Whitney Toone had a career-high 20 points to help the Illini to a first round WNIT win on Friday.
March 21, 2010
Second Round: Marquette (17-15) at Illinois (17-14)
Monday, March 22, 2010 // 4 p.m. // Champaign, Ill. // Assembly Hall (16,618)
Third Round: Illinois-Marquette winner at Missouri State // Thursday, March 25 at 7 p.m. CDT
A single ticket will gain admission to both the Illinois-Marquette women's game and the Illinois-Kent State men's game (7 p.m.) on Monday. General admission tickets (B level behind the baskets and C level) are on sale for $15. Tickets can be purchased on Monday morning starting at 9 a.m. at the UI Athletic Ticket Office, over the phone by calling 1-866-ILLINI-1, or online now at fightingillini.com. For complete ticket and parking information, click HERE.
Illinois Head Coach
Jolette Law, 47-50 overall and at Illinois (3rd season), 2-1 in the WNIT (2nd appearance)
Setting the Scene
The Game: The Fighting Illini (17-14) return to Assembly Hall for the first time in over a month when they host Marquette (17-15) at 4 p.m. Monday in the second round of the postseason WNIT. Illinois advanced with a 68-51 first round victory at Western Kentucky on Friday, while the Golden Eagles defeated Eastern Illinois at home, 85-56, in their opening round game. Illinois and Marquette met earlier this season in Champaign, with the Golden Eagles winning 65-55.
Looking Ahead: The winner of the Illinois-Marquette contest will advance to the third round to face Missouri State, who defeated Samford at home on Sunday, 74-55. The third round game will take place in Springfield, Mo., on Thursday, March 25 at 7 p.m.
Scoring Record Falls: Senior All-America candidate Jenna Smith became Illinois' all-time leading scorer during Friday's first round WNIT win at Western Kentucky. A three-pointer 5:18 into the first half moved her past Ashley Berggren's UI career record of 2,089 points. Smith finished the game with 21 points, giving her 2,108 career points entering Monday's game against Marquette. That total is good for 10th on the Big Ten's all-time scoring list.
Simpson is Steals Leader: With one steal at WKU, Lacey Simpson moved into sole possession of first on the Illinois single-season steals list. She now has 103 steals on the season to move out of a tie with Allison Curtin's old record of 102. Simpson's 358 career steals tie her for the second-highest total in Big Ten history behind only Stacey Thomas' (MICH, 1997-00) all-time conference record of 372.
Smith Finalist for All-America Honor: Jenna Smith has been named a Regional finalist for the WBCA's State Farm All-America Team for the second time in her career (2008). This year, she joins Ohio State's Jantel Lavender and Samantha Prahalis, Iowa's Kachine Alexander and Missouri State's Casey Garrison from Region 6.
Smith Among All-Time Big Ten Elite: Jenna Smith is one of just four players in Big Ten history to reach 2,000+ career points and 1,000+ career rebounds. With 2,108 points and 1,178 boards, Smith joins former Ohio State center Jessica Davenport (2004-07), former Minnesota Golden Gopher Laura Coenen (1982-85) and current Ohio State Buckeye Jantel Lavender in the exclusive club.
Queen of the Boards: Jenna Smith has been a monster on the boards this season, averaging 11.2 per game to rank 10th in the nation. She enters Monday's game with 1,178 career boards, making her the third-best rebounder in Big Ten women's history. If that weren't enough, this season she has became the Illinois single-season rebounding record holder as her 348 boards top the old mark of 335 by Lynette Robinson in 1980-81. Smith had a career-high 20 boards vs. Indiana on Feb. 7 and then had a Big Ten Tournament single-game record 19 boards on March 4 vs. the Hoosiers.
Name That Toone: Senior Whitney Toone doesn't want her UI career to end and she showed it with a career performance in Friday's win over WKU. The former Junior College transfer shattered her previous career-high of 13 points by exploding for 20 against the Lady Toppers. She had 18 of her 20 points in the first half as the Illini built up a 14-point lead, including 10 points during Illinois' 16-2 run that broke the game open, and also tied her career-high with seven rebounds in the game.
Dynamic Duo in the History Books: Seniors Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson will go down as two of the best players in program history. Take a look below to see where each ranks in the UI career record book heading into Monday's game. See page 8 for a complete list of updated records.
