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    Northwestern Travels South to Battle Illinois at 2 p.m. Sunday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Sophomore Melissa Miller (pictured) pulled down a team-high eight rebounds against No. 10 Ohio State on Thursday. The Wildcats travel to Illinois for a 2 p.m. tip Sunday
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Sophomore Melissa Miller (pictured) pulled down a team-high eight rebounds against No. 10 Ohio State on Thursday. The Wildcats travel to Illinois for a 2 p.m. tip Sunday
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Jan. 6, 2006

    Illinois Game Notes
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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- The Wildcats travel south to face in-state foe Illinois for a 2 p.m. game Sunday at Assembly Hall. While Northwestern (4-9, 0-3) gets a reprieve from Top-25 teams (NU faced three ranked opponents in the past four games prior to Sunday), Illinois (9-4, 1-1) has had its share of success so far this season, most notably upsetting No. 15 Oklahoma 86-75 at home. Illinois is coming off a 72-63 victory at Rhode Island, while Northwestern dropped a 82-54 decision to No. 10 Ohio State at Welsh-Ryan Arena Thursday night.

    "Illinois is an aggressive and athletic team," head coach Beth Combs said. "They are playing well right now and will be hard to beat at home. If we can build on the success we had last night, stay our course and play our game, this will be an exciting game to watch! We need to play a 40 minute game and good things will happen."

    The Last Time Out
    Northwestern jumped out to an 11-0 advantage to open the game, aided by seven points from A.J. Glasauer, but No. 10 Ohio State outlasted the Wildcats, 82-54, Thursday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
    Sophomore Sara Stutz recorded a season-high and team-leading 15 points on an impressive 5-of-7 shooting, and 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Freshman Kristin Cartwright dished out a career-best five assists and grabbed a solid six rebounds. Melissa Miller pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
    Northwestern (4-9, 0-3) charged to a 13-2 lead with 15:54 left in the first half. The Wildcats hit six of their first seven field goal attempts, while the Buckeyes misfired on their first six shots.
    Ohio State was led by Jessica Davenport, who scored five points in a 10-0 run that gave the Buckeyes a 30-21 lead midway through the first stanza. OSU went on an 8-0 spurt to end the first half leading 44-28.
    The Wildcats pulled to within 44-34 thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Stutz to open the second half, but that was as close as NU would come. Stutz scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half. Ifeoma Okonkwo added eight points and two steals off the bench.

    Scouting Illinois
    Illinois is coming off a 73-62 non-conference victory on the road against Rhode Island. The Fighting Illini split their first two conference matchups, winning at home against Michigan, 67-48, while dropping a road decision to Iowa, 84-65. U of I is led by senior Janelle Hughes, who is averaging 14.0 ppg. Freshman Lori Bjork and junior Erin Wigley join Hughes in double-figures, notching 10.2 and 11.2 ppg, respectively. Senior Maggie Acuna leads the team in assists (4.4), steals (2.3) and minutes played (32.3).

    The Series
    It will be the 55th meeting between these two in-state rivals. Northwestern leads the all-time series, 28-26, but Illinois has won the past four meetings, including last year's first-round showdown in the Big Ten Tournament. In that game, Sara Stutz recorded seven points and six rebounds, while Ifeoma Okonkwo had nine points and five rebounds to lead the returning 'Cats.

    Stutz Stepping Up
    Over the past five games, sophomore Sara Stutz has been the team's second-leading scorer, averaging 9.6 ppg during that span. Against No. 10 Ohio State, the sophomore hit a season-high 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting while dishing out four assists. For more notes, see the pdf at the top of this release.