Final: Illinois 76, Minnesota 66
Led by Adrienne GodBold and Amber Moore, the Illini scored 16 of the final 22 points of the game to pull away to a Big Ten victory at the Assembly Hall Sunday afternoon.
Illinois (14-9, 7-4 Big Ten) broke a 60-60 tie on a basketball by GodBold and led the rest of the way en route to sweeping the two-game season series with the Gophers (15-10, 4-7 Big Ten).
Moore scored nine points and GodBold had six in the late game-clinching run.
Moore finished with a season-high 25 points, while teammate Karisma Penn scored 22 and GodBold 20. Penn and GodBold each had double-doubles. Penn grabbed 11 rebounds and GodBold had 10.
Big Ten scoring leader Rachel Banham led Minnesota with 17 points but shot just 4 of 14.
11:33 Left in Second Half
Illinois 49, Minnesota 42
Hero: Karisma Penn
The senior center has been a rock for the Illini today, heading for a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds. Penn is shooting 8 for 12, and even triple-teams aren't stopping her.
Goat: Rachel Banham
Illini still doing a great job defensively on the Big Ten's scoring leader. The Gopher guard is shooting 2 of 11, but has managed 10 points because she's getting to the line. A far cry from the 37-point outburst Banham had against Illinois in January.
What I'm thinking:
-- Illini managing to keep its lead despite weak outside shooting. Illinois is 3 of 14 from three-point range, including 0 for 3 this half.
-- Tough game for Ivory Crawford. The Illini sophomore guard got into early foul trouble in the first half and played merely five minutes before halftime. Then, Crawford got into a scramble on the floor and apparently took a shot to the face from Banham. Crawford left the court holding a towel to her face. Banham was called for a flagrant foul and Crawford's replacement, Taylor Tuck, hit 1 of 2 free throws.
-- This game bears little resemblance to the frantic, up-and-down-the-court contest these teams played in Minneapolis. Unless something drastically changes, Illinois and Minnesota won't combine for 177 points today.
Halftime: Illinois 32, Minnesota 27
Hero: Illini passers (again!)
We're sticking with share-the-ball aspect of Illinois' game today. The Illini have 10 assists on their 13 field goals.
Goat: Rachel Banham
Never thought we'd be listing the Big Ten scoring leader in this spot, but Banham is 0 for 8 through one half. Illini really making it tough on a player who lit Illinois up for 37 points when they met earlier this season.
What I'm thinking:
-- Illinois' top long-range shooter is heating up. Amber Moore is 3 for 7 from three-point range. Good think for her team, which otherwise is 0 for 4 from beyond the arc. Moore leads all scorers with 11 points.
-- The Illini have really hurt Minnesota whenever the Gophers tried full or three-quarter-court pressure. Been easy pickins' for Illinois.
-- Illini in a bit of foul trouble (what's new?). Ivory Crawford picked up her third foul with 14:50 left in the half. Adrienne GodBold was called for her third with just under 10 seconds left in the half.
-- We wrote this earlier in the game and it still applies: Minnesota's staying close because it's getting to the line and capitalizing. Gophers are 12 of 16 there.
-- Very nice halftime show/ceremony to recognize those who have beaten cancer and those still engaged in the fight. Kudos to the UI and the women's basketball program for doing so.
10:54 Left in First Half
Illinois 15, Minnesota 10
Hero: Illini passers.
Illinois has recorded five assists on its seven field goals. Impressive ball movement, especially in defeating Minnesota's extended pressure.
Goat: Gopher shooters.
Minnesota is 2 of 7 from the field (28.6 percent). Credit aggressive Illini defense for part of that.
What I'm thinking:
-- Illini have used multiple defenders on Big Ten scoring leader Rachel Banham, including Adrienne GodBold, Karisma Penn and Taylor Tuck. Doing a good job so far, limiting Banham to one shot attempt, although she's had success drawing fouls and is 4 for 4 from the line.
-- Karisma Penn off to a good start offensively with 7 points. Penn had 21 points the last time these teams met in January.
-- As usual, lots of Orange in the stands today, but also lots of pink. It's a Play 4Kay pink game to raise awareness for breast cancer. Plenty of fans apparently got the word to show up in pink.
-- The Gophers are staying close via the free throw line. They're 6 of 6 on foul shots.
Welcome to our live report from the Assembly Hall for today's Big Ten women's basketball game between the Illini and Minnesota.
The Illni enter with a 13-9 record and are tied for fifth place in the conference at 6-4. The Gophers are 15-9 and in eighth place with a 4-6 record.
Illinois won the teams' first meeting this season at Minneapolis, pulling out an offense-dominated game, 91-86, despite 37 points by Gophers guard Rachel Banham. Her point total was the most against the Illini since Dec. 4, 2001, when DePaul's Lenae Williams racked up 39.
Minnesota has had a rough time away from home this season, going 1-5 in true road games and 1-4 in Big Ten away games. But Illinois isn't exactly setting the world on fire at the Assembly Hall. The Illini are 6-6 in home games and merely 1-3 in Big Ten games on their own court.
Recent history favors Illinois, however, The Illini have won the last three times they've hosted the Gophers, and Minnesota is 1-5 in its last six trips to Champaign.
Controlling Banham will be a major key for Illinois. The 5-foot-9 sophomore has a versatile offensive game, with the ability to score of the dribble, from three-point range and, with her aggressivness, by drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year has been a particular handful for opponents lately. She's scored 32 or more points in three of her last four games and leads the conference in scoring with a 21.6-point average. In Big Ten-only games, Banham is averaging 21.9 -- second in the league.
Defensive pressure continues to be a huge part of Illinois' arsenal. In the Illini's last 11 games, opponents have averaged a whopping 25.5 turnovers. The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank 11th nationally in steals with 12.7 per game. And they've raised their pressure since the start of the Big Ten race, averaging 15.4 steals per conference game. The Illini already are within 14 of matching last season's total for opponent turnovers.
As part of today's events, Illinois will hold a "Play 4Kay" pink game to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game, and cancer patients and survivors will be recognized on the court at halftime. This annual initiative by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is named for former North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who died of breast cancer in 2009.
It's a soggy day today in Champaign, with a steady rain that's forecast to bring at least a half-inch. We'll see if that holds down attendance.
We'll update this report around the midpoint and at the end of each half, so be sure to check back in.