1:00 PM ET, December 18, 2005
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 the game.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 miserable."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 strike.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.