Karisma Penn led the Illini with seven steals vs. Marian
Oct. 30, 2012
Champaign, Ill. -
Senior Karisma Penn had 24 points and 16 rebounds and was one of three Illinois players in double figures as Illinois defeated Marian University, 89-37, in the first exhibition game of the 2012-13 season. Sophomore Alexis Smith added 19 points, five assists and four steals with just one turnover in her first collegiate start at point guard. Redshirt junior Amber Moore tallied 12 points and three assists.
New head coach Matt Bollant promised to play aggressive defense and push the ball up the floor and that's exactly what the 1,145 fans at Assembly Hall witnessed. The Illini forced 40 Marian turnovers, 19 of them on steals. Penn alone had seven steals with Smith adding four, and sophomore Ivory Crawford and freshman McKenzie Piper tallying three apiece. Despite a fast-paced offense, the Illini turned the ball over just 15 times on the night.
"I'm not sure we will be +25 in turnover margin every night, but it's certainly our goal to win that battle," Bollant said. "I was proud of how hard we played. I think the fans enjoyed it."
Illinois never trailed in the game, jumping to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes with the Illini extending that margin to 45-15 by half. Illinois had just eight healthy bodies on the bench and the top seven each played between 22 and 32 minutes. Penn did her damage playing just 24 minutes.
Illinois did a great job of creating opportunities, taking 77 field goal attempts to Marian's 46 and holding a significant edge in free throws attempted (39-12) as well. Paced by Penn's 16, Crawford's nine and Piper's eight rebounds, Illinois also held a 52-37 advantage on the boards.
The fans were focal and recognized the great play by the Illini point guard, Smith, giving her a standing ovation when she left the game at the 4:26 mark.
"The night was exciting," Smith said. "I still have some little things I need to work on, but I really focused on pushing the ball up the floor and going hard to the basket."
Illinois plays one more exhibition game on Nov. 6 vs. Concordia (Illinois) before opening the regular season on Nov. 11 vs. Evansville.