Thanks to stellar efforts from Susan Blauser and Melissa Parker, Illinois (13-7, 7-3) routed Minnesota (7-13, 2-8), 88-69, in Minneapolis on Friday to climb into a tie for second-place in the Big Ten.
The Illini ran away with the win despite the absence of starter Tauja Catchings, who missed the trip with a sore knee.
The Golden Gophers put up a fight through the first nine minutes of the game, as the two teams were tied at 20-20 at the 11:30 mark. Melissa Parker sparked a 19-4 run with a three-pointer and also concluded the run with back-to-back treys to give the Illini a 39-24 lead with 6:42 left in the half. Parker scored 11 points in the run and Illinois cruised to a 45-34 halftime lead.
Illinois shot 55 percent in the first half as Parker totaled 17 points, including 4-5 from long-range.
The hosts cut into the lead to open the second half, scoring the first four points to make it 45-38 nearly two minutes after the break. Illinois' Susan Blauser doused any comeback hopes for Minnesota by scoring all the points in a 9-2 run on a variety of jump shots and post moves to give the Illini a 52-38 lead. The visitors would eventually lead by as many as 23 points before settling for the 88-69 road victory.
Illinois shot 51 percent from the field in the game while holding Minnesota to 43 percent from the floor.
Blauser hit 13-20 shots from the field for her 32 points and added six rebounds and a career-high five blocked shots. Parker hit five three-pointers on her way to a career-high 24 points and Kylie Martin had her second-straight double-figure scoring effort, adding 10 points off the bench on a perfect 4-4 from the field. Minnesota was led by 12 points from Sonja Robinson.
Illinois returns home next weekend for two games, as the Illini host Northwestern on Friday, February 5 at 7 p.m. before battling Ohio State on Sunday at 2 p.m.