Fighting Illini Women's Basketball Team Improves to 4-0

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (fightingillini.com) - Illinois held Southern without a field goal for over 11 minutes in the second half, using a 21-1 run to pull away for a 62-42 win at State Farm Center on Sunday. Chatrice White posted her third double-double in four games, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, Jacqui Grant posted 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and Ivory Crawford scored 12, including nine in the second half. Illinois improved to 4-0 on the season for the first time in 12 seasons, since the 2002-03 Illini team accomplished the feat.

"I'm not sure we came (out) on edge at the start," Illini head coach Matt Bollant said. "We missed some shots early, and that probably affected our energy. I was really pleased with Ashley (McConnell) and Kennedy (Cattenhead) and Nia (Oden) late in the first half. For all of our top kids to be in foul trouble and us be down nine, then to get a big close at the end of the first half with all of them on the court, I feel like that gave us momentum. We felt pretty confident going into the second half. And we really challenged Ivory at halftime to be different and to play the way she's capable of playing, and she did. She came out in the second half and played really well."

Illinois used a 36-6 run from the 4:13 mark of the first half to the 7:40 mark of the second half, a total of 16:33 of game action, turning a nine-point deficit into a 21-point lead. In that span, Southern went 1-of-21 from the field and committed nine turnovers as the Illini took the lead and pulled away. The Jaguars didn't make a field goal for 11:28 in the second half, allowing Illinois to turn a two-point lead into a 19-point margin during that spell.

In addition to the efforts of White, Grant and Crawford, senior Brittany Carter posted a strong performance with eight points, eight rebounds and four assists, taking over primary point guard duties as Kyley Simmons nursed a shoulder injury suffered against Memphis on Thursday. Simmons is expected to return to the floor on Nov. 27 when the Illini face No. 13 Kentucky.

The Orange and Blue held the Jaguars 26.9 percent (14-of-52) shooting from the floor, including 5-of-29 in the second half. It marks Illinois' lowest opponent field-goal percentage of the season and the fourth game that UI has held its foe under 35 percent from the floor. The Illini out-rebounded Southern 50-39 and controlled the paint by a 40-12 margin. The Illini also gathered 16 steals, forcing 27 turnovers and turning them into 26 points.

The Illini struggled to find a rhythm from the outset, starting 3-of-18 from the field, as Southern took a 14-8 lead. But Amarah Coleman got a pair of fast-break layups to pull Illinois within 16-12 at the 8:30 mark. Ivory Crawford's running 10-footer on the baseline got the Orange and Blue within two but Southern banked in an 18-footer from the left wing to go up 18-14.

Coleman hit two free throws to cut the margin to two but Southern went on a 7-0 spurt from there, pushing the lead to 25-16 as Illinois missed two field goals, the front end of a one-and-one, and made two turnovers. But the Illini kicked it into gear, forcing four Southern turnovers and holding the Jaguars without a field goal in the final 4:13. Illinois used an 11-2 run to tie the game, 27-27 at half. Grant had eight points in the run and finished the half with a team-best nine.

The Illini kept the momentum to start the second half, extending their run to 19-4 to lead 35-29 at the under-16 media timeout. Illinois held Southern without a field goal for 11:28, turning a six-point lead into a 21-point advantage, as it led the Jaguars 52-31 at the 7:40 mark. Crawford had 10 points and White six in that spurt as the Illini iced the victory halfway through the second half.
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