Illini Battle Past Illinois State, 66-56
Dec. 7, 2011
NORMAL, Ill. - The University of Illinois women's basketball squad earned a 66-56 win at Illinois State on Wednesday evening, with freshman Ivory Crawford netting a career-high 16 points to lead the Orange and Blue to victory. Redshirt-sophomore Amber Moore and junior Adrienne GodBold also reached double-figures in scoring as the Illini never trailed during the contest, with Moore tallying 13 and GodBold contributing 11 on the game.
"We looked to attack their zone," Illinois head coach Jolette Law said. "I thought they would play a zone and when they switched back to man defense we found a way to get open looks underneath. I want to give credit to my guards, they did a great job and it was a total team effort tonight."
With leading scorer and rebounder Karisma Penn on the bench for the majority of the contest with foul trouble, the Orange and Blue needed the remainder of the rotation to step up in order to secure the victory. After holding a small lead throughout the first 12 minutes of the contest, the Illini extended the advantage to double-digits with a pair of runs to close the first half.
Crawford connected on a layup with 7:35 remaining to put Illinois in front, 25-19, and open a 6-0 run by the Orange and Blue. Alexis Burke followed by converting the front end of a one-and-one at the free throw line with 6:54 left and GodBold capped the streak with one of the junior's three made attempts from behind the arch to push the Orange and Blue advantage to 29-19.
After Illinois State cut its deficit to 31-26 on baskets by Marley Hall and Maddie Oliver with 1:40 to play in the opening half, the Illini responded with a three-pointer from Moore and a jumper by senior point guard Lydia McCully to take a 10-point lead into halftime, 36-26, and close the opening frame by scoring the final five points.
The Redbirds were unable to break through the Orange and Blue defense in the second half and the Illini advantage never fell below eight points as a result, with the offense answering Illinois State shot-for-shot to neutralize every Redbirds threat.
"Always at halftime, she [Law] lets us know to play as if we were down 10 [points], to always keep fighting," Moore said of the team's approach to answering each Illinois State push in the second half. "And if we are ahead, stay up and never stop fighting."
With 17:31 remaining, Hall connected on a layup to make it 41-33 in favor of Illinois; however, Illinois reeled off three consecutive buckets to go up by 14 points. Redshirt-sophomore Kersten Magrum scored on a layup to re-establish the 10-point advantage at 43-33 with 17:15 to play. Senior Lana Rukavina followed with a bucket at the 16:21 mark before Magrum connected again to push the lead to 47-33.
Illinois State (4-4 overall) cut its deficit to eight points once more in the contest, at 53-45 with an Oliver layup with 7:45 to play. However, Crawford answered with a shot in the paint, Penn followed with a pair of free throws and McCully connected on a drive to the basket to cement the 14-point lead once more at 59-45.
The Redbirds made one final push in the closing minutes, using a layup by Hall with 1:43 to play to get within nine points, 63-54. Crawford single-handedly silenced the crowd by connecting on a contested layup and hitting the free throw that followed after drawing a foul, ending Illinois State's chances of mounting a comeback in the process.
Crawford and McCully each pulled down seven rebounds, tied for the team high on the contest, while McCully added six points. Despite foul trouble, Magrum provided eight points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 accuracy from the free throw line, also grabbing five boards in only 16 minutes on the floor.
The Orange and Blue outscored Illinois State off turnovers, 23-10, as a result of limiting their own miscues to only 13 on the game. GodBold's trio of three-pointers was the most the Chicago native has hit in a single game as an Illini, while Crawford's seven rebounds ties a career high for the first-year player. Moore earned seven steals as a result of the Detroit, Mich., native's defensive intensity on the floor, eclipsing a previous career best of two accomplished most recently at Oregon on Nov. 18, 2011.
The Illini also earned a positive edge in three-point accuracy, connecting on 7-of-17 attempts (41.2%) while limiting Illinois State's outside percentage to just 4-of-13 (30.8%), as the Orange and Blue out-rebounded the Redbirds, 39-35, while earning more assists, 14-9, and steals, 11-9.
Illinois (4-5) continues its season with a contest against No. 16/22 Texas Tech in the Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge, with the game held at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday, December 17 at 1 p.m. CT.