Women's Basketball
Game 21 WBB Notes: Penn State at Illinois

Amber Moore had 10 points in the Jan. 16 meeting at Penn State.
Amber Moore had 10 points in the Jan. 16 meeting at Penn State.

Jan. 26, 2011

Complete Illinois-Penn State Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

GAME 21 - PENN STATE (16-5, 5-2) AT ILLINOIS (7-13, 2-5)

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 // 7 p.m. // Assembly Hall (16,618) // Champaign, Ill.

TV/Internet: Streamed live at http://video.bigtennetwork.com (pay)
* Big Ten Network Student U Broadcast on Jan. 28 at 3 pm CT (Tim Ditman and Chester Peterson)
Radio: Live on WDWS-AM 1400 and online at fightingillini.com (pay), Dave Loane and Mike Koon
Livestats: Gametracker and Mobile Livestats

Penn State leads 25-14 overall, Illinois leads 10-7 in Champaign
Last Meeting: Penn State 83, Illinois 62 on Jan. 16, 2011 in University Park

Illinois: Jolette Law, 56-65 overall and at Illinois (fourth season)
Penn State: Coquese Washington, 57-55 overall and at Penn State (fourth season)


• Tip-off: The Fighting Illini (7-13, 2-5) are looking to end a three-game skid when Penn State (16-5, 5-2) comes to Assembly Hall Thursday night for a 7 p.m. tip. The two teams battled in University Park on Jan. 16, with the Lady Lions getting an 83-62 win. Thursday's game will be streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com and the Student U broadcast will be aired on the Big Ten Network on Friday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m. CT.

• Seeing Double: Sophomore forward Karisma Penn has posted 12 double-doubles this season to lead the Big Ten and rank fourth in the nation. She has posted four double-doubles during conference play and has 13 in her career.

• Select Company: Penn is one of just eight players nationally that averages at least 17 points and 10 boards per game, joining VCU's Courtney Hurt, Buffalo's Kourtney Brown, Ohio State's Jantel Lavender, Hofstra's Shante Evans, Alabama State's Tanika Jackson, Xavier's Amber Harris and Alabama's Tierny Jenkins.

• Making a Name: Penn went toe-to-toe with Ohio State All-American Jantel Lavender last Thursday and posted some impressive numbers. Penn scored a game-high 26 points, pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds and had four steals against the three-time Big Ten Player of the Year. Lavender finished with 19 points and 12 boards in a classic battle of two the conference's top players.

• Bench Production: The Fighting Illini bench has come up big all season, particularly as of late. In the last five games, the UI bench has outscored the opposing benches 151-77. Against Northwestern on Jan. 9, the Illinois bench outscored the NU reserves 46-5, then on Jan. 13 at Indiana the UI bench scored a season-high 48 points. For the season, Illinois' reserves are outscoring the opposing benches by an average of 22.9-14.7.

• New Look: Coach Jolette Law changed up her starting lineup for the first time this season in the Jan. 20 game against Ohio State. Lydia McCully, Eboni Mitchell, Centrese McGee, Karisma Penn and Lana Rukavina started the first 18 games for the Illini. Amber Moore has started in place of Mitchell the last two games.

• Free Throw Turnaround: Illinois has made strides toward fixing its early season free throw shooting woes. Entering conference play, the Illini ranked last in the Big Ten at 61.4 percent. However, they've knocked down 92-of-131 (70.2 percent) to rank fifth in Big Ten play and lift their season average to 65.1 percent. The Illini have also been getting the line more often, averaging 18.7 FT attempts per game during conference play compared to 14.2 in non-conference action.

• Free Admission and parking for Iowa game on 1/30
• Wear ORANGE and sit close to the floor
• Assembly Hall event and Illini apparel giveaways!
• Postgame autographs with the Illini and halftime autographs with other Illinois women's teams in honor of National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

Penn State enters Sunday's game with a 16-5 overall record and is 5-2 in the Big Ten. The Lady Lions lead the nation in three-point shooting (.450) and the Big Ten in scoring (81.0 ppg) and FG percentage (.452). Since their win over the Illini on Jan. 16, PSU dropped a game at Purdue, 79-69, and topped Indiana at home, 82-69.

Freshman guard Maggie Lucas (16.6 ppg, 3.4 3FGM, .465 3FG%) leads the Lady Lions in scoring and the Big Ten in threes made per game and three-point field goal percentage. Sophomore point guard Alex Bentley (14.7 ppg, 5.5 apg) is second in the Big Ten in assists. Junior guard Zhaque Gray is another outside threat (11.0 ppg, .434 3FG%), while sophomore Mia Nickson (10.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, .601 FG%) and Nikki Greene (9.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.4 bpg) hold down the fort inside.

