Freshman Jacqui Grant produced the best day for Illini in game one, scoring 14 points on 5-9 shooting from the field
Nov. 28, 2013
CANCUN, Mexico. - The Fighting Illini women's basketball team (4-2) will look to quickly put game one of the Cancun Challenge behind them, falling to Arizona State (4-1) Thursday afternoon, 84-60. Illinois, which entered the contest averaging 92.4 points per game, struggled to find rhythm offensively, as the squad produced a season-low 60 points. Jacqui Grant and Amber Moore led today's effort with 14 points each, the only Illini to reach double figures.
"You learn a lot about your team after a loss," said head coach Matt Bollant. "We played against a very good Arizona State team who played great today, give them a lot of credit for that. We'll learn a lot about our kids and whether they step up and play with courage tomorrow."
The Sun Devils dictated the pace in the early goings, as they produced two 9-0 runs in the first half, securing a comfortable lead and never looking back. The Illini entered the locker room at half down 43-25, the first time this season Illinois trailed at halftime.
In the second half, Illinois found themselves in early foul trouble, as Sarah Hartwell, Amber Moore and Ivory Crawford played the majority of the period with four fouls, with Crawford fouling out with 12:24 remaining. The Orange and Blue produced better shots in the second half, scoring 35 points, but the Sun Devils were able to respond to every Illinois basket, maintaining an average lead of 20 points.
When the final buzzer sounded, Arizona State had rotated in 12 players, with 11 of them recording points in the contest. The Sun Devils up-tempo offense was reflected in the final box score as well, as ASU enjoyed a 14-2 fast-break points advantage.
For the Illini, freshman Jacqui Grant and senior Amber Moore recorded their fifth-straight double-digit scoring performances. Grant garnered a team-high five steals while she shot 5-of-9 from the field, including a 4-of-4 day at the free-throw line. Meanwhile, Moore went 5-of-14 from the floor and had an uncharacteristic day from beyond the arc, as she did not record a trey (0-of-4) for the first time this year.
Illinois shot 31.8 percent from the field compared to Arizona State's 55.6 percent. In addition, the Illini, who entered the game averaging 8.8 three-pointers per game, produced just 11 attempts, converting on only one. In contrast, ASU's Deja Mann had a strong game from three-point range, connecting on 4-of-5 attempts, as she finished with a game-high 20 points. Arizona State also saw plenty of looks inside, scoring exactly half of their points in the paint, thanks primarily to 6-5 center Joy Burke, who finished with 16 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
"We didn't have much courage today," continued Bollant. "We just didn't make many shots early and that affected our defense. It starts with playing as a team and playing with courage."
The Illini will look to bounce back Friday at 2:30 p.m. CT, when they take on Arkansas State in day two action at the Cancun Challenge.