Kofi Cockburn scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Illinois canned a school-record 18 3-pointers to roll to a 106-48 non-conference victory over Saint Francis (PA) Saturday afternoon in Champaign, Illinois.
Alfonso Plummer (19 points) and Jacob Grandison (18) combined for nine 3-pointers as the Illini made 18 of 34 from long range to eclipse the 100-point mark for the first time since posting 122 against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 25, 2020.
“Our ball movement was great and then our defense settled in,” said Illinois coach Brad Underwood. “Kofi makes (the 3-pointers) available.”
The Illini (8-3) finished with more 3-pointers than Saint Francis had field goals (16). Ronell Giles Jr. led the Red Flashes (4-6) with 16 points while Myles Thompson posted 12 points and Ramiir Dixon-Conover added 10.
The Red Flashes dashed to a 9-5 lead in the first two minutes as Dixon-Conover, Giles and Thompson cashed 3-pointers on the visitors’ first three shots.
But it wasn’t long before Saint Francis went cold and Illinois seized control. Though Underwood didn’t hide his disgust with the Red Flashes’ 13 first-half offensive rebounds, Illinois overwhelmed St. Francis in the first half thanks to five 3-pointers from Plummer and five layups and dunks from Cockburn.
With six minutes left in the first half, Illinois strung together a possession that could figure prominently on its season-ending highlight reel. Plummer dribbled from the left corner to the baseline and passed to Cockburn in the lane. That triggered a dribble-free chain where Cockburn fed Trent Frazier in the right corner, then Frazier started a swing around the perimeter to Da’Monte Williams and Luke Goode and back to Plummer open in the left corner for a swished 3-pointer that made it 31-15.
Illinois built a 47-23 halftime lead as St. Francis missed 26 of its last 31 shots in the first half while Plummer scored all 19 of his points and Cockburn added 13.
Illinois stayed hot in the second half as Grandison swished two 3-pointers while Frazier and Williams each added one to give the Illini a 63-29 lead with 15:32 to play. Underwood cleared the bench and Brandin Podziemski swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 24 seconds left to give Illinois the team record.
–Field Level Media