Final: Nebraska 75, Illinois 56
The Illini lost a season-high fourth-straight game Sunday, falling to No. 16 Nebraska in a Big Ten women's basketball game at State Farm Center.
Illinois (7-9, 0-3 Big Ten) shot 7.4 percent from three-point range (2 of 27) in front of a season-high 3,306 home crowd of fans on "Pack the Place" day.
Junior guard Ivory Crawford led the Illini in points (19) and grabbed eight rebounds. Freshman center Jacqui Grant contributed 15 points.
Senior forward Jordan Hooper led Nebraska (12-3, 1-2) with 22 points. Teammate Emily Cady had a double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds).
Check back for a full game story.
5:19 left in second half: Nebraska 63, Illinois 48
Hero: Ivory Crawford
The Illini junior has been a real warrior today, continuing to battle and producing 17 points and seven rebounds.
Goat: Illini defense
Their pressure hasn't come anywhere near to what Illinois needs to be effective. Some of the credit has to go to a poised and fundamentally sound Nebraska team (15 turnovers must be considered a victory for the Cornhuskers considering what the Illini typically do to opposing ballhandlers.
10:37 left in second half: Nebraska 52, Illinois 37
Hero: Emily Cady
The Cornhuskers forward is leading all scorers (14) points and rebounders (10). It's the junior's 14th career double-double.
Goat: Illini three-point shooters
Yes, we're repeating ourselves, but a 1-for-19 performance from behind the arce is killing Illinois.
What I'm thinking:
-- This game has really turned; Illinois was within six points with about 14 1/2 minutes left in the half. Then Jordan Hooper hit a three-pointer and Casey followed with a three-point play. It ignited a 15-6 Nebraska run that has Illinois scrambling for answers.
-- We just go the attendance figure: season-high 3,306 on "Pack the Place" day at SFC.
-- If Nebraska is vulnerable, it's in the area of depth. Just three points off the bench. However, that's three more points than the Illini bench has produced.
Halftime: Nebraska 26, Illinois 22
Hero: Nebraska free throw shooters.
The Cornhuskers are 9 of 10 at the foul line, enough to keep them ahead of rallying Illini.
Goat: Three-point shooters
Yikes, the teams are a combined 1 for 20, with the Illini the biggest offenders at 0 for 14.
What I'm thinking:
-- Impressive rally by a resilient Illini team. Illinois trailed by 13 points with just over 9 minutes left before taking a big cut into that deficit..
-- Ivory Crawford was a major part of the comeback. The Illini junior guard scored all nine of her points in the final nine minutes.
-- It's official: A world record was set her today for most people wearing a paper crown at the same time in the same location. A total of 2,000 paper crowns were given to fans. At 15:57 of the first half, the PA announcer asked them to put the crowns on. By 7:45 left in the half, he announced that the record had been set.
-- Illini trying to hold their own on the boards; Nebraska leads in that category 21-16. But Illini have foced 12 turnovers and converted them into nine points.
11:41 left in first half: Nebraska 13, Illinois 4
Hero: Jordan Hooper
The Nebraska forward has nearly half of her team's points (six) and two rebounds.
Goat: Illini shooters
Illinois has missed nine of its first 11 shots (18.2 percent) and is 0 for 8 on three-point attempts.
What I'm thinking:
-- When folks are sitting in C section, you know it's a big crowd. Fans took notice of "Pack the Place" and free admission.
-- Matt Bollant and his UI associate head coach, Mike Divilbiss, are channeling Lou Henson and wearing orange sport coats today.
-- Disappointing start for the Illini, particularly after a strong showing Thursday against No. 14 Penn State.
Welcome to our live report from State Farm Center for today’s Big Ten women’s basketball game between the Illini and No. 16 Nebraska.
It’s “Pack the House” day at the Farm, with free admission and a unique promotion. The first 2,000 fans through the doors will receive a paper crown?
Why? The DIA promotions staff will attempt to break the world record for most paper crowns worn at the same time in the same location. The current record, according to Guinness World Records, is 749, achieved on June 9, 2012, at the Pangbourne Village Fete in Pangbourne, England.
A year ago, a season-high 4,175 fans turned out for “Pack the Hall” day at the Assembly Hall — as SFC was then called — to watch the Illini and Michigan State. It was an impressive attendance figure considering the weather conditions that day — specifically the sleet that coated area streets.
The weather conditions are much kinder today, with a predicted high of 45 degrees, partly cloudy skies and a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
The Illini (7-8, 0-2 Big Ten) are in the midst of a 2-6 slide and still looking for their first conference victory. However, Matt Bollant’s team is coming off an encouraging performance against No. 14 Penn State.
Illinois led by as many as 12 points in the first half and was still ahead 38-35 early in the second half before the Nittany Lions surged ahead with a 15-2 run. Even then, Illinois kept battling, scoring 12 straight points in the final two minutes to cut its deficit to four points with 23 seconds left. The Illini definitely made Penn State sweat at the end.
Now, Illinois has an opportunity to show it can continue to be competitive against another of the nation’s top teams. Nebraska (11-3, 1-1) was the Big Ten coaches’ pick to win the conference in their preseason poll.
The Cornhuskers are coming off a 13-point loss Thursday at Michigan State after barely defeating Northwestern, 66-65, in their league opener. So Nebraska hasn’t exactly been rolling lately, and Illini veterans can call upon the memory of one of their most impressive performances last season — a 62-52 victory on the Cornhuskers’ court. They know Nebraska isn’t unbeatable.
As always, Illinois will need to rely on its pressure defense to overcome rebounding deficiencies. The Illini have forced 57 turnovers in their first two Big Ten games. Wisconsin turned the ball over 30 times, while Penn State had 27 turnovers. Illinois ranks 10th nationally in steals per game (12.1) and 13th in turnover margin (plus-6.67 per game).
Nebraska has one of the nation’s top players in All-American senior Jordan Hooper. The two-time first-team All-Big Ten forward ranks among the top three players in the Big Ten in scoring (20.2) and rebounding (10.6). She’s already recorded seven double-doubles this season .
If Hooper scores 32 or more points today, she’ll become the fourth women’s player in Nebraska history with 2,000 career points.
The Huskers graduated point guard Lindsey Moore, a second-team All-Big Ten pick of the coaches and media last season. But Nebraska has a strong successor in sophomore Rachel Theriot, who has moved over to the point after starting 28 games in the backcourt last season.
Theriot ranks second in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2-to-1) and fourth in assists (5.9).
For the second Illini game in a row, the BTN cameras will be on hand to televise the action live today.
And we’ll be updating this report during the game, so be sure to check back periodically.