Illinois freshman guard Allison Curtin came off the bench to score 21 points to help the Illini to a convincing 90-72 win over the visiting Wisconsin Badgers Wednesday in Champaign.
The Illini extended their school-record home-court winning streak to 16 games in the process ahead of two home Big Ten games (Jan. 3 vs. Indiana and Jan. 5 vs. Michigan). Illinois (7-5, 1-1 in the Big Ten) is outscoring opponents by an average of 21 points per game during the streak.
Curtin made 10 of 14 field goals and tied a career-high for points set earlier this month at DePaul. She was one of five Illinois players to score in double figures. Susan Blauser just missed her third consecutive double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. Alicia Sheeler added 15 points and nine rebounds. Melissa Parker (11 points) is now tied for third in career three-pointers at Illinois with 83 treys after making 3 of 4 from beyond the arc vs. the Badgers.
Illinois, sparked by relentless defense, never trailed in the game, building the lead to as many as 29 points in the second half, the last time coming at 81-52 with 6:28 left before Wisconsin closed the gap to within 18 at the final buzzer.
The Illini defense forced 27 turnovers, 16 more than they had in Monday's 89-86 loss at Iowa. Curtin and Sheeler had three steals apiece.
LaTonya Sims, last year's Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was one of the few bright spots for Wisconsin (6-6, 1-1) with 20 points and six rebounds. Jessie Stomski added 16 points for the Badgers.
After controlling most of the first half, the Illini used a 9-2 run in the first three minutes of the second half to increase its lead to 18. Sheeler connected on her first three-pointer of the season in the run. A 23-8 run later in the half was keyed by 11 points from Curtin, most of which came in transition, and sealed the deal for Illinois.