Badgers, 60-53
Feb. 18, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Senior forward Karisma Penn scored 26 points and added 14 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season, lifting Illinois over Wisconsin 60-53 at the Assembly Hall on Monday. The Illini improve to 15-9 overall, 8-4 in the Big Ten and tied with Purdue and Michigan for third place in the conference standings with four league games remaining.
It marks the first time since 1999-2000 that Illinois is 8-4 in the Big Ten and the win secured a season sweep over the Badgers for the first time since that 2000 conference season. Penn's 26 points are her most since scoring a career-high 34 at Ohio State on Jan. 6 and her double-double is the 40th of her career, tying her for second all-time with Jonelle Polk.
"I've told our team that defense gets off the bus every night and defense can win you basketball games," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "We shot 31 percent from the field, yet we were up 10 or 12 going into the last couple of minutes. That says a lot about our defense and the energy we played with. I thought we set the tone early and came out with a lot of energy in the first half."
Penn and Adrienne Godbold combined to score 42 of Illinois' 60 points on 15-of-33 field-goal shooting, while the rest of the team combined to shoot 6-of-33. The Orange and Blue shot only 31.8 percent from the floor (21-of-66) and 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from three-point range, but held the Badgers to 37.3 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively. They also ended UW forward Jacki Gulczynski's 18-game streak of scoring in double digits as she ended with four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
The Illini got it done on the defensive end, forcing 27 Badger turnovers and collecting 17 steals. Four players had three or more steals, with GodBold and Alexis Smith each snaring a game-high four. They harassed Wisconsin's starting guard trio into 17 turnovers while allowing them to dish only eight assists. Illinois also out-scored UW 24-8 off turnovers and commanded a 30-22 advantage in the paint.
Wisconsin made the game's first shot - a three-pointer by Nicole Bauman - but GodBold answered with a trey on the other end and hit a jumper 80 seconds later to give Illinois a lead it would never relinquish at the 17:49 mark of the first half. The Illini built a 13-5 lead but Wisconsin scored eight of the next 10 points to pull within 15-13 on a jumper by Cassie Rochel with 9:17 left.
Illinois scored the next 13 points over 4:30, though, grabbing a 28-13 advantage as the Illini pressured UW into 4-of-21 shooting in the game's first 17 minutes. But the Badgers fought back late in the half, finishing the first stanza on a 9-3 spurt to pull within 31-22 at intermission.
The Illini increased the lead to 39-24 at the 16:02 mark of the second half, but Wisconsin pulled back into the game with an 11-0 run over 4:15 near the midpoint of the second half, cutting Illinois' margin to 43-40. GodBold quelled the run with a jumper in the paint and Ivory Crawford made a pair of free throws to push the lead back to four.
After Wisconsin's Cassie Rochel converted a three-point play around GodBold's fourth foul, the Illini went on another 13-0 run that made their lead 60-43 with only 3:10 remaining. UW scored the game's final 10 points as Illinois substituted liberally to reach the final 60-53 score.
The Illini have a quick turnaround as they travel to State College, Pa., to face Penn State on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT.