INDIANA BOYS BASKETBALL SCORES

CLASS 4A
East Chicago Central
East Chicago Central 60 Merrillville 55
Gary West 55 Hammond Central 39
Chesterton
Crown Point 68 Kankakee Valley 39
Valparaiso 60 Hobart 35
Greenfield-Central
Muncie Central 54 Richmond 51
Greenfield-Central 50 Anderson 44
Lawrence North
Indianapolis Attucks 63 Indianapolis Tech 55
Lawrence North 65 North Central (Indianapolis) 51
Southport
Ben Davis 64 Pike 45
Southport 64 Perry Meridian 44


CLASS 3A
Calumet
Hammond Noll 54 Boone Grove 40
Griffith 63 Highland 30
Woodlan
Heritage 50 Fort Wayne Dwenger 46
Leo 64 Woodlan 54
Frankfort
West Lafayette 41 Benton Central 40
Frankfort 70 Rensselaer Central 57
Mississinewa
Oak Hill 67 Maconaquah 66
Peru 45 Norwell 42
New Castle
New Castle 46 Jay County 38
Delta 46 Frankton 25
Owen Valley
Indian Creek 58 South Vermillion 49 OT
Edgewood 67 Brown County 37
Greensburg
Connersville 30 Franklin County 25 OT
Batesville 49 South Dearborn 45
Scottsburg
Scottsburg 62 North Harrison 35
Corydon Central 72 Charlestown 61 OT
Princeton
Pike Central 62 Washington 59
Princeton 57 Heritage Hills 52


CLASS 2A
Bowman Academy
Andrean 58 Bowman Academy 44
Illiana Christian 58 North Newton 56
Bluffton
Whitko 63 Manchester 42
Fort Wayne Luers 68 Bluffton 37
Tipton
Taylor 51 Blackford 46
Eastbrook 61 Madison-Grant 50
Alexandria
Wes-Del 66 Muncie Burris 29
Wapahani 47 Lapel 31
Greencastle
Greencastle 71 South Putnam 45
Parke Heritage 85 Riverton Parke 36
Southwestern (Hanover)
Southwestern (Hanover) 56 Clarksville 47
Brownstown Central 83 Henryville 41
Paoli
South Knox 60 Mitchell 40
Eastern Greene 69 North Knox 58


CLASS 1A
Triton
Triton 61 Culver 54
Westville 66 Argos 50
Blue River
Blue River 68 Union City 45
Cambridge City Lincoln Union (Modoc) 7:30 pm
White River Valley
North Central (Farmersburg) 85 Lighthouse Christian 33
Bloomfield 56 Dugger Union 37
Bethesda Christian
Indianapolis Metropolitan 101 MTI Knowledge 36
Indiana Math & Science 77 Indianapolis International 75 OT
Indianapolis Lutheran
Greenwood Christian 61 Providence Cristo Rey 12
Central Christian 35 Eminence 31
Edinburgh
Jac-Cen-Del 55 Waldron 44
South Decatur 44 Edinburgh 38
Loogootee
Barr-Reeve 91 Washington Catholic 13
Loogootee 60 Springs Valley 47

FRIDAY’S SEMI-FINALS

CLASS 4A
East Chicago Central
Lake Central vs. Munster 6:30 pm
Gary West at East Chicago Central 8:00 pm
Chesterton
Lowell at Chesterton 7:00 pm
Crown Point vs. Valparaiso 8:30 pm
Mishawaka
South Bend Adams at Mishawaka 6:00 pm
South Bend Riley vs. Michigan City 7:30 pm
Elkhart
Warsaw vs. Concord 6:00 pm
Penn at Elkhart 7:30 pm
East Noble
Fort Wayne Northrop vs. Fort Wayne Snider 6:00 pm
DeKalb vs. Fort Wayne North 7:30 pm
Homestead
New Haven vs. Fort Wayne Wayne 6:00 pm
Columbia City at Homestead 7:30 pm
Lafayette Jeff
Kokomo at Lafayette Jeff 6:00 pm
Logansport vs. Marion 7:30 pm
Noblesville
Westfield at Noblesville 6:00 pm
Hamilton Southeastern vs. Fishers 7:30 pm
Greenfield-Central
Pendleton Heights vs. New Palestine 6:00 pm
Muncie Central at Greenfield-Central 7:30 pm
Lawrence North
Indianapolis Cathedral vs. Warren Central 6:00 pm
Indianapolis Attucks at Lawrence North 7:30 pm
Southport
Decatur Central vs. Indianapolis Roncalli 6:00 pm
Ben Davis at Southport 7:30 pm
Terre Haute South
Avon at Terre Haute South 6:00 pm
Terre Haute North vs. Brownsburg 7:30 pm
Bloomington North
Martinsville vs. Bloomington South 6:00 pm
Center Grove at Bloomington North 7:30 pm
East Central
Columbus East at East Central 6:00 pm
Franklin vs. Whiteland 7:30 pm
Seymour
Floyd Central vs. Jeffersonville 6:00 pm
Jennings County vs. New Albany 7:30 pm
Evansville North
Evansville Harrison vs. Castle 6:30 pm
Evansville Central vs. Jasper 8:00 pm


