Foul trouble plagues Illinois women’s basketball in loss

Only one Illini starter missed Sunday’s game at Purdue with injury, but the Illinois women’s basketball team was nonetheless shorthanded throughout.

Foul trouble plagued the Illini (8-16, 2-9 Big Ten), again without sophomore forward Kersten Magrum, who missed her second straight game with concussion-like symptoms, in the 77-66 loss to the Boilermakers (19-5, 9-2).

Starting guards Lydia McCully and Ivory Crawford fouled out and Preseason All-Big Ten selection Karisma Penn played just 14 minutes with four of the Illini’s 25 personal fouls.

Penn picked up her first two fouls within the first five minutes of the game, including one on the opening possession.

“It was a physical game,” said head coach Jolette Law. “Every time we made a run, they were able to sustain it. We have to continue to fight. Rebounds and turnovers are the categories I see as the difference in the game. You have to win the rebound battle and limit turnovers against a team like Purdue.”

With Penn struggling and Magrum out, junior guard Adrienne GodBold stepped up again for the Illini off the bench. GodBold extended her career high to 25 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 5-for-6 from the 3-point line.

“I was just focused on playing well for a full game today,” GodBold said. “I tried to let the game come to me. The outside shooting is something I always work on. It happened to pay off today.”

GodBold has at least 18 points in three of the past five games, including her previous career high of 19 against Penn State on Jan. 19. Alexis Burke pitched in 17 points of her own for Illinois.

“I tell her all the time that she could be a pro,” Law said. “She plays so unselfish and has become a nice outside threat. I keep telling my team that we need a total team effort and players like Alexis Burke and Adrienne GodBold were really important for us today.”

Purdue forward Sam Ostarello took advantage of Penn’s absence, scoring 21 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Courtney Moses also scored 21 for the Boilermakers, including a 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line.

Illinois’ McCully cut Purdue’s lead to 62-58, with her only points of the game coming near the seven minute mark, but Purdue pulled away for the victory.

The loss marked the first of back-to-back games against two of the top three teams in the Big Ten, with No. 11 Ohio State heading to Champaign on Thursday.

“February is a statement month,” Law said. “And right now we’re focused on getting wins down the stretch to make that positive statement.”