Jenna Smith moved into second on the UI career rebounding list with 11 boards in Saturday's win over Oakland.
Dec. 19, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois senior center Jenna Smith had 24 points and 11 rebounds Saturday afternoon to lead the Fighting Illini to a 64-50 victory over Oakland at Assembly Hall. The double-double was the eighth of the season for Smith and the 40th of her career, which ties her for the UI career double-doubles record with Jonelle Polk.
Leading by just five at the half, the Illini (8-2) came out of the locker room focused and put the game away early in the second half. Illinois scored the first six points of the second half in just 1:13 to push the lead to double-digits and continued to push it higher with a 21-6 run that made the score 52-32 with 12:19 remaining. Smith sat the rest of the game with the Illini comfortably ahead and Coach Jolette Law was able to give all 11 players plenty of playing time. Every Illini played at least eight minutes.
Smith, a Wooden and Naismith Award candidate, hit 10-of-13 from the field and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. Her 25 minutes played are the least for the senior since Feb. 22, 2007 against Michigan State during her freshman year. Smith's 11 boards moved her into second on the Illinois career rebounding list and out of a tie with Polk. She now has 944 rebounds and is only 70 behind Cindy Dallas' UI record of 1,014.
Smith wasn't the only Illini to have a big game against the Grizzlies (2-8). Freshman Adrienne Godbold came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and also tied her career-high with three steals. Fellow frosh Karisma Penn nearly had a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds and tied her career-high with five blocked shots. Senior Lacey Simpson was scoreless for the first time in two years, but still made a big contribution to the victory with seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes.
Illinois led 31-26 at halftime behind 14 points and eight rebounds by Smith and eight points and five blocks by Penn. Smith wasted little time reaching double-figures for the 49th straight game, as she hit her first five field goals and scored her 10th point just over eight minutes into the game.
The Orange and Blue shot 47 percent for the game (27-of-57) thanks to Smith and Godbold, who combined to hit 16 of their 20 field goal attempts. Illinois entered the game ranked fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (32.1 percent) and that will only get lower as the Illini defense held Oakland to 27.5 percent from the field (19-of-69).
As expected, the Illini dominated inside by outscoring the Grizzlies 42-20 in the paint. Oakland's tallest active player is 5-11, while the Illini starting frontline measures 6-3, 6-2 and 6-1.
The Fighting Illini now have an eight-day layoff for the holidays before starting Big Ten play at home against No. 8 Ohio State on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. The game against the Buckeyes will be Take a Kid to the Game Day. Kids get in free with the purchase of an adult ticket. Additional kids tickets are $2 each.