Freshman Ivory Crawford has five double-digit scoring games in her last seven contests.
In two other contests this season, the Illini owned or were within one shot of securing the lead during the final minute of action as Illinois lost at Oregon, 77-74; and against Arizona State, 51-50. Had the contests swung in favor of the Orange and Blue, they would stand at 9-6 overall rather than the current record of 6-9. After playing back-and-forth basketball over an 11-minute stretch in the second half, Illinois last led the game at Oregon, 72-71, before the Ducks scored a pair of free-throws for a one-point lead with 1:51 left. Oregon never led by more than three over the last two minutes, while Illinois got within one on a tip-in by Karisma Penn with 28 seconds remaining.
In the final contest of the San Juan Shootout, the Illini and Sun Devils competed in a back-and-forth contest throughout the majority of the game. With Illinois leading by one and time winding down, Arizona State needed a turn-around jumper with the defense in its face to secure the win.
Last season, Illinois had five losses in which the opponent made a shot in the final 10 seconds with the game tied for Illinois leading -- at Oakland (62-61), vs. Northwestern (69-66), vs. Penn State (67-65), at Northwestern (79-78) and vs. Michigan (58-55). Against Michigan, Rachel Sheffer converted a conventional three-point play with 0.2 seconds left.
Though Printy is a constant contributor, the junior point guard is not the only one as Iowa has three players scoring in double-figures on the season. Morgan Johnson, the team leader in blocks (31) and third-best shot rejecter in the conference, follows Printy with 14.9 points per game while Kamille Wahlin averages 10.4 in each contest. As a team, the Hawkeyes are outscoring opponents, 74.5-67.1, behind a 42.3% connection rate from the field on the season while out-rebounding foes, 39.5-37.3. Currently, Iowa is the best free throw shooting team in the conference, hitting 82.7 percent of their attempts, while also ranking in the top-five in scoring offense, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage (.348), rebounding defense, rebounding margin (+2.2), blocked shots (4.7), assists (16.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0). However, while the Hawkeyes have found considerable statistical success so far, Iowa has also allowed the most points per contest among all Big Ten schools. When the Illini and Hawkeyes last met Iowa earned victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 24, 2011, 83-64, while Iowa has won the previous three contests on their home court. Illinois last secured victory on the road against the Hawkeyes on Feb. 15, 2007, 74-69.
Nation's Top Strength of Schedule (Real-Time RPI)
1. Mississippi Valley State .6902 2. Tennessee .6858 3. Arkansas-Pine Bluff .6619 4. Florida State .6405 5. Illinois .6362 6. USC .6354 7. Texas A&M .6323 8. Delaware .6313 9. Connecticut .6299 10. Princeton .6266
On the Oregon-California-Puerto Rico trip alone, the Illini traveled a total of 8,610 miles from Champaign to Chicago then on to Portland and San Francisco before heading to San Juan for a pair of games before returning to Chicago and back home to Champaign.
Illinois' Career Scoring List
Points Player Years 1. 2,160 Jenna Smith 2006-10 2. 2,089 Ashley Berggren 1994-98 3. 1,984 Jonelle Polk 1983-87 4. 1,906 Lisa Robinson 1978-82 5. 1,639 Angelina Williams 2001-05 -- 17. 1,166 Lacey Simpson 2005-10 18. 1,144 Karisma Penn 2009-
Illinois' Career Rebounding List
Rebs. Player Years 1. 1,217 Jenna Smith 2006-10 2. 1,014 Cindy Dallas 1998-04 3. 933 Jonelle Polk 1983-87 4. 900 Lacey Simpson 2005-10 5. 896 Lynnette Robinson 1978-82 -- 11. 680 Alicia Sheeler 1996-99 12. 644 Sarah Sharp 1987-91 13. 612 Sonya Waters 1988-92 612 Karisma Penn 2009-
Illinois' Career Blocked Shots List
Blocks Player Years 1. 231 Jenna Smith 2006-10 2. 170 Karisma Penn 2009- 3. 163 Lacey Simpson 2005-10
Turning Shots Aside: The Illini are second in the Big Ten in blocked shots at 5.2 per game with 78 through 15 contests. Individually within the conference, Karisma Penn owns a tie for the lead in rejections as the junior averages 2.3 per contest - even with Ohio State's Ashley Adams at 35 on the season.
