Loss at Illinois leave women’s hoops 0-3 on the road in Big Ten

by Aaron Blake

Minnesota’s women’s basketball team headed into the half on Sunday trailing Illinois 45-42 only because of the hot-shooting offense that has been their credo the whole season.

But when the shots didn’t fall early in the second half, the game drifted out of reach for the 10th-ranked Gophers, who were defeated 94-80 in Champaign, Ill.

“We came out of the locker room at halftime down three and played pretty bad defense,” Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. “While in the first half we did a good job of keeping the game under control, we showed no fire in the second half.”

Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Lindsay Whalen was held in check for the second straight game, managing only 13 points after a seven-point output Thursday at Michigan State.

Last year’s Freshman of the Year, Janel McCarville, was held to just four points in 21 minutes.

Conversely, Illinois (12-5, 4-3) received strong performances from Aminata Yanni and Angelina Williams, who tallied 30 and 22 points, respectively. Yanni was 5-for-11 from three-point range.

The Illini ran the lead out to 80-57 with seven minutes remaining in the game. Minnesota made a 14-0 run to come within single digits, but Illinois scored its final 12 points on 12-for-12 free-throw shooting to thwart the rally.

For the game, the Illini were 27-for-30 from the line.

The Gophers hung around in the first half despite 12 turnovers and Yanni’s 19 points.

Whalen didn’t have a field goal attempt until nearly 10 minutes into the game. She scored her first points of the contest with 6:35 remaining in the first half on a layup. She was absent early in the second half as well, while Illinois built its 23-point lead.

Minnesota (15-3, 4-3 Big Ten) is now 0-3 on the road in Big Ten play, also losing to No. 15 Penn State on Jan. 6 and at Michigan State on Thursday.

The Gophers return to the friendlier confines of Williams Arena next Sunday to face Northwestern in hopes of snapping their current two-game losing streak.

“We have a great environment at Williams Arena with 13,000 fans,” Borton said. “But we’ve got to find a way to motivate ourselves on the road.”

Geatz sets wins mark

The 19th-ranked Gophers men’s tennis team opened its dual meet season with a pair of wins, and in the process, head coach David Geatz became the school’s winningest coach in the history of the program. Minnesota defeated No. 30 SMU, 5-2, on Saturday morning and No. 38 Tulane, 4-2, on Saturday night.

Geatz has a 261-123 record with Minnesota in 14-plus seasons. He passed his predecessor, Jerry Noyce, who totaled 260 wins during his 15-year coaching career.

Marks sets standard

Senior Shani Marks set a new meet record in the triple jump, leading Minnesota’s women’s track and field team to win the Gold Country Classic with a score of 144 points at the University Field House on Saturday. Minnesota defeated three teams in its third meet of the indoor season.

Marks won the event with a jump of 42 feet, 4.25 inches, topping the previous record of 41 feet, 10.75 inches set by Claudia Haywood from Rice in 1990. Marks’ jump provisionally qualified her for the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.

Men’s track

Minnesota 4×400-meter relay team gave a strong performance as the men’s track and field team took home six titles at the Gold Country Classic at the University Field House on Saturday.

The relay team of Adam Steele, Mikael Jakobsson, Andy Wohlin and Mitch Potter took second place with a time of 3 minutes 11.88 seconds, but both Minnesota and first-place Wisconsin-La Crosse (3:11.75) bettered the meet and Field House record of 3:12.81 set by Iowa in 2001.

Women’s swimming

Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team gained nonconference wins over Kansas and Colorado State on Saturday, in Lawrence, Kan. The Gophers defeated Colorado State, 189-109 and Kansas, 189-110 for the two dual wins. The Gophers now sit at 6-0 in dual action.

For the second straight weekend, senior captain Dana Baum led the Gophers with three first-place finishes.

Men’s swimming

The seventh-ranked Minnesota men’s swimming and diving team gained its first Big Ten dual win Saturday, defeating the University of Iowa at the University Aquatic Center, 195.5 to 103.5.

Minnesota recorded 12 of 16 first-place finishes to gain its third dual win of the season. It was the fourth straight dual win against Iowa in the past five years.

Women’s gymnastics

Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics team, ranked 17th in the nation, took second place at the University of Florida’s Dodge Premiere quadrangular meet in front of a Stephen C. O’Connell Center crowd of 2,289.

Florida won the meet with a score of 195.975, followed by the Gophers (193.45), No. 23 Kentucky (192.20) and Bowling Green (189.20).