Austin scored 17 points and fellow freshman Taylor Mikesell added 14 for the 10th-ranked Terps, who moved into a tie with Rutgers for the top spot in the Big Ten. The teams will play on Sunday at Rutgers.
The 6-foot-5 Austin also grabbed seven rebounds for Maryland (20-2, 9-2 Big Ten).
“They didn't really have the height and we took advantage of that,” Austin said.
“You really have to look at our size and talent,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “It's quite a luxury to have.”
Brandi Beasley scored 17 points for Illinois (9-13, 1-10). Sarah Shewan and Alex Wittinger added 16 and 15 points respectively for the Illini.
Illinois stayed in the game until the final period. Maryland went cold in the third quarter, shooting 5 of 18 from the field.
Battling back: Illinois came on hard at the end of the half, with Shewan hitting two 3s and Beasley adding another in a span of less than a minute.
Shewan was 5 of 7 from beyond the three-point stripe.
“I didn't really hesitate out there,” Shewan said. “And I felt pretty good.”
Illinois coach Nancy Fahey was happy with her team's effort.
“We're looking for effort out there,” she said. “And I think we saw that tonight. We got beat, but we're not losers.”
Maryland led 48-37 at the half.
“I thought we came out aggressive and really pushed them,” coach Frese said. “But Illinois battled back in the second and third periods. You have to give them and our conference credit. Anyone can beat anyone on any given night.”
The Terps shot 28 of 63 from the field (44 percent), while Illinois was 25 of 63 (40 percent). Maryland held the edge in rebounds, 44-33.
Poll implications: The Terps came back into the top 10 on Monday and have two more games this week.
Freshman February: “It's great having two freshmen lead us tonight,” Frese said. “But it's February now, so I guess I don't really look at them as freshmen anymore.
Maryland: Hosts Northwestern on Thursday.
Illinois: Plays at Purdue on Thursday.
Ciani Byrom scored 13 points and Bairesha Gill-Miles added 10 for UMES (13-10, 9-1), which trails only North Carolina A&T (10-10, 7-0) in the conference standings.
During their winning streak, the Hawks have held their opponent to 46 points or fewer four times.
Savannah State 68, UMES 63: Zach Sellers scored 19 points, Zaquavian Smith added 15 and the Tigers beat the host Hawks.
Savannah State was ahead 62-52, its largest advantage of the game, with just under five minutes left, but UMES got within 64-61 two minutes later.
SSU made its first nine free throws before missing three straight late to let UMES back in it. But Sellers made two straight to seal it with 11.4 remaining, making it 67-63.
Jaquan Dotson had a game-high 12 rebounds and Romani Hansen scored 11 for Savannah State (7-15, 4-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference). The Tigers made 10 3-pointers and 12 free throws.
It was tied at 29 at halftime and the game finished with 14 lead changes. Bryan Urrutia led UMES (4-21, 2-8) with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Ryan Andino scored 11 and Ahmad Frost added 10 points.