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Illini fall victim to OSU's hot shooting

Illinois started hot but gave up two big runs in the first half, and Ohio State took a 90-64 win at Value City Arena on Thursday. Jacqui Grant led the way with a career-high 23 points and Amber Moore added 20, including six three-pointers, but the Buckeyes made 25-of-29 free throws compared to only 6-of-7 by the Illini. Illinois falls to 9-11 overall, 2-6 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State moves to 14-10, 4-4.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (UI Release) – Illinois started hot but gave up two big runs in the first half, and Ohio State took a 90-64 win at Value City Arena on Thursday. Jacqui Grant led the way with a career-high 23 points and Amber Moore added 20, including six three-pointers, but the Buckeyes made 25-of-29 free throws compared to only 6-of-7 by the Illini. Illinois falls to 9-11 overall, 2-6 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State moves to 14-10, 4-4.
 
“Give Ohio State a lot of credit,” Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said. “We got out to a good start – we were up 16-5 after five minutes – we shot the ball and played with a lot of energy. And they responded and really played great basketball the next 35 minutes. Alston was really special tonight, so was Ferguson off the bench. We struggled to guard both of them; their penetration broke us down. They did a great job of finding shots, getting fouled and also finding their posts when they were open. I thought Ohio State was as good offensively as I’ve seen them play.
 
Illinois was shooting nearly 50 percent before missing 6-of-7 shots to end the game and finished with 24-of-55 for the field (43.6 percent), including 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) from three-point range. But OSU hit nearly 60 percent of its shots, making 30-of-52 (57.7 percent), and out-rebounded the Illini 34-21. Buckeye guard Ameryst Alston went off for 31 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 11-of-12 from the line, and three other OSU players ended with double figures.
 
After jumping out to a 16-5 lead in the game’s first 4:36, the Illini were out-scored 42-19 the rest of the half. Then OSU simply out-shot Illinois in the second half, making 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) from the field, compared to only 10-of-30 (33.3 percent) by the Orange and Blue.
 
The Illini scored the game’s first eight points on a trey by Jacqui Grant, another by Amber Moore and a putback from Grant on a missed three-pointer, forcing an Ohio State timeout with 17:43 on the clock. The Buckeyes got a layup off a set play out of the timeout but Grant hit another trey. After a three-point play by OSU’s Ameryst Alston, Moore drained a three-pointer from the left wing and Alexis Smith found a wide-open Grant in the lane late in the shot clock to go ahead 16-5.
 
But OSU responded with an 11-3 run before the under-12 media timeout, then scored the next seven points to pull ahead, 23-19. Grant hit another three, her third of the game, and the Buckeyes got a layup. But Ivory Crawford asserted herself, getting a driving layup then snagging a steal on the other end and taking it coast-to-coast for a layup that pushed the Illini back ahead, 26-25.
 
With the score tied at 28, the Illini momentarily lost their poise, turning the ball over six times in a seven-possession span. The lone exception was when Smith hit Crawford on a long outlet pass for a fast-break layup. But OSU grabbed a 35-30 lead at the 3:52 mark and finished the half with a 19-7 run to lead 47-35 at halftime. During one stretch, Illinois had eight turnovers in 10 possessions, which led to a 14-2 spurt. Grant had 15 points in the first half, while Moore and Crawford each had nine.
 
OSU started the second half with a 10-4 run, opening up its lead to 18 points at 57-39. Illinois scored six straight points, cutting the margin to 12, but OSU pushed it back to 64-47. Smith and Moore hit back-to-back treys, pulling within 11 at 64-53 but the Buckeyes got a layup, two free throws and a jumper, extending the margin to 17 and the Illini never got closer than 15 as OSU finished off the 90-64 victory.
 
Illinois returns home to face Indiana at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday. The Hoosiers fell to Northwestern, 58-52, in Bloomington on Thursday. Sunday’s game will also be National Girls and Women in Sports Day and Girl Scout Day. There will be displays around State Farm Center recognizing the contributions of girls and women in sports. In addition, girl scouts and their families will receive $2 tickets by contacting assistant marketing director Karl Feak at 217-244-2797 or kfeak2@illinois.edu.
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