Moore leads record rout
CHAMPAIGN — It’s not often that Matt Bollant and Mike Divilbiss are quiet observers when their Illinois women’s basketball team is playing.
In fact, Sunday afternoon might have been a first for the Illini head coach and his associate head coach — a couple of guys known to give their vocal cords plenty of exercise during a game.
“We were kind of at a loss for words,” Bollant said.
Understandable. What’s there to say when your team is in the process of beating an overmatched opponent by a school-record 84 points? Are you going to be picky about your defense when it holds an opponent to 10 points in one half?
“You want to show respect to the other team,” Bollant said after his Illini rolled to a 112-28 pummeling of Alcorn State in front of a season-high 2,909 fans at State Farm Center. “That’s what we kept talking about — how do you show respect?”
Bollant proceeded to count the ways:
— Give your bench plenty of court time (his three deepest reserves played between 12 and 16 minutes);
— Don’t press with the game out of hand (Divilbiss’ patented Buzz defense was put off-limits, too);
— Insist on four or five passes per possession;
— In the second half, don’t take the first open shot of any possession “even if it’s open,” Bollant instructed.
— And keep playing hard.
Yes, that, too.
“I think you show respect to the other team by taking it seriously and continuing to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Bollant said.
The result — even with multiple accommodations as the blowout progressed — was the most lopsided victory in program history. The previous record — a 74-point margin — had stood since March 1979.
“I was just a fun atmosphere,” Illini forward Amber Moore said. “We talk a lot about bringing energy and enthusiasm to the team, and it’s contagious. ... It was a fun atmosphere to get everybody in the game, as well.”
Led by Moore’s game-high 25 points, seven Illini scored in double figures. Reserve Mckenzie Piper (nine points) barely missed joining them.
“It’s great to see a lot of balance, different kids making play,” Bollant said.
This diverse and prolific attack nearly took down another long-standing school record. Illinois (3-1) finished one point shy of the single-game mark of 113 set in December 1981.
This game wasn’t all about the Illini’s offense. Illinois held the offensively challenged Braves (1-3) — who entered with a 40.7 scoring average — to a season-low point total. Alcorn State’s 10 points after halftime were the fewest ever in one half by an Illini opponent on the UI’s home court.
“I was really pleased today with the way we ... (continued) to play defense and talk,” Bollant said. “And not play to the scoreboard. I thought we did that.”
Perhaps the best overall performance was turned in by an Illini freshman reserve. Sarah Livingston produced the a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) while also blocking five shots, recording three steals and passing for two assists in 26 minutes.
“I thought that was the best game she’s played,” Bollant said.
On your mark ...
Records set in the Illini-Alcorn State women’s basketball game on Sunday:
Largest victory margin: 84 (previous record 74 vs. SIU-Edwardsville on March 1, 1979)
Opponent lowest field goal percentage: 15.2 (previous record 15.3 by SIU-Edwardsville on March 1, 1979)
Home court records
Largest victory margin: 84 (previous record 52 vs. Ball State on Dec. 8, 1981)
Opponent lowest field goal percentage: 15.2 (previous record 15.9 by Missouri-St. Louis on Dec. 1, 1977)
Opponent fewest points in a half: 10 (previous record 12 twice; last by Wayne State on Nov. 21, 2003)