Amber Moore became Illinois' freshman three-point record-holder with four treys vs. Michigan on Friday. (photo by Beth Unser)
March 4, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS - The Fighting Illini are once again making history in the Big Ten Tournament. Jolette Law's Illinois squad became the first No. 11 seed to advance to the semifinals of the tournament with a 55-47 win over No. 3 seed Michigan on Friday afternoon at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Illini never trailed in the game and led by as many as 24 points in the second half before Michigan tightened things up a bit at the end.
For the second straight game, the Illini came out ready to play right from the tip. Illinois (9-22) started the game on a 12-2 run and the Wolverines would never get closer than five the rest of the game. After finishing the regular season on a 12-game losing streak, the Orange and Blue have not trailed in 80 minutes of tournament play.
Michigan (17-12) closed to within five at one point in the first half, 21-16, with 7:21 left, but Illinois closed the half on a 16-0 run to take a 37-16 lead into the lockerroom. The run was keyed by Illini reserves Eboni Mitchell, Alexis Burke and Macie Blinn. Neither Mitchell nor Burke played in Thursday's first round win over Wisconsin, and Blinn played just six minutes versus the Badgers, however, all three played key minutes during Friday's decisive run.
In the second half, Illinois pulled out to it's largest, 50-26, after a jumper by sophomore Adrienne GodBold with 9:12 remaining and then held on for the win after the Wolverines pulled to within 54-47 late in the game.
While Centrese McGee and Lydia McCully led the way in Thursday's victory over Wisconsin, it was sophomore star Karisma Penn and redshirt freshman Amber Moore who stepped up big on Friday against the Wolverines. Moore hit four first-half threes and scored all 14 of her points before the break, while Penn had her Big Ten-leading 17th double-double of the season with game-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds. GodBold also reached double-figures with 10 points.
Moore's second three-pointer of the game at the 15:21 mark gave her the Illinois freshman record for threes made in a season. She finished the game with 60 treys on the year, which ranks fifth on the UI season list.
Illinois out-rebounded the Wolverines 41-32 and forced 15 UM turnovers after they entered the game leading the Big Ten in fewest turnovers per game. The Illini shot 40 percent from the field (21-of-52) while holding the Wolverines to 32 percent (18-of-56). More importantly, Illinois limited Michigan to just 5-of-26 from behind the arc after the Wolverines led the Big Ten in threes made per game and ranked third in 3FG percentage during the regular season.
With the win, Illinois improves to 7-3 in the Big Ten Tournament under fourth-year coach Jolette Law. The Illini have been the underdog in all 10 of those games.
Illinois advances to face No. 2 seed Penn State in Saturday's first semifinal at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT. The Lady Lions were 73-61 winners over Purdue in Friday's first quarterfinal game. PSU swept both games for the Illini during the regular season, winning 83-62 in University Park, Pa., on Jan. 16 and 67-65 on a last-second shot in Champaign on Jan. 27.