Illini top Tulsa, earn title shot

Illini top Tulsa, earn title shot

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND, Bahamas — In the category of short turnarounds, this one surely ranks among the shortest.

After fending off Tulsa 82-75 on Friday in the opening round of the Junkanoo Jam, the Illinois women’s basketball team had an opening tip scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday against Iowa State for the championship of the Freeport Division. Elapsed time between the end of one game and the start of the next? About 15 hours.

The Illini weren’t blurry-eyed in the first half against Tulsa, shooting 44.1 percent in building a 38-29 lead. Illinois’ advantage grew to 17 points — 52-35 with 14:18 left in the second half — before the Golden Hurricane staged a furious comeback.

A three-point play by Kelsee Grovey with 6:23 remaining cut Tulsa’s deficit to 62-58. Then Amber Moore came to the Illini’s rescue.

The junior guard was fouled on the UI’s next possession while attempting a three-point shot. Moore sank all three free throws, then hit three-pointers each of the next two times the Illini had the ball.

Just like that, Illinois was ahead 71-58, enough cushion to keep Tulsa at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Moore finished with 21 points, while teammate Karisma Penn racked up a double-double (25 points, 11 rebounds). Ivory Crawford contributed game highs of 12 rebounds and nine assists to the win.

“KP was really tough to stop most of the night. Amber hit some big threes for us,” UI coach Matt Bollant said.