Illini Debut at Home with 87-59 Win Over Valparaiso
Nov. 12, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - An improved defensive effort by Illinois (1-1) complimented an offense that continued to roll as the Orange and Blue took their home opener 87-59 over Valparaiso (0-2). Amber Moore connected on four more treys this evening to move the senior into sole first place on the Illinois all-time career three-pointers list, surpassing Lori Bjork.
Moore now sits with 218 career three-pointers through 97 games, four more than Bjork through the same number of games played. Moore did it in high fashion, scoring a team high 23 points on 9-17 shooting from the field and 4-10 from beyond the arc. Tonight's performance also marked her second straight game of 20+ points, 10th in her carer, and 50th overall game in double digit scoring.
In fact, it was quite the balanced attack and great overall team effort for the Orange and Blue as five Illini finished in double digits including Jacqui Grant with 12 points, Sarah Hartwell with 14 and both Ivory Crawford and Taylor Gleason with 11.
"We talked a lot about playing with enthusiasm for your teammates and the program," said Illini head coach Matt Bollant. "We just didn't have that in our opening game. We played today liked we practiced the past two days, with a high level of enthusiasm. We came out and did a good job in our man defense, which really gave us a lift. Also, Hartwell did a great job of getting to the rim and Moore helped open the game for us and hit big shots. "
Illinois' defense took command of the first half, creating 14 turnovers while Valparaiso shot just .290 from the field. In conjunction, Illinois newcomers Sarah Hartwell and Jacqui Grant ignited the offense as they both made four of their first five shots. Illinois would go to the locker room with a 47-24 advantage, flipping the script from their season opener at Bradley.
In the second half, Valparaiso produced a 12-3 run to cut the deficit to 19 points, but Amber Moore quickly shut the door with a three-point field goal to switch the momentum back to the Illini, which the team rode to a 31-point lead, their largest of the game, with just a few minutes left.
The Illini also saw an improvement in getting to the free-throw line. After just two trips to the line in game one, Illinois attempted 19 free throws tonight, converting on 16. Finally, the Illini finished with 39 rebounds compared to Valpo's 37 while creating 27 total turnovers.
Illinois will have no time to rest as they welcome Mississippi Valley State on Thursday night at 7 p.m. and then host Alcorn State on Sunday at 1 p.m.