Women’s basketball finds redemption in win against Illinois State

_Editor’s note: A previous version of this article referred to Illinois State University’s head coach as Stephanie Glass. In fact, her name is Stephanie Glance. This article has been corrected._

NORMAL, Ill. ­— Forward Karisma Penn only attempted four field goals and scored four points for the Illinois women’s basketball team against the Illinois State Redbirds on Wednesday night.

The Preseason All-Big Ten selection, named in October by both coaches and the media, entered the contest averaging 16 points per game. Penn was stymied all game by foul trouble and a persistent ISU zone defense.

Illinois (4-5) still emerged with a 66-56 victory due to crucial contributions from more unheralded members of its roster’s offense and defense.

“I tell them every day that Karisma is going to be double-teamed and triple-teamed,” Illinois head coach Jolette Law said. “We have to step up and we have to be a total threat.”

Ivory Crawford and Amber Moore carried the Illini offense, scoring 16 and 13 points, respectively, that lead the Illini to take the win.

Adrienne GodBold also scored in double figures with 11 points.

Crawford’s 16 points was a career-high. The freshman’s offensive presence off the bench kept the Redbirds (4-4) at bay while Penn was saddled with foul trouble.

“I’m throwing a lot at Ivory in a little bit of time,” Law said. “A couple times, she had wide-open looks and she was so concerned making sure she ran the offense. Tonight she stepped up.”

Illinois raced out to an early lead and stayed ahead for the rest of the game with the help of Moore’s offense and defense.

About three and a half minutes into the game, Moore made a jump shot and then stole the ISU inbounds pass. She rewarded herself with another made jump shot, and Illinois gained an early 8-2 advantage.

Primarily known as an offensive treat, Moore harassed ISU all game on the other side of the ball, totaling seven steals by the final horn.

“I focused on staying low,” Moore said. “I’ve been working on defense and my main goal was staying low and anticipating the ball.”

“Most people will look at her as just a shooter,” Law said. “She’s said, ‘Coach, I want to work on my defense.’

Any great offensive player can be a dangerous defensive player.”

ISU cut the Illini lead to six points with four minutes remaining in the first half after Penn was relegated to the bench with her second foul.

Moore once again stepped up on the offensive end, calmly sinking a 3-pointer to end a three-minute Illinois shooting drought to give the Illini a 36-26 lead at halftime.

Penn found her way into foul trouble again early in the second half, committing two fouls in the first three minutes. Illinois confidently responded with a steal by Moore and layup by Lana Rukavina to gain a 45-33 lead, its largest of the game.

Illinois expected to see a zone defense to slow Penn in the post, and the guards answered with seven made 3-pointers on 41 percent shooting from the 3-point line.

“I know (ISU head coach) Stephanie Glance very well,” Law said. “She is a seasoned coach. If I had to scout us, I would force our guards to put up some numbers.”

GodBold was relieved to finally win a game against Illinois’ in-state rival after two tough defeats in recent years.

“The last couple years it was pretty tough,” GodBold said. “Some of my teammates wanted to cry they were so happy.”