Illini Fall to Oregon in 77-74 Thriller
Nov. 19, 2011
EUGENE, Ore. - Despite a strong second-half run to erase a 16-point deficit, the Illini came up just short in a heartbreaking 77-74 loss to Oregon on Friday night at the Matthew Knight Arena. With the loss, Illinois falls to 2-2 on the season, while the Ducks improve to 2-0.
Four Illini finished in double figures, as sophomore Kersten Magrum led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds, marking her second straight double-double and the second of her career. Half of her points came from the free-throw line, where she was 12-of-12.
Sophomore Amber Moore was a major part of the second-half run for the Orange and Blue, as 16 of her 22 points came after halftime. She finished the night 6-of-13 from three-point range after making only two three-pointers in the first half. Junior Karisma Penn added 11 points and 10 rebounds, with 9 points coming in the second half, while senior Lydia McCully scored 10.
At halftime, the Orange and Blue found themselves down 49-33 after shooting a dismal 18.2 percent from three-point land in the first half. The second half was a different story, however, as the Illini opened the half with a 23-6 run to close a 16-point gap and take a 56-55 lead on a tip-in by Magrum with 13:04 left to play.
The Ducks answered with a three-point shot by Amanda Johnson to regain the lead with 12:56 remaining. But the Illini fought back once again and eventually recaptured the lead on a three-pointer by Moore to go up 63-61 with 11:01 left in the second half. Oregon retook the lead with just under four minutes to play, going up 68-67 on a free throw by Laura Stanulis. The teams swapped leads four more times before the end of the game.
With 28 seconds left, the Illini were down a point, 75-74, and were forced to put Johnson at the line, where the Ducks' leading scorer (31 points) drained both free throws. The Illini were unable to answer, ending the game on a missed three-pointer by McCully.
"In the second half, we dictated," Illini head coach Jolette Law said. "Once we got down at halftime, we just let the kids know that Oregon is a great team but that we could dictate and play better defense. I'm encouraged by the comeback, but at the end of the game, we had that last minute and a half where we started making some costly mistakes - fouling, putting them on the free-throw line, not blocking out and turning the ball over a couple times. We're going to try to take the positives from this, knowing that our team is capable of doing great things. We just have to learn how to play a total 40-minute game."
The Illini scored 26 points off Oregon turnovers, while the Ducks only managed 15 points off 17 Illini turnovers. In the second half, the Orange and Blue held the Ducks to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 18.2 percent from behind the arc.
Illinois will continue its 12-day road trip with a stop at California on Sunday before heading to Puerto Rico to take on Green Bay (Nov. 24) and Arizona State (Nov. 25) in the San Juan Shootout next week.