Illini Drop Border Battle to Hoosiers, 79-61
Feb. 22, 2014
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Illinois fell behind early and never was able to completely dig out of the hole as Indiana pulled away for a 79-61 win at Assembly Hall on Saturday. Ivory Crawford led the Illini with 11 points and seven rebounds, and Nia Oden chipped in 10 points and eight boards in 18 minutes off the bench.
"We just didn't get enough stops," head coach Matt Bollant said. "We're fairly athletic but we aren't very proactive. We really struggle to see what's happening in front of us and we're a step behind a lot. Even though we're trying to hustle and trying to play with energy, we just don't see the play a step ahead of time and that really hurts us. We end up being reactionary and giving up too many good shots. I was really proud of Nia. She played with a lot of energy - had 10 points and eight rebounds - and gave us a lot of life. But we need more than one or two players playing well, and we didn't have that today."
The Illini (9-18 overall, 2-12 in the Big Ten) shot just 37.5 percent (24-of-64) from the field and 25 percent (5-of-20) from three-point range, while Indiana (18-9, 5-9) hit 57.7 percent (30-of-52) of its shots and 52.9 percent (9-of-17) of its three-pointers. The Hoosiers out-scored Illinois 42-32 in the paint and 27-11 off turnovers, as IU did most of that damage off the Illini's 13 first-half miscues.
With the Illini only down two early in the game, Indiana sandwiched two three-pointers around an Illinois miss. Then IU guard Taylor Agler picked Alexis Smith's pocket and got a fast-break layup to push the Hoosiers ahead 14-4 and force an Illini timeout with 15:32 left.
The run extended to 14-1 before Ashley McConnell drained a corner three at the 12:48 mark. That ignited a 7-0 Illini run that pulled Illinois within 20-12 at the under-12 media timeout. But Indiana responded by scoring the next five points as both teams' execution dropped off a bit up to the 7:27 mark.
Indiana led 25-16 before going on a 6-0 spurt. But Illinois answered with consecutive three-pointers from McConnell and Taylor Tuck to force a Hoosier timeout with Indiana leading 31-22 at the 3:30 mark. But the Hoosiers pounded it inside to take advantage of the out-sized Illini, getting three consecutive buckets by center Simone Deloach to go back up 37-22. The teams traded buckets the next two times down the floor but Alexis Gassion made a put-back just before the halftime buzzer to push the Hoosier lead to 43-26.
The Illini started the second half strong, using a 7-1 run to cut the deficit to 44-33. But Indiana responded with an 8-2 spurt of its own and led 57-40 at the 15:21 mark. The teams traded punches, with the Hoosiers extended their lead to 60-44 at the under-12 media timeout.
Illinois pulled within 13 and McConnell had an open look at a three-pointer just before the under-8 timeout, but it rimmed out. After the break in action, Hoosier guard Larryn Brooks drained a trey at the top of the key to push Indiana's lead to 68-52. Indiana continued to push, extending its margin to 73-54 with 3:52 remaining as Illinois went without a field goal for 5:42. After starting the half 9-of-16 from the field, Illinois missed nine straight shots.
The Illini travel to Nebraska this week for a 7 p.m. tilt with the Huskers on Thursday night. Illinois beat Nebraska 62-52 in Lincoln last January but fell to the Huskers 75-56 in Champaign earlier this season.