Dancer's squad pulls off another upset
URBANA — First it was No. 16 Notre Dame.
Then came No. 8 Texas A&M.
And on Sunday, the 22nd-ranked Illinois men’s tennis team upset No. 10 Texas.
The Illini knocked off the Longhorns 4-3 on Sunday, wrapping up a five-day, three-match gauntlet at home.
“We are just finding out how to get gritty and dirty and nasty out there, and that’s what I love about this team, Illini coach Brad Dancer said. “We have a great group of competitors.”
After dropping the doubles point — the sixth straight match the Illini have found themselves trailing 1-0 — the Illini got singles wins from No. 4 Jared Hiltzik, No. 106 Farris Gosea, No. 46 Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon.
Guignon, a junior, clinched the win with a 6-5 (4), 5-6 (4), 6-3 victory at No. 5 singles.
“It just a lot of emotion in general,” Guignon said. “I’m an emotional guy. It was a lot going on. I’ve been in a situation like that before, but this time I was ready. Win or lose, I was ready for the moment, and today, I was fortunate to come out on top.”
Kopinski also needed three sets, edging his opponent 5-6 (4), 6-2, 6-5 (4).
“It was unbelievable,” Kopinski said.
Next up, the Illini head to the National Indoor Championships, which begin Friday in Houston.
In women’s basketball:
Illini fall on road. Matt Bollant’s Illinois women couldn’t hold on to a seven-point lead with 4:10 remaining, Minnesota closing on a 17-5 run for a 66-61 victory in Minneapolis.
Ivory Crawford led the Illini — who have lost five straight games — with 18 points on 5-for-8 shooting. She also had six rebounds and four blocks in 25 minutes.
“We really fought for 38 minutes and did a lot of good things, then it felt like we got caught up in the outcome a little bit down the stretch,” Bollant said. “Give Minnesota credit. (Rachel) Banham hit some big shots and (Amanda) Zahui (was tough) inside. Those two were a little too much for us down the stretch.”
Amber Moore added 15 points, Taylor Gleason chipped in 11 and Sarah Livingston added 10.
Zahui pulled Minnesota within 58-54 with a layup with 3:26 to go. Crawford was hurt on the play and had to leave the game.
The Gophers then scored the next eight points to put away the Illini.
Gleason’s three-pointer pulled Illinois within 62-61 in the final minute, but the Illini could get no closer.
Dallago pins down victory. Tony Dallago became the all-time Illini leader in pins with his 38th as No. 15 Illinois upset No. 9 Northwestern 24-12 on Sunday at Huff Hall.
Illinois’ 174-pounder pinned David Helmer in 2 minutes, 22 seconds.
“It’s a great way to go out,” said Dallago, who broke the record on Senior Day. “I was trying to be aggressive, and I felt good. I get excited when I get pins, so if it’s there, I try to go for it. It’s also six points for the team, which is nice.”
No. 3 Jesse Delgado (125) won by technical fall, and No. 9 Zane Richards picked up a major decision for Illinois.
Zac Brunson (157), Nikko Reyes (184) and No. 9 Steven Rodrigues (141) also earned decisions for Illinois, which ended the conference season with back-to-back dual wins.
In women’s tennis:
Shockers surprise Illini. Allison Falkin, Alexis Casati and Louise Kwong won in singles, but the Illini lost two matches in three sets and also dropped the doubles point in a 4-3 loss at Wichita State.
Perfect start to season. Freshman Nicole Evans homered for the second game in a row, and freshman Brandi Needham won her third game of the young season to lead a 4-1 victory against Central Michigan on Sunday at the Rosemont Rumble.
“We were tested by a strong and talented Central Michigan team and stood up to the challenge,” coach Terri Sullivan said.
The Illini are off to a 5-0 start.
Jenna Mychko and Kylie Johnson had RBI doubles for Illinois. Kylie Johnson also had an RBI.
“Brandi pitched aggressively, and she and Mychko executed the game plan exceptionally well,” Sullivan said.