HQ prediction: Indiana 70, UI women 65

HQ prediction: Indiana 70, UI women 65

Sneak Peek
Illinois at Indiana,
2:30 p.m. today


Illinois (9-17, 2-11 Big Ten)
Pos.    Name    Yr.    Ht.    PPG
G    Ivory Crawford    Jr.    5-10     14.8
G    Taylor Gleason    Fr.    5-8    3.7
G    Ashley McConnell    Fr.    5-9    1.2
G/F    Amber Moore      Sr.    5-11      15.0
F    Sarah Livingston    Fr.    6-2    3.4
FYI: With five three-pointers last Sunday against Michigan, Moore moved past Krista Reinking into fourth place on the UI single-season list with 76. Moore also holds the single-season record of 86, set in 2012-13.

G    Alexis Smith    Jr.    5-9    8.0
G    Sarah Hartwell      So.    5-10     7.1
G/F    Taylor Tuck    Jr.    6-0    4.5

Indiana (17-9, 4-9 Big Ten)
Pos.    Name    Yr.    Ht.    PPG
G    Larryn Brooks       Fr.    5-5    16.4
G    Taylor Agler     Fr.    5-9    7.8
G    Alexis Gassion     Fr.    5-10    8.0
F    Tabitha Gerardot     Sr.    6-1    9.6
C    Simone Deloach    Sr.    6-3    5.8
FYI: Gerardot scored 16 of Indiana’s 32 first-half points Wednesday in a 70-58 loss to Michigan. The senior finished with a season-high 22 points and eight rebounds.

C    Sasha Chaplin    Gr.    6-4    6.3
G    Karlee McBride      Fr.    5-10    4.7
F    Lyndsay Leikem     Fr.    6-1    4.5


Site: Assembly Hall (17,472), Bloomington, Ind.
Series: Indiana leads 34-30. Last meeting: Indiana 77, Illinois 58 on Feb. 2, 2014, at Champaign.
TV: BTN; Lisa Byington (play-by-play) and Stephanie White (analyst)
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM and WDAN 1490-AM; Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst)
FYI: Illinois has won three of its last four games at Indiana dating back to February 2009.

Jeff Huth’s storylines

1 Last season, the Illini never lost more than three games in a row. More remarkably, during the course of a 33-game schedule, Illinois experienced two losing streaks. It’s been an entirely different story this season, with coach Matt Bollant’s second Illini team going on skids lasting three, four and, currently, seven games. The latter matches the program’s longest slide since coach Jolette Law’s final UI team lost its first seven Big Ten games in 2011-12. Fifth-year senior Amber Moore, who experienced the seven-game losing streak two seasons ago, says the current team is less experienced but is handling its slump in a mature manner. “It’s very tough,” she said, “but we’re trying to keep our spirits up, working extremely hard in practice each and every day regardless of the record.”

2 The last time these teams met, Indiana blitzed the Illini with 34 points in the first 9 minutes, 6 seconds en route to a 77-58 victory at State Farm Center. Coming one game after Illinois yielded 90 points against Ohio State, the defensive meltdown against the Hoosiers apparently was the last straw for Bollant, who shook up his starting lineup in a major way for the next game and largely has stuck to that decision. Since then, Illinois has held each of its four opponents to 70 or fewer points. For much of the season, 70 was the demarcation line for this team. At one point, Illinois was 8-1 in games in which it held an opponent to 70 points or less. Now, with less offensive firepower in the starting lineup, the Illini are 8-5 in such games. That’s one reason Bollant reinstated Moore to the starting five last Sunday, and she responded as her coach had hoped — not only on offense (team-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting) but on defense (season-high four steals). Moore said she has strived to keep her approach the same, whether starting or coming off the bench. “Just being aggressive whenever I get in a game,” she said. “Just trying to help out on defense ... just being reactive and getting tips and just having that energy for the team.”

3 Task No. 1 for the Illini defense today will be to get a handle on Indiana’s trio of freshman starting guards. In the teams’ last meeting, Alexis Gassion, Larryn Brooks and Taylor Agler combined to score 51 points and shoot 18 of 33 (54.5 percent), including 10 of 20 on three-pointers. “We let them get in-rhythm threes and let Agler get by off the dribble,” Bollant said. “Just got to be more proactive (defensively) and get there on the catch and not give them space.”

Indiana 70, Illinois 65

After today’s game, Illinois concludes the regular season with a trip to No. 17 Nebraska and a home game against a 20-victory Iowa team. In other words, this is the Illini’s best chance to end their losing streak — at least until the Big Ten tournament. While no Big Ten team is struggling more than Illinois, the Hoosiers have their own issues, losing their last three games and six of their last eight. Until the Illini win one, it’s tough to pick in their favor, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if this is the slump-buster. “I see us growing on the defensive end, and I think (the rematch is) going to be a better battle,” Moore said. (N-G prediction record: 21-5)


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