Second-Half Surge Propels Illini to Win
Susan Blauser recorded her second double-double of the season to lead Illinois past Valparaiso, 79-51, on Monday night.
Blauser scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Illini won their 15th straight at home dating back to last December.
While Blauser controlled the inside, Allison Curtin took aim from the perimeter with 17 points, including three 3-pointers.
While Illinois' .333 percentage from the field was well short of its .603 clip of Saturday (a 97-77 win over No. 13 Florida), the Illini did their damage on the boards with a monster 56-35 advantage in the rebounding department. Illinois had a more than sizable advantage from the free-throw line as well, making 31 of 43 from the charity stripe, while the visitors managed just 6 of 10 in that department for the game.
Unlike in the Florida game, the Illini were slow out of the gates, spotting Valpo (4-6) an early 9-8 lead. Jill Campbell scored seven of her team-high 16 points in the first 13 minutes to keep the Crusaders close at 23-20.
But second-chance points helped Illinois pull away. The Illini used a 16-10 run in the final seven minutes of the half to take a comfortable 39-30 lead and then proceeded to score the first nine points of the second half to pull to an 18-point cushion (48-30). The Illini shot 31 free throws in the second-half, making 22.
Although Tauja Catchings' string of seven straight games in double figures came to an end, she had six assists, four blocks and two steals to go along with her eight points.
Illinois improves to 6-4 on the year and opens Big Ten play Dec. 28 at Iowa.