Women’s basketball pulls out another last-minute victory, wins 4th of last 6

Indiana out-rebounded Illinois 47-32 on Sunday, but the Illini women’s basketball team controlled the boards when it mattered most.

The Illini (10-16, 4-9 Big Ten) secured every rebound in the final minute of a 61-60 victory over the struggling Hoosiers (5-20, 0-12), including three crucial offensive boards that resulted in a five-point swing in Illinois’ favor.

“They had a big front line, but I told my kids we need to make contact and rebound,” Coach Jolette Law said. “At the end, they refused to lose. Rebounding is not about height, necessarily; it’s about who wants it more and who is quickest to the basket.”

As the Illini trailed 56-60, “junior guard Adrienne GodBold”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/02/godbolds_productivity_off_bench_at_alltime_high converted a put-back while being fouled and connected on the resulting free throw to cut Indiana’s lead to one with 43 seconds left.

After junior Karisma Penn’s sixth blocked shot and on Illinois’ next possession, GodBold pulled down another offensive rebound as Illinois “head coach Jolette Law”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/01/win_or_lose_illini_womens_basketball_coach_jolette_law_is_married_to_the_game called a timeout with 10.8 seconds left. Penn missed a jumper at four seconds, but “Lydia McCully secured”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/02/mccully_embraces_leadership_role the rebound and the victory with the put-back.

“I didn’t want to lose, and the ball was in the air,” McCully said. “Someone had to go get it. We passed it and rotated the ball. KP (Penn) had a great look. I just went to the hoop, hoping for the rebound.”

The Illini squandered any momentum they may have gained in a “one-point victory over No. 10 Ohio State”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/02/illinois_womens_basketball_rides_late_surge_to_win_over_no._10_ohio_state on Thursday, letting the Hoosiers jump out to a 23-14 lead midway through the first half. But Illinois fought back and took a lead into the locker room behind 20 combined first-half points from McCully and Penn.

The duo scored Illinois’ final 13 points of the half. Penn, who stayed out of foul trouble for the second straight game, finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, six steals and six blocks while playing the whole game.

“Coach Law used to tell me how many points and how many rebounds she wanted me to have,” Penn said. “Now she just says, ‘Play a full 40 minutes.’ Now I don’t worry about going after every block. I just wanted to play smart.”

While avoiding fouls herself, Penn made 12 trips to the free-throw line, converting nine of those attempts.

“I was in the gym the other night for a long time,” Penn said of her free-throw shooting. “It showed today.”

McCully added 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and Alexis Burke, coming off her game-winning shot over the Buckeyes, chipped in 10 points.

“My kids are playing together,” Law said. “They understand what we’re looking for. I think everyone is stepping up. We’re playing together as a total unit.”

With the loss, the Hoosiers remain in last place with a 12-game losing streak and no conference victories. The Illini, on the other hand, are making a late push for “conference positioning”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/02/womens_basketball_down_but_not_out_of_big_ten_picture after an 0-7 start to the Big Ten season, winning four of their last six games.

“I have always believed in this team,” Law said. “We’re finally putting it all together. I know if we play as one unit, we can be a very dangerous team.”