Basketball

Illini Host Terps for Televised Contest

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THE COACHES

ILLINOIS: Nancy Fahey  //  18-34 at Illinois (2nd year)  //  755-167 overall (33rd year)

MARYLAND: Brenda Frese //  448-121 at Maryland (17th year) // 504-151 overall (20th year)

SERIES NOTES vs. MARYLAND

Series Record: Illinois trails, 8-0

Last Meeting: December 28, 2017 | Maryland 100, Illinois 65 | College Park, Md.

Series Streak: L-8

Series in Champaign: Illinois trails, 0-2

Series in College Park: Illinois trails, 0-4

Fahey vs. Maryland: 0-1

Illinois…

…ranks 5th in the B1G and 33rd in the nation for its 4.7 blocks per game

…ranks 7th in the B1G for its 7.1 steals per game in league play

…shooting 42.8-percent from the field to rank 7th in the Big Ten

…junior Brandi Beasley is 2nd in the B1G with 5.0 assists per game

…senior Alex Wittinger ranks 7th in the country for her 55 blocks

Alex Wittinger ranks  9th in the B1G for her 15.2 points per game

…freshman Arieal Scott ranks 7th in the B1G for her 2.1 3FG per game

…has knocked down 130 3FG this season, the 4th-most in the B1G

• MONDAY’S GAME: The Illini are set to host the Maryland Terrapins on Monday, February 4 at 6:30 p.m. The game will air live on the Big Ten Network, and fans can also listen in on WDWS AM-1400. Tickets for Monday’s matchup start at just $5. Fans can purchase at Illinois Ticket Office or through FightingIllini.com.

• COMING UP:  Illinois will travel to West Lafayette to take on Purdue, February 7, before hosting Wisconsin on February 10 for National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Tickets will be available for $3, and several Fighting Illini women’s teams will be signing autographs on the concourse before the game.

• LAST TIME OUT: Fighting Illini women’s basketball took on the Ohio State Buckeyes in an evening matchup Thursday in Columbus. Three Illini scored in double-figures in the battle, led by junior Brandi Beasley who tallied 23 points and added five rebounds and three assists. The Orange and Blue were tough defensively, and outrebounded the Buckeyes, 39-30, but Ohio State capitalized from three-point range to earn the, 78-70, victory. UI shot 42.1-percent from the floor, facing 42.6-percent from Ohio State. Illinois forced 12 Ohio State turnovers and added four steals overall. The Buckeyes netted 12 three-pointers on the night, shooting 44-percent from distance. Wittinger finished with 18 points on the night, and added five boards for the Orange and Blue. Scott joined Wittinger and Beasley in double-figures, tallying 11 points and five rebounds.

• SCOUTING THE TERRAPINS:  Currently second in the Big Ten and 11th in the country, the Maryland Terrapins own a 9-1 record in league play and a 17-4 mark overall this season. Maryland is averaging 76.3 points per game, which ranks third in the Big Ten. Kaila Charles leads the scoring charge for the Terrapins with her 16.3 points per game, while Taylor Mikesell is also among team leaders for her 14.6 points per contest. Shakira Austin leads the Terps ont he glass with her 10.6 boards per game.

The FAHEY ERA CONTINUES

The Illini are in their second season under the direction of head coach Nancy Fahey. In her first season at Illinois, Fahey coached the Orange and Blue to a 9-5 nonconference record, which marked the best start to the season since Illinois also earned nine non-conference victories in the 2014-15 campaign (9-3). Illinois won four of its last five games leading up to league play, with the streak marking the most consecutive victories for the Orange and Blue since the start of the 2015-16 season. Under Fahey’s guidance, Illini junior Alex Wittinger garnered All-Big Ten Second Team honors, and also matched the school record for single-season offensive rebounds (125). Wittinger earned the program’s second-ever triple double during the 2017-18 campaign, and set a new single-game record for blocked shots (11).

ONE OF THE GREATS

Illinois head coach Nancy Fahey is in the midst of quite the storied career. She has accumulated 755 career victories, a number that ranks among the top totals in the NCAA. Her win total currently checks in at No. 19 among all NCAA head coaches, a category that’s led by Pat Summitt (1098). Fahey’s 750 career victories also ranks eighth among current active NCAA Division I head coaches and 12th among all active NCAA head coaches. She has racked up the second-most career victories among active Big Ten head coaches as well. Of active head coaches with more than 700 victories, Fahey’s .822 winning percentage ranks second only to Geno Auriemma (.884).

