Illini sneak by Big Green
CHAMPAIGN – On just one days rest, Illinois returned to State Farm Center to face Dartmouth. The Big Green did little to let the Illini catch their breath.
The Illini (9-1) did just enough to beat the tenacious Big Green, 72-65, on Tuesday.
Dartmouth used a 10-1 run to cut Illinois' 17-point lead to just 59-51 with a little more than 5 minutes remaining.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Rayvonte Rice and Jon Ekey gave the Illini some cushion late in the game, but Dartmouth again cut it to single digits, trailing just 67-59 with 1:19 left after a Big Green 3-pointer by Gabas Maldunas.
A long-range 3-pointer by Joseph Bertrand was called off as the shot clock had expired, and Dartmouth answered with a 3-pointer by Eli Harrison with 24 seconds left to trim the Illini lead 67-62.
The Illini (9-1) made five of their final six free throws to hang on for the victory even as a Dartmouth 3-pointer by Harrison banked in at the buzzer.
The Illini were outrebounded 33-27 and saw the Big Green hit 6 of 13 second-half 3-pointers to nearly squander a 17-point lead.
Illinois saw balanced scoring, led by Rayvonte Rice's 13 points. Freshman Malcolm Hill provided an offensive spark with a career-high 10 points.
Point guard Tracy Abrams appeared to hurt his left knee in the game and left at 15:30 of the second half for the locker room with the team athletic trainer. He limped to the sideline, wincing in pain and gasping for breath.
He returned to the game shortly after and played the remainder without difficulty, finshing with nine points on 2 of 7 shooting.