CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Evansville women's basketball team played even with host Illinois for the majority of the first half, but the Fighting Illini broke away early in the second stanza, placing five players in double figures in a 84-52 win over the Purple Aces Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill.
Evansville (1-1) had trouble breaking through Illinois' aggressive defense, as the Illini (1-0) scored 22 points off of 26 UE turnovers and held the Aces to a 25.5 percent (12-for-47) shooting clip, including a 15 percent mark (3-for-20) from three-point range.
Redshirt sophomore Khristian Hart and senior Samantha Heck led Evansville with 12 points each and three Aces tied for the team-high with four rebounds. Illinois' Amber Moore led all players with 19 points, hitting five three-pointers and Karisma Penn recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Fighting Illini.
Both sides struggled to take care of the ball in the early going, as the Fighting Illini created transition opportunities, but were unable to capitalize and Evansville built a 7-4 lead just under four minutes into the contest.
Illinois responded by holding the Aces without a field goal for over seven minutes and McKenzie Piper connected on a shot from behind the arc to cap a 13-1 run that opened up a 17-8 advantage for the Illini.
Illinois took its largest lead of the first half at 31-15 with 4:16 remaining in the period on a layup by Alexis Smith and headed into the locker room with a 38-25 advantage.
The Fighting Illini opened the second half with a 15-1 run leading into the first media timeout and held UE without a basket until the 15:08 mark, when Hart scored on a layup in transition.
A free throw by Penn pushed Illinois' lead to 62-32 with 10:19 remaining in the contest, but the Aces countered with an 11-3 run to gain some momentum and trim the Illini lead to 65-43 just three minutes later. Evansville would get no closer than 22 in the second half and the Fighting Illini closed the game on an 11-6 run for the final 84-52 tally.
The Aces got to the free throw line 38 times, hitting 25 of their attempts (65.8%), while Illinois connected on 15 of its 22 attempts from the charity stripe (68.2%). The Fighting Illini won the battle of the boards, pulling down 52 rebounds to Evansville's 36, including 21 on the offensive glass for 18 second-chance points.
UE will be at home for the first time this season in its next contest, as the Aces welcome San Jose State to the Ford Center Saturday, Nov. 17, for a 1 p.m. game.