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Balanced attack leads Illinois past No. 19 Gonzaga

Dec 3, 2011 - 11:05 PM Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Meyers Leonard led a balanced attack with 21 points and six rebounds, as the Illinois Fighting Illini took down the 19th- ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs, 82-75.

D.J. Richardson added 19 points for the Illini (8-0), who are off to their first 8-0 start since the 2005-06 campaign. Brandon Paul and Sam Maniscalco donated 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Elias Harris ended with 19 points and eight boards for the Bulldogs (5-1), who suffered their first loss of the season. Robert Sacre and Kevin Pangos had 16 and 11 points, respectively.

Illinois took a 34-26 lead with over six minutes left in the first half after Richardson bookended an 8-0 run with a pair of three-pointers.

But Gonzaga scored the next five points to keep it close and went into the locker room down just 38-36 after a trey from David Stockton.

Illinois tried to pull away multiple times in the second half, but the Bulldogs kept fighting. Paul's jumper with less than 14 1/2 minutes left made it a 52-42 contest.

Harris and Gary Bell suddenly made it a four-point contest after connecting from beyond the arc on consecutive trips.

Gonzaga cut its deficit to two, 58-56, on Pangos' three-pointer with nine minutes to go.

But the Illini responded with an 11-4 spurt to essentially put the game out of reach. Richardson tallied five points during the run, which Leonard capped with a slam for a 69-60 margin.

The Bulldogs never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Game Notes

Illinois holds a 4-1 edge in the all-time series...The Illini won their first 15 games in 2005-06...Illinois extended its non-conference home winning streak to 23 games...Bell left late in the game with a knee injury.