FEBRUARY 09, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA: Illinois Fighting Illini celebrate at the end of the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Ben Woloszyn-USPRESSWIRE

Illinois Women’s Basketball: Eastern Illinois WNIT Game Preview

The Illinois Fighting Illini will host the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Assembly Hall in the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

The Fighting Illini won their first game over the Miami (OH) RedHawks, 73-60, on Thursday. They had three players score in double figures and two players scored 20+ points. Amber Moore (25 points) and Karisma Penn (20 points) were the main scorers for Illinois, but Adrienne GodBold finished the game with 15 points. Penn and GodBold both grabbed eight rebounds in the game.

This is Illinois’ eighth appearance in the WNIT. There last appearance was in 2010 where they advanced to the quarterfinals (their deepest run in school history). They are 9-7 all-time in the tournament and 7-2 at home in the postseason WNIT.

The Eastern Illinois Panthers come into Monday’s second round game with an overall record of 20-11 and an OVC conference record of 12-4. They lost to UT Martin, 69-71, in the first round of the OVC Tournament. In their first round game of the WNIT, the Panthers defeated Missouri, 60-58.

The Panthers have two players averaging double-digit points so far this season.

FEBRUARY 09, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA: Illinois Fighting Illini guard Adrienne GodBold (24) lays the ball in against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second half at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Ben Woloszyn-USPRESSWIRE

They are seniors Ta’Kenya Nixon (15.0 points per game) and Mariah King (13.9 points per game). In their last game, Nixon scored 27 points and King scored 11 points in the team’s win.

Not only do Nixon and King score in bunches for the Panthers, they also have high field goal and free throw percentages. In the first round game against Missouri, Nixon went 13-of-17 from the field (76.4%).

As an entire team, Eastern Illinois shot 50% from the field.

On the boards, Eastern Illinois is led by Sabina Oroszova (7.0 rebounds per game), Sydney Mitchell (6.1 rebounds per game), and King (6.3 rebounds per game).

These are the players that Karisma Penn will be battling with for rebounds on Monday.

In Eastern Illinois’ game against Missouri, King and Oroszova both led the team with five rebounds. As a team, Missouri outrebounded the Panthers, 35-29.

This will be the fifteenth meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Panthers. Illinois leads the series, 9-5.

This game should be a nice challenge for the Fighting Illini as they look to advance to the third round of the WNIT. Eastern Illinois played well for much of the conference season after starting out 5-6.

The Panthers have an RPI of 122 according to WarrenNolan.com and schedule strength of 245 out of 345 Division I teams. Some key games for them this season are a loss to NCAA tournament qualifier Dayton, a victory over WNIT participant IUPUI, and a loss at WNIT qualifier Indiana State.

Illinois should be able to get things going much like they did in their first round game against Miami (OH). The Illini play very well at home and do not expect that to stop on Monday.

If Illinois wins Monday’s game, they will play the Toledo Rockets in the third round of the WNIT. Toledo defeated Youngstown State, 61-43, in their second round game on Saturday.

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Tags: Basketball Eastern Illinois Panthers Illinois Fighting Illini Mariah King Sabina Oroszova Sydney Mitchell Ta’Kenya Nixon

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