Women End Skid

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

Freshman guard Chelsea Gordon hit the game winning free throw with 2.5 seconds left as the Illini ended their eight-game losing streak by beating Northwestern 60-59 Thursday in Evanston.

Gordon, starting the game for Janelle Hughes who was demoted to the bench for the start of the game, rebounded a Lori Bjork shot and put in the rebound as she was fouled by Wildcats forward A.J. Glasauer.

“She hit the bucket and free throw that we needed,” said Illini head coach Theresa Grentz.

The Illini started the game missing its first seven shots, but the Wildcats only had a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes. In that span, sophomore forward Danyel Crutcher picked up two fouls and had to sit for the rest of the half.

They would soon find their range as they hit four of their next five shots and would eventually open up a 17-11 lead with seven minutes left in the first half.

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The biggest lead for the Illini was nine points as junior forward Erin Wigley continued her steady play, scoring ten points in the first half.

“Wigley has done a good job for us down in the paint,” Grentz said.

The Wildcats came to life, ending the first half on a 10-2 run to pull within to one point, 27-26, by halftime.

The second half was hotly contested with both teams putting little runs together, but the biggest of the half was by the Wildcats who had a 9-0 run to take the lead 35-34 with 11 minutes left. The lead marked the first by the Wildcats since being up 2-0 early in the first half.

Northwestern hit seven straight shots to extend the lead to nine points with seven minutes left.

The Illini responded by going on an 11-0 run to take a two-point lead at 55-53 with three minutes left in the game.

“I was really happy with some of the kids that came off of the bench when we were down by nine,” Grentz said.

From that point, the game would go back and forth with both teams hitting clutch shots and free throws until Gordon’s heroics.

Senior guard Janelle Hughes came off the bench to score a team high 21 points as the Wildcats were led by senior forward Ifeoma Okonkwo who scored a game high 23 points in her final home game.

“I’m happy for the kids,” Grentz said.