CLASS 3A
Calumet
Hanover Central vs. River Forest 7:00 pm
Hammond Noll vs. Griffith 8:30 pm
Tippecanoe Valley
Knox at Tippecanoe Valley 6:30 pm
Bremen vs. John Glenn 8:00 pm
South Bend Washington
South Bend St. Joseph vs. Mishawaka Marian 6:00 pm
South Bend Clay vs. Jimtown 7:30 pm
Lakeland
Fairfield vs. West Noble 6:00 pm
NorthWood at Lakeland 7:30 pm
Woodlan
Angola vs. Fort Wayne Concordia 6:00 pm
Heritage vs. Leo 7:30 pm
Frankfort
North Montgomery vs. Twin Lakes 6:00 pm
West Lafayette at Frankfort 7:30 pm
Mississinewa
Northwestern at Mississinewa 6:00 pm
Oak Hill vs. Peru 7:30 pm
New Castle
Hamilton Heights vs. Yorktown 6:00 pm
Delta at New Castle 7:30 pm
Lebanon
Crawfordsville vs. Danville 6:00 pm
Tri-West at Lebanon 7:30 pm
Owen Valley
Northview at Owen Valley 6:00 pm
Indian Creek vs. Edgewood 7:30 pm
Guerin Catholic
Indianapolis Chatard at Guerin Catholic 6:00 pm
Heritage Christian vs. Brebeuf Jesuit 7:30 pm
Beech Grove
Christel House at Beech Grove 6:00 pm
Indianapolis Washington vs. Purdue Poly Englewood 7:30 pm
Greensburg
Lawrenceburg at Greensburg 6:00 pm
Connersville vs. Batesville 7:30 pm
Scottsburg
Madison vs. Silver Creek 6:00 pm
Corydon Central at Scottsburg 7:30 pm
Princeton
Vincennes Lincoln vs. Southridge 6:30 pm
Pike Central at Princeton 8:00 pm
Boonville
Evansville Memorial vs. Evansville Mater Dei 6:30 pm
Evansville Bosse vs. Mount Vernon (Posey) 8:00 pm


CLASS 2A
Bowman Academy
Whiting vs. Gary 21st Century 6:30 pm
Andrean vs. Illiana Christian 8:00 pm
North Judson
LaVille at North Judson 6:30 pm
South Central (Union Mills) vs. Hebron 7:00 pm
Westview
Central Noble at Westview 6:00 pm
Eastside vs. Churubusco 7:30 pm
Lewis Cass
Pioneer vs. Wabash 6:00 pm
Winamac at Lewis Cass 7:30 pm
Bluffton
Fort Wayne Blackhawk vs. Adams Central 6:00 pm
Whitko vs. Fort Wayne Luers 7:30 pm
Lafayette Central Catholic
Clinton Prairie at Lafayette Central Catholic 6:00 pm
Covington vs. Carroll (Flora) 7:30 pm
Tipton
Eastern (Greentown) at Tipton 6:00 pm
Taylor vs. Eastbrook 7:30 pm
Alexandria
Monroe Central vs. Winchester 6:00 pm
Wes-Del vs. Wapahani 7:30 pm
Hagerstown
Union County at Hagerstown 6:00 pm
Northeastern vs. Shenandoah 7:30 pm
Triton Central
Indianapolis Riverside vs. Irvington Prep 6:00 pm
Eastern Hancock at Triton Central 7:30 pm
Sheridan
University at Sheridan 6:00 pm
Park Tudor vs. Covenant Christian 7:30 pm
Greencastle
Southmont vs. North Putnam 6:00 pm
Parke Heritage at Greencastle 7:30 pm
South Ripley
Hauser at South Ripley 6:00 pm
Switzerland County vs. North Decatur 7:30 pm
Southwestern (Hanover)
Austin vs. Providence 6:00 pm
Brownstown Central at Southwestern (Hanover) 7:30 pm
Paoli
Linton-Stockton vs. Sullivan 6:00 pm
South Knox vs. Eastern Greene 7:30 pm
Forest Park
Crawford County at Forest Park 6:30 pm
Perry Central vs. North Posey 8:00 pm


CLASS 1A
Kouts
Tri-Township vs. Demotte Christian 7:00 pm
Morgan Twp. at Kouts 8:30 pm
Triton
Oregon-Davis vs. Marquette Catholic 6:30 pm
Westville at Triton 8:00 pm
Bethany Christian
Hamilton vs. Lakewood Park 6:00 pm
Lakeland Christian vs. Elkhart Christian 7:30 pm
Caston
Frontier vs. Tri-County 6:00 pm
West Central at Caston 7:30 pm
Southern Wells
Smith Academy vs. Northfield 6:00 pm
Fort Wayne Canterbury vs. Southwood 7:30 pm
Fountain Central
North Vermillion vs. Faith Christian 6:00 pm
Rossville at Fountain Central 7:30 pm
Tri-Central
Daleville vs. Cowan 6:00 pm
Liberty Christian at Tri-Central 7:30 pm
Blue River
Seton Catholic vs. Tri 6:00 pm
Winner Game 3 at Blue River 7:30 pm
White River Valley
Shakamak vs. Clay City 6:00 pm
North Central (Farmersburg) vs. Bloomfield 7:30 pm
Bethesda Christian
Purdue Poly North at Bethesda Christian 6:00 pm
Indianapolis Metropolitan vs. Indiana Math & Science 7:30 pm
Indianapolis Lutheran
Indianapolis Tindley at Indianapolis Lutheran 6:00 pm
Greenwood Christian vs. Central Christian 7:30 pm
Edinburgh
Oldenburg Academy vs. Morristown 6:00 pm
Jac-Cen-Del vs. South Decatur 7:30 pm
Borden
Rock Creek Academy vs. Christian Academy 6:00 pm
South Central (Elizabeth) at Borden 7:30 pm
New Washington
Rising Sun at New Washington 6:00 pm
Medora vs. Trinity Lutheran 7:30 pm
Loogootee
Vincennes Rivet vs. Orleans 6:00 pm
Barr-Reeve at Loogootee 7:30 pm
Tecumseh
Evansville Christian vs. Northeast Dubois 6:30
pm
Evansville Day vs. Wood Memorial 8:00 pm