TAKING DOWN THE TOP 25 

The Fighting Illini earned their first Big Ten victory of the season and the first of head coach Nancy Fahey‘s tenure at Illinois on Sunday, January 6, defeating 12th-ranked Minnesota, 66-62. The win marked Illinois’ first victory over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 17 Iowa (73-61) on January 8, 2015. The win over Minnesota also marks Illinois’ first victory over a top-15 opponent since a 77-71 win over No. 9 Kentucky on Nov. 27, 2014. Illinois also overcame a 17-point deficit to earn the win, which marks the fifth-largest deficit overcome by any team in a victory this season.

ON THE HUNT FOR 1K

Illini junior Brandi Beasley ended the hunt for her 1,000th career point on January 24 at Michigan State. She netted her milestone point on a free throw during the third quarter, and finished the game with a game-high 15 points. She has racked up 1,045 career points to date, and became the 30th Illini to reach 1,000 career points in Illinois history. Senior Alex Wittinger is also a member of the 1,000 point club as she has tallied 1,481 career points so far.  Wittinger ranks 12th on Illinois’ career scoring list.

A GRAND OLE TIME

Illinois boasts two members of the 1,000-point Club on its current squad this season, both reaching the milestone mark in less than 82 games. Both sit among the top-15 fastest Illini to score 1,000 career points.

Not only that, but both Beasley and Wittinger scored their 1,000th career point on a free throw in consecutive years. The last three Illini to reach the 1,000-point mark have scored their milestone point on a free throw, and since 2000, five Illini have joined the club in that same manner (Allison Curtin: 2000-01; Lori Bjork: 2007-08; Chatrice White: 2015-16; Wittinger: 2017-18, Beasley: 2018-19).

Name Years Played Games to reach 1K Points     

1. Ashley Berggren (1994-98) 56 games

2. Lisa Robinson (1978-92) 61 games

Chatrice White (2014-16) 61 games

4. Susan Blauser (1998-00) 64 games

5. Kendra Gantt (1981-85) 65 games

6. Jenna Smith (2006-10) 66 games

7. Allison Curtin (1998-01) 66 games

8. Jonelle Polk (1983-87) 70 games

9. Mandy Cunningham (1990-94) 72 games

Karisma Penn (2009-13) 72 games

11. Lynnette Robinson (1978-82) 77 games

Angie McClellan (1984-88) 77 games

Angelina Williams (2001-05) 77 games

14. Alex Wittinger (2015-present) 79 games

15. Brandi Beasley (2016-present) 81 games

16. Alicia Sheeler (1996-99) 82 games

17. Sarah Sharp (1987-91) 83 games

18. Kris Dupps (1991-95) 85 games

19. Krista Reinking (1994-98) 86 games

20. Tauja Catchings (1996-2000) 89 games

Lori Bjork (2005-08) 89 games

WITTINGER ON THE GLASS

Illini senior Alex Wittinger crashed the boards last season as she closed the year tied at No. 9 all-time at Illinois for her 278 total rebounds on the year. Wittinger had a monster performance against Ohio State (Feb. 13, 2018) as she grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds. Her 11 offensive boards in the matchup mark the third-most for an Illini in a single-game in program history, and she is joined in that spot by Jonelle Polk who also grabbed 11 at Indiana in 1987. Wittinger recorded 125 offensive rebounds last season, which matches Illinois’ single-season record set by Karisma Penn (2013-13). She currently ranks third all-time for her 378 career offensive boards, and is at No. 7 on the all-time total rebounding list (887).

Wittinger is averaging 3.2 offensive boards per game this year, which puts her sixth in the Big Ten. Her 7.9 total rebounds per game rank ninth in the Big Ten.

STEALING AWAY

Illinois has snatched 136 steals this season with 71 of those coming in Big Ten play. UI ranks sixth in the league for its 7.1 steals per game in conference play. Junior Brandi Beasley is a major contributor to those numbers as she leads the team with 19 steals in Big Ten games (1.9 per game). Beasley comes in sixth in the league for her steals in conference play.

