CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Just when it appeared the women's basketball team was falling deeper into the Big Ten cellar, the Hoosiers awoke to reach .500 and made a solid bid for a decent seed in next week's Big Ten tournament with a 70-66 victory over Illinois last night.\nIU would have had to win last night's game as well as Sunday's home game against Northwestern to possibly earn as high as a sixth seed, which would mean playing the No. 3 seed in the tournament.\nIU (13-13, 7-8 Big Ten) made good on its promise in trying to finish its five seniors' careers on a positive note. The Hoosiers' four leading scorers were all seniors, as center Jill Chapman and point guard Heather Cassady picked up 18 points apiece. \n"We're playing together as a team," said Chapman, who also had seven rebounds and three steals. "If we do that, it's hard to stop us."\nCassady in particular restored faith in the Hoosiers. IU was down 61-60 with 4:01 left, and Cassady drained one of her four three pointers to hand IU the lead for good.\n"When she's hot, she's tough to stop," said Associate head coach Trish Betthauser, leading the Hoosiers in their third game during head coach Kathi Bennett's recovery from a car accident. "She plays with so much emotion that her teammates ride off that. She'll be hard to replace next year."\nForward Erin McGinnis hit a short jumper with 1:25 left to up IU's lead to 68-64. The Hoosiers lost the ball on the next possession, but then guard Tara Jones picked up a steal. Cassady was fouled and completed both free throws, upping the lead to 70-64 with 26 seconds left.\nThe rest was a cat-and-mouse game of get fouled, fire a free throw and watch the Illini (14-11, 7-8) wildly shoot. IU won that game, too.\nAfter trailing 42-33 at the half and by as many as 10 in the second half, IU clawed back to within three points at 56-53 with 10:53 left after baskets by Cassady and forward Allison Skapin. Cassady then tied the game at 56 with a high-arching three pointer at 9:18. \nChapman pushed past Illini forwards Dawn Vana and Cindy Dallas, giving IU the edge 58-56. The Hoosiers were escaping on a 16-6 run.\n"Obviously, it was disappointing," Illinois coach Theresa Grentz said. "We just have to try to figure out how to play the total 40 minutes. That's about it."\nThe game remained tight early in the first half, with five lead changes and four ties. Both teams shot high percentages, with IU hitting 52 percent and the Illini making 62 percent of their shots.\nChapman ignited a 13-4 IU run late in the first half after the Hoosiers trailed 24-20. Working mainly on the right side of the basket, Chapman scored eight points during five minutes -- much of the time without a contact lens -- to help pull the Hoosiers ahead 33-28 at 4:06.\nDallas responded with seven points to fuel a 12-0 run to close the half. IU gave up more first-half points (42) to the Illini than any other Big Ten foe this season. Dallas and 6-foot-4 center Iveta Marcauskaite led their team with 18 and 16 points, respectively.\nGrentz said Marcauskaite should have had more than nine shots. Betthauser said IU adjusted its double teams after the half to contain the center to six second-half points.\n"Chapman did a good job of pushing Iveta farther out in the second half," Betthauser said.\nThe Hoosiers were called for nine fouls during the first half and had seven with 11:54 remaining. The Illini picked up two fouls for the half, as IU didn't make a trip to the line. Luckily for the Hoosiers, the Illini shot 44 percent on foul shots for the game.\nGuard Jenny DeMuth exited the game late in the second half with a mild concussion.\nThe Hoosiers honor their seniors Sunday at 2 p.m. at Assembly Hall. IU takes on Northwestern (4-22, 0-15), who fell to Michigan last night.
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