Ladies Get Fourth Straight Over Illinois

The Hoosiers get a day off on Monday to contemplate the furious first week of the Big Ten season, in which they grabbed two wins and suffered one loss. The next game is a toughy, at No. 21 Ohio State on Thursday, but until then a job-well-done attitude should be prevalent amongst the Indiana team and staff. Even the Purdue loss last week was not bad (55-49 was the score), and Sunday’s victory against Illinois was definitely noteworthy what with the conference’s scoring leader (Jenna Smith) getting an outlandish double-double of 20 points and 16 rebounds.

Had the Hoosiers beat Purdue on Thursday, it would have propelled them to sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings. Well, after sending the Illini packing, Coach Jack’s troops still make the jump to the top spot, except now they have to share it with five other teams. Following three Sunday games inside the league, there are six teams sporting 2-1 records (Purdue played, but lost a non-conferece tilt to No. 1 Connecticut, 100-50). IU joins the Boilermakers and Buckeyes, Minnesota, Penn State, and Michigan at the mark.

Coach Jack made sure to mention the play of freshman Andrea McGuirt in the postgame press conference. McGuirt, who began the season with an injury, saw action for the sixth time and played for one seven-minute stretch in the second half. When she entered the game, Illinois led by two and got it to seven in the next few moments. But McGuirt made a free throw, drained a solid 15-foot jumper from the top left of the box, and then intercepted a pass in Illini territory and fed classmate Whitney Lindsay for a layup which kept the Hoosiers within one point with 9:26 left in the game.

“Getting that steal that changed the game around down the stretch, and to come off the bench as cold as she was, we thought that that was fantastic,” said Legette-Jack.

Illinois forward Danyel Crutcher finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds (6 offensive) and her layups and jumpers helped orchestrate an Illini comeback from eight down at the beginning of the second half. Crutcher fouled out of the game, though, with 2:47 to go and her team trailing by just four. Since Illinois only used six players in the game (two others combined for five total minutes, one being Crutcher’s replacement in Audrey Tabon), that loss was decidedly crucial at that point.

“I won’t say it was crippling,” said Illini coach Jolette Law, a former Iowa star and Harlem Globetrotter. “Of course having Crutch in the game, a veteran that can actually get the ball inside and really dare Indiana to double (team Smith), it did hurt us when she went out.”

A stat of note in the game was points off turnovers, where Indiana enjoyed a 24-4 advantage. The Hoosiers nabbed eight steals, two of which directly resulted in fastbreak layups. And congrats to Whitney Thomas, whose 16 points and 12 rebounds gave her the 14th double-double of her career. Thomas made a jumper to tie the score at 2-2 on Sunday, the sixth time this season she has scored the first Hoosier points of the game.