Sophomore Alexis Burke notched a career-high 26 points to push the Illini past Clemson in South Carolina.
Dec. 1, 2011
CLEMSON, S.C. - Sophomore Alexis Burke sparked the Illini off the bench, scoring a career-high 26 points to help Illinois (3-5) end a four-game skid with a 61-50 victory over Clemson (3-3). The win earned the Big Ten at least a split in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, as it was the sixth victory for the conference. Junior Karisma Penn finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, marking her fourth double-double of the season.
"Alexis has been coming into her own and really put in some work tonight," head coach Jolette Law said. "She has been practicing extremely well and her energy off the bench along with Ivory Crawford made the difference. Karisma also did her job. She is always a team player and continues to be a workhorse for us."
Illinois closed the contest on a 21-7 run, which included a 10-0 stretch where they held the Tigers scoreless for nearly eight minutes late in the game. The Illini defense forced 20 or more turnovers for the third time this year and held Clemson to just 33.3 percent shooting.
"It's good to get a win for the conference," Law said. "We played well in front of an Illini crowd here and just need to continue to do the right things. It feels good to represent the University of Illinois and our great conference with a win."
The Illini dominated the game inside, grabbing a season-high 54 rebounds and outscoring the Tigers 46-26 in the paint. Redshirt sophomore Kersten Magrumended with 10 boards, her third double-digit performance of the season.
The Orange and Blue carried a 26-23 advantage into halftime despite having 15 turnovers. The Illini, who are now 2-2 all-time against Clemson, cut that number in half during the second half.
"We started taking care of the ball in the second half and stopped beating ourselves," Law said. "We were trying to do too much too fast but then slowed it down which really helped. We still need to continue to work on cutting that number down."
Burke's career game came in just 20 minutes, as she went 12-of-18 from the field and 2-of-3 from the free throw line. The Illini bench shined with a 37-14 advantage over Clemson, which included a combined 11 points from freshmen Ivory Crawford (7) and Taylor Tuck (4).
llini will head to Normal, Ill., next week to take on in-state foe Illinois State on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.