LIVE! Illini women vs. Colorado

LIVE! Illini women vs. Colorado

Final: Colorado 69, Illinois 62
 

The Illini scored only two points in the final 2 minutes, 59 seconds and saw the undefeated Buffaloes pull away for the nonconference win.

Illinois (4-3) led 60-57 after consecutive jumpers by Karisma Penn. But those would be the Illini's only points until Alexis Smith hit a field goal with five seconds left.

Smith led the Illini with a career-high 17 points along with four assists. Penn and  Taylor Tuck added 11 points each.

Freshman Arielle Roberson racked up 25 points, going 7 of 8 from the field and 10 of 14 at the foul line., for Colorado (6-0).

 

Illinois 43, Colorado 42

11:37 left in second half

Hero: Arielle Roberson

The Colorado freshman forward has 17 points, matching her season scoring average. Roberson is doing much of her damage from the foul line, where she's9 of 12.

Goat: Ball handlers

These teams have combined for 42 turnovers already; 22 by Colorado and 20 by Illinois

What I'm thinking:

-- Once again, the Illini are trying to overcome foul trouble. Center Karisma Penn picked up her fourth foul with 14:32 left. Illini forward Kersten Magrum also has four fouls. The shorter Illini can't afford to have these two off the court much.

-- Colorado had a key player in foul trouble, too; Roberson was whistled for her fourth with 12:02 left.

-- After closing the first half with a 10-1 run, Illinois is struggling to hit its shots. The Illini have missed seven of their first eight field goal attempts this half. Free throw shooting is keeping them in the game.

Halftime: Illinois 36, Colorado 30

Hero: Alexis Smith

The Illini point guard has scored a team-high 11 points and had three assists. She's figured in eight of Illinois' 11 field goals.

Goat: Colorado three-point shooters.

The Buffaloes are 0 for 8 from long range. No one on the team is abusing this shot, however. No Buffaloes player has taken more than two trey attempts.

What I'm thinking:

-- The difference in this game so far is that 10-1 run that Illinois went on to close the second half. Smith and Taylor Tuck each had three points in this surge.

-- Illini defense is playing with great energy, maybe the most they've displayed at home this season. They're holding Colorado to 37.5 percent from the field.

-- Taller Colorado is outrebounding Illinois 20-15. Something to keep an eye on in the second half. The Illini often will need to scrap for boards.

-- I'm impressed with Buffaloes point guard Chucky Jeffery. Very quick, very good passer. But Illinois is keeping her reasonably in check; she had four points and three assists at halftime.

Colorado 10, Illinois 8

11:56 left in first half
 

Hero: Illini free throw shooters

A 4-for-4 performance at the line is keeping Illinois in this game.

Goat: Shooters from both teams

Illinois is shooting 22.2 percent (2 of 9) and Colorado is at 28.6 percent (4 of 14, including 0 for  5 on threes).

What I'm thinking:

-- Both teams are playing tough defense but that doesn't completely explain the weak shooting percentages. Nobody seems to be hitting open shots either.

-- The Illini zone defense is extremely active today. Has caused Colorado some real problem.s

-- When they're matched up on defense, Alexis Smith has Colorado's All-Big Ten guard Chucky Jeffery; Kersten Magrum draws the defensive assignment on Buffaloes star freshman Arielle Roberson. Big keys to this game.

-- I'm not the greatest judge of attendance, but this could be UI's largest home crowd of the season. UI had its largest crowd in the season opener, 1,625.

-- Big day for birthday parties at the Assembly Hall. There are five tables set up on floor level to celebrate kids' birthdays.

****

Welcome to our live report from the Assembly Hall for today's women's basketball game between Illinois and Colorado.

The Illini enter with a 4-2 record, while the Buffaloes are 5-0. One of the most notable streaks Colorado has going for it is 18: That's the Buffaloes' number of consecutive wins in nonconference regular season games. Colorado also is 25-4 in such contests dating back to the 2010-11 season.

The Buffaloes were picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12 in a preseason poll of media members who cover the conference. However, Colorado went 21-14 overall last season and finished with a rush, going 3-1 in the WNIT to advance to the quarterfinals. Next to Iowa State, this might be the toughest opponent Illinois will have faced to this point in the season.

Keep an eye on Chucky Jeffery. The Colorado senior point guard is a do-it-all talent who was selected to both the All-Pac-12 team and the Pac-12 All-Defensive team last season. The Buffaloes also have an exciting new addition to their lineup in Arielle Roberson. The redshirt freshman forward was sidelined last season by injury, but she is making a major impact in her return to the court. Roberson already is a two-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week and was selected the MVP of a tournament that Colorado hosted. Roberson is averaging a team-high 17.2 points and has scored in double figures in each of the Buffaloes' games so far.

Illini coach Matt Bollant indicated Friday that forward Kersten Magrum would be in the starting lineup today. The redshirt junior missed three games with a left shoulder separation. In her first game back, Magrum played a critical role Thursday night in the Illini's victory against Wake Forest. Magrum came off the bench to play 29 minutes and contribute 11 points and six rebounds. It's doubtful Illinois would have beaten the Deamon Deacons without her.

This has been a busy stretch for Illinois. Today is the Illini's second game in three days and fourth game in nine days. This is a thin UI roster right now, and Bollant was sticking with a seven-player roster in Magrum's absence. After a physical game against Wake Forest, the Illini coach planned to lighten the load in Friday's practice.

Be on the lookout for the number 80 on the scoreboard today. Illinois has exceeded 80 points in all four of its wins. Last season, the Illini reached 80 points twice. However, the Buffaloes give up points grudgingly. They're holding opponents to an average of 56.0 points, and opponents are shooting only 35.1 percent from the field.

This will be Illinois' fifth home game of the season, with the Illini going 3-1 in the previous four. Colorado has played a similarly home-heavy schedule so far. Its lone road game was at Missouri-Kansas City, a 78-55 win.

We'll update this report at the midpoint and at the end of each half so be sure to check back in.

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