Living Up To Expectation: In addition to being first in blocks, Penn, a preseason All-Big Ten selection, is second in the conference in field-goal percentage at .538 on the year after connecting on 84 field goals in 156 attempts and ranks fifth in rebounding with 7.8 boards per contest.
Illinois' Career Assists List
Assists Player Years 1. 550 Jill Estey 1989-93 2. 507 Jenny Johnson 1984-88 3. 451 Lacey Simpson 2005-10 4. 391 Michelle Vossen 1980-84 5. 342 Tauja Catchings 1996-00 6. 333 Lydia McCully 2008-
Illinois' Career 3-Point Field Goals Made List
Made 3PT FG Player Years 1. 214 Lori Bjork 2005-08 2. 194 Krista Reinking 1994-98 3. 168 Mandy Cunningham 1990-94 4. 133 Melissa Parker 1996-00 5. 114 Allison Curtin 1998-01 6. 99 Aminata Yanni 2000-04 7. 96 Jere Issenmann 2001-05 8. 95 Amber Moore 2009-
Recently Magrum has been especially productive, totaling double-digits in points in each of the previous five games, averaging 13.4 points per contest. On the year, Magrum is second in points (11.8) and rebounds (6.3) per game among Illini and is shooting .444 (63-for-142) from the field and .817 (49-for-60) from the charity stripe.
McGee started all 32 games for the Fighting Illini during her freshman campaign, averaging 5.7 points per game and ranking second on the team in rebounding at 5.3 per contest. She led all Big Ten freshmen in rebounding while ranking second among those first-year players in steals (1.2 per game). Following the season, she received the Coaches' Award at the team's annual banquet and was Illinois' representative on the Big Ten Sportsmanship Team.
The incoming class includes two players from state championship teams -- Alexis Smith (West Islip, N.Y./St. John the Baptist H.S.) and Taylor Tuck (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook H.S.) and all five players who have excelled in the classroom. The rest of the class includes Ivory Crawford (Chicago, Ill./Proviso East H.S.), the No. 88 ranked player in the class (No. 6 in Illinois) according to Blue Star Basketball; Nia Oden (Brooklyn, N.Y./Christ the King H.S.), the 30th-ranked wing player in the class according to ESPN HoopGurlz; and Kierra Morris (Chicago, Ill./Morgan Park Academy), a first team all-state performer.
The returnees had a combined for 266 starts coming into the season from Lydia McCully (93), Macie Blinn (23), Eboni Mitchell (18), Lana Rukavina (34), Adrienne GodBold (5), Karisma Penn (65), Kersten Magrum (15) and Amber Moore (13).
For the season, all 16 Big Ten Conference games and all Illinois home games will be either nationally televised or streamed online. In addition, all 10 Big Ten Tournament games will be televised, with the Big Ten Network airing the first three rounds and ESPN2 broadcasting the championship game.
Piper committed to Illinois in June following Elite Camp after considering Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa State and Iowa among others. Piper averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and shot 41 percent from the field in helping Iowa City West to the championship game of the Class 4A state tournament last season. The three-star recruit also played for All Iowa Attack and is ranked as the 59th best guard in the class by HoopGurlz.
Moore committed to Illinois in October after also considering Notre Dame, Auburn and Wisconsin. She is the second player from the highly successful Bolingbrook High School program to join the Illini, along with current freshmen Taylor Tuck. Moore was the starting center for the 2011 IHSA Class 4A champions, who won the last three state titles in the largest class in Illinois. Moore is a three-star recruit according to HoopGurlz and transferred to Bolingbrook after playing her first two years at Morgan Park High School. HoopGurlz ranks her as the 82nd best forward in the class nationally and evaluates her as a "shot blocker/changer."