Illinois (10-6, 4-2) gained some much-needed confidence away from home, as the Illini routed Northwestern (7-6, 1-2), 74-55, on Sunday in Evanston to break a five-game road losing streak.
Both teams stayed close through the first ten minutes of the game, as Illinois led only 14-12 before a Melissa Parker three-pointer sparked a 7-0 run to claim a 21-12 advantage. Northwestern remained close, pulling within five points before ending the half with a nine-point deficit at 34-25.
The hosts cut into the lead to open the second half, climbing within 37-33 on a Dana Leonard trey just four minutes into the second half. The Wildcats pulled within three points at 43-40 with 10:02 left in the game, but that was as close as they could come, as the Illini responded to the challenge with a 17-3 run, including 11 points from Parker, to build a commanding 60-43 edge with only 5:04 left in the contest.
The Wildcats would never cut the lead below 15 points for the rest of the game, as Illinois ran out to a 74-55 win to earn its first road victory since the season-opener at Stanford.
The Illini outshot Northwestern in the game, as Illinois hit at a 47 percent clip while holding the Wildcats to only 35 percent from the floor. The Orange and Blue racked up 13 steals and forced 21 turnovers in the game.
Parker led Illinois with 19 points, including three treys, while Alicia Sheeler earned her second double-double of the year with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Susan Blauser added 14 points while Lisa Guarneri dished out a team-high seven assists.
Illinois receives a week off to prepare for one of the biggest games of the year, as No. 3 Purdue comes to the Assembly Hall on Monday, Jan. 18 for a 2 p.m. tipoff.