Illinois topples No. 10
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – So much for revenge.
For the second year in a row, a nationally ranked Arkansas women's basketball team fell victim to an unranked Illinois squad Wednesday night.
Unlike last season, No. 10 Arkansas had the home-court advantage this time. And a whole flock of Illini players mired in foul trouble in the second half.
Even with all that, this nonconference rematch was a rerun: Illini 100, Arkansas 81.
"I'm very proud of this team," coach Theresa Grentz said after her 11-3 Illini won their fourth in a row and knocked off a Top 25 team for the second time this season. "This is a special group, and tonight's win was very big for them. Any time a Big Ten team can win in an SEC (Southeastern Conference) arena, that's a great win."
Arkansas, which had won its last eight, fell to 12-2.
Illinois, which previously defeated then-No. 16 Wisconsin, shot 61 percent (36 of 59) and had three players score 20 or more points. Forward Ashley Berggren scored a game-high 23 points, while center Alicia Sheeler and reserve guard Tauja Catchings contributed 20 apiece. Sheeler also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
"This ranks up there with the Wisconsin game," said Catchings, who was inserted early for defensive reasons and played 33 minutes. "We were pretty confident. We knew if we did what we needed to do, and paid attention to the coaches and stayed together, we could do it."
All but one Illini starter finished with four fouls, and two fouled out.
"We were in serious foul trouble in the second half, and I just told the team that they had a lead and if they just exchange baskets, we would win the game," Grentz said.
Behind Berggren's 15 points, Illinois led 54-41 at halftime. Arkansas rallied to within 68-64 midway through the second half before a Sheeler three-point play ignited a 9-0 UI run.