Lori Bjork and the Illini host Northern Colorado on Wednesday night at Assembly Hall. (Photo by Cary Frye)
Nov. 22, 2006
Game 5: Northern Colorado (1-3) at Illinois (3-1)
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 7 p.m. Assembly Hall (16,618) Champaign, Ill.
On The Air
Radio: Illini Sports Network - WDWS AM 1400 - LIVE (Dave Loane, play-by-play; Brian Moline, analysis)
Internet: Fightingillini.com streaming video, audio and Gametracker
Men's Basketball Ticket Redemption: Fans can use a ticket stub from Monday's Illini men's basketball game vs. Savannah State to get a free ticket to Wednesday's women's game vs. Northern Colorado.
Northern Colorado leads 1-0 - Last Meeting: UNC 65, Illinois 55 (11/25/05 @ Greeley, Colo.)
Illinois: Theresa Grentz, 655-300 overall (33rd season), 194-145 at Illinois (12th season)
UNC: Jaime White, 1-3 overall and at UNC (1st season)
For Openers: Illinois will try to rebound from Monday's upset loss at Northern Illinois by welcoming the University of Northern Colorado to Assembly Hall on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Illini dropped to 3-1 on the season after falling to the Huskies 69-63. Follow the game Wednesday night on the radio (WDWS AM-1400) or on fightingillini.com with live video and gametracker.
D-Fence: Through four games the Illinois defense has been tough, allowing just 55.8 points per game and is holding opponents to .341 shooting from the field and .293 from behind the arc.
Scouting the Bears
Northern Colorado is 1-3 entering Wednesday's contest and is coming off a 71-43 win over Lamar on Nov. 20. The Bears opened the season with losses to UMKC (71-46), Wyoming (76-46) and Air Force (72-59). Senior forward Heather Barbour leads the UNC attack, averaging 16.0 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field (23-of-43). Junior center Dani Veal is the Bears' top rebounded at 7.3 per game. In their win over Lamar, the Bears hit 10 three pointers and held Lamar to just 29 percent shooting. Head coach Jaime White is in her first season at Northern Colorado.
The Illinois-Northern Colorado Series
Illinois dropped a 65-55 decision last season in Greeley, Colorado in only meeting between the Illini and UNC. Northern Colorado buried 15 of 32 shots (46.9%) from behind the arc to take control early and hold on for a victory against the favored Illini. Illinois guard Janelle Hughes led all scorers with 18 points and also added a career-high seven rebounds.
Gordon Has Career Night
Sophomore Chelsea Gordon scored a career-high 16 points in Monday's loss to Northern Illinois in DeKalb. The forward from Erie, Pa., hit her first five shots and nearly eclipsed her previous career-high of 12 points in the first half, finishing with 11. She also added three steals and three rebounds and hit 2-of-6 from beyond the arc in a career-high 39 minutes.
In her first four regular season games after taking an injury redshirt last season, Lacey Simpson has shown that she will be a force to be reckoned with in 2006-07. The Zion, Ill., native posted game-highs in points (17) and rebounds (7) in Illinois' season-opening win over Butler and followed that up with her first career double-double (12 p, 12 r) in the UIC victory. For the season she leads the Illini in scoring (13.3), rebounding (7.5), steals (2.5) and blocks (1.8). In addition to shooting .583 from the field and .417 from behind the arc, Simpson seems to have a knack for hitting big buckets in key moments. In the win over Butler, Simpson sparked two big Illini scoring runs, including one that broke the game open after Butler pulled within one in the second half.
Junior forward Danyel Crutcher has stepped up big thus far for the Illini, averaging 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. Against UIC, Crutch had a key putback with just eight seconds remaining to seal the 53-48 victory. The Orange, N.J., native had a team-high 14 points in the win and is shooting .606 (20-of-33) for the season after her double-double (11 p, 12 r) at Northern Illinois on Monday night. She is the only two Illini to score in double-figures in each of the first four games.
Jenna Smith, Illinois' lone true freshman, has wasted no time making an impact with her new team. She scored double figures in each of her first two games as an Illini (10 vs. Butler and 11 vs. UIC) and is averaging 8.3 points and 6.5 rebounds on the year. That may not be surprising considering Smith was the Minnesota High School Player of the Year last year, but what might surprise some is that the 6-3 center is second the Illini in assists (2.5 per game) through four games.
Rebecca Harris, a 5-8 point guard who transferred from Rend Lake College, scored 8 points and had 5 rebounds vs. Loyola on Saturday. She is averaging 10 minutes per game and has knocked down 2-of-5 from behind the arc. Harris was slowed early in the season by a sprained ankle that occurred in Illinois' first exhibition game on Nov. 3.
Sophomore forward Danielle Gratton is out indefinitely with a injury to her left foot. The Bethel Park, Pa., native missed both the Loyola and NIU games after scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench in the first two games.
Senior center Audrey Tabon tore her ACL in her right knee in the Orange and Blue Scrimmage on Oct. 29 and will miss the entire 2006-07 season. Tabon started 26 games last season and ranked fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.2 per game). The Pittsburgh, Pa., native has won the team's Most Improved award in each of the last two seasons. She intends to have surgery on the knee on Nov. 21 and return next season for a fifth-year.
Redshirt-sophomore guard Megan Nyquist hasn't practiced yet because of a bad back. Nyquist sat out all of her freshman season with a torn ACL and missed all but four games in 2005-06 after re-injuring the knee. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native was the 74th-ranked senior in 2004 according to Blue Star Report.