Redshirt-senior Lydia McCully reached double-figures in scoring with 10 points in her final contest as an Illini.
March 1, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS - Tenth-seeded Illinois cut a 16-point first-half deficit to eight in the second half, but paced by 54.5 percent second-half shooting by seventh-seeded Michigan, the Wolverines held off the Illini 68-53 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Big Ten's Sixth Player of the Year, Adrienne GodBold ignited an Illini rally to start the second 20 minutes and finished a team-best 12 points, all of which came in the second half. Illinois ends its season at 11-19 overall. Michigan takes a 20-10 record into tomorrow's second round game against second-seeded and 14th-ranked Ohio State.
Illinois struggled out of the gate, shooting just 20.8 percent in the first half (5-24) as Michigan built a 27-11 lead. Illinois scored five straight points, including a three-pointer from sophomore Kersten Magrum (seven points), but Michigan led 29-16 at halftime.
"I told my team to just stay focused and stay composed," Law said of her message at the break. "Right now we have to chip away. And we have to make sure we don't turn the ball over."
Illinois out-rebounded Michigan 21-13 in the second-half and held a 21-4 advantage in second-half points for the game. Sparked by GodBold, the Illini forced five Michigan turnovers in the first five minutes to get the lead down to single digits, but every time it looked as if Illinois was going to make a run, Michigan came up with big shots. The Wolverines shot 53.8 percent from three-point range for the game, making four of six from beyond the arc in the second half.
The Illini, meanwhile, made four of their first six shots in the second half, but just 10 of their final 29 from the floor. Junior Karisma Penn finished with her 28th career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, but played just 25 minutes because of fouls. Penn also had two blocked shots bringing her career total to 199, just 32 shy of the Illinois all-time career record held by Jenna Smith.
Courtney Boylan led Michigan in scoring with 17 points, pacing three Wolverines in double figures. Kate Thompson added 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
This marks just the first time in the Jolette Law era that the Illini have not won a Big Ten Tournament game. Illinois is now 7-5 in her five years at the tournament.
"I think this year we played one of the toughest schedules in the country, certainly in the Big Ten," Law said afterward. "I'm looking at how close we were with some of the top ranked teams. So when I watched the growth of my team and seeing how much we developed, I'm encouraged."
"I think there is nothing but hope for this team because seeing the growth that we did have, I just know that they can go to levels we haven't reached yet," McCully said. "This is a great team. This is a great program. And one day we will be at the top."