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Minus star player, No. 11 Illinois routs Fairleigh Dickinson


In Illinois’ first game without All American-caliber guard Terrence Shannon Jr., backup center Dain Dainja delivered 19 points to lead six players in double figures as the No. 11 Illini earned a 104-71 nonconference victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Friday night in Champaign, Ill.

Shannon was suspended from the team Thursday after being charged with rape in Kansas.

While Ansley Almonor paced Fairleigh Dickinson (6-8) with a game-high 20 points, Dainja led Illinois (10-2) with 9-of-10 shooting in just 16 minutes.

Coleman Hawkins and Justin Harmon hit season highs with 18 points apiece, while three Illini players registered double-doubles: Ty Rodgers (10 points, career-high 15 rebounds), Marcus Domask (11 points, 11 assists) and Quincy Guerrier (14 points, 11 rebounds).

With junior guard Luke Goode taking Shannon’s spot in the lineup, Illinois played inconsistently for much of the first half against the Knights’ frantic full-court style.

Illinois seized a 19-9 lead once Dainja came off the bench to produce three layups and set up Hawkins’ first of five 3-pointers.

But when Sean Moore swiped the ball from Domask — Illinois’ seventh turnover in a five-minute stretch — and fed Joe Munden Jr. for a fast-break layup and accompanying free throw, Fairleigh Dickinson chopped its deficit to 29-23 with 3:59 left in the half.

Again, Dainja came to Illinois’ rescue. He turned an offensive rebound into a dunk and posted up for a layup and 3-point play before returning to the bench.

Then Harmon, a backup guard who missed his first three 3-pointers of the night, heated up in the final 2:41 of the first half. He drilled 3-pointers on four straight trips down the floor, then added a layup on the next possession to give Illinois a 48-28 lead at the break.

Illinois stayed hot in the second half and finished with a season-high 13 3-pointers in 32 attempts. The Illini reached the 100-point mark for the first time this season when freshman center Amani Hansberry swished his first career 3-pointer with 3:14 to play.

–Field Level Media

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