College Basketball – @IlliniWBB Cruises Past Chicago State in Season Opener

Photo by Illinois Athletics
Photo by Illinois Athletics

Illini held opponent to less than 40 points for first time since 2013.

Champaign, Ill. – Fighting Illini women’s basketball earned its first win of the season on Friday night, Nov. 13. The Illini improved to 1-0 on the year with a 67-36 victory over Chicago State. The 31-point victory is the largest margin of victory for the Illini since earning a 44-point win over Southern Illinois last season.

“I’m proud of our team tonight, I thought they continued to battle throughout,” head coach Matt Bollant said of the contest. “I thought Kyley did a great job of getting us going offensively, she hit three threes in the first few minutes and I thought she played with a lot of energy tonight. I like the fact that we had a lot of different players make threes.”

Three Illini scored in double-figures on the night, led by sophomore Chatrice White who finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Redshirt senior Sarah Hartwell recorded 14 points for the Orange and Blue, and was one of three Illini to record four steals. UI totaled 19 steals on the night, and also forced 30 Chicago State turnovers. The Illini were able to put up 27 points off of those Cougar miscues.

Sarah Hartwell gave us a lift,” Bollant said of the redshirt senior’s performance. “Her offensive rebounds in the second half and the energy she played with was good. I also thought Brooke {Kissinger} played with a lot of confidence. She scored nine points and was 3-for-5 from the field. It was good to see Brooke play the way she did. I’m proud of our team tonight, and we’ll get ready for another good team on Sunday.”

Illinois pulled ahead to an early lead over Chicago State in the first quarter, and allowed the Cougars just 21 first-half points. The Illini held the Cougars scoreless from distance as the team went 0-for-5 from three in the first half. The Orange and Blue knocked down six first-half three-pointers on their way to 44.4-percent shooting from the field before the break. Redshirt senior Kyley Simmons tallied three triples of her own in the half on her way to a 15-point game. Her five triples in the contest sit just one short of her career best.

The Illini would stay tough on the defense for the rest of the night, keeping Chicago State scoreless from the perimeter until the end. Illinois held the Cougars without a bucket for the last nine minutes of the game. Chicago State scored just three points in the fourth quarter. Prior to Friday’s game, the Illini had not held an opponent to less than 40 points since earning a 112-28 victory over Alcorn State on Nov. 17, 2013.

The Illini have a quick turnaround as Ohio will visit Parkland College on Sunday, Nov. 15 for a 2 p.m. contest.

Stay tuned to FIGHTINGILLINI.com for all the latest on Illinois Women’s Basketball.

Notes

-Head Coach Matt Bollant has now opened the season with two 30-point victories during his tenure.

Chatrice White tallied her first double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds. She also recorded a double-double in the first game of the 2014-15 season. She has seven career double-doubles.

-With Friday’s win, the Illini improve to 32-10 all-time in season-opening games.

-Freshman Cierra Rice, sophomore Kennedy Cattenhead and redshirt senior Sarah Hartwell earned their first-career starts on Friday against Chicago State.

-The 31 point victory is the largest margin of victory for the Illini since earning an 86-42 win over Southern Illinois on Dec. 6, 2014.

Kennedy Cattenhead matched her career-high with four rebounds on the night and set a new career-best with three assists.

Sarah Hartwell matched her career-bests with one block and four steals.

-The last time the Illini gave up less than 40 points was against Alcorn State (112-28) on Nov. 17, 2013.