MEN’S TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES

#24 FLORIDA 83 MISSOURI 74

#5 MARQUETTE 91 PROVIDENCE 69

#10 DUKE 84 LOUISVILLE 59

#4 TENNESSEE 92 #11 AUBURN 84

#8 IOWA STATE 58 OKLAHOMA 45

#18 SOUTH CAROLINA 70 TEXAS A&M 68

#12 CREIGHTON 85 SETON HALL 64

#13 ILLINOIS 105 MINNESOTA 97

#14 ALABAMA 103 OLE MISS 88

#6 ARIZONA 85 ARIZONA STATE 67

ELSEWHERE:

NORTHWESTERN 68 MARYLAND 61

MILWAUKEE 75 IUPUI 70

PURDUE FORT WAYNE 79 WRIGHT STATE 77 OT

INDIANA STATE 85 EVANSVILLE 67

ST. JOHN’S 82 BUTLER 59

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOP 25 SCORES

#20 OKLAHOMA 71 #3 TEXAS 70

#10 CONNECTICUT 67 VILLANOVA 46

#2 OHIO STATE 67 MICHIGAN 51

IOWA STATE 82 #15 KANSAS STATE 76

#6 IOWA 108 MINNESOTA 60

#24 UNLV 63 BOISE STATE 57

#16 GONZAGA 90 PORTLAND 40

ELSEWHERE:

BALL STATE 75 AKRON 41

GREEN BAY 70 PURDUE FORT WAYNE 61

PENN STATE 93 PURDUE 88

BUTLER 73 DEPAUL 70

NBA SCOREBOARD

INDIANA 123 NEW ORLEANS 114

DALLAS 136 TORONTO 125

MINNESOTA 110 MEMPHIS 101

CHICAGO 132 CLEVELAND 123 2OT

DENVER 117 SACRAMENTO 96

LA LAKERS 116 LA CLIPPERS 112

NHL SCOREBOARD

NY RANGERS 4 COLUMBUS 1

EDMONTON 3 ST. LOUIS 2 OT

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

BALTIMORE 12 MINNESOTA 3

DETROIT 5 PITTSBURGH 3

WASHINGTON 4 BOSTON 3

ATLANTA 7 PHILADELPHIA 7

TORONTO 3 TAMPA BAY 2

NY METS 3 ST. LOUIS 0

HOUSTON 6 MIAMI 1

TEXAS 6 LA DODGERS 4

ARIZONA 8 CLEVELAND 6

SAN DIEGO 3 CHICAGO WHITE SOX 1

OAKLAND 7 SAN FRANCISCO 4

KANSAS CITY 9 SEATTLE 7

COLORADO 3 LA ANGELS 1

CHICAGO CUBS 6 MILWAUKEE 1

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

NO GAME SCHEDULED

COLLEGE BASEBALL SCORES

VANDERBILT 7 EVANSVILLE 3

VCU 15 MARYLAND 7

MICHIGAN STATE 19 GEORGIA 6

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 9 MICHIGAN 1

COLLEGE SOFTBALL SCORES

Michigan State 10 North Carolina Wilmington 6

Long Beach State 7 Michigan 6 (9)

NATIONAL SPORTS RELEASES/HEADLINES

NBA NEWS

LILLARD LONELY IN MILWAUKEE: ‘I DON’T HAVE MUCH OF A LIFE’

Damian Lillard admits that he feels lonely in Milwaukee as he transitions to a new franchise and city.

“Being away from my kids is tough,” Lillard told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. “In Portland, my life was set up. My mom was down the street; my brother was the other way down the street. My sister was down the street. My kids in school. Just my whole life was set up perfectly right there. It was a great situation. So just leaving that behind alone is a lot. And then you add the basketball side to it and that is what it is.”

Lillard said his life in the new city consists of going to practice and watching boxing or playing video games at home in his spare time.

“Seriously, I don’t have much of a life,” Lillard said. “But that’s what comes with making a big-boy decision. You got to be down for that and figure it out.

“It’s definitely lonely because I’m such a family guy. My life is my family … So I would come out, we would go to dinner. They might come to my house. After practice, I might go to my mom’s house and just chill. That’s how my life was. I’m fine because I’m grown. But it’s definitely lonely. I’m filled up by those people.”

Lillard requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers in July of last year with a preferred destination of the Miami Heat. The Blazers traded their franchise icon to the Bucks in September after talks stalled between Portland and Miami.

The veteran guard’s first season with Milwaukee has been a roller coaster. The franchise parted ways with rookie head coach Adrian Griffin despite a 30-13 start to the season. The Bucks replaced Griffin with veteran bench boss Doc Rivers to help shore up their defense, but they initially struggled to win under the new coach. Milwaukee is a mediocre 6-7 under Rivers.

The Bucks face the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.

NBA ROUNDUP: LAKERS’ HUGE RALLY STUNS CLIPPERS

LeBron James scored 19 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and Anthony Davis finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds as the visiting Los Angeles Lakers overcame a 21-point deficit in the final period to pull off a 116-112 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

D’Angelo Russell scored 18 points and Rui Hachimura added 17 as the Lakers defeated the Clippers for the third time in four games and won the season series between the teams for the first time since 2011-12. The Clippers had won 11 consecutive meetings entering this season.

