By IlliniGuys Staff
November 17, 2023
(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 15 of his team-high 22 points in the second half as #23 Illinois dominated after halftime to turn away Valparaiso's upset bid, 87-64 Friday night.
The win also spoiled the homecoming of Illini great Roger Powell Jr. The first-year Beacons coach was a star player on the Illinois team that reached its first and only NCAA championship game in 2005.
For the first 20 minutes, it looked like Powell's team would make history and score its first-ever win in eight tries over their Big Ten foe. Isaiah Stafford scored a career-high 23 points in the first half alone to lead Valparaiso to a 45-38 halftime lead. The visitors led by as much as 10 points prior to halftime, as the slow starting Illini struggled to contain him and had several players battling foul trouble.
But Shannon played the role of superstar after halftime. He hit a pair of layups to open scoring and close the gap to 45-42. A bit later - after Dain Dainja scored on back-to-back layups, Shannon drained a three-pointer to give Illinois its first lead at 52-51. That sparked a 27-8 run that saw the Illini build a 20-point lead and cruised to the victory.
Illinois (3-1) outscored the Beacons 49-19 in the second half, holding Stafford to just seven points after halftime as he finished with a game-high 30 points for Valparaiso (2-2).
Dain Dainja added a season-high 16 points with 7 rebounds. Luke Goode tied his career-high set Tuesday night against Marquette with 13 points and another four three-pointer night. Ty Rodgers added 10 points for an Illini team without starting forward Coleman Hawkins, who sat out the game due to injury.
Illinois displayed better ball-handling and decision making, committing just 9 turnovers while dishing out a season-best 16 assists.
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