AMES, Iowa (Ticker) -- Sixth-seeded Illinois jumped on No. 11 seed Utah early and never looked back, rolling to a 73-58 Midwest Region first-round triumph as Allison Curtin scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
Matched up against the best defense in the nation, the Fighting Illini (23-10) overcame a poor game by Tauja Catchings to improve to 6-1 in first-round contests. They will battle either Iowa State or St. Francis (Pa.) in Sunday's second round.
Illinois raced to a 28-7 lead in the first 13-plus minutes as Susan Blauser netted seven points and Kylie Martin added six.
Illinois shot 47 percent (14-of-30) from the field in the first half as it opened a 37-23 cushion. Meanwhile, Utah shot just 38 percent (8-of-21).
Blauser scored 20 points and Martin added 17 for the Illini, who improved to 19-0 when allowing less than 70 points. They shot 46 percent (26-of-56) overall.
Utah entered with the nation's best defense at 51.5 points per contest and fourth in the nation with an opponents' field-goal mark of 34 percent. The Utes limited Catchings, an All-American candidate, the first player in school history to play in four NCAA Tournaments, to just five points.
Lori Red scored 11 points and Lindsay Herbert and Lauren Beckman added 10 apiece for Utah (23-7), which fell to 1-10 in the NCAA Tournament.