Sharon Karungi (Kampala, Uganda/[Northern Oklahoma College]) bounced back from a frustrating Crusader debut to record a double-double against one of the better Big Ten teams Tuesday night in Champaign.
The junior was an active presence in the paint as she pulled down 12 rebounds, ten of which came on defense. On the other end of the court, Karungi was 6-of-14 from the field and 3-for-4 from the line en route to a 15-point night. The performance was much more ideal for head coach Tracey Dorow.
"Sharon started out strong and then had a really tough first game (at Saint Louis), and I think she took it pretty hard. She responded well today and played like her normal self and the Sharon Karungi I expect to see all season," Dorow said.
Illinois (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) showcased smothering full-court pressure much of the night. Prepped for it, Valpo (0-2, 0-0 Horizon) was able to churn out layups early on. The press eventually caught up with the Brown and Gold as they committed 27 turnovers compared to 12 assists.
The Crusaders were behind 8-7 just three-and-a-half minutes into a up-tempo tilt before an 18-6 Illini run gave the home team a comfortable margin. Valpo trailed 47-24 at the break as Illinois closed the half on a 16-4 rush.
Illinois outscored Valpo 40-35 in the second half, despite the fact that the Crusaders shot 50% from the floor. The three-ball betrayed the Crusaders again Tuesday night as they shot just 2-of-14 from behind the arc, many of which were good looks.
The Fighting Illini went on to win 87-59. Amber Moore led all scorers with 23. They not only forced, but took advantage of, the 27 turnovers. Illinois enjoyed a 29-14 edge on points off turnovers.
Sophomore Abby Dean (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) continued her elevated play, tossing in 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting and grabbing five rebounds.
Liz Horton (Cannelburg, Ind./Barr-Reeve) contributed 11 points in 16 minutes off the bench. The senior made the only two Valpo three-pointers of the game.
Charae Richardson (Lafayette, Ind./Jefferson [Vincennes]) had her second straight game of double-digit scoring as she registered 10 points, six of which came from the free-throw line.
"I thought the seniors really came through today - both Charae and Liz. They did a fantastic job of stepping up," Dorow said.
The Crusaders will get a few days off before their biggest challenge of the season - #6 Notre Dame (2-0, 0-0 ACC). The Fighting Irish will entertain Valpo at Purcell Pavilion on Saturday at 1:00 pm CT.