Final: Illinois 83, Cleveland State 64
It was the Ivory Crawford Show at the Assembly Hall on Sunday.
The Illini sophomore racked up a career-high 32 points, 14 more than her previous high set on Thursday against Bradley.
Illinois survived major foul trouble to improve to 2-1. Starter McKenzie Piper and reserve Nia Oden each fouled out, and Karisma Penn picked up her fourth foul with 12:36 left but managed to avoid her fifth.
The Illini won despite being outrebounded 50-37.
Amber Moore had a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) for the Illini, and Penn finished with 17 points.
11:26 Left In the Second Half: Illinois 58, Cleveland State 43
MVP: Ivory Crawford
The Illini sophomore, who scored a career-high 18 points in her last game, has done it again. Crawford has scored 21 points and is shooting 6 of 6, with three three-pointers.
Goat: Honesty King
The Cleveland State senior guard might want to consider stop pulling the trigger on her shots. She's 1 for 13 from the field, including 1 for 7 from the arc.
What I'm thinking:
-- Every time Cleveland State makes a mini-run, the Illini answer it and maintain control. At this point, there's no sense that Illinois' lead isn't safe or that the Vikings are capable of pulling this one out.
-- The Illini are coping with some serious foul trouble. Karisma Penn picked up her fourth foul with 12:36 left, and McKenzie Piper fouled out with 11:26 remaining. Matt Bollant has stuck with seven players so far, but if a couple more players foul out, he will be force to to go deeper on his bench.
-- Unless something changes, Illinois is going to lose the rebound battle -- badly -- but there's no sign that will cost them this game.
Haltime: Illinois 44, Cleveland State 30
MVP: Illini shooters
Illinois made half of its 34 shots in the first half and was 5 of 13 on three-pointers. Not many opportunities at the line, but even there they were on mark, going 5 for 6.
Goat: Illini rebounders.
After Thursday's loss to Bradley, defensive rebounding surely was a point of emphasis this week in practice. Yet, Cleveland State has nine offensive rebounds. Overall, Illinois is getting beaten on the boards 23-16.
What I'm thinking:
-- What hasn't Illinois made more of an effort to get the ball in the hands of Ivory Crawford. After scoring 10 of her team's first 15 points, Crawford disappeared from the offense. Finally, late in the half, she drew a couple of fouls and went 4 for 4 from the line to end the half with 14 points.
-- It's a reunion weekend for former Illini women's basketball players. The were introduced at halftime on the floor. Nice of the program to recognize it's heritage and history.
-- Another point of emphasis after the Bradley loss was being aggressive enough to draw fouls. Before Crawford went to the line late in the half, Illinois was 1 for 2 at the line. For the half, Cleveland State has 10 more free throw attempts and has outscored Illinois 10-5 there.
Illinois 19, Cleveland State 8
11:56 left in first half:
MVP: Ivory Crawford
The Illini sophomore guard can't miss. She's 4 for 4 from the field, including two three pointers, and had scored 10 points. Crawford had 10 of the Illini's first 15 points.
Goat: Cleveland State shooters
The Vikings have started out 2 for 14 from the field and trailed 15-0 before Imani Gordon finally scored for CSU with 14:38 left.
What I'm thinking:
-- Unlike Thursday night against Bradley, Illini defenders are permitting very few uncontested shots.
-- Not a good start for McKenzie Piper, who replaced the injured Kersten Magrum in the Illini starting lineup. Freshman Piper picked up her second foul with 15:17 left in the half and had to leave the game for a while. At that point, she was 0 for 2, with both misses on threes.
-- Cleveland State's best player, forward Shalonda Winton, has shown almost nothing so far. She's 0 for 3 with 1 rebound. Maybe the matchup between Winton and Penn won't be that competitive or that important to the outcome of the game.
Welcome to our live report from the Assembly Hall for today's Illini women's basketball game against Cleveland State.
The Vikings (1-1) are no stranger to the Illini (1-1), who rolled to a 72-42 win at Cleveland State last season. This will be the second meeting between the teams.
First-year Illini coach Matt Bollant knows the Vikings well, too. During his five seasons as head coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Bollant's teams went 10-2 against fellow Horizon League member Cleveland State. However, those two defeats came in conference tournament matchups, including the 2008 championship game.
The Illini will be without starting forward Kersten Magrum for this game and for at least the next two weeks. The redshirt junior separated her left shoulder during the second half of Thursday night's loss to Bradley. Magrum has dealt with more than her share of injuries since her sophomore season, and this latest one only extends that pattern. It has to be frustrating for the Mokena native. No doubt, Magrum had been looking forward to seeing the Vikings again after scoring what was then a career-high 23 points at Cleveland last season.
Bollant indicated Saturday night that freshman McKenzie Piper would take the 6-foot-1 Magrum's spot in the starting lineup. Piper, a 6-footer listed on the roster as a guard, typically has been the first or second player off the bench for Bollant and has averaged 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds. Magrum was averaging 4.0 and 4.5, respectively.
Magrum's loss makes the Illni's thin bench even thinner. Taylor Tuck had joined Piper in Bollant's primary seven-player rotation. It's likely that 5-10 sophomore forward Nia Oden will see more time on the court now. Oden is averaging 10.5 minutes per game.
One Cleveland State player to keep an eye on is Shalonda Winton. The 5-11 senior forward is averaging 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds. Her matchup with Illini 6-2 senior forward Karisma Penn (20.0 points, 14.0 rebounds) should be fun to watch. Last season's duel between the two was a virtual standoff: Penn finished with nine points and five rebounds; Winton had 10 points and seven rebounds, but she also shot 1 for 8 from the field.
Fans who held on to their ticket stubs from the Illini football game Saturday against Purdue get in free today, so we'll see if that boosts the crowd size. In two home games this season, the Illini are averaging 1,524 in attendance.
We'll update this report at around the midpoint and the end of each half, so be sure to check back.
-- Jeff Huth