Dec. 7, 2000
Normal, Ill. - The University of Illinois women's basketball team played its third game in six days on the road at Illinois State, winning by a 90-79 margin. The Fighting Illini came out on top in a game that saw multiple lead changes and several changes in momentum. Illinois moves to 3-4 on the year after a 50 percent (30-60) shooting effort from the floor helped the Illini move back into the win column.
The Redbirds (1-6) led for the majority of the first half, holding a 44-39 advantage at halftime. But, the Illini came out strong after the break, leading by as many as 13, 64-51, with 11:54 remaining. Illinois State fought back in front of the home crowd to regain the lead 68-67 with 6:08 remaining. Foul trouble plagued the Redbirds throughout the second half, and it proved to be costly with Illinois sinking its charity shots down the stretch. Hunter went 6-6 from the line in the last minute and a half while Anne O'Neil and Allison Curtin added two each to seal the Illinois victory. O'Neil and Curtin scored 19 points each to pace the Illinois squad.
It was a hard-fought game throughout with physical play setting the tone. Illinois dominated on the inside and in controlling the tempo. Iveta Marcauskaite scored 15 points and Aminata Yanni added 12, all on break-away lay-ups. While Illinois was powerful inside, the Redbirds showcased their talent from behind the arc. During the late ISU comeback, the Redbirds hit three straight threes.
Head coach Theresa Grentz was pleased with the overall performance of her young team. "We had more assists than turnovers, and our free-throw shooting was better. There was a spectrum in the second half where they came out and applied themselves. I think they have been through a lot in the last couple of weeks. It's a long season, and there's no sense in panicking."
The biggest stretch came at the beginning of the second half, where Illinois out-scored ISU, 25-7. After Illinois State came back, the Illini won the game from the line. Illinois made 23 of 27 free throws in the second half to put the game away.
Illinois will return to Assembly Hall Sunday to take on No. 1 UConn at 2 p.m.