IT’S FOR FREE

Illinois has taken advantage from the charity stripe since starting league play, knocking down 100-of-135 opportunities. UI’s 74.1-percent free throw shooting in conference play ranks fourth in the league. Junior Courtney Joens (9-of-10) and freshman J-Naya Ephraim (12-of-13) are also among team leaders in league play as they are shooting 90-percent or better from the line in Conference play.

BLOCKING UP THE RECORD BOOKS

Now in her senior season, Alex Wittinger has already had quite the career for the Illini. She tallied 75 rejections through 31 games last season, a number that ranked 18th in the country and is just three shy of Illinois’ single season record. She tallied 74 blocks in the 2016-17 season, which sits in the No. 3 single-game spot all-time at Illinois. Wittinger has recorded five or more blocks in five career games and reset her own Illinois single-game blocks record with 11 rejections at Penn State. That number also reset the Bryce Jordan Center blocked shots record.

Wittinger became just the eighth player in Illinois history to record 100 career blocks on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 and also set a new single-game record with her eight rejections against Wright State during the 2016-17 season. She currently ranks second all-time with her 254 career blocked shots and will chase the No. 1 spot this season. Wittinger is 17 rejections away from tying the top spot and will need to average 2.2 blocks per game throughout the regular season to own the record.

Illinois Career Blocked Shots List

1. 271 Karisma Penn 2009-13

2. 254 Alex Wittinger 2016-

3. 231 Jenna Smith 2006-10

4. 163 Lacey Simpson 2005-10

5. 156 Kendra Gantt 1981-85

BEASLEY’S BACK

The Illini return junior point guard Brandi Beasley for her junior season in 2018-19. After a standout freshman season, Beasley returned in her sophomore year to appear in all 31 of Illinois’ matchups. She was among Illinois scoring leaders last season as she averaged 12.3 points per game. She led Illinois in assists, dishing 3.6 per game and totaling 111 on the year. Beasley has racked up 337 assists so far in her career in the Orange and Blue, and ranks seventh all-time for that number.

Beasley is averaging 5.0 assists per game this year, a number which leads Illinois and ranks among the nation’s best. Beasley ranks third in the Big Ten for her 5.2 dimes per game, and ranks 38th in the country for that  number. Her 106 assists rank 29th in the nation. Beasley’s 1.90 assist turnover ratio ranks seventh in the league as well.  Beasley has dished at least one assist in every game of her career thus far (83), and has passed out five or more dimes in 28 contests. She’s passed out 10 dimes in two games this year.

MOST RECENTLY

Illini junior Brandi Beasley has been strong as of late, she leads Illinois averaging 15.0 points per game over the last five games. Beasley is joined in double-figures by senior Alex Wittinger and freshman Arieal Scott who are averaging 13.4 poitns per game during that span. Scott has knocked down 14 three-pointers in the last five games, and is shooting 79-percent from the free throw line. Beasley leads Illinois with her 49.2-percent shooting over the last five contests and has knocked down seven treys in that span.

GOING THE DISTANCE

The Orange and Blue have knocked down 130 three-pointers this season, with 66 of those coming during Big Ten play. UI is averaging 6.6 treys per game in league play to rank fourth in the Big Ten. Freshman Arieal Scott leads the Big Ten with her 2.8 treys per game in conference play. She is shooting 37.3-percent shooting from beyond the arc in league play, a number that sits seventh in the conference.

BENCH POINTS 

Illinois’ bench has been strong this season, contributing 35-percent of Illinois’ scoring. Freshman Arieal Scott leads the Orange and Blue when coming off the pine, averaging 10.9 points per game. She’s leads the team with her 36 three-pointers on the year as well. Graduate transfer Sarah Shewan is averaging 5.1 points per game off the bench, and oins freshman J-Naya Ephraim aomg Illinois rebounding leaders when coming off the pine as both are grabbing 2.8 rebounds per game. Junior Courtney Joens is averaging 7.3 points and 2.9 boards per game when coming off the bench.

The Illini bench has contributed 30 or more points in five games this season, led by a season-best 39 points against Alabama A&M and Nebraska.

THE BIG 2-0-0

Fighting Illini senior forward Alex Wittinger earned her 200th career block on Nov. 7 in Illinois’ season opener against Alabama A&M. Wittinger is just the third Illini in school history to reach the 200 blocked shots mark, and she needs just 20 more blocks to take sole ownership of Illinois’ career blocked shots record.

