#19 Georgia Cools Off Illini in Athens
Dec. 28, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. - Illinois lost its first game in three weeks as No. 19 Georgia controlled the paint and got 16 fast-break points to top the Illini 82-60 in front of 3,388 fans at Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday. Junior Ivory Crawford led all scorers with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting and tied her career high with five steals. Senior Amber Moore added 16 as Illinois fell to 7-6 at the conclusion of the non-conference portion of the schedule.
"I feel like we're pretty good to start, but when we get punched in the mouth, we don't always respond the right way," Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. "That's something that we have to figure out as a program: how are we going to respond when things don't go our way? In the second half, we just gave away too many layups. I thought we did a good job at times of creating some turnovers, but you have to have that balance of knowing that if we don't turn them over, find a way to force some missed shots as well.
"I was really proud of Ivory. To beat a ranked team on the road, though, you need more than one person to play well. Give Georgia credit. They're a really good basketball team and they came on edge and ready to go. They're going to have a good year. Now we're starting the Big Ten and everyone's 0-0 and everyone starts fresh."
The Lady Dogs shot a blistering 55 percent from the floor, including 66.7 (18-of-27) in the second half, and out-rebounded the Illini 51-30. In a physical game, Illinois shot only 33.8 percent, including 17.4 (4-of-23) percent from three-point range. Apart from Crawford, the Orange and Blue shot only 27.4 percent (14-of-51) from the floor.
Georgia took advantage of its size inside early in the game to go ahead 14-5, but the Illini switched to their "buzz" defense and rattled off a 10-0 run to grab a 15-14 lead at the 11-minute mark. Georgia responded with an 11-0 run of its own, though, to go back ahead 25-15 and force a timeout by Bollant.
Ivory Crawford asserted herself offensively, notching consecutive three-point plays to pull Illinois within 28-22 but the Lady Dogs scored the next four points for a 32-22 advantage with 3:33 remaining. The Illini struggled to get anything going offensively near the end of the half, with Crawford accounting for the team's last nine points and Georgia taking a 38-25 lead to the locker room. Crawford had 12 at the break, which led all scorers.
Georgia didn't let its foot off the gas to start the second half, extending its lead to 17 before the Illini made a spurt to pull back within 13 at 47-34. But the Lady Dogs pulled away from there with an 18-6 run that pushed the margin to 65-40 and leading by as many as 27 before winning 82-60.
The Illini return home to open Big Ten play against Wisconsin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3 at State Farm Center. It is Back to Class Bash night - as many local elementary schools return to school a few days later - with the first 500 kids receiving a free bookmark.