Illini Advance to WNIT Elite 8 with 63-55 Win
March 28, 2013
TOLEDO, Ohio - Illinois broke the Big Ten single-season steals record and out-scored Toledo 16-8 down the stretch to grab a 63-55 win in front of 3,410 fans at Savage Arena in the WNIT Round of 16. Senior Karisma Penn notched her first double-double in a month with a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Amber Moore was deadly from long range, hitting 5-of-10 three-pointers on her way to 18 points. It marks the second time in three WNIT games and sixth time this season that Moore has hit five treys in a game.
The Illini (19-13) advance to the WNIT quarterfinals, equaling the deepest run in the tournament in school history, to face Kansas State (18-17) at 4 p.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. The 2010 Illinois team also reached the quarterfinals of the WNIT before falling to Illinois State.
Illinois also tied the single-season school record for made three-pointers with 181, equaling the 2007-08 squad's total in three more games. Moore's five treys also ties Lori Bjork's single-season record of 84 three-pointers and leaves her 10 shy of breaking Bjork's career record. And her 10 attempts gives her the single-season three-pointers attempted record, breaking Krista Reinking's record.
Penn also broke the single-season school record for offensive rebounds with four on Thursday, giving her 123 in her career and passing Tauja Catchings. And Penn tied Ashley Berggren's school record for free throws made in a season (175) by going 9-of-13 at the line against the Rockets.
"They made several runs at us and earlier (in the season), we may not have responded like we did tonight," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "We had a lot of poise tonight and played with a lot of heart, which was really encouraging to see. I think this is as good of a road win as we've had in a long time. To come into this really tough environment against a Toledo team that is in the top 40 in the RPI, this is a really good win for our team.
"Karisma (Penn) was a warrior down the stretch. Made every play that she had to. And this postseason has been so good for Amber (Moore). To get three great games and play with a lot of poise and a lot of heart, and hit five threes for us and also was great in the 'Buzz' for us as well. To force 23 turnovers against this team...they're a really good basketball team. And tonight, we broke the Big Ten steals record, which I'm so proud of this team for the heart that they played with and the passion."
Both defense were in full effect from the tip, with Illinois forcing seven turnovers and Toledo causing four in the first 4:41. As a result, the teams combined to shoot 1-of-11 in that span and Illinois led 2-0 at the first media timeout.
After the first break in action, Amber Moore drained a three-pointer and Alexis Smith converted a three-point play to push the lead to 8-2. But Toledo reeled off a 7-2 run over 1:44 to tie the game, 9-9. Illinois responded, though, as Ivory Crawford got an open layup off a set play out of a timeout, Moore hit a floater in the lane and drained another trey to push the Iead to 16-11 with 10:15 remaining.
The Rockets pulled ahead 22-20 at the under-4:00 media timeout as Illinois went scoreless for 2:39 before Karisma Penn made a layup with 4:52 left. She added a pair of free throws after the break in action to tie the game, then the Illini scored the next eight points, holding the Rockets scoreless for 3:31. Toledo added a layup before halftime but Illinois lead 30-24 at the break.
The Illini extended the lead to 34-26 on a layup and two free throws by Penn, but Toledo scored the next five points to cut the margin to three. Penn made another layup but Toledo responded with a fast-break bucket and a 15-foot jumper, pulling within 37-35. Taylor Tuck drained a 10-foot floater off an inbounds play to push the margin back to four, but a Rocket offensive board and layup made the Illini lead 39-37 with 13:44 left.
After a missed trey, Toledo's Inma Zanoguera recovered a loose ball in the Rocket backcourt and sliced through the recovering Illini defense for an uncontested layup that tied the game at 39, resulting in an Illinois timeout. Out of the break, the Illini fed Penn, who spun and was fouled. The shot just bounced out and Penn drained both free throws after the media timeout.
After forcing a Rocket shot-clock violation, the Illini found Crawford down low for a layup to go up 43-39 with less than 10 minutes left. But Toledo scored the next eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, to take a 47-43 lead with 7:52 remaining.
GodBold made two free throws then Amber Moore gathered in the 10th Illini steal of the night, breaking the Big Ten record for single-season steals. Penn tied it up at 47 with a driving layup at the 6:15 mark.
The Illini went ahead with a trey by Moore and a layup off the bounce by GodBold, then Toledo's Yolanda Richardson made a nice spinning layup to cut the UI lead to 52-49. But Moore drained a triple with a hand in her face to go up 55-49 and the Illini hauled down the rebound after a missed Toledo shot.
GodBold hit two free throws but Naama Shafir got her own rebound after a missed layup and put it in for two. Then Penn stepped out and drained a 17-footer for a 59-51 Illini lead that drew a Rocket timeout with 1:53 left in the game.
Toledo got an offensive rebound but a poor pass led to its 19th turnover of the game. Crawford missed two free throws and Toledo turned it over again after an offensive rebound. Crawford stole it and threw it ahead to Alexis Smith, but she drove and tossed up a layup that bounced off the rim. But Toledo missed a three and Moore made 1-of-2 free throws.
Zanoguera made a layup and Toledo called timeout, then Penn was fouled and missed the first freebie. But she nailed the second to make the lead 61-55 with 11 seconds left. Shafir turned it over on the next possession, which sealed the Rockets' fate, and Smith tacked on two free throws for the final score of 63-55.