Penn State, which trailed by four with just seconds to go in the first half, cashed in on an Illini mistake to take a one-point halftime lead, then sped ahead as IL suffered a scoring drought of 7:17 to open the second half.
"I wish we could eliminate halftimes", coach Brad Underwood said.
The Lady Lions (14-12, 5-8) have lost four of their past five games.
Tony Carr is the top scorer for the Lions this year with 19.3 PPG and 4.9 APG.
Leron Black led IL (12-14, 2-11) with 18 points.More news: United Nations chief urges dialogue in talks with North Korean official
The Gophers got points from 10 different players. In that game, IL guard Trent Frazier put forth a strong performance, scoring 32 points, including 7 made 3-point field goals.
Both teams struggled mightily from deep. Penn State rallied and grabbed a 24-23 edge when Julian Moore converted a three-point play with 7:51 left. The Gophers held Penn State to just eight points, tied for the fewest by a Minnesota opponent in any quarter this season. "One mistake and we just hang our heads and it affects the next play". Sophomore guard Gadiva Hubbard led the effort with 25 points, tying a season high.
IL missed its first nine second-half shots and didn't score for seven-plus minutes as Penn State went on a 12-0 run to make it 49-36.
Fortunately, head coach Patrick Chambers was able to make the needed second-half adjustments.
IL also went scoreless over a 4:13 minute stretch midway through the first half, though it responded with a 7-0 run over a 2:25 minute-span, starting at the 5:20 minute mark in the first half.
The Illini scored a season-low 16 points, and shot just 27.3 percent from the field, in the second half. IL turned it over, couldn't get a rebound, then Penn State hit a three. It was a season scoring high for Brunson.More news: UP: Student beaten to death after minor argument
Leron Black scored 18 for the Illini but Penn State (18-9, 8-6) clamped down on Illini freshman Trent Frazier, who had scored 32 last Thursday against Wisconsin.
Just seven days ago IL went more than 11-and-a-half minutes without a point at Ohio State.
Nichols and Lucas were the only other player to score in double-digits.
Penn State claimed seven bouts against the Hawkeyes, with wins from Corey Keener (133), Nick Lee (141), Zain Retherford (149), Mark Hall (174), Bo Nickal (184), Shakur Rasheed (197) and Nick Nevills (285). Michael Finke missed the game with a concussion he suffered in practice on Saturday. "It was a big loss being without him". Wagner added seven rebounds, while Brunson's point total was a season high.
Jordan also got the nod for his third start of the season.More news: North Korea's Kim Jung Un invites South Korean president for summit
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