The comeback came as the teams played the final regular-season game against each other as co-tenants of Crypto.com Arena, formerly Staples Center. The teams have shared the building since 1999-2000. The Clippers are set to move to the new Intuit Dome in nearby Inglewood, Calif., next season.

Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points and James Harden added 23 as the Clippers lost for the fifth time in their past eight games. Leonard had the chance to tie the score with seven seconds remaining, but his shot over James was short.

Bulls 132, Cavaliers 123 (2OT)

DeMar DeRozan had 35 points and 10 rebounds, Nikola Vucevic added 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Chicago outlasted visiting Cleveland in double overtime.

Ayo Dosunmu scored 21 points and Andre Drummond had 17 points and a season-high 26 rebounds for Chicago, which scored the first eight points in double overtime. Coby White had 14 points and 12 assists, and rookie Onuralp Bitim chipped in a career-high 10 points. Chicago outrebounded Cleveland 74-39 and snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.

Evan Mobley led Cleveland with 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Darius Garland made a season-high seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points. Donovan Mitchell added 19 points, Caris LeVert chipped in 14 points and a career-high 15 assists, Isaac Okoro scored 13, and Jarrett Allen and Max Strus each had 11.

Timberwolves 110, Grizzlies 101

Anthony Edwards scored 34 points on 11-for-21 shooting, and Minnesota overcame a slow start to earn a win over Memphis in Minneapolis.

Naz Reid added 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting off the bench for the Timberwolves, who won their third game in a row and their second in as many nights. Karl-Anthony Towns posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 33 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead Memphis, which lost its third consecutive contest. Ziaire Williams scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and GG Jackson scored 14 points off the bench.

Pacers 123, Pelicans 114

Pascal Siakam, Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner had double-doubles and host Indiana never trailed in defeating New Orleans.

Siakam had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Haliburton had 17 points and 13 assists and Turner had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Bennedict Mathurin and Obi Toppin added 16 points each and Ben Sheppard scored 11.

Brandon Ingram scored 30 points, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum had 23 each, Herbert Jones had 14 and Trey Murphy III added 11 for the Pelicans.

Mavericks 136, Raptors 125

Luka Doncic had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists, and visiting Dallas defeated Toronto.

It was the 11th triple-double of the season and the 67th of his career for Doncic, who turned 25 on Wednesday.

Scottie Barnes had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors, who had their three-game winning streak end. Immanuel Quickley scored 28 points and RJ Barrett added 26 points. Jakob Poeltl had 16 points, Kelly Olynyk chipped in 13 and Gary Trent Jr. scored 11.

Nuggets 117, Kings 96

Nikola Jokic put up 14 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, and host Denver cruised past Sacramento.

Jokic, who sat out the fourth quarter of the blowout, has logged triple-doubles in each of his past four games, giving him 19 this season. He helped the Nuggets avoid getting swept in the four-game season series against the Kings.

Keegan Murray scored 21 points, Chris Duarte added 18 points, Malik Monk contributed 14 points and Domantas Sabonis finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for Sacramento.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

MLB WANTS TO MAKE STARTING PITCHING MORE PROMINENT, BUT IT’S A TOUGH TASK IN TODAY’S GAME

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Max Scherzer logged at least 179 innings in 10 of his first 16 years in the majors. And the three-time Cy Young Award winner learned some tough lessons on the road to pitching deep into games.

That’s one reason why the Texas Rangers right-hander thinks Major League Baseball needs to look a lot deeper than a roster limit if it wants to return starting pitching to prominence.

“I became a better pitcher once I went through three times in the lineup and was failing on that third time through the lineup,” the 39-year-old Scherzer said. “That’s every young pitcher’s struggle, is learning how to pitch three times through a lineup. … We’re so scared now to let guys fail.”

The state of starting pitching has the attention of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who said in October the league is considering lowering the maximum of 13 pitchers per team to 12 possibly as soon as the 2025 season — with the goal of placing a greater emphasis on starting pitchers.

Big league starters averaged 15.4 outs and 85.1 pitches last year, according to Sportradar, and 15.6 outs and 84.9 pitches in 2022. But the numbers were 17.4 and 93.1 as late as 2015, and 17.8 and 98.6 in 2000.

“I grew up a fan of the game, and me and my dad used to pick Astros games based on when Roy Oswalt was pitching,” Chicago Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon said. “We would look at pitching matchups, that’s what we would do. Nowadays, I feel like that allure is gone a little bit.”

MLB wants to put that allure back in the game, but it’s a tricky, multifaceted issue.

Pitching prospects are closely monitored on their way to the majors, and deviating from the organization’s plan could put the careers of minor league managers and coaches at risk. There is more arm talent in big league bullpens than ever before, and reams of data that illustrate the danger of leaving a pitcher in for too long.

“From a fan perspective, yeah, to see a guy in there to go seven, eight innings, I absolutely get it,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Doesn’t necessarily help you win baseball games, and I’m in the business of winning games.”

While a 12-pitcher limit could incentivize teams to let starting pitchers go deeper into games, it would add more stress to bullpens. It also could prompt teams to shuttle their middle relievers from the majors to the minor leagues even more — regardless of their performance.

The long-term answer most likely lies in the lower levels of the minors and how baseball develops its next generation of starters.

“It starts with training in the minor leagues,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s where it all begins. It’s hard to do it when guys are coming up. They’re not trained to do that. Now you’re going to ask them to get you deeper in the games and now you’re risking injury. So you got to be smart about that.”

