Illini Heads to Northwestern for Match-up on BTN
Quick Hits Illinois is coming off an eight-day lay-off of competition. The Illini last played on Jan. 8, a 70-67 loss to Wisconsin. The last time the Illini had eight days off was between Dec. 20-28 and the Illini shot 57.1 percent from the field in an 83-65 victory over Alabama A&M. The 83 points were the most scored by the Illini since Nov. 22, 2010 (a 104-63 victory over Cal Poly)
Although the Illini are still winless in the Big Ten, Illinois has had a series of near misses. The most recent one came at home to Wisconsin when the Badgers eked out a 70-67 victory. The Illini led for most of the game, including at 57-51.
Prior to that game, the Illini were victimized by a pair of late three-pointers. Against Iowa, the Hawkeyes hadn't made a three-pointer all game, but got a trey from Kamille Wahlin with 10.9 seconds left to tie the score and send it to overtime. The Illini, who didn't trail for the last 23 minutes of regulation, fell 69-62 in overtime.
The game before, No. 20 Purdue needed a Courtney Moses three-point shot to down the Illini 64-63 at the Assembly Hall on Jan. 2. 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.
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 10-6 overall rather than the current record of 6-10.
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.
TOUGH LOSSES CONTINUE A TREND, INCLUDING GAMES AGAINST NORTHWESTERNNot only are the Illini due a break this season, but also against Northwestern, where the Wildcats needed shots down the stretch to defeat the Illini twice last season.
In the first meeting in Champaign on Jan. 9, NU's Beth Marshall hit a three as time expired to send the game into overtime. In OT, Illinois missed two threes in the final seconds in the 69-66 defeat.
Then in the rematch in Evanston, with Illinois leading 79-78, Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke hit a contested, turn-around, fall-away, 15-foot bank shot with 1.4 seconds left to give the Wildcats an 80-79 win.
In all, the Illini lost five games in 2010-11 where the opponent has made a shot in the final 10 seconds with the game tied or Illinois leading.
Magrum stepping into scoring roleKersten Magrum has been a force on the offensive end for the Illini this year.
The redshirt sophomore is coming off a monster game in which she scored 17 points in the first half and made her first seven shots, including three 3-pointers. Magrum scored in double figures in seven straight games, raising her season scoring average from 11.0 to 12.2. That includes a 19-point output against Alabama A&M and an 18-point game against Purdue.
After starting 15 games and averaging 4.3 points per contest as a freshman in 2009, Magrum missed all but three games last season suffering from a stress fracture in her right foot. She has returned strong, scoring in double-figures in 11 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.
Magrum is also an 82.4 percent free-throw shooter.
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. Illinois has the 15th ranked strength of schedule according to Real Time RPI. Among the top 25 are Illinois opponents Ohio State (14th), Green Bay (17th), Michigan (18th) and Purdue (23rd).
WHO TO WATCH AGAINST WILDCATSAdrienne GodBold had strong games against the Wildcats in both meetings a year ago, scoring 16 and 15 points, respectively. In the first meeting, she added three blocks and five steals. The junior is shooting 64 percent from the field (16-25) against the Wildcats for her career.
Scouting NorthwesternNorthwestern is is 11-6 on the season, 1-4 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats suffered a big blow when Brittany Orban tore her ACL six games into the season.
Northwestern is coming off an 82-72 loss to nationally-ranked Ohio State. The Wildcats trailed juset 38-35 at halftime. Prior to that, NU broke a four-game losing streak with a 69-61 win at Indiana.
Kendall Hackney ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring and leads three active Northwestern players in double figures at 16.6 points per game. Morgan Jones (14.8) and Danielle Diamant (12.4) join Hackney in that category.
In Big Ten only games, Northwestern ranks 12th in the conference in scoring defense (74.2) and tied for eighth in scoring offense (64.0)
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 Northwestern contest with 1,182 points, the 17th-most all-time, and is the 24th Illinois player with more than 1,000 points. Penn also ranks 12th in Illini history in career rebounds (645) and second in career blocks (172).
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 -- 15. 1,215 Krista Reinking 1994-98 16. 1,192 Lisa Bradley 1984-88 17. 1,182 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. 645 Karisma Penn 2009-Illinois' Career Blocked Shots List
Blocks Player Years 1. 231 Jenna Smith 2006-10 2. 172 Karisma Penn 2009- 3. 163 Lacey Simpson 2005-10
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 and three each vs. Iowa and Wisconsin, McCully now has 339 for her career, only four 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. 339 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 alone in seventh place in program history for made three-pointer with 98. Moore needs one more 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. 98 Amber Moore 2009-
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 the Boilermakers. Crawford made a pair of free throws to tie the score at 33, 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 knotted it at 50-50, Crawford nailed another three to give the Illini the lead yet again. Crawford has scored in double figures in five of the last nine contests, including a career-best 16 points against Illinois State and 14 points against Purdue.
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.
REJECTIONS KEY DEFENSIVE SUCCESSThe Illini are second in the Big Ten in blocked shots at 5.1 per game with 87 through 17 contests. Individually within the conference, Karisma Penn owns a tie for second in rejections as the junior averages 2.2 per contest - even with Ohio State's Ashley Adams on the season.
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.
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).
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.
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."
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, Bankers Life 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.