CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Oklahoma hadn't paid much attention to
Danyel Crutcher in scouting Illinois for Sunday's game because she
was averaging a meager three points per game coming off the bench
this season. The No. 15 Sooners are regretting that decision.
Crutcher scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds
to spark the Illini to an 86-75 upset Sunday. Janelle Hughes scored
11 straight points during a 16-4 run in the second half as Illinois
(6-3) snapped a seven-game losing streak against teams ranked in
the AP Top 25.
"I just feel real happy all of a sudden," Crutcher said. "I
really enjoy practice and working hard."
Crutcher started 24 games as a freshman last season, but had
been relegated to a bench role this season and averaged just nine
minutes per game until Sunday. After Audrey Tabon picked up a
couple quick fouls trying to guard Oklahoma's Courtney Paris,
Illini coach Theresa Grentz turned to Crutcher and sent her into
She responded with a basket and a steal.
"I don't know what box they've been hiding her in but they let
her out today and she went crazy," said Sooners coach Sherri
Coale. "Everybody played their role and did their job and we were
Paris scored 27 points and grabbed 19 rebounds for Oklahoma
(9-2), but she didn't get a lot of help and when her fourth foul
forced her to the bench with 12:36 to go, Illinois was poised to
Maggie Acuna's jumper with 9:06 left cut the Illini deficit to
62-59 and Hughes went to work. She hit two jumpers and her
3-pointer with 7:31 left gave Illinois a 66-64 lead, its first
since the opening minute.
Hughes, who finished with 17 points, hit two more jumpers and
Illinois led 70-64 with 6:08 remaining. She said her outburst came
after a "little pep talk" on the bench.
"Coach was trying to get me focused and to be more assertive
out there, taking good shots and not rushed shots," she said.
"The second half, I was just able to let it come to me more."
And while the Illini were rallying, the Sooners looked lost.
They finished the game with 20 turnovers and sent Illinois to the
free throw line 34 times. The Illini converted 26.
"We didn't have any poise and we didn't have any rhythm
offensively all day long," Coale said. "Even in the first half,
when we were scoring pretty well, we didn't have any flow."
Erin Wigley also scored 17 points for Illinois, which played
just its second home game this season. Lori Bjork added 12.
Higgins was 3-of-4 from 3-point range and had 11 points for
Oklahoma. Laura Andrews added 10.