The focus in the minors is more on stuff, Taillon said, and trying “to raise guys’ ceiling at a young age.”

“You see guys nowadays get called up who’ve never thrown five innings in their life,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

Scherzer, who threw at least 95 pitches in 15 starts last year, thinks more latitude in the minors would help.

“I’ve been developed to throw, call it 105, 110 pitches on a five-day rotation,” he said. “It’s the rest. It’s more about the pitch count and then getting the appropriate amount of the rest. I don’t understand why we keep cutting that pitch count lower and lower, especially for the guys who are being developed.”

Scherzer called a 12-pitcher roster limit “a terrible idea,” but he agreed that it would take some sort of action to reverse the current trend with starting pitching.

“We need to incentivize keeping the starter in the game longer,” he said. “We’re going to have to come up with rules to do this. It’s not going to self-correct.”

Once pitchers make it to the majors, they are often pulled before the lineup turns over a third time because of statistics that show hitters typically have more success in their third plate appearance against the same pitcher.

It could be an ace right-hander rolling along with a low pitch count — with no sign of trouble — and the manager makes the move because it’s easier to address why he took him out than why he left him in for too long. That’s an attitude that would be difficult for Major League Baseball to take out of the game.

“Trusting what you’re seeing, trusting your eyes and knowing when those times are to be able to let them go, I think you might start to see that come back a little bit more,” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. “There’s no refuting the numbers. It’s just like being able to recognize when it’s time to let them let them go.”

SHOHEI OHTANI WON’T PITCH THIS SEASON AFTER MAJOR ELBOW SURGERY, BUT HE CAN STILL HIT. HERE’S WHY

PHOENIX (AP) — Shohei Ohtani is unique in Major League Baseball history, a two-way Japanese superstar who can excel as a hitter and a pitcher, sometimes in the same game.

But for the 2024 season, Ohtani will be just a hitter.

That’s because Ohtani is recovering from an injured elbow ligament — the ulnar collateral ligament — that often leads to a procedure colloquially known as Tommy John surgery. Ohtani has been vague about the exact procedure he had last September, but the Dodgers do not expect him to pitch until 2025.

Typically, pitchers who have Tommy John surgery miss at least a full calendar year. Most of that time is spent carefully rehabbing the elbow so it can withstand the unusual torque needed to throw a baseball 90-plus mph.

Hitters — including Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper — also occasionally tear their UCLs and require Tommy John surgery, but their recovery is much quicker.

Ohtani, who signed a record $700 million, 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in December, could still have a huge impact in the batters’ box this year.

HOW DID OHTANI GET HURT?

Ohtani — who spent his first six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels — left the pitcher’s mound abruptly in the second inning of his start against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 23 after throwing 26 pitches. Later that night, Angels general manager Perry Minasian confirmed that Ohtani had an injured elbow ligament and wouldn’t pitch again in 2023.

The two-time Most Valuable Player is no stranger to serious arm injuries. He had his first Tommy John surgery in 2018, following his stellar rookie season. That kept him from pitching in 2019 and most of 2020 before he returned full-time to the mound in 2021.

There have only been a handful of MLB players who have had Tommy John surgery twice and returned as effective pitchers.

WHAT CAN OHTANI DO THIS SEASON?

If his first spring training game is any indication, Ohtani’s hitting won’t be hampered by his recovery.

Ohtani smacked a two-run homer in his third exhibition at-bat on Tuesday as the team’s designated hitter.

A torn ulnar collateral ligament is a serious injury for a pitcher or fielder because it affects throwing a baseball, but it’s not quite as problematic for hitters.

Throwing a baseball puts particular stress on the UCL as the arm rapidly pivots from being externally rotated to internally rotated. That’s not a concern during the baseball swing — especially for players like Ohtani and Harper, who throw right-handed but bat left-handed. Their injured right arms lead the way when they swing, a less taxing motion for the elbow ligament.

Last season, Harper returned to the lineup as the designated hitter a little more than five months after Tommy John surgery, wearing a brace on his right elbow. Ohtani is roughly five months removed from the elbow surgery he had in September.

WHY DID THE DODGERS STILL GIVE HIM $700 MILLION?

The Dodgers — and all other 29 MLB teams — knew about Ohtani’s elbow injury during his free agency. That didn’t stop Los Angeles from spending $700 million to add him to the roster.

Among the reasons: Ohtani should still be able to pitch again starting in 2025, theoretically giving the Dodgers a two-way player for nine of his 10 seasons under contract. But even if he can’t always pitch, his bat is among the game’s best. He had a .304 batting average, 44 home runs, 95 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 2023, which helped him land his second MVP award.

If Ohtani eventually has to quit pitching, he’s athletic enough to play first base or even the outfield.

Ohtani is also unique in that he’s a global phenomenon — with legions of fans around the world, particulary in his native Japan. His marketability rivals some of the world’s biggest sports stars, including soccer standouts Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, along with NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

All those eyeballs on Ohtani mean lots of advertising and merchandise dollars for the Dodgers.

SPRING TRAINING ROUNDUP: COLTON COWSER, RAMON URIAS HELP ORIOLES POUND TWINS

Colton Cowser and Ramon Urias each homered and drove in three runs as the Baltimore Orioles rolled to a 12-3 victory over the host Minnesota Twins Wednesday afternoon at Fort Myers, Fla.

Cowser, Urias, Cedric Mullins and Michael Perez all had two hits to pace Baltimore’s 17-hit attack. Urias hit a two-run homer in the second inning, Cowser slugged a three-run shot in the third and Perez delivered a two-run single in the seventh.

