Chelsea Gordon scored a career-high 21 points vs. Ole Miss Saturday.
Dec. 2, 2006
Oxford, Miss. - Illinois headed to SEC country on Saturday for its biggest test of the season and came away with a disappointing 75-50 defeat at the hands of the Ole Miss Rebels. Sophomore Chelsea Gordon was the lone bright spot for the Illini, scoring a career-high 21 points, but the Ole Miss defensive pressure forced 34 turnovers as Illinois fell to 6-2 on the season.
The game was tight throughout most of the first half, where four ties and five lead changes occurred. The Illini led 24-23 with 3:50 remaining in the half after a 13-5 run that began with a Lori Bjork three-pointer and ended with a pair of Bjork free throws. The Rebels countered, however, with a 13-3 run to close the half and took a 36-27 lead into the break, their largest of the game. Remarkably, only two players scored for Ole Miss in the first half, Armintie Price (23) and Alliesha Easley (13). Bjork led Illinois with 10 points at the break, while Gordon had eight.
The second half was all Rebels, as they quickly pushed the lead to double figures and continued to stymie the Illini with their defensive pressure. Illinois finished the game with 34 turnovers that Ole Miss converted into 39 points on the other end of the court. Price was dominant for Ole Miss, tallying a triple-double by the midpoint of the second half and finishing with 34 points, 15 rebounds and 12 steals in 35 minutes of action. Easley had 25 points for the Rebels, who finished with a school record 26 steals and pulled down 23 offensive rebounds.
"We didn't have a great first half, but we were still right there," said Illini head coach Theresa Grentz. "In the second half their pressure took us right out of it. Price was tremendous with a triple-double. You have to give her her due."
Gordon shot 8-of-19 from the field for her 21 points and pulled down a season-high seven rebounds. Bjork hit three three-pointers and finished with 15 points for the Illini, but struggled at the point with nine turnovers. Freshman Lacey Simpson led the way on the glass with eight rebounds. Illinois pulled down a season-high 48 rebounds on the afternoon, 15 offensive, but shot only 31 percent from the field.
Illinois returns to the friendly confines of Assembly Hall, where it is 4-0 this season, to host another SEC foe, the Florida Gators, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The Illini follow that up with the annual December to Remember Classic at the United Center in Chicago against Rhode Island on Saturday, Dec. 9.