Inside Power Leads UI to Upset of Florida
Playing in front of the home fans for the first time in 27 days, the University of Illinois women's basketball team exploded for a 97-77 victory over the 13th-rated Florida Gators in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday in the SEC-Big Ten Challenge as Illinois' inside duo of Alicia Sheeler and Susan Blauser combined for 57 points and 26 rebounds.
The Illini (5-4) used a 42-30 rebound advantage and .604 shooting from the field to post the 20-point victory. Senior forward Alicia Sheeler had a season-high 28 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, while junior forward Susan Blauser scored a career-best 29 points on 14 of 17 shooting to lead all scorers. Junior Tauja Catchings returned from a two-game absence to tally 13 points, the seventh time in seven games she has hit double-figures. Sophomore Lisa Guarneri added 10 points to round out Illinois' double-digit scorers.
The Illini never trailed in the game after an early 2-2 tie. Florida (9-3) had three players in double figures led by junior Tiffany Travis' 18 points. Sophomore Tamara Stocks and senior Talatha Bingham added 16 and 12 points, respectively for the Gators, who entertain another Big Ten foe, Purdue, in Gainesville, on Monday.
Illinois used a 15-4 run in the final 4:13 of the first half to explode to a 44-30 lead at intermission. Blauser scored eight points in the run. The Illini shot an incredible .618 from the field in the first half (21 of 34). Florida got no closer than 11 points in the second half. The Illini led by as many as 22 at 68-46 with 12:44 to play.
The victory was Illinois' 14th straight at home, a school record, and fifth straight at the Assembly Hall. The Illini are 2-1 against ranked teams this season, having defeated Stanford in Palo Alto, 76-48, and losing at Notre Dame, 101-92.