Dean Kremer (1-0) gave up one run and two hits in two innings for the Orioles. Pablo Lopez (0-1) gave up two runs and three hits in two innings for the Twins.

Jake Rucker hit a slot blast for Minnesota.

Nationals 4, Red Sox 3

Joey Gallo hit a two-run, tiebreaking double in the fifth inning to help Washington slide past visiting Boston at Palm Beach, Fla.

Victor Robles and Jesse Winker had run-scoring singles earlier in the third before Gallo put the Nationals ahead with the two-bagger inside the first-base line.

Mark Kolozsvary had two hits and two RBIs for the Red Sox.

Mets 3, Cardinals 0

Pete Alonso and Trayce Thompson each belted solo shots as New York blanked visiting St. Louis at Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Seven Mets pitchers combined on a five-hitter and struck out seven batters.

Alec Burleson had two hits for the Cardinals, who were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2

Rafael Lantigua hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to help Toronto knock off visiting Tampa Bay at Dunedin, Fla.

Paolo Espino, Devereaux Harrison and Andrew Bash (1-0) all pitched two scoreless innings for the Blue Jays.

Ronny Simon’s sacrifice fly and Amed Rosario’s RBI double plated the Rays’ runs in the fifth inning.

Astros 6, Marlins 1

David Hensley stroked a two-run double to cap a four-run third inning to help visiting Houston defeat Miami at Jupiter, Fla.

Trey Cabbage and Dixon Machado joined Hensley in having two hits for the Astros.

Miami’s lone run crossed on Jhonny Pereda’s sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

Tigers 5, Pirates 3

Bligh Madris, Anthony Bemboom and Wenceel Perez all homered to help Detroit dispatch host Pittsburgh at Bradenton, Fla.

Bemboom hit the tiebreaking homer with one out in the top of the eighth off Dauri Moreta (0-1) and Perez homered later in the inning.

Tsung-Che Cheng hit a two-run shot in the third inning and Connor Joe homered later in the frame for the Pirates’ runs.

Braves 7, Phillies 7

Bryson Horne hit a two-run homer in the ninth and Cody Milligan plated another with a groundout and Atlanta’s three-run outburst forged a tie with host Philadelphia at Clearwater, Fla.

Chadwick Tromp slugged a two-run blast and Michael Harris II hit a solo shot for the Braves, who had 10 hits.

J.T. Realmuto hit a solo blast and Alec Bohm stroked a two-run shot for the Phillies.

ORIOLES SIGN INF KOLTEN WONG, RHP JULIO TEHERAN

The Baltimore Orioles added some veteran help Wednesday by signing infielder Kolten Wong and right-hander Julio Teheran to minor league contracts.

Wong, 33, was a two-time Gold Glove second baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals and Teheran, also 33, made two All-Star teams with the Atlanta Braves.

Both players were invited to join the Orioles for major league spring training in Sarasota, Fla.

Wong split the 2023 season with the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers and batted .183 with four homers and 27 RBIs in 87 games.

He is a lifetime .256 hitter with 86 home runs and 405 RBIs in 1,189 games with the Cardinals (2013-20), Milwaukee Brewers (2021-22), Mariners and Dodgers.

Teheran went 3-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 14 games (11 starts) for the Brewers in 2023.

He owns an 81-82 career record with a 3.83 ERA in 254 games (247 starts) for the Braves (2011-19), Los Angeles Angels (2020) and Detroit Tigers (2021). He spent 2022 playing in Mexico and in the independent Atlantic League.

NFL NEWS

KIRK COUSINS AND CHRIS JONES HEAD AN NFL FREE AGENTS LIST FILLED WITH STAR-QUALITY PLAYERS

Need a Pro Bowl quarterback, an All-Pro defensive lineman or a future Hall of Fame wide receiver?

NFL teams could find one of these guys and plenty more star-quality players when the free agency period begins on March 13. Kirk Cousins, Chris Jones and Mike Evans are among the best players who will be available on the open market unless their teams use a franchise tag by March 5. The Bengals already used it on wideout Tee Higgins.

They’ll be joined by running backs Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs, edge rushers Josh Allen, Brian Burns and Danielle Hunter and several other talented players at various positions, including wide receiver, safety and linebacker.

Defensive line is the deepest position while offensive tackle has the fewest starting-caliber players on the list.

Here are the top 25 players set to become free agents:

1. KIRK COUSINS, QUARTERBACK, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: The four-time Pro Bowl QB was having an excellent season before he tore an Achilles tendon in October. He has said he wants to stay in Minnesota and coach Kevin O’Connell reiterated the team feels the same way.

“I believe Kirk wants to be a Viking, and we’re going to work to try and make that the outcome,” O’Connell said Tuesday.

2. CHRIS JONES, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: The two-time All-Pro is a game-changer, as evidenced in Kansas City’s win over San Francisco in the Super Bowl. It would cost the Chiefs about $32 million to use the franchise tag on Jones again this season, a decision they haven’t yet made.

“That’s certainly a guy we want back and love,” general manager Brett Veach said. “We want to see him finish his career here in Kansas City.”

3. JOSH ALLEN, EDGE RUSHER, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Allen had a career-high 17 1/2 sacks in his contract year. Allen is Jacksonville’s best defensive player. They can’t afford to let him leave but many teams will be interested.

4. CHRISTIAN WILKINS, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, MIAMI DOLPHINS: Already one of the best run defenders in the NFL, Wilkins had a career-best nine sacks to increase his value on the open market.

