Illinois overcame an extremely slow start with a huge advantage at the free-throw line and another double-double by freshman center Kofi Cockburn to defeat Hawaii 66-53 Monday night in Champaign, Ill.
The Fighting Illini (3-1) shot only 33 percent in the first half but owned a 23-3 advantage in free throws for the game. It also helped that the Rainbow Warriors (3-2) started slow, as well, as the two teams combined to hit just one of the game’s first 16 field-goal attempts.
Neither team scored until the 16:26 mark of the first half and Illinois didn’t get its first point until Cockburn hit a free throw with 15:09 left in the half.
The game saw went back-and-forth over the following six minutes until a 6-0 Illini burst — led by sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu’s 3-pointer and assist — gave Illinois a 15-9 lead with 9:05 left in the first half.
Hawaii senior guard Eddie Stansberry’s seven first-half points and the Rainbow Warrior’s 10-4 advantage in forcing turnovers enabled Hawaii to tie the game at 26-26 by the end of the first half. Illinois outrebounded Hawaii 20-14 at the half and owned an 11-0 advantage in free throws over the first 20 minutes.
The first seven-plus minutes of the second half were like the beginning of the first in that the teams swapped leads multiple times. Then Illini junior guard Trent Frazier and Cockburn found their shots and sparked a 14-4 Illini run to give them a 44-34 lead over Hawaii with 12:11 left in the game.
Frazier finished the game with 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting, including 2-for-3 beyond the arc. Cockburn ended up with 15 points and 14 rebounds, his third double-double. Senior forward Zigmars Raimo led the Warriors in scoring with 16 points. Stansberry added 10 points for Hawaii.
The Warriors went just 3-for-22 (13.6 percent) from 3-point range in the game, finishing with an overall shooting percentage of 37.5 percent. The Illini, who finished the game on a 10-4 run, shot 42.6 percent from the field for the game and outrebounded Hawaii 44-26.
Illinois, now 2-0 at home, hosts the Citadel on Wednesday. Hawaii returns home to face New Orleans on Sunday.
—Field Level Media