Crawford a Model of Success in Victory
Nov. 18, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - You've often heard of the Sports Illustrated jinx, but for Illinois sophomore Ivory Crawford, being the player on the game poster Sunday was a positive. The Chicago native was coming off a career-best 18 points in a loss to Bradley on Thursday, but blew away that number on Sunday with 32 points in an 83-64 victory over Cleveland State. The Illini will take a 2-1 record into this week's Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas.
"Ivory has a fiery mentality, kind of a warrior mentality," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "The kid's just got some toughness to her."
Crawford made her first seven shots from the field, three of which were from three-point range, and her first four free throws. She finished the game 11 of 14 from the field, 4 of 4 from three-point range and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.
"Even through I had 18 points, I don't think I played hard enough," Crawford said of the Bradley game. "Our coaches said that if you run for your teammates, great things will happen. I also always reach for a goal on something that I didn't succeed at last game. I saw I was 0-5 from three last game, so I just tried to practice that aspect and it paid off today."
Illinois never led in the loss to Bradley on Thursday. The Illini made sure that wasn't the case on Sunday, bolting to a 15-0 lead five minutes into the game. Crawford had eight points, including a three-pointer, and Amber Moore also buried a trey in the run to start the game.
After Cleveland State cut the margin to 22-20, Illinois out-scored the Vikings 22-10 the rest of the half to take a 44-30 lead into the break. Taking the last eight minutes of the first half and the first 4:30 minutes of the second half, the Illini used a 34-16 run to take a commanding 56-36 advantage and led by as many as 21 late in the half.
"You learn a lot about your team after a loss, are they going to cave or are they going to come out confident?" Bollant said. "I thought we really came out and fought today and with the mentality that we're going to attack. When you're aggressive, you usually shoot the ball better as well."
Moore had four three-pointers on the game, giving her 11 for the season and 132 for her career, just one shy of Melissa Parker for fourth on the Illinois all-time 3-point list. It was her effort on the boards that was most notable, leading the team with 10 rebounds (a career-high) to go along with 12 points, giving the redshirt junior her first career double-double.
Illinois controlled the tempo, pushing the ball up the floor and finding the open player. Sophomore Alexis Smith had 13 assists with only four turnovers, pacing an Illini team which had 24 assists on 32 made baskets compared to just nine turnovers.
"We got off to a great start, which we haven't done the last two games," Bollant said. "Having 15 more assists than turnovers says a lot about our team's ability to make the easy pass.
Senior Karisma Penn moved into 12th on Illinois' all-time scoring list after a 17-point effort. The Shaker Heights, Ohio, native added five assists, four blocks and three steals. Shalonda Winton led Cleveland State (1-2) with 24 points, including 18 in the second half.