5. JUSTIN MADUBUIKE, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, BALTIMORE RAVENS: Madubuike had more sacks last season (13) than his first three seasons combined. His breakout season will land him a significant deal, and perhaps a franchise tag.

6. BRIAN BURNS, EDGE RUSHER, CAROLINA PANTHERS: He’s been the best defensive player on a terrible team and would seem eager to get a fresh start elsewhere but the Panthers aren’t going to let him get away easily.

GM Dan Morgan already said the team would likely use the $24 million franchise tag on Burns.

“We would definitely use it if we had to use it,” Morgan said. “We love Brian.”

7. ANTOINE WINFIELD JR., SAFETY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: The versatile Winfield had an All-Pro season, helping the Buccaneers win a third straight division title and advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Buccaneers are aiming to sign Winfield to a long-term deal instead of giving him the franchise tag at $17.1 million.

8. L’JARIUS SNEED, CORNERBACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: A tough, physical cornerback, Sneed didn’t allow a touchdown and was an instrumental part of Steve Spagnuolo’s championship defense. The Chiefs could use the franchise tag, which is about $19 million for cornerbacks.

9. MIKE EVANS, WIDE RECEIVER, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: He’s the only player to start his career with 10 seasons with 1,000 yards receiving. Evans turns 31 in August but hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. The Buccaneers want to keep him but he’d be a great fit for several teams.

10. DANIELLE HUNTER, EDGE RUSHER, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: The four-time Pro Bowl pick had a career-best 16 1/2 sacks, his fifth season reaching double digits in eight years.

11. JAYLON JOHNSON, CORNERBACK, CHICAGO BEARS: He’s physical, consistent and has the ability to be a lockdown player.

12. MICHAEL PITTMAN, WIDE RECEIVER, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Pittman had a career-best 109 catches and 1,152 yards receiving. He’ll be 27 in October and is a candidate for a franchise tag.

13. SAQUON BARKLEY, RUNNING BACK, NEW YORK GIANTS: The two-time Pro Bowl pick could get the franchise tag for the second straight season. If not, Barkley should get plenty of interest in free agency despite the league’s overall devaluing of the running back position.

14. TYRON SMITH, LEFT TACKLE, DALLAS COWBOYS: After being limited to just 17 games over the previous three seasons, Smith started 13 and returned to his dominant form.

15. BAKER MAYFIELD, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: After bouncing around in 2022, Mayfield signed a one-year deal to replace Tom Brady in Tampa Bay and had the best season of his career. He wants to remain with the Buccaneers and they want to keep him.

16. DERRICK HENRY, RUNNING BACK, TENNESSEE TITANS: The 30-year-old four-time Pro Bowl pick has plenty of wear and tear but he just started 17 games, ran for 1,167 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. He’s had five 1,000-yard seasons in the last six years, including 2,027 yards in 2020, and he’s scored double-digit TDs six straight years. He’s a perfect fit on a contender.

17. LEONARD WILLIAMS, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: A tough run defender, Williams was a force rushing the passer last year. He cost Seattle two draft picks in a trade so the Seahawks will make a strong push to keep him.

18. KENDALL FULLER, CORNERBACK, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: He’s a versatile defensive back with ability to play outside, in the slot or at safety.

19. JOSH JACOBS, RUNNING BACK, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Struggled to follow up an All-Pro 2022 season but finished strong.

20. KYLE DUGGER, SAFETY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Excels against the run but needs more consistency in pass coverage.

21. MIKE ONWENU, RIGHT TACKLE, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: He has versatility to play guard and be a bookend tackle.

22. CALVIN RIDLEY, WIDE RECEIVER, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Put up solid numbers — 76-1,016-8 — in his first season back from a suspension and would be an excellent fit on a team that already has a star No. 1 receiver.

23. STEPHON GILMORE, CORNERBACK, DALLAS COWBOYS: The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has played for four teams in the past four seasons but still is among the top guys at his position.

24. MARQUISE BROWN, WIDE RECEIVER, ARIZONA CARDINALS: Still waiting for that breakout year after his best season with Baltimore in 2021. Has game-changing deep speed that will interest many teams.

25. BRYCE HUFF, EDGE RUSHER, NEW YORK JETS: Huff goes from undrafted to a big payday after recording a career-best 10 sacks last season. He still needs to develop as a run defender to be more than a pass-rush specialist.

SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER SAYS DOLPHINS’ TYREEK HILL BROKE HER LEG DURING FOOTBALL DRILL AT HIS HOME

A social media influencer is suing Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill over an alleged incident that happened at the NFL star’s South Florida home last summer.

In a lawsuit that Sophie Hall’s attorneys filed in Broward County circuit court on Feb. 23, the influencer claims that Hill “forcefully and purposefully” shoved her while the two were participating in a football drill at his Southwest Ranches mansion.

Hill was “humiliated” after Hall knocked him backward during a “friendly football lesson,” according to the lawsuit, which led to him charging at her “violently and with great force.”

“The crushing force was so great that she sustained a right leg fracture, necessitating surgery with metal hardware implantation,” the lawsuit says.

Hall is seeking up to $75,000 in damages. It is unclear whether she reported the incident to authorities. Her attorneys are suing Hill for battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

The Dolphins, who acquired Hill in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in March 2022, have not commented publicly on the incident.

Hall, whom the suit describes as a model, actress and influencer with over 2 million followers across multiple social media platforms, met Hill in May 2023 after she bought a ticket for her 10-year-old son to attend Hill’s summer football camp in Boca Raton, Florida.

The Dolphins receiver messaged Hall on Instagram a day after she registered, wanting to “meet up and get to know her,” the court documents say.

