Women's Basketball Game Notes at Iowa
Quick Hits Illinois is coming off another in its string of tough losses over the last two seasons. No. 20 Purdue needed a Courtney Moses three-point shot to down the Illini 64-63 at the Assembly Hall on Monday. The Illini cut an early 12-1 deficit to 28-24 at the half and took its first lead at 48-46 with 8:45 to play in the game. Freshman Ivory Crawford hit two free throws with 25 seconds left to give the Illini a 62-61 lead and senior Lydia McCully made 1 of 2 from the charity stripe to make it a 63-61 lead with seven seconds remaining. The Illini forced 25 turnovers and out-rebounded Purdue 39-34.
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.
Law Returns to Alma MaterJolette Law returns to Iowa City, where she excelled on the basketball floor, helping Vivian Stringer's Hawkeyes to four consecutive Big Ten titles and a record of 105-18 from 1987-90. A Kodak District V All-American in 1990, she was a four-year letterwinner at Iowa and a two-time first-team All-Big Ten Conference selection (1989 and 1990).
Scouting IowaIowa enters the contest at 9-6 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten competition, earning a win in their first conference game against Northwestern, 86-55, before falling to #9/12 Ohio State, 84-71, on Monday, Jan. 2. Prior to the loss to the Buckeyes, the Hawkeyes were on a three-game winning streak that included victories over Drake, 71-46, and Mississippi Valley State, 86-80, in addition to the contest against the Wildcats. Iowa's offense is sparked by Jaime Printy's 17.1 points per game as Printy has connected for 76 field goals in 205 attempts (.371 FG %) while playing a team-high 31.8 minutes. Among all Big Ten women's basketball student-athletes, Printy has the highest free throw percentage at 91.5 (75-of-82), averages the fifth-most points per game and has the sixth-highest assists total with 4.2 per game.
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.
SILKY SMOOTH Ivory CrawfordIvory Crawford has started all but six games this season and has emerged as a force at the No. 2 guard spot.
Against Purdue, Crawford made some big shots to keep Illini right at the heels of Purdue. Crawford made a pair of free throws to tie the score at 33 and another two shots from the line to tie it at 37 and a big three from the corner to tie it at 42. After Purdue tied it at 50-50, Crawford nailed another three to give the Illini the lead again.
Crawford has scored in double figures in five of the last seven contests, including a career-best 16 points against Illinois State and 14 points against Purdue.
Crawford has made nine straight free throws.
Facing A Challenging SlateIllini head coach Jolette Law compiled one of the toughest schedules in the country according to the combined strength of Illinois' opponents. The Orange and Blue battle eight opponents appearing in or receiving votes for the current Associated Press top-25 weekly ranking, while the Illini have the fifth-highest national strength of schedule according to RealTimeRPI.com as of Jan. 3 and the most difficult slate within the conference. Wisconsin follows with the second-toughest 2011-12 campaign among Big Ten schools, owning the No. 12 spot in the rankings.
At No. 64, the Illini hold the top-ranked RPI of teams with sub-.500 records.
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
ROAD WARRIORSThe Illini played nine straight road games between Nov. 15, a 62-54 victory over Memphis and Dec. 28, an 83-65 victory over Alabama A&M. Illinois completed trips to Cleveland State, Oregon, California, Puerto Rico, Clemson, Illinois State, Chicago and Las Vegas during the nine consecutive games on the road.
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.
Your Newest 1,000-point Club memberJunior Karisma Penn is quickly climbing up several career charts, including eclipsing the 1,000-point mark against RV/#18 Green Bay on Nov. 24. The Shaker Heights, Ohio, native enters the Purdue contest with 1,144 points, the 18th-most all-time, and is the 24th Illinois player with more than 1,000 points. Penn also ranks 13th in Illini history in career rebounds (612) and second in career blocks (170).
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.
McCully Moving Up Career Assists ListLydia McCully moved into sixth all-time at the University of Illinois in career assists with three against Michigan - surpassing standout Ashley Berggren in the process. After producing two more against #20/21 Purdue, McCully now has 333 for her career, only 10 away from sole possession of fifth place in program history.
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-
Moore Clutch From 3-Point LandAmber Moore has connected from behind the three-point arc throughout her career with the Illini and currently owns eighth place in program history for made three-pointer with 95. Moore needs one more made three to tie Jere Issenmann for seventh and four to tie Aminata Yanni for sixth all-time.
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-
Magrum Returns From InjuryAfter starting 15 games and averaging 4.3 points per contest as a freshman in 2009, Kersten Magrum missed all but three games last season suffering from a stress fracture in her right foot. Magrum has returned strong, scoring in double-figures in eight games, including a career-best 24-point, 12-rebound performance against the Ducks on Nov. 18. Magrum also has a pair of double-doubles through the first 13 games, tallying 10 points and 10 rebounds against Memphis in additon to her numbers vs. Oregon.
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.
Block Party One Of The Best In School HistoryIllinois had 12 blocked shots in its victory over Memphis on Nov. 15 - tied for the second most in a game in school history. Four of the top five single-game blocks totals have come during the Jolette Law era. Adrienne GodBold and Karisma Penn each recorded four rejections during the contest while Kersten Magrum and Taylor Tuck added a pair of blocks each as well. The record is 13, set on Jan. 27, 2011 vs. Penn State.
McGee Suffers Season-Ending InjurySophomore guard Centrese McGee will miss the 2011-12 season after suffering an ACL tear in her right knee just prior to the start of the school year. The Calumet City native had surgery on Oct. 6 to correct the injury and will use the current season as a redshirt year as she recovers.
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.
A Full FifteenFor the first time under Jolette Law, the Illini have a full complement of players on the roster. Returning 10 players from a year ago, the Illini added an impressive class of five for this season.
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).
Big Ten Tournament Tickets On Sale NowAll-session tickets for the 2012 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at the Illinois Athletics ticket office, Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis is the site of the tournament from March 1-4. All-session tickets are available for $50 through January 31, which marks a 30-percent discount off the regular price of $70. Fans wishing to purchase all-session tickets within their university's fan block for their respective team's games only are encouraged to contact their school's ticket office.
Illini to See Plenty of TV, Internet CoverageThe Illini will appear on national television at least seven times this season. In addition, 13 more games will be streamed live online on the Big Ten Digital Network and FightingIllini.com All-Access.
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.
Law Locks Up Two for 2012-13Illinois head coach Jolette Law has announced the signing of 6-0 guard Mckenzie Piper (Iowa City, Iowa/Iowa City West H.S.) and 6-3 forward Nia Moore (Bolingbrook, Ill./H.S.) as members of the 2012-13 Illini class.
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."