Women's Basketball
Game 8 Notes: Illinois vs. North Carolina State

Centrese McGee and the Illini host NC State on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Centrese McGee and the Illini host NC State on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Nov. 30, 2010

Complete Illinois-NC State Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

GAME 8 - Illinois (3-4) vs. North Carolina State (3-4)

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010 // 7:30 p.m. // Assembly Hall (16,618) // Champaign, Ill.

TV: Live on Big Ten Network (Eric Collins and Mary Murphy)
Radio: Live on WDWS-AM 1400 and online at fightingillini.com, Dave Loane and Mike Koon (Fee)
Livestats: Gametracker at fightingillini.com

NC State leads 1-0
Last Meeting: NC State 61, Illinois 47 on Nov. 29, 2007 in Raleigh, N.C.

Illinois: Jolette Law, 52-55 overall and at Illinois (fourth season)
NC State: Kellie Harper, 120-83 overall (seventh season) and 23-18 at NC State (second season)


• Tip-off: After a trip to Hawaii over Thanksgiving weekend, Illinois (3-4) returns to Assembly Hall Wednesday night to host North Carolina State (3-4) in the fourth annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The game between the Illini and Wolfpack will begin at 7:30 pm CT and will air live on the Big Ten Network.

• Hawaii Wrap-up: The Fighting Illini went 1-2 over the weekend in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu. Illinois topped Long Beach State in the opening round, 69-48, before falling to #14 North Carolina, 87-58, and Ole Miss, 70-61, in consecutive days. Illini Freshman Alexis Burke was named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 13.3 points per game over the weekend.

• Freshman of the Week: In addition to being named to the Rainbow Wahine Showdown All-Tournament Team, Alexis Burke was also named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week for her performance in four games last week. She started things off with 17 points in Illinois' win over Cal Poly and then followed that up with back to back 18 point performances against Long Beach State and #14 North Carolina in Hawaii. She nailed a career-high four three-pointers vs. the Tar Heels.

The Big Ten is seeking its first Challenge victory

Wednesday's game is part of the fourth annual ACC/Big Ten Women's Basketball Challenge. The ACC won the inaugural event 8-3 in 2007 and has 7-4 in each of the last two challenges. Illinois is 1-2 all-time in Challenge games, falling at NC State, 61-47, in 2007 and at home against Virginia, 63-39, in 2008 before topping Wake Forest, 65-50, on the road last season.

2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge Schedule

Wednesday, Dec. 1
Wake Forest at Michigan		5:30 pm CT (BTN)
Michigan State at Florida State 6 pm CT
Northwestern at Georgia Tech	6 pm CT
NC State at Illinois		7:30 pm CT (BTN)

Thursday, Dec. 2 Maryland at Purdue 5:30 pm CT (BTN) Iowa at North Carolina 6 pm CT Penn State at Boston College 6 pm CT Virginia at Ohio State 6 pm CT Indiana at Clemson 6 pm CT Virginia Tech at Minnesota 7 pm CT Duke at Wisconsin 7:30 pm CT (BTN)

Sophomore Karisma Penn has stepped up as Illinois' go-to player this year in the absence of Jenna Smith and Lacey Simpson, last year's Illini senior stars. Penn poured in a career-high 30 points against Cal Poly and then had a career-high 14 rebounds later in the week against Ole Miss. For the season, she has three double-doubles in seven games. Overall, Penn is averaging 15.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks through seven games, a significant increase in production from last year when she averaged 10.9 points, 5.5 boards and 1.7 blocks to earn Big Ten All-Freshman accolades.

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.

The Fighting Illini went 1-2 to take fourth place in the eight-team Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu Nov. 26-28.

True-freshmen Centrese McGee and Alexis Burke combined for 36 points and 15 rebounds to lead Illinois to a 69-48 victory over Long Beach State in the opening round of the tournament. The Fighting Illini held a 53-34 rebounding advantage and limited the 49ers to 29 percent shooting en route to their third straight win. Illinois used a 15-0 run late in the first half to break the game open, turning a 23-21 deficit into a 36-23 lead with 3:40 left. The Illini maintained the 13-point lead into halftime, 43-30, and then put the game away with a 13-2 run to start the second half, pushing the lead to 56-32 and cruising the rest of the way.

In the semifinals, Illinois faced its toughest test of the season so far in #14 North Carolina. The Illini hung with the up-tempo Tar Heels for most of the first half, leading 23-19 at one point, before eventually falling 87-58. Sophomore Karisma Penn scored six points in the first three minutes of play, but was plagued by foul trouble, playing only 20 minutes for the game. She finished with 11 points and eight rebounds on the night.

In the third place game on Sunday, the Fighting Illini dominated Ole Miss early, leading by as many as 14 late in the first half, but Ole Miss used a big second half to pull away for a 70-61 win. Karisma Penn had 24 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for the Fighting Illini. It was her fourth career double-double and her third this season. Adrienne GodBold had eight points and four rebounds for the Orange and Blue, who led 24-10 with six minutes left in the first half.

The Illini put up some impressive numbers in their 104-63 win over Cal Poly on Nov. 22.

Notes from the Cal Poly Win
• The 104 points marked the first time Illinois broke 100 in nine years, since a 101-91 win over Minnesota on Feb. 4, 2001. It was the most points for an Illini squad since a 112-73 win over W. Michigan on 11/15/99.
• Illinois' 28 assists are the most in a game since Dec. 5, 1987, when they had 31 dimes against Ball State, and tied the six-highest total in school history.
• Illinois' 45 made field goals equal the second-most in a game for an Illini team behind only the school record of 50 vs. Bradley in 1982
• The 10 made threes by the Illini ties for the fourth most in school history and is the most since hitting 12 vs. Auburn in 2003.
• The 41-point win marked Illinois' largest margin of victory since beating IPFW by 49 (86-37) on 2/22/05.
Karisma Penn had a career-game, scoring 30 points on 14-of-22 shooting and pulling down 10 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Adrienne GodBold returned to action against #14 North Carolina after serving a six-game suspension for violating team rules. She sat out the team's lone exhibition game and then missed the first five regular season games as well. She had two points and five rebounds in her 2010-11 debut versus the Tar Heels and then had eight points and four boards the next day against Ole Miss.

Sophomore forward Kersten Magrum will miss approximately six weeks with a stress injury in her foot. She had surgery on Nov. 10 to fix the problem and hopes to return in late December prior to Big Ten play. Magrum emerged as a key player for the Illini during the second half of last season, starting the last 15 games and averaging 6.9 points per game during that span.

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 22.7points and 11.1 rebounds per game thus far. New on the sidelines are assistant coaches Michael Peck and Usha Gilmore.

Illinois' first ever Youth Day at the Nov. 22 game vs. Cal Poly was a success. Over 2,500 grade school and junior high students attended the game, cheered for the Illini and listed to Coach Law and the Illini players speak after the game about sportsmanship, teamwork, quality education, anti-bullying, fitness and more, all components of Illinois' statewide public service announcement campaign called Tough Enough, Smart Enough.

The unusual 11 a.m. weekday start allowed for schools to attend the game as a field trip and students were allowed to bring their lunched inside Assembly Hall for the game. Illinois hopes to make Youth Day an annual event at women's basketball.