Women win home opener

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini rode the shooting of freshman guard Lori Bjork as they defeated Northern Illinois 73-57 in their home opener Tuesday night. Bjork did what she has done at the beginning of every game for the Illini this year. She hit her first two shots, one a 3-pointer, as the Illini raced out to a 7-0 lead within the first three minutes.

“I was pleased with the way Lori came in,” said Illini head coach Theresa Grentz about Bjork’s hot shooting to start the game.

After that the Illini would not score for the next nine minutes, and by that time the Huskies had gotten back in the game and were only trailing 10-7.

With seven minutes left in the first half the Illini were only 4-17 from the field, but the Huskies were not doing any better, shooting 3-20. Bjork had scored 11 of the 16 Illini points at the time.

The Ilini were up 18-16 at halftime, and Bjork had scored 13 points in the half.

The Illini ended the half missing 19 of their last 23 shots. The Huskies missed 22 of their 28 shots in the half.

“The fact that they were playing Illinois, maybe they were a little jittery,” said Huskies head coach Carol Owens of her team.

The Huskies came out in the second half and made their first two field goal attempts in the second half to keep the game close.

The Illini would eventually build an eight-point lead in the second half as they decided to drive to the inside and spread out the zone that the Huskies used for most of the game.

“I thought they did a great job of picking apart our zone by throwing skip passes and pulling our guards out,” Owens said.

The Huskies did not let the Illini stretch the lead to any more than eight and even brought their deficit down to four points, only trailing 47-43 with three minutes remaining in the game.

The Huskies would not score another point for the rest of the game as the Illini pulled away to make the score more lopsided than the game really was.

“We missed some easy shots, but we just couldn’t make a shot in the first half,” Owens said.

Bjork had a game-high 20 points and hit four three-pointers.

“Coming in, I knew Bjork was the player we had to watch,” Owens said.

Senior guard Janelle Hughes scored all 11 of her points in the second half to complement Bjork.

“Janelle was able to get us help, but I wish it would have come earlier,” Grentz said.