• The Illinois-PSU Series: Penn State owns a 25-14 advantage over Illinois in the all-time series after its 83-62 win in University Park on Jan. 16. The Illini are 10-7 vs. the Lions at home, with wins in four of the last five vs. PSU at Assembly Hall, including a 69-60 victory last season. Illinois coach Jolette Law is 3-5 against Penn State as a head coach.

Hot shooting by Penn State was too much for Illinois to overcome in an 83-62 road loss to the Lady Lions on Jan 16. PSU hit 12-of-20 from three-point range (60 percent), including eight in the first half, to turn a game that was tight early into a blowout. Karisma Penn had 15 points, 13 rebounds and three steals to lead Illinois. Amber Moore, who was coming off a seven three, 27-point performance at Indiana, finished with 10 points and five assists, but was just 3-of-13 from the field and 2-of-10 from downtown.

Heading into the season, many wondered how the Illini would replace Jenna Smith, a three-time first team All-Big Ten selection and the school's all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocks. While Smith left some big shoes to fill, Illinois sophomore Karisma Penn has virtually matched Smith's numbers as a sophomore, when she was named an honorable mention All-American. Take a side-by-side look at their sophomore seasons:

Sophomore Stars: Karisma Penn vs. Jenna Smith

Stat	                     Penn '10-11	Smith '07-08
Points per game	                17.2	            18.3
Rebounds per game	        10.5	             9.4
Blocks per game	                 2.5	             1.7
Steals per game	                 2.3	             1.1
Field Goal Percentage	        .500	            .503
Double-Doubles	                 12	             16
Minutes per game	        33.0	            37.3
• All-Around Player: Illinois' Karisma Penn is the only player in the conference that ranks in the top-five in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals. Entering Thursday's game against Penn State, the Shaker Heights, Ohio, native is fourth in the conference in scoring (17.2 ppg), second in rebounding (10.5 rpg), second in blocks (2.5 bpg) and fifth in steals (2.3 spg). In conference play, Penn ranks in the top four in all four categories.

• Block Party: Penn is already climbing up the UI career blocks list. After breaking the UI freshman record with 57 swats last year, Penn has added 50 this season to bring her career total to 107. She currently sits sixth on the UI career blocks list and is already tied for seventh on the single season list.

• Penn POW: Penn has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week twice so far this season. She took home co-Player of the Week honors on Dec. 20 after going for 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in Illinois' win over UIC at the United Center on Dec. 18. She picked up her second know on Jan. 3 after averaging 19.7 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 2.7 blocks in three games from Dec. 27-Jan. 2.

Redshirt freshman Amber Moore has picked up her game during Big Ten play. Moore has hit 18 threes during conference play (2.6 per game) at a .375 clip to rank fifth in the Big Ten. She is averaging 10.9 ppg in Big Ten games, well above her average of 6.8 ppg in non-conference action. Her seven threes at Indiana on Jan. 13 equaled the second most in a game in school history behind only Katie Coleman's school-record of nine in 1997.

Illinois is one of only seven Division I teams in the nation without a senior on its roster heading into the 2010-11 season, joining Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Murray State, Oral Roberts, Purdue and Rutgers. With the absence of senior leadership, Illini head coach Jolette Law has singled out redshirt junior Lydia McCully and sophomores Karisma Penn and Kersten Magrum as players who have stepped up as leaders this season.

Illinois led second-place Wisconsin at halftime, but went ice cold in the second half in a 60-47 defeat to the Badgers. Karisma Penn led the Illini with 18 points despite sitting most of the second half in foul trouble. The first half was back and forth with Illinois taking a slim 29-28 lead to the lockerroom after shooting a sizzling 59 percent. Penn had no fouls in the first half, but picked up three in the first 3:30 of the second half and went to the bench with the game tied at 33. With Penn on the bench, Wisconsin promptly went on a 10-0 run. Adrienne GodBold hit back-to-back threes to pull the Illini within four, 43-39, with 11:30 remaining, but that would be as close as they would get. The Orange and Blue went on an eight minute scoring drought from 9:39 to 1:37 of the second half while the Badgers built a 15-point lead.

Four newcomers show up on the Fighting Illini roster this season, two players and two coaches. Jolette Law and staff welcome two freshman players to the squad in Centrese McGee (Calumet City, Ill.) and Alexis Burke (Bainbridge, Ga.), while redshirt freshman Amber Moore (Detroit, Mich.) is back in the mix after missing all but one game last season with a torn ACL. All three players have made a big impact early in the season as the three freshmen are combining to average 20.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game thus far. New on the sidelines are assistant coaches Michael Pec