Welcome to “This Week in Illini Athletics,” a weekly review of the past week of Illini sports and a preview of the week to come.
Football (8-4 Overall, 5-4 Big Ten)
Last Week: The hat is coming home! Illinois dominated “little brother” Northwestern at Ryan Field, 41-3. The Brown brothers (Sydney and Chase) accounted for 3 of Illinois touchdowns, as Sydney outdid his brother with 2 of them. Illinois offense looked a little wobbly as Tommy DeVito finished with 136 yards and an INT. During this blowout Illinois fans were keeping a close eye on the Purdue/Indiana game in Bloomington. If Indiana was able to withstand the Boilermakers, your Illini would have been Big Ten West Champions... sadly Purdue, after trailing at half, was able to beat Indiana and capture the title for themselves.
Final: ILL 41, NW 3
This Week: Illinois won’t have a game this week, but will stay in action as they get ready for their much anticipated Bowl Game. The Bowl and Illinois’ matchup will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 4.
Volleyball (15-15 Overall, 10-10 Big Ten)
Last Week: The regular season comes to a close for the Illini, and it did not end the way they would have wanted. Dropping two very winnable matchups to end the season.
- vs. Indiana - Illinois came out the gate scorching hot, taking the first 5 points of the set and before Indiana knew it they were down 7-1. The Hoosiers were able to crawl back into it, eventually tying the Illini at 12’s. Indiana would then surpass Illinois going on a run of their own. Their momentum was to much for the Illini to overcome, they took the set 21-25. The next set was a crazy back and forth affair as both squads were trading punches. Late in the set the Illini were able to go on a run to take a 21-18 lead, Indiana would follow that up winning 7 of the next 9 points to shock Illinois. The Hoosiers had a two set lead and were looking to put the Illini away early, but Illinois’ Brooke Mosher and Terry Raina led the Illini with 11 combined kills to elevate them to a 3-set win. Indiana was done playing games, in the 4th set they gained a massive advantage over the Illini — allowing them to get close, but never close enough. Indiana would defeat Illinois 3 sets to 1.
Set 1: ILL 21 - IND 25 | Set 2: ILL 23 - IND 25 | Set 3: ILL 25 - IND 21 | Set 4: ILL 20 - IND 25 | Final: ILL 1 - IND 3
- vs. Northwestern - The 1st set saw both teams come out the gate hot — Back and forth with little to no breathing room. With it tied at 24 a piece, Northwestern was able to overcome Illinois’ effort to take the set 1 advantage. Northwestern kept rolling on from there — They started the 2nd set winning the first 5 points and never looked back. The Illinois tried to pull together some sort of comeback, but Northwestern was too far ahead. The Wildcats won the set 25-17. This match was looking to come to a quick end, unless Illinois was able to show some signs of life. Northwestern gained an early lead, but Illinois was able to tie it up at 7’s. That was the closest Illinois was going to get, as Northwestern steamed-rolled Illinois to end the regular season.
Set 1: ILL 24 - NW 26 | ILL 17 - NW 25 | ILL 18 - NW 25 | Final: ILL 0 - NW 3
#16 Men’s Basketball (Overall 5-1, Big Ten 0-0)
Last Week: The Men’s Basketball team only played in one contest last week against Lindenwood, in Champaign.
- vs. Lindenwood - The opening minutes of this game had Illini fans saying, “RJ is Back.” RJ Melendez has had a rough going to start the year after everyone was so high on him coming into this season. He started off this game with 9 points on 5 shots — he would end with a career high 17 pts on 11 shots. Sincire Harris also saw an uptick in minutes after providing valuable minutes off the bench. Skyy Clark also provided a huge game as Illinois fell just short of the century mark, as they ran Lindenwood out the gym.
Final: ILL 92 - LW 59
Skyy Clark: 19 pts | 3 rebs | 4 ast | 8-9 fg | 3-4 3pt
RJ Melendez: 17 pts | 4 rebs
Terrence Shannon Jr: 16 pts | 3 rebs | 3 ast
Jayden Eeps: 12 pts | 5-8 fg
This Week: The men’s basketball teams has some big games this week including a home matchup against Syracuse for the B1G vs. ACC Challenge. They also open up Big Ten play on the road at Maryland on Friday.
Women’s Basketball (Overall 6-1, Big Ten 0-0)
Last Week: The Women’s basketball team had a loaded week as they looked to expand on their so-far dominant season.
- vs. Oakland - The game opened up with an Illinois lead, but it wouldn’t be long before Oakland punched back securing their only lead of the game with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter. The Illini would lead 23-13 after the first period with 12 points coming from junior Makira Cook. Oakland showed some fight after going on an early 7-0 run to start the second but the Illini would be too much. The Illini would go on to win the half 40-26. Illinois’ largest lead of the night came late in the fourth quarter, when the margin stretched to 33 as the Illini took this one handedly.
Final: ILL 84 - OAK 55
Makira Cook: 18 pts | 3 rebs | 7-12 fg
Jayla Oden: 13 pts | 2 rebs | 6-11 fg
Adalia Mckenzie: 13 pts | 3 rebs
- vs. Charlotte - Illinois took on Charlotte at the Daytona Beach Invitational in Florida and continued their winning ways. Illinois would lead 23-10 after the opening quarter, after both teams were tied at 10. With 4 minutes left in the frame, the Illini started a 13-0 run to end the first period. Charlotte was able to get within 11 points, but that was the closest they could get. The Illini behind Jada Peebles and Co. took their first win on a neutral site since 2017.
Final: ILL 70 - CHA 43
Adalia Mckenzie: 17 pts | 6 rebs
Jayla Oden: 8 pts | 5 rebs | 3 ast
Kendall Bostic: 8 pts | 7 rebs
- vs. Delaware - Illinois fell back to earth after this affair that handed them their first loss of the season. Delaware, who was a tournament team from a year ago, was able to hang with the Illini the whole game — there was no breathing room on either side. With it neck and neck going down the stretch the Illini found themselves trailing 81-73. The Illini were able to mount a comeback that featured a 7-0 run across an 8-second span, but Delaware would ultimately be able to hold off Illinois with a final score of 83-80.
Final: ILL 80 - DEL 83
Adalia Mckenzie: 22 pts | 10 rebs | 3 ast | 5 stl
Makira Cook: 16 pts | 6 rebs | 10 ast
Genesis Bryant: 18 pts | 3 rebs | 7-7 ft
This Week: Women’s basketball will compete in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this week as they drew a matchup against Pittsburg on Wednesday. They will also open up Big Ten play against Indiana.
This Week: After a week off, the Wrestling team will be back in action in the State Farm Center against Chattanooga and Pittsburgh.
Women’s Swim & Dive
This Week: Women’s Swim & Dive is back this week after having a whole month off from action. They will be competing in the Swimming & Diving Iowa Invitational.