Wittinger has totaled 55 blocks this season, which ranks third in the Big Ten and eighth in the country. She is averaging 2.6 blocks per game this year, which comes in at 12th in the country and third in the Big Ten. Her 24 blocks in league play (2.4 per game) rank third in the conference.

WHAT A START 

The Orange and Blue opened the 2018-19 campaign with an 8-3 start in nonconference play. UI won four consecutive games to start the season, and also went on a four-game winning streak inside the State Farm Center from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15. Illinois’ .727 nonconference winning percentage this season marks the highest for an Illini squad since starting the 2014-15 campaign with a 9-5 nonconference record (.750).

ON THE BOARDS

The Fighting Illini posted quite the rebounding performance against Valparaiso, outrebounding the Crusaders, 51-23. The 28-rebound margin marks the largest rebounding advantage posted by an Illinois squad since outrebounding Fort Wayne (then IPFW), 51-22, on February 22, 2005.  Illinois followed that up with a season-best 56 rebounds against Sacramento State. The Illini have outrebounded three opponents by 10 or more boards this season, and have outrebounded 11 opponents overall.

The Orange and Blue are averaging 37.9 boards per game this season, grabbing 27.1 defensive boards per game. The Illini rank seventh in the Big Ten for their defensive rebounds per contest this season.

ANDREWS ON POINT

Illinois junior Ali Andrews is among Illini returners this season. Last season, Andrew’s matched Illinois’ single-season three-point field goal percentage record with her 41.2-percent shooting from distance (40-97). Andrews recorded a carer-high 26 points against Wichita State at the New Mexico Thanksgiving Tournament last season, highlighted by another career-best six three-pointers (6-of-8) and 81.8-percent shooting from the floor. In her freshman season, Andrews netted 37-of-94 three-pointers. Her 100 career treys made currently rank 9th all-time at Illinois.

THE CENTURY MARK

Illinois posted a season-best 107 points in a loss to Sacramento State in San Luis Obispo, California. Illinois’ 107 points mark the fourth-most in a game in Illinois history and the first time since Nov. 17, 2014 that an Illini squad has put up more than 100 points in a game.

HOME SWEET HOME

The Illini have been strong inside the State Farm this season, after starting out the season with a 7-0 record on Lou Henson Court. The last time an Illinois squad started the year with a 7-0 record at the State Farm Center was the 2006-07 season. Illinois went 7-0 at home to start the 2015-16 campaign, but the first four games were played at Parkland College due to arena renovations.

The Illini are shooting 44.6-percent from the floor and outscoring opponents by 4.2 points per game inside State Farm Center this season. Alex Wittinger leads the Illini at home, averaging 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season while also shooting 55-percent from the floor. Brandi Beasley is also among scoring leaders at the State Farm Center, averaging 10.9 points per game. She’s dished 68 of her 103 dimes at home. Ali Andrews is strong from distance at home, She’s made 18 of her 23 treys at home. Freshman Arieal Scott has also knocked down 20 treys on Lou Henson Court so far this year.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE THE FUN

Senior Alex Wittinger (32 pts, 14 rebs) and junior Brandi Beasley  (12 pts, 10 ast) combined for two double-doubles in Illinois’ loss to Sacramento State. The two double-doubles in the contest mark the first time the Illini have seen two players record double-doubles since November 30, 2016 in a 76-70 loss to Wake Forest, when both Wittinger and Beasley also combined for a pair of double-doubles. Wittinger finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in that contest, and Beasley tallied 14 points and 11 boards.

OVERTIME EXTRAVAGANZA

The Fighting Illini entered into new territory against Eastern Michigan on Dec. 1, playing their second-consecutive overtime contest. Illinois’ pair of games (Clemson, EMU) marks the first time in program history that an Illini squad has played back-to-back overtime games. Including this season, Illinois has played two or more overtime games in nine seasons all-time.

The Illini continued to set new trends in December, taking on Indiana in their third overtime matchup of the season. The contest marks the first time in program history that the Orange and Blue have played three extra frames in one season.

RACING AHEAD

Illinois earned a 32-point victory over the Murray State Racers on Dec. 11, which marked the largest margin of victory for Illinois this season and the widest since earning a 37-point win over Rutgers on January 7, 2017. Illinois has won three games by 20 or more points this season, and the Orange and Blue have earned four 20+-point victories under head coach Nancy Fahey in the last two seasons.

