Lady Rebs host Illinois Saturday at 2

After a 1-1 showing in the Bahamas tournament, the Ole Miss women's basketball team hopes to win a big one against Illinois Saturday afternoon in Oxford.

Carol Ross' team is 5-2, and if not for a double overtime loss at Rice would be 6-1. Unfortunately they weren't going to beat No. 1 and defending national champ Maryland in their last outing.

Against the Illini the Lady Rebs continue their tradition of hosting name schools from major conferences in non-league play. This year it's Illinois, with Penn State here on Dec. 10 and Miami (Fla,) here on Dec. 21. Last season Rutgers, Texas Tech and Rice played in Oxford.

Illinois is 6-1. A win on Saturday in Oxford would give UI its best start since 1981-82.

The Illini are under the guidance of one of women's collegiate hoops' longtime successful coaches in Theresa Grentz, in her 12th season at Illinois and 33rd year in college basketball.

Following the game with Illinois, Ole Miss doesn't play again until Sunday, Dec. 10. That's when the Nittany Lions come to Oxford for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

Illinois likes to launch it from the outside. UI leads the Big Ten in total three pointers made this season with 43 and ranks second in three-point field goal percentage at .384. The Illini have made more than twice as many treys as Ole Miss (43-21).

Sophomore sharpshooter Lori Bjork has been on fire the last two games, hitting 14-of-26 from the field and 6-of-15 from three-point land to total 46 points. She scored a team season-high 25 points at Saint Louis on Wednesday to go along with a career-high six assists.

Sophomore Chelsea Gordon hit 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-3 from behind the arc for a career-high 17 points at Saint Louis. Just over a week earlier, Gordon poured in what was then a career-high 16 points at Northern Illinois.

Junior forward Danyel Crutcher has stepped up big thus far for the Illini, averaging 10.7 points and 6.9 rebounds. Against UIC, Crutch had a key put back with just eight seconds remaining to seal the 53-48 victory. The Orange, N.J., native had a team-high 14 points in the win and is shooting .536 (30-of-56) for the season with one double-double (11 p, 12 r at Northern Illinois).

The Lady Rebels are led by first-team all-SEC guard Armintie Price, averaging 16.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore center Shawn Goff is nearly averaging a double-double at 12.0 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Senior Ashley Awkward (10.1) and freshman Alliesha Easley (10.0) also score in double figures for the Rebels.

Ole Miss is averaging 85 points per contest and 14 steals per game.

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