Smith Stat Total Rank Points 2,108 1 Rebounds 1,178 1 Blocks 221 1 Double-Doubles 51 1 FG Attempts 1,604 1 Games Started 118 1 Minutes Played 4,440 1 FG Made 796 2 FT Made 475 2 Games Played 127 2 FT Percentage .808 6 Penn Owns Frosh Record: With 50 blocks this season, Karisma Penn is the Illinois freshman blocks record holder. She broke the old record of 39 that was shared by current seniors Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson. Those two have gone on to rank 1-2 on the UI career blocks list, meaning Penn is ahead of their record pace after one season.
Stat Total Rank Steals 358 1 Games Played 132 1 Blocks 161 2 Games Started 115 2 Minutes Played 4,047 2 Assists 445 3 Rebounds 877 5 3FG Made 84 10 Points 1,131 17
Postseason Streak: With this year's WNIT bid, Illinois has now advanced to postseason play in 12 of the last 14 years. The 2003-04 and 2008-09 seasons are the only years since 1996-97 that the Illini have not reached postseason play. The Orange and Blue have advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times during that streak and to the WNIT the other seven.
Getting Defensive: Coach Jolette Law's trademark is outstanding defense and this year's team has bought into that philosophy. The Illini are holding opponents to 35.5 percent shooting, which ranks second in the Big Ten and in the top-30 nationally. The Illini have held their opponent to under 30 percent shooting eight times this season, most recently on Friday in the WNIT first round when they limited WKU to just 22.4 percent from the field, a low for UI opponent this season.
What to Watch For on Monday
...Jenna Smith needs three blocks to tie and four to break her own Illinois single-season blocks record
...Smith needs a double-double to tie the UI single-season double-doubles record of 20
...Smith needs 22 points to pass Deon Thomas' UI men's scoring record of 2,129 and become the top scorer in school history male or female
...Lacey Simpson needs one steal to move into sole possession of second on the Big Ten career steals list
...A win would advance Illinois to the third round of the WNIT for the third time in school history
Second Round Foe: Marquette
Marquette owns a 17-15 record heading into Monday's game after topping Eastern Illinois, 85-56, in the WNIT opening round on Thursday. The Golden Eagles finished in a tie for 10th in the Big East with a 6-10 conference mark. They have a balanced attack that is led by junior guard Angel Robinson (11.9 ppg, 4.7 apg), who scored 32 points in the Dec. 9 meeting with Illinois. Three other players average over 7.0 ppg, including sophomore forward Jessica Pachko (10.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg), senior guard Lauren Thomas-Johnson (8.4 ppg) and freshman forward Sarina Simmons (7.0 ppg). Head coach Terri Mitchell is in her 13th season as Marquette head coach.
The Illinois-Marquette Series: Marquette owns a 4-1 advantage over the Illini in the all-time series, including a 65-55 win in Champaign on Dec. 9 of this season. The two teams have met twice before in the WNIT, with Marquette taking both meetings - 72-64 in 2008 and 64-44 in 2006 -however, both games were played in Milwaukee. Illinois' one win over the Golden Eagles came in Champaign on Dec. 7, 1997 (Illinois 99, Marquette 68).
Familiar Face: Illinois senior Jenna Smith will see a familiar face when the Illini and Golden Eagles take the floor. Smith and MU guard Angel Robinson are both from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and played on the same club team up through high school. The two remain close friends today. The duo has faced off twice before, with Marquette winning both games.
This Season vs. Marquette
Illinois and Marquette met at Assembly Hall on Dec. 9 of this season, with the Golden Eagles ending the Illini seven-game winning streak, 65-55. Jenna Smith had 23 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks, and Lacey Simpson had nine points, 11 rebounds and five steals, but it wasn't enough to overcome 21 turnovers and 3-of-18 three-point shooting.
Trailing by seven at the half, the Illini hoped for a fifth-straight second half comeback victory, but it wasn't meant to be this time. Led by Angel Robinson's season-high 32 points, Marquette shot 53 percent in the second half to stave off any comeback attempts.
Illinois in the WNIT
This year marks Illinois' fifth postseason WNIT appearance in the last six years and its seventh overall appearance in the tournament. The Illini went 1-1 in their last appearance in 2008 and are 6-6 overall in the WNIT after Friday's win.
Illinois has lost just once in its opening-round game, on the road at Indiana State in 2005. In each of the five other WNIT appearances the Illini have won their first game and lost the second. The Orange and Blue are 5-2 all-time in WNIT games played in Champaign and are 1-4 in games on the road.
This season the Fighting Illini are...
...10-0 when attempting an equal number or more free throws than their opponent
...15-2 when holding opponents to less than 60 points
...13-2 when holding opponents under 35 percent from field
...12-2 when shooting over 40 percent from the field
...11-2 when leading at halftime
...15-4 when shooting better than their opponent
...12-4 in day games (starting before 5 p.m.)