NEWCOMERS IN ACTION

All five Illini newcomers made their debut in the Orange and Blue against Alabama A&M, each tallying at least two points. Freshman Arieal Scott led the way with 10 points for the Illini, and freshman J-Naya Ephraim added eight rebounds on the day.  Freshman Mackenzie Blazek was also a standout performer as she recorded seven points and three boards.

TRIPLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE

Illini senior Alex Wittinger reached several milestones on January 23, 2018 at Penn State. In addition to recording her 1,000th career point, she carded the second triple-double in Illinois’ history with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. The last Illini player to record a triple-double was Kim Brombolich on Jan. 22, 1982. Wittinger is just second player in the Big Ten Conference to record a triple-double this season and 17th player in the nation. She recorded the fifth points-rebounds-blocks triple-double in the nation this season. Wittinger is the first Illini in program history to earn a triple-double with points, rebounds and blocked shots.

PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN HONORS

Fighting Illini senior forward Alex Wittinger was honored by the Big Ten Conference as she was named to the 2018-19 Preseason All-Big Ten Team as chosen by both the league’s coaches and media. Wittinger led Illinois in several statistical categories last season, including scoring (15.0 ppg.), rebounding (9.0 rpg.), blocked shots (75) and field goal percentage (48.8). She ranked among the top five in the Big Ten for her total rebounding, offensive rebounding and blocked shots numbers.

LISA LESLIE AWARD WATCH LIST

Fighting Illini senior Alex Wittinger was named to the 2019 Lisa Leslie Award Watch List, as announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Named after the three-time All-American and 1994 National Player of the Year, the annual award in its second year recognizes the top centers in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball. Wittinger is one of 20 candidates named to the watch list. By mid-February, the watch list of 20 players for the 2019 Lisa Leslie Award will be narrowed to just 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to Ms. Leslie and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. The Selection Committee for the Lisa Leslie Award is composed of top women’s college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers. Fans will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist at www.hoophallawards.com. The winner of the 2019 Lisa Leslie Center Award will be revealed on an ESPN platform during the 2019 Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida.

CLEAR BAG POLICY

Beginning with the 2018-19 season, fans attending events at State Farm Center will be permitted to carry one clear plastic or vinyl bag that does not exceed 12″x6″x12″, or one clear drawstring bag not to exceed 12″x12″, or one, one-gallon clear plastic or zip-lock bag. A small clutch no larger than 4.5″ x 7″ may also be carried in addition to one clear bag. Diaper bags (with child) and bags approved for medical needs will be permitted after search by security personnel. All other bags, backpacks, totes and coolers are strictly prohibited. To present a safe event for everyone, jackets may be searched upon entry. If prohibited items are found, the item will be confiscated OR the guest may personally return it to their vehicle or otherwise dispose of the item away from the facility. State Farm Center does not check or otherwise safeguard personal belongings. This bag policy is subject to change. Please check the event details for any additional specific event restrictions.

ILLINI ON THE NETWORK 

Three of Illinois’ games will air live on the Big Ten Network, and the remaining conference games will be streamed on BTN Plus.The Illini will make their Big Ten Network debut on December 31 at Northwestern, with a tip time set for 2 p.m. CT. Illinois will have two home games televised live on the network, beginning February 4 against Maryland. Illinois will also host Penn State on BTN at 6:30 p.m. February 24. The 2019 Big Ten Tournament will also be aired on the Big Ten Network, with games beginning at 12:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, March 6 and continuing through Game 12 on Saturday, March 9. The Big Ten Tournament Championship Game will air on ESPN2 on Sunday, March 10 at 5 p.m. CT. All BTN basketball programming can be streamed via the web, smartphones, tablets and connected devices on BTN2Go and the Fox Sports app.

ILLINI WBB TICKETS

Season and single-game tickets for the 2018-19 Fighting Illini women’s basketball season are available now. Fans can renew, upgrade or purchase new season tickets online, at the Illinois ticket office located inside the West Main entrance of State Farm Center, or by phone at 1-866-ILLINI-1.  General admission women’s basketball season tickets are available for $40 each, while reserved season tickets are available for $75. Single-game general admission, reserved tickets and floor seating are available for as low as $5 per game.

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