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This Week in Illini Athletics: Feb. 21-27, 2022

It was a week full of ranked wins for the Illini.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan State Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

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.

MEN’S BASKETBALL (19-7 Overall, 12-4 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini came away with a split of their road trip, dropping their first game 70-59 at Rutgers but bouncing back in a big way to defeat #19 Michigan State 79-74 on Saturday. Kofi Cockburn was his usual self at Rutgers, posting 20 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Illinois made just six of its 23 three-point attempts though, and some poor rebounding (save for Cockburn) proved to be its undoing. On Saturday, Jacob Grandison had his best game of the year, scoring 24 points and shooting six for 10 from behind the arc, and Kofi dominated yet again with an efficient 27 points. It was Trent Frazier though with the biggest play of the night, cashing a deep three to stave off a furious Spartan rally to give coach Brad Underwood his first win in the Breslin Center.

This Week: Illinois begins the penultimate week of the regular season against #18 Ohio State in State Farm Center at 8 on Thursday night before traveling to Michigan for a 1 p.m. matchup on Sunday.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (6-17 Overall, 1-11 Big Ten)

Last Week: Illinois couldn’t come away with any wins in a busy week, losing 86-67 to #18 Ohio State, 70-54 at Purdue, and 82-59 to Northwestern. Sophomore Kendall Bostic continued to clean the glass throughout the week though, averaging 13 rebounds in the three games.

This Week: The Illini are set to close out their regular season at Minnesota on Thursday at 7 p.m. and against Rutgers in State Farm Center on Sunday afternoon at 2.

BASEBALL (1-2 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini took one out of three in their season-opening series against Kansas over the weekend. Junior first baseman Kellen Sarver starred in the 7-1 win on Sunday, going three for five at the plate with two RBIs, a homer, and a double.

This Week: It’s time for Illinois’ annual road trip to the Carolinas, with a three-game slate this weekend. Illinois plays Middle Tennessee on Friday morning at 10 and Coastal Carolina on Saturday afternoon at 2 in Conway, South Carolina. The Illini then play at UNC Wilmington on Sunday morning at 11 to finish the trip.

SOFTBALL (6-4 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

Last Week: Illinois went 2-3 on the weekend in Arkansas, but the two wins each came in impressive fashion. In a 7-0 win over Western Illinois on Saturday, senior Sydney Sickels tossed the 15th no-hitter in program history, allowing just one baserunner on a fielding error. Sickels didn’t just limit hits though — her 16 strikeouts also broke her own school record of 13. Then on Sunday, the Illini upset #10 Arkansas 8-6 on their own field. Junior Delaney Rummel smashed a go-ahead homer in a two-run seventh inning to put the Illini up for good.

This Week: The Illini get a breather before a four-game weekend in Louisville on March 5 and 6.

WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING (5-4 Overall, 1-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini began their postseason in Wisconsin, finishing 11th of 12 at the Big Ten Championships. Freshman Molly Yetter broke a program record in the 50 meter freestyle with a time of 22.89.

This Week: Illinois gets a week off to prepare for the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships from March 7 to 9.

MEN’S GYMNASTICS (2-1 Overall, 2-0 Big Ten)

This Week: The sixth-ranked Illini head to Frisco, Texas for the Winter Cup on Friday and Saturday.

WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS (2-3 Overall, 1-3 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini posted a score of 196.375 on Friday, good for third out of five at the Big Five meet in Toledo. Junior Mia Takekawa finished second with a score of 39.375 in the all-around competition for the Illini.

This Week: Big Ten season continues for Illinois as it hosts Rutgers on Friday night at 7.

MEN’S TENNIS (3-6 Overall, 0-2 Big Ten)

Last Week: The Illini got back in the win column in a big way, defeating Northern Kentucky on Saturday after a loss to Duke and then pulling the upset over #23 North Carolina on Sunday. It was a rough start for Illinois against UNC, losing the doubles point in a tiebreak game. Down 2-1 during singles play though, junior Siphosothando Montsi, senior Alex Brown, and freshman Gabrielius Guzauskas all battled back to win their matches in three sets and give the Illini the ranked victory.

This Week: The Illini finish off their homestand this weekend with some tough tests at Atkins; Illinois hosts #3 Baylor on Friday evening at 6, UIC on Saturday at noon, and #3 TCU on Saturday at 6 p.m.

WOMEN’S TENNIS (6-3 Overall, 0-0 Big Ten)

This Week: After a week off, the Illini hit the courts again on Sunday as they host Cornell at noon.

MEN’S GOLF

Last Week: The 21st-ranked Illini opened their spring season at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate in Alabama on Monday and Tuesday, finishing third of 14 teams at the tournament. Junior Adrien Dumont de Chassart (T4, -6) and sophomore Piercen Hunt (T7, -4) both placed in the top 10 to lead the Illini.

This Week: Illinois plays next at the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas from Sunday to Tuesday.

WOMEN’S GOLF

Last Week: Illinois finished fourth out of 14 teams at the season-opening Columbia Classic on Monday. It was a full team effort for the Illini, with sophomore Isabel Sy (T12, +6), freshman Lexanne Halama (T15, +7), junior Siyan Chen (T19, +8), and senior Crystal Wang (T22, +10) all placing in the top 25.

This Week: Today and tomorrow, Illinois will compete in Houston’s ICON Invitational.

MEN’S and WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD

Last Week: The Illini dominated their own event on Friday, winning 15 events at the Illini Classic in Champaign. Freshman CJ Shoaf (men’s high jump, 2.03 m), senior Kionnah Weaver (women’s 60 meter hurdles, 8.65 s), freshman Edwin Siuda (men’s mile, 4:15.65), and sophomore Will Giblin (men’s 3000 meters, 8:29.46) all set personal bests in winning their respective events.

This Week: The indoor postseason begins this week for the Illini with the Big Ten Championships in Geneva, Ohio on Friday and Saturday.