Illini Start Bollant Era with 84-52 Win over Evansville
Nov. 11, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill.- Amber Moore scored 19 points and knocked down five three-pointers in Illinois' 84-52 victory over Evansville in the 2012-13 season opener, the first under head coach Matt Bollant. Moore was one of five players in double figures for the Illini, who forced 26 turnovers and out-rebounded the Purple Aces 52-36
"One thing that we wanted to get is the fruits of our labor," Bollant said afterward. "We practice really intense and today I think that showed. I think in the second half, especially, we really wore them down."
Illinois led 38-25 at halftime but used a 15-1 run in the first 4:16 of the second half to go ahead 53-26 and all but put the game out of reach. Moore scored eight points and knocked down two treys in that stretch.
"In the last month, we've gone from not great shooting to pretty solid and growing," Bollant said. "We have a lot of different plays that can shoot. We give them the freedom to do it."
Illinois made 11 of 25 of its three-point attempts with four different players contributed makes from beyond the arc -- sophomore Ivory Crawford (3), McKenzie Piper (2), and Nia Oden (1) joining Moore's five. Piper had a solid Illinois debut with 14 points and seven rebounds. Senior Karisma Penn had her 29th career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Taylor Tuck and Crawford added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Illinois spent much of the first half in foul trouble, which led to an 18-8 Evansville advantage in free-throw attempts in the first half. The Purple Aces finished the game 25 of 38 from the stripe (65.8 percent) while the Illini were 15 of 22 (68.2 percent).
"I think a part of that was the excitement of the first game," Bollant said. "We got a little tight and I think our feet weren't quite as good, especially in that first half."
What was impressive to the 1,625 in attendance was the energy level and staggering defense. Besides the clear advantage in turnovers and rebounds, Illinois held Evansville to 25.5 percent shooting from the field, including a 3 for 20 (15 percent) performance from three-point land.
"It's a style of defense that most teams don't see," Bollant explained. "It's unique to Illinois and is going to give people fits."
Evansville is the first of three Missouri Valley teams on the Illinois schedule, which continues Thursday night with a home game against Bradley. Tip-off is 7 p.m.