DePaul Upsets Illini in Chi-town
With two starters out of the lineup due to illness, a young Illinois women's basketball team gave a good effort but was unable to overtake DePaul (2-4) in Chicago, as the Illini (4-3) fell 77-70 on Friday night.
The Illini opened the game without the services of Tauja Catchings and Alicia Sheeler, as both were out with illness. Catchings did not make the trip while Sheeler played eight minutes, all in the second half.
Four of the five players on the floor to start the game for Illinois did not play last season, as junior Kylie Martin and freshmen Allison Curtin and Dawn Vana earned the first starts of their UI career. Melissa Parker and junior Susan Blauser were also in the starting lineup.
DePaul took advantage of the revamped lineup, as Anne McDonald hit her first three shots, all three-pointers, to give the Blue Demons a 9-2 advantage. The Illini would rally to take the lead, at 20-19, and the game remained close throughout the first half. Illinois ended the half trailing by only four points, at 39-35, thanks mainly to UI freshman Allison Curtin, who poured in 17 points in the opening stanza.
Illinois opened the second half with a three-pointer from Parker to cut the lead to 39-38 before DePaul responded. The Blue Demons went on a 19-6 run to build their biggest advantage of the game, at 58-44 with 13:32 left. At 60-47, Illinois went on an 8-0 run to slash the deficit to five points at 60-55 with 9:33 remaining. After a DePaul timeout, the Illini suffered another blow, as Curtin was called for two fouls in a span of 18 seconds to foul out of the game with nearly nine minutes left in the game.
With Curtin on the bench, the Illini looked to Sheeler to provide a spark, as she entered the game despite suffering from an upper respiratory infection. Her jumper pulled the Illini within 67-62 and two Susan Blauser free throws made it 67-64 with 3:32 left in the game. The Fighting Illini would come no closer, as DePaul held on at the charity stripe, hitting 8-10 free throws down the stretch, to earn the win.
Curtin led the Illini with a career-high 21 points despite missing the last nine minutes of the game. Blauser and Parker both played all 40 minutes, scoring 16 and 13 points respectively. Illinois was outrebounded 42-34 in the game and committed 21 turnovers. DePaul hit 10 three-pointers in the game.