The two continued to exchange messages, the documents show, including one in which Hill says he has been “known to be a good stepdad.”

Hill then shared his cellphone number with Hall and invited her to his home. The All-Pro receiver purchased flight and travel arrangements for Hall to stay with him for a few days, the lawsuit says.

Hall arrived at Hill’s home on June 28, according to the complaint. That afternoon, she stood and watched Hill practice with his trainer in his backyard before Hill invited her to participate in offensive line drills with him.

Hall, who in her Instagram bio says she is 6-foot-1, caused Hill to be pushed backward during the first drill, which the suit claims garnered laughter from those watching, including his mother, sister, friend and trainer.

“Apparently embarrassed by his loss of stability as a result of contact by a woman during the ‘football play,’ Mr. Hill’s attitude changed and he became angry,” the complaint says.

Hall was in excruciating pain and unable to get up and walk around as a result of Hill charging at her. The suit claims that Hill downplayed Hall’s injuries but allowed her to stay at his home until he secured travel arrangements for her to return home.

The lawsuit says she was diagnosed with a right leg fracture in July, attends weekly therapy sessions and has persistent pain and weakness in her leg.

In 2019, the Chiefs suspended Hill amid allegations that he had physically abused his son. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation after choking his then-pregnant fianceé. He received three years’ probation as a result. Last August, Hill was under investigation by Miami-Dade police after a man claimed the receiver hit him after a verbal altercation. No charges were filed.

FEDEX ENDS NAMING RIGHTS AGREEMENT FOR THE WASHINGTON COMMANDERS STADIUM LONG KNOWN AS FEDEX FIELD

FedEx has ended its naming rights agreement to the Washington Commanders stadium in Landover, Maryland, a venue that had been known as FedEx Field since 1999.

The move confirmed Wednesday comes two years prior to the expiration of the current agreement scheduled for 2026, and as the NFL club under new ownership looks for a site on which to build a new stadium that would open later this decade.

“We continuously review our marketing programs to ensure our investments are aligned with our evolving business objectives,” FedEx said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “As part of this review, we have decided to not continue as the naming rights sponsor of FedEx Field as we focus on our broader NFL sponsorship and opportunities that reflect our global footprint.”

Dan Snyder sold the naming rights to FedEx in 1999 when he bought the team. FedEx founder and chairman Fred Smith was a minority owner of the team until 2021, when Snyder and his family bought out the shares held by Smith, Dwight Schar and Bob Rothman.

Snyder last year sold the team to a group led by Josh Harris and including Magic Johnson and others for $6.05 billion.

Unlike Nationals Park, home of Washington’s Major League Baseball team by the same name, don’t expect the Commanders’ stadium, which also hosts soccer games and concerts, to go without a sponsorship for an extended period of time.

“We have already started the process of identifying our next stadium naming rights partner — a partner who will play a crucial role in ushering in the next era of not only Commanders football but also a robust slate of top live events and concerts,” the team said in a statement.

The Washington Post was first to report the news.

On Tuesday, the Commanders announced $75 million in renovations to the aging stadium, including upgrades to the sound system, escalators and elevators, water and mechanical systems and other infrastructure improvements. There was no hot water in the home and visiting locker room showers after a game late last season, and in previous years the stadium had pipe leaks and other problems that made it a butt of league-wide jokes.

The Commanders ranked last among the league’s 32 teams on the NFLPA’s latest annual report card released Wednesday, including complaints about the locker room and team’s outdated training facility, which in Ashburn, Virginia.

The union said players had “issues issues with cleanliness, citing multiple sewage leaks this season” and were unhappy about the lack of a family room and daycare facilities for children on game days.

Harris received a rating of 8.6 out of 10 from Commanders players for his willingness to invest in facilities.

Upon taking control of the team, Harris talked about improving how fans get in and out, among other changes to the game day experience that had devolved in the final years of Snyder’s ownership.

His group is still considering options in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia for the team’s new home that would replace the current one, which was rushed to completion in 1997 under the orders of then-owner Jack Kent Cooke, who died months prior to its opening.

The U.S. House of Representatives later Wednesday is expected to pass a bill that would transfer the land currently occupied by the husk of RFK Stadium from the federal government to the District. The bill says, “The city could use the land for stadium development, residential and commercial development, recreational facilities and open space.”

The team last year said it supported efforts by D.C. to get control of that site, which is the favored place of a new stadium by many fans. RFK Stadium is where Washington played from 1961-96 when Harris and co-owners Mitch Rales and Mark Ein were fans of the team.

CALEB WILLIAMS WOULD BE ‘EXCITED’ TO GO NO. 1 TO BEARS

The Bears and presumptive No. 1 pick Caleb Williams seem destined for one another, and the star quarterback has no issues with landing in Chicago despite speculation he’d prefer another NFL destination.

“If I get drafted by the Bears, I’ll be excited,” Williams told ESPN’s Pete Thamel. “If they trade the pick, and I get drafted by someone else, I’m just as excited. Speaking about Chicago, they have a talented team, a talented offense and defense. For anyone to be in that situation, I think they’d be excited.”

Bears general manager Ryan Poles shrugged off the suggestion Tuesday that Williams could follow in the footsteps of Eli Manning, who refused to play for the then-San Diego Chargers, the owners of the No. 1 pick in 2004.

The former USC standout also dismissed the rumors.

“I’m not pushing any agenda,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, the Bears have the last say. Regardless of how I feel, I’m not pushing an agenda of, ‘Yeah, I want to go. Or