Ole Miss ends Illini women’s basketball winning streak

By Steve Contorno

The Illinois women’s basketball team had their three-game winning streak ended by a dominating performance by the Mississippi Rebels, despite a 21-point performance by sophomore forward Chelsea Gordon.

Ole Miss (6-2) defeated the Illini by a lopsided score of 75-50, as the Illini were held to just 50 points for the first time this season.

It was the second consecutive game Gordon set a new career high after she scored 17 points on Wednesday against St. Louis.

With the loss, the Illini drop to 6-2 on the season.

Illinois did all they could in the first half to keep the game close, even leading 24-23 with less than four minutes left in the half. But Ole Miss scored thirteen points before the stoppage, taking a 36-27 lead.

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The Rebels continued to pressure the Illini in the second half, and completely controlled the scoring, tallying 39 points to Illinois’ 23.

Ole miss forced Illinois to give the ball up 34 times and scored 39 points off Illinois turnovers, 20 coming in the second half. Illinois was only able to score four points on the Rebel’s 11 turnovers all game.

Illinois head coach Theresa Grentz said the Rebels were too much for the Illini to handle in the second half.

“We didn’t have a great first half, but we were still right there,” Grentz said. “In the second half their pressure took us right out of it.”

Sophomore guard Lori Bjork was the only other Illini to score in double digits. Bjork added 15 points to Illinois’ effort, but was stopped from contributing a single assist. The Ole Miss offensive production was a two-pronged attack through the play of guards Armintie Price and Alliesha Easley.

Price scored 34 points for the Rebels en route to an unconventional triple-double as she also contributed 15 rebounds and 12 steals. Seven of the rebounds were offensive boards, helping Mississippi score 14 second chance points.

“Price was tremendous with a triple-double,” Grentz said. “You have to give her her due.”

Easley scored 25 points, even though only three of them came from behind the three-point line. Price only had one three-pointer as well, but the Illini, whose offense often relies on their ability to hit the long-range shot, only scored 12 points off of three-pointers.

Illinois’ next challenge will be to come back home and take on another SEC opponent, Florida, on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The Gators (4-4) are the first 2005 NCAA Tournament participant the Illini will play, as Illinois gets set to take on their second difficult non-conference game in a row.