Champaign, Ill. The Indiana womens basketball team pulled out the win in a back-and-forth game with Illinois, 63-56, Thursday night. The Hoosiers captured their first Big Ten road win this season as IU improves to 10-7 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten. Illinois falls to 7-11 overall and 1-6 in the conference.
Indiana head coach Kathi Bennett was extremely pleased with the way the way the team played and the outcome of the game.
This was a very big win for us, Bennett said. This was huge. We got Illinois best today because their backs were against the wall. Illinois is a talented team and for us to get the win on the road is huge.
The Hoosiers jumped on the board first, thanks to freshman Sarah McKay, but Illinois would answer back just seconds later. It would be nine minutes later when the Hoosiers regained the lead at 16-15. From that moment on, it was a battle for the lead. In the final nine minutes of the stanza, there were be nine lead changes, but Illinois was able to take a one-point lead into the half, 31-30. Six Hoosiers capitalized in the half, whereas Illinois production came from only three players.
The second half scoring started out slow as four minutes came off the clock before Indiana knocked down its first basket. Once the Hoosiers got the scoring started just inside the 16-minute mark, the Illini were unable to contain the Hoosiers. Indiana took the lead, 45-43, at the 9:39 mark and would never relinquish that for the remainder of the game.
Our defense was really good down the stretch, Bennett said. We put Angela Hawkins on Angelina Williams, and she did great. We made our free throws down the stretch and that was a huge difference.
Free throw shooting the last seven minutes was a major difference in the game. The Hoosiers went 11 for 13 from the line, with junior Jenny DeMuth a perfect eight-for-eight.
DeMuth finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
We always ask Jenny (DeMuth) to be aggressive, Bennett said. She is one of the best players in the Big Ten and she came through again tonight for us.
McKay pitched in with eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocks of her own. Her six blocks are a career high. Sophomore Cyndi Valentin finished the night with 17 points and three rebounds.
The Hoosiers are back home when they host Purdue at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25. If 10,000 fans attend the game, Vera Bradley Designs will donate $10,000 to breast cancer research. The game will be broadcast on 105.1 WHCC Radio Bloomington with Jeremy Gray calling all the action