Illinois Set for Home Opener Tuesday vs. Valparaiso
Nov. 12, 2013
Series vs Valparaiso
Illinois leads the series 1-0
Last meeting between the two teams occurred 15 years ago inside the State Farm Center. The Illini triumped with a 79-51 victory over the Crusaders
First meeting between the two programs
Valparaiso dropped a 78-56 decision in its season-opener at Saint Louis on Sunday. SLU opened the game on a 26-4 run and cruised from there, holding Valpo to 32.1 percent from the field, including 5-of-24 (.208) from three-point range. The Crusaders had four players unavailable for the game because of injuries.
Valpo lost four starters from an 11-20 team that finished seventh in the Horizon League in 2012-13. The Crusaders return seven of 13 letterwinners from last season. Valpo is quite young, with eight of 13 players on the rosters holding either freshman or sophomore eligibility.
The Crusaders play its first three games and eight of its first nine games away from home. Valpo opened the season at Saint Louis before coming to Champaign on Nov. 12. The Crusaders then visit Notre Dame on Nov. 16 before having their home-opener against IUPUI on Nov. 21. Valpo then hits the road for five straight games, not returning home until Dec. 13.
Mississippi Valley State is off to a rough 0-2 start to the season. The Devilettes are averaging just 50.5 points per game while allowing 91.0 points per game for a scoring margin of -40.5
MVSU kicks off their season with 11 straight road games. They'll travel to Northern Illinois Tuesday night before clashing with the Illini on Thursday.
The Devilettes have posted negative margins in both rebounding and turnovers with -18.5 and -9.5, respectively.
Senior forward Jasmyne Sanders is the lone player who averages double figures at 10.5 points per game. Through two games, she is shooting 8-12 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arc.
Starters Carry Scoring Load: Illinois' starting five in the season-opener at Bradley scored 83 of the team's 92 points (90.2 percent). Ivory Crawford (24) and Amber Moore (21) each topped 20 points, while Sarah Hartwell poured in 18 in her Illini debut and Jacqui Grant added 12 in her opening game in the Orange and Blue. Illinois had a short bench because of some injuries against the Braves, meaning freshmen Sarah Livingston and Taylor Gleason were the only reserves to see playing time, scoring five and four points, respectively.
Illini Offense Explodes in Opener: The Illini broke the 90-point mark in a 98-92 loss in the season-opener at Bradley on Nov. 9, the third time in the Bollant era that Illinois had scored 90-plus points. It also marked the Illini's most points in a loss under Bollant and the second-most points in a loss in school history behind only a 110-93 loss to Northern Illinois (Dec. 16, 1989) and a 101-93 loss to Michigan (Feb. 27, 1982).
Moore Ties School Record in Opener: Senior Amber Moore hit 7-of-13 three-pointers in the season-opener at Bradley, including hitting 5-of-6 in the final 11 minutes of the first half. That means Moore tied Lori Bjork's career three-pointers record of 214, equaled her career high for a game and equaled the second-most treys in a game in school history. Moore made seven threes at Indiana on Jan. 13, 2011 and the single-game school record is nine bombs by Katie Coleman against Providence on Nov. 29, 197.
Grant Will Not Surrender: Freshman forward Jacqui Grant started her Illini career on a strong note, posting a double-double in the season-opener against Bradley. The Park Ridge, Ill., native scored 12 points and pulled down 14 boards, including 10 offensive rebounds, in 27 minutes. Her 10 offensive boards are tied for fourth in school history. Grant is replacing Karisma Penn in the middle, who finished second in school history with 42 career double-doubles and had 14 last season.
After breaking school records for three-pointers made (184) and attempted (634) in a season in 2012-13, the Illini picked up where they left off in the 2013-14 opener. Illinois drained 12-of-27 three-pointers at Bradley on Nov. 9, tying the single-game school record and marking the Illini's most three-pointers made in a loss in school history.
Spanning the past 12 years, the Illini are 5-0 in home openers after starting the season on the road. Illinois will make its official debut in the State Farm Center where they went 11-7 last season under Bollant and won six of their last seven home games. In addition, the Illini averaged 2,026 fans per game in the regular season, nearly doubling last year's average of 1,070.
Tuesday night's game marks a stretch of four straight games at State Farm Center. Illinois will play three games in a span of six days and four games in 10 days before departing for the Cancun Challenge over the Thanksgiving holiday. In that stretch, Illinois welcomes Valparaiso, Mississippi Valley State, Alcorn State and Southern Illinois.
Last season under Bollant, the Illini lived up to their Fighting name, frequently bouncing back well after a loss. In fact, Illinois posted a 10-3 record in games following a defeat. After dropping a 98-92 decision in the opener to Bradley, the Orange and Blue will look to bounce back once more.
Senior Amber Moore is currently tied for first place all-time in career three-pointers made with 214. Moore is tied with Lori Bjork, who set her total over 97 games spanning 2005-08. Interesting to note, Tuesday night's game against Valparaiso marks Moore's 97th game in an Illini uniform.
In addition, with her 21 points last Friday, Moore officially became the 26th player to cross the 1,000 point plateau and now ranks 25th on the all-time Illinois career scoring list with 1,012 points.