...10-4 when having an equal number or fewer turnovers than their opponent
...9-7 when coming off a win in the previous game
Watch Out for Jenna
Smith in Elite Club: Senior All-America candidate Jenna Smith is one of just six players in the nation to average 18+ points and 10+ rebounds per game. With averages of 18.2 points and 11.2 boards, Smith joins Middle Tennessee State's Alysha Clark, Ohio State's Jantel Lavender, Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin, Columbia's Judie Lomax and Southern Mississippi's Pauline Love in the 18-10 club.
Smith Makes the Cut: Smith was named to the Naismith Award Midseason top-30 in early March. The prestigious Naismith Trophy is presented annually to college basketball's player of the year. Smith was also a preseason candidate for the Wade Trophy, the Wooden Award and the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
Record Breaker: Smith will undoubtedly go down is on of the best players in school history as she's already the Illinois career leader in points (2,108), rebounds (1,178), blocked shots (221), double-doubles (51), field goals attempted (1,604), games started (118) and minutes played (4,440) and has a chance to top the field goals made list as she ranks second on that list. Take a look at where Smith ranks on all the Illinois record list on page 8.
Toeing the Line: One of the most overlooked parts of Smith's game has been her free throw shooting. She won the Big Ten's FT shooting crown with the best percentage (.878) during conference games and she currently leads the Big Ten and ranks 12th in the nation at 87.9 percent for all games. Her career percentage of 80.8 ranks sixth in Illinois history and she ranks second on the Illinois career free throws made list with 475, behind only Ashley Berggren's record of 562. She has been especially good as of late, making 40 of her last 42 from the charity stripe (.952).
Jenna's Fire Burning: Smith was on fire in the Feb. 11 win over Northwestern. Smith hit her first 11 shots of the game, including a career-high five three-pointers, and had 28 points in the first 13 minutes of the game as the Illini jumped out to a huge lead. She finished with a career-high 34 points, hitting 13-of-16 overall, 5-of-6 from downtown and 3-of-3 from the free throw line against the Wildcats.
From Way Downtown: Smith has always had a soft touch from outside the paint, but this year she has stepped outside more than ever before with much success. The 6-3 center hit a career-high five threes on six attempts against Northwestern on Feb. 11 and has made a career-high 25 three-pointers so far this season. She is shooting a respectable 37.3 percent from downtown for the year.
Smith Chasing Thomas: Smith needs 22 points to become the top scorer in Illinois basketball history, male or female. She just became the women's scoring leader, passing Ashley Bergreen's former record of 2,089 points, and needs 22 points to pass Deon Thomas' men's career scoring record of 2,129. She is already the top rebounder in school history, male or female, as she passed Cindy Dallas' women's record of 1,014 and James Augustine's men's mark of 1,029 earlier this season.
Jenna Sweeps Blocks Records: Smith has etched her name at the top of every blocked shots category in the UI record book. She became Illinois' career blocks leader last season and has a chance to reach top-10 status in the all-time Big Ten record book. She also holds the top three spots on the UI single-season blocks list (63 in 2008-09, 60 this season, and 59 in 2007-08) and broke the single-game record with seven blocks at Purdue on Feb. 4.
Working Woman: Smith isn't doing all of her work on the basketball court or in the classroom this semester. The senior is also interning with the Illinois Athletic Public Relations office during the spring term. Smith, who is set to graduate in May with a degree in community health, is getting a first-hand look at what goes on behind the scenes in an athletic department. Look for her weekly blog about the experience, called Posting Up with Jenna.
Simpson Steals the Show
Making Her Case: Senior Lacey Simpson once again made a strong case for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors but came up short in the voting as Michigan State's Alyssa DeHaan took home the honor. Simpson's 3.61 steals per game during conference play not only led the conference, but was the highest average since Purdue's Kelly Komara averaged 3.9 thefts per game in 2001-02 and was over 1.1 steals better than her closest competition this year, Purdue's FahKara Malone (2.50 spg).
Simpson is not only outstanding in the steals department, but she also ranks ninth in the conference in blocks and sixth in rebounding while also serving as a lockdown defender while guarding the best perimeter player on the opposing team all season.
Climbing BT Charts: After notching a steal on Friday at WKU, Simpson heads into Monday's game tied for second on the Big Ten career steals list with 358. Already the Illinois career steals leader, Simpson is 14 steals away from Stacey Thomas' (Michigan, 1997-00) Big Ten record of 372. Simpson leads the Big Ten and is seventh nationally in steals at 3.4 per game. During conference play she averaged a league-best 3.6 thefts per contest for her second-straight conference steals title.
