LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) _ Shavonna Hunter had 16 points, including two 3-pointers that started and ended Illinois’ biggest run of the second half, and the 21st-ranked Illini beat Alcorn State 73-56 Friday in the first game of the inaugural women’s Maui Invitational.
Illinois (2-0) advanced to Saturday’s championship game against the winner of the game between Clemson and No. 2 Tennessee.
Junior forward Allison Curtin, the Illini’s most experienced starter, had 12 points as Illinois took a 38-27 halftime lead.
Curtin picked up her third and fourth fouls in a span of 1:25. She was assessed a technical for complaining about the fifth one and was out of the game with 12:19 remaining. Taresha Coleman of Alcorn State (0-3) made one of two free throws, bringing the Lady Braves within 48-34.
Hunter, a sophomore guard, then hit a 3-pointer that started a 12-2 run as Illinois pulled away to a 60-36 lead. Her third 3 capped the run and gave the Illini their biggest lead of the game.
Alcorn State used a 16-3 run to get within 63-53 with 4:08 left, but Hunter stole the ball and scored on a layup to start an 8-0 spurt that ended any doubts of a comeback by the Lady Braves.
Iveta Marcauskaite, Illinois’ 6-foot-4 center, added 14 points, six in the final 2 1/2 minutes, and Curtin finished with 13.
Daisha Reed had 13 points for Alcorn State, while Cherea Wood, the preseason Southwestern Athletic Conference player of the year, added 10. Wood wasn’t expected to return to action for another two weeks after a severe ankle injury forced her to miss a month of practice.