Karisma Penn was 11 of 17 from the field in the victory over Memphis
Nov. 15, 2011
Champaign, Ill. - "The game was one of the ugliest I've seen and we have some things we need to work on, but in the end, I'm proud of my team for sticking together, getting stops when we needed them and getting the W against a very good team," Illinois head coach Jolette Law said after her team's 62-54 victory over visiting Memphis on Tuesday night. Both teams are now 2-1 on the season.
Junior Karisma Penn was dominant at times in scoring a season-best 26 points and pulling down 13 rebounds for her first double-double of the young season. Sophomore Kersten Magrum had her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and junior Adrienne GodBold nearly did the same with eight points and a career-high 13 rebounds to help pace the Illini.
The game against Memphis, a 21-win team from a year ago and a squad that Law says will definitely contend in the Conference USA, had seven ties and 16 lead changes and until the last few minutes saw no team lead by more than five points.
In the first half, Memphis had an 11-0 advantage in points off turnovers, while the Illini struggled from the free-throw line, making 5 of 14. Still, the Illini managed a 30-29 lead at the break after Amber Moore drained a three-pointer with just over a minute to play in the half.
Illinois turned the tables on both fronts in the second half, outscoring the Tigers 14-2 in points off turnovers while making 8 of its first 10 attempts from the charity stripe in the second half.
More importantly, after seeing six games slip away in the final 10 seconds a year ago, Illinois demonstrated a winning mentality down the stretch and the ability to dictate inside against a post-oriented team.
After Memphis outscored the Illini 8-2 in the first five minutes of the second half, Illinois responded with a 7-2 run to regain the lead at 39-38. Penn scored five points inside and Lana Rukavina had a lay-up off the bench.
Illinois took charge of the game at the end. Trailing 51-50 with four-and-a-half minutes to go, the Illini out-scored Memphis 14-3 the rest of the way and held the Tigers scoreless the final two minutes of the contest. Four different Illinois players scored in that rally.
Illinois showed muscle inside on both ends of the floor, scoring 40 points in the paint on the night and having a 12-1 advantage in blocked shots. Penn and GodBold tallied four blocks apiece while Magrum and freshman Taylor Tuck had two blocks apiece. Senior Lydia McCully had an overall strong game with six points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Brittany Carter and Jasmine Lee led a balanced scoring attack for Memphis with 13 points apiece.
Illinois embarks on a 12-day, three-city, four-game trip on Wednesday, playing at Oregon (Nov. 18) and California (Nov. 20) before traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico to meet Green Bay (Nov. 24) and Arizona State (Nov. 25). The Illini return to the Assembly Hall on Dec. 28 to play Alabama A&M.