Simpson Does It All: Simpson is widely known for her defense and versatility. This year, however, she has diversified her game even more. Playing more at her natural wing position, she's taking her habit of filling the stat sheet to another level as she's averaging 9.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, a team-high 3.9 assists and a Big Ten-leading 3.3 steals per game. She ranks in the top-15 in the conference in eight categories (steals, assists, assist-TO ratio, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, blocks, FG percentage and rebounds).
Dropping Dimes: With a team-high 121 assists this season, Simpson is the first player in school history to record 100+ assists in four different seasons. She has 445 career assists to rank third on the Illinois all-time list.
Movin' On Up: Simpson has moved up to 17th place on the UI career scoring list with 1,131 points. She is currently 51 points behind Lisa Bradley for 16th place. Simpson became the 23rd player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-point milestone on Jan. 21 against Iowa.
Assault on the Record Book: More evidence of Simpson's all-around prowess can be found in the Illinois record book. She already cracks the career top-5 in seven different categories and is the program's all-time leader in steals (358) and games played (132). She also ranks second in blocked shots (161), games started (115) and minutes played (4,047), third in assists (445) and fifth in rebounds (877), while also climbing up both the three point field goals list (10th) and scoring (17th) lists. See page 8 for a complete list of updated Illini and Big Ten records.
Rare Company: Simpson one of just three players in Illinois history to amass over 1,000 points, 800 rebounds and 200 steals in a career. She joints Illini greats Tauja Catchings and Cindy Dallas on the elite list.
Block Party in the USA
The Fighting Illini have already broken the school record for blocks in a season, racking up 183 blocks on the year compared to just 77 for their opponents. The old team record of 156 was set in 2007-08. Illinois blocked a single-game school record 12 shots on Feb. 4 at Purdue, with Jenna Smith leading the way with a school-record seven swats. For the season, Illinois ranks ninth in the nation and second in the Big Ten at 5.9 bpg.
This year's highly-touted freshman class was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation coming out of high school. The frosh have lived up to their billing so far, as they've combined to average 20.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game even without contributions from sharpshooter Amber Moore, who suffered a torn ACL in the season-opener. Karisma Penn, Adrienne GodBold and Kersten Magrum have made the biggest impact thus far.
Penn There, Done That: Penn, a 6-2 forward, was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team and is averaging 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week a conference-high four times this season, most recently on March 1 after a huge all-around game at Northwestern on Feb. 28. On Jan. 3, Penn hit the game-winning lay-up to top Wisconsin at the buzzer. She had her first career double-double on Dec. 31 against Penn State with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and has scored a career-high 21 points twice thus far, first on Nov. 22 over Bradley and most recently on Jan. 14 at Ohio State.
Starting to Find Her Role: Since earning a spot in the starting lineup 12 games ago, Magrum has stepped-up to average 6.9 points per game and is shooting 51 percent from the field. The 6-1 forward exploded for 12 points at Purdue on Feb. 4, and then topped that on Feb. 14 at Iowa with a career-high 14 points. A gym-rat, Magrum has upper her scoring average from 1.8 to 4.0 points per game since making her first start on Jan. 28.
Captain Clutch: GodBold has come up big during crunch time this season. The 5-11 guard had a game-winning three-point play with 10 seconds left in the win over Minnesota on Jan. 10 and is averaging 5.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game for the season. She scored a career-high 15 points and had three steals in the Illini's win over Oakland on Dec. 19 and she has been key defensively for the Illini all season, taking some of the defensive load off of Lacey Simpson.
All-Big Ten Honors
Senior Jenna Smith was named a first team All-Big Ten selection for the third year in a row when the conference announced this year's award winners on March 1. She joins Ashley Berggren as the only Illini named to the first team three times. Smith was a unanimous first team choice by the media. Senior Lacey Simpson was named third team All-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention by the coaches and was also named to the All-Defensive Team for the second straight season. Additionally, Karisma Penn was named to the All-Freshman Team and Kersten Magrum was tabbed as Illinois' Sportsmanship honoree.
Ultimate Basketball Challenge Set for April 14
The Illini men's and women's basketball teams will against join up with the Illinois men's and women's wheelchair basketball teams for the fifth annual Ultimate Basketball Challenge at Huff on Wednesday, April 14, at 6 p.m. The UBC is a fundraising event, with proceeds from the game benefiting the wheelchair teams, as well as Coaches vs. Cancer. Check fightingillini.com as the date approaches for ticket information.