Foul troubles continue to plague Crawford

By By: Stephen Bourbon

While Ivory Crawford has been playing some of her best basketball of the season on the offensive end of the floor, she’s had trouble staying there due to foul trouble.

Crawford has fouled out of four games this season, second-highest on the team behind center Jacqui Grant’s six, but has picked up quick fouls that keep her out of the game. The junior had 10 points and eight rebounds in the first half against Purdue on Monday, but three first half fouls forced her to miss time and she picked up her fourth less than two minutes into the second half.

“I’m not one to leave your best players on the bench and watch the other team beat you,” head coach Matt Bollant said. “You’ve got to be smart, and I think our kids do a good job of that for the most part.”

With leading scorer Amber Moore averaging just 9.9 points per game in Big Ten play, the Illini offense needs Crawford’s 15.3 points per game on the floor rather than watching from the bench.

 

Grant posts career game against Purdue

With Moore going cold from behind the arc, freshman Jacqui Grant has picked up her level of play, turning out one of her best games as a collegiate player against Purdue. Grant posted a career-high 22 points to go with seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals. After a sluggish start in the first half, Grant finished with 6-7 shooting in the second half.

Grant leads the team in rebounds, blocks and steals on the season.

“I thought the second half she was really good,” Bollant said after the loss on Monday. “We need her to be consistent, it’s not easy to do as a freshman, but she has the talent to do it.”

Offensive output aside, an encouraging sign of growth from the freshman was being able to play with foul trouble. Grant has fouled out of six games this season and picked up her third foul with 19:25 left in the game. Bollant chose to leave the forward in the game, and Grant was able to play without fouling and finished with 33 minutes on the night.

“I just thought, ‘I’ve got to be aggressive but be smart,’” Grant said. “I’m trying to get better with the fouls and I think I’m slowly but surely starting to get better. It’s working on defense, simple stuff that can be eliminated.”

 

Threes burying Illini in conference play

After holding nonconference opponents to only 24.9 percent from behind the arc, Big Ten opponents have been able to exploit the Illini on 3-pointers.

Illini opponents have drained 50 3-pointers in conference play at a 37 percent clip, six percent over the team’s season average, which has hurt Illinois. The 7.1 threes per game in conference is in stark contrast with the 4.9 threes allowed in nonconference games and has contributed to the team’s 2-5 record in conference play.

Stephen can be reached at [email protected] and @steve_bourbon.