CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Illini have arrived.
Shauna Green claimed her biggest win so far in her first year as Illinois’ head coach in a bonkers 90-86 upset over No. 12 at State Farm Center on New Year’s Day.
The victory is Illinois’ first over a ranked opponent since Jan. 6, 2019 — a 66-62 win over No. 12 Minnesota on the road.
That win featured a 17-point third-quarter comeback, while Illinois’ performance on Sunday against superstar Caitlin Clark (30 points) and the Hawkeyes featured the Illini ahead almost all afternoon.
But on Sunday, the Illini had to withstand a ton of fight from the Hawkeyes, including one in the final minute. Down three with the ball and 20 seconds left, Clark couldn’t get a shot off and, instead, was called for her fifth foul, all but securing the win.
Illinois (13-2, 3-1 Big Ten) now has a real argument to be ranked when the next AP Top 25 poll comes out this week.
Iowa (11-4, 3-1 Big Ten) is a favorite to make a run to the Final Four. This is quite the upset, coming less than a month after the Illini gave then-No. 5 Indiana a run for its money in Bloomington.
This recap doesn’t do this game justice. Just an incredible basketball game where the Illini took on one of the country’s best players in Clark.
Go support this team either in person or by watching on BTN when they're on. Can’t say that enough.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
SECOND QUARTER RUN: Illinois was up just 30-29 with three minutes left in the half, when the Illini went off, finishing the period on a 14-4 run to take an 11-point lead into the break.
Oh, and it was all sparked by this incredible play by Jada Peebles and Makira Cook, the latter of who had her sixth consecutive game with at least 20 points.
BUZZER BEATER: And if we’re going to talk about that second quarter, let’s not leave out the third part of Illinois’ Big Three: Genesis Bryant.
PUT IT AWAY?: Iowa kept fighting back in the fourth quarter, but each time the Illini had an answer, capped with this three by Bryant.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
This is a lot of fans for this team.
Go support them.
this is probably the most full SFC has been for a non-class field trip game in DECADES— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) January 1, 2023
TWEET OF THE GAME
Real recognize real.
SO fun to watch. Cook is— Petra Holešínská (@pholesinska) January 1, 2023
Petra Holesinska was a sharp shooter on Illini teams of the late 2010s and one of the most consistent players of the Nancy Fahey era.
Illinois hosts Northwestern at State Farm Center on Thursday night.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on Big Ten Network.