Junior Karisma Penn scored 16 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, dished out five assists and blocked three shots against Montana State.
Dec. 19, 2011
LAS VEGAS - Illini junior Karisma Penn posted her fifth double-double of the season to lead the Orange and Blue to a 68-56 victory over Montana State (7-3) Monday afternoon in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic. Two other Illinois players finished in double figures to help the Orange and Blue improve to 5-6 on the season.
"We found a way to win," Illini head coach Jolette Law said. "We stuck together. Things weren't going well in the first half, and we couldn't really put Montana State away, but we finally broke them down by doing all the little things and making adjustments. I think we're growing as a team and getting better and better."
Penn led the Illini with 16 points and 11 rebounds to go along with a season-high five assists, marking the third time Penn has led the Illini in both points and boards this season.
Meanwhile, freshman Ivory Crawford came off the bench to score 15 points, one shy of her career high, marking the fourth time the newcomer has finished in double figures. Sophomore Kersten Magrum rounded out the double-digit scoring for the Orange and Blue, adding 10 points of her own.
The Illini struggled early on, trailing for most of the first period, but with 3:17 left to play in the first half, Illinois took a 24-23 lead on a layup by Penn and never looked back. Despite shooting only 35.1 percent from the field, the Illini held a 31-25 advantage at the break.
The Orange and Blue improved in the second half, shooting 51.9 percent from the field to finish 27-of-64 overall (42.2 percent). After a quiet first half from Penn, who went just 3-of-8 from the field in the first period, the Shaker Heights, Ohio, native had a solid second half, scoring 10 points and grabbing six boards.
The Illini capitalized on Bobcat miscues throughout the game, scoring 23 points off 19 turnovers. Illinois saw solid contributions from non-starters all day, as the Orange and Blue finished with a 19-6 advantage over Montana State in points off the bench.
The Orange and Blue held the Bobcats to 37.5 percent in field-goal shooting, which marked the fifth time Illinois held its opponent to under 40 percent this season.
The Illini return to action tomorrow to wrap up play in the Holiday Hoops Classic, as they face Dayton at 3 p.m. CT to close out a nine-game road trip. The Orange and Blue will return to Assembly Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 28 to take on Alabama A&M at 7 p.m. CT.