Despite a late comeback by Michigan (9-2, 1-1) to force overtime, Illinois (9-5, 3-1) extended its home winning streak to 18 games thanks to Alicia Sheeler's six points to open the extra session and pinpoint free throw shooting to seal the deal in a 75-65 win at Assembly Hall on Tuesday night.
Michigan rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 1:09, using a Stacey Thomas putback off her own miss to knot the score at 60-60 to force the extra session. In overtime, both teams traded baskets before Sheeler put the Illini on her shoulders for the win. The 6-3 senior scored all the points in a 6-1 run, including two crucial free throws on a one-and-one with 1:39 left, to give the Illini a 68-63 advantage. Illinois would put the game away at the free throw line, hitting 9-10 in the extra period to earn a 75-65 win.
Illinois put five players in double-figures in scoring, led by Sheeler's 17 points. Freshman Allison Curtin came off the bench to add 16 points and a career-high nine rebounds while Tauja Catchings tied her career-high with a game-high 14 boards and 10 points. Melissa Parker and Susan Blauser added 14 and 10 points, respectively. Michigan was led by Anne Thorius' 15 points and Stacey Thomas' 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams shot poorly in the game, as Illinois hit at a season-low 33 percent and Michigan shot only 36 percent. The teams combined for 49 turnovers (27 by Michigan) and 37 fouls, as Illinois hit 20-23 from the free throw line in the game.
Poor-shooting by both squads led to a 29-29 tie at the half. The second half would feature seven ties and five lead changes, as neither team would lead by more than six points. A Melissa Parker trey forged a 46-46 tie with nine minutes left in the game before the visitors made their move. Two straight Wolverine buckets gave UM its biggest lead of the game, at 50-46. The Illini responded after a timeout, knotting the socre at 50-50 thanks to four points from Dawn Vana.
After the Wolverines retook the lead on an Ann Lemire basket, Sheeler sparked an 8-0 Illini run with two jumpers to give the hosts a 58-52 lead with 2:20 left in the game. The Illini still led 60-55 with only 1:19 left on the clock when the Wolverines rallied, as Anne Thorius hit a wide-open trey to pull the visitors within 60-58 and Thomas hit her follow-shot to send the game to overtime.
The Illini concluded an undefeated homestand, playing five of the last six games at Assembly Hall, and take their first three-game winning streak of the season on the road. Illinois will play at No. 23 Ohio State on Friday, Jan. 8, before traveling to Northwestern for a Sunday matinee.