COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State usually doesn’t lose basketball games on its home court.
And Karisma Penn normally doesn’t shoot free throws very well.
That all changed Sunday as the Illini surprised Ohio State 79-73.
“Obviously, a huge win for our program,” Illinois coach Matt Bollant said.
Bouncing back from a disheartening overtime loss to Purdue, Illinois ended the Buckeyes’ 31-game home win streak, which was the second-longest in the nation. Penn led the way with a career-high 34 points, making a school-record 16 free throws in 17 attempts.
The senior came in shooting 60.6 percent from the line. She left at 65.1 percent.
“She said her dad’s been getting on her about her free throws, so it’s good that she stepped up and knocked them down,” Bollant said. “She’s been in the gym doing extra and working at it. You could see the confidence in her eye when she went to the line.”
The Illini made 30 of 34 free throws in their first win at Ohio State since 2001.
“It was a game where we had to be warriors down the stretch and make plays, and they definitely did that,” Bollant said. “They competed and battled.”
Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Penn is averaging 24.5 points and 13.8 rebounds in the last four games. She had 12 rebounds against the Buckeyes.
“I think it’s all about mentality when I go after rebounds. I just think that nobody else is going to get it but me,” she said. “And I think that’s exactly what happened down at the end, I wanted the ball and just went and got it.”
Illinois (8-6 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) got 14 points and five rebounds from Adrienne GodBold. Amber Moore added 10 points and five rebounds. And Kersten Magrum came off the bench for eight points.
The team effort allowed Illinois to rally in a gym where it rarely enjoys success.
“I think we’re just a better team (than in the past),” Penn said. “We’re more resilient. We went into halftime feeling like we had played a bad probably 14 minutes of the first half, so only being down four, we knew that we could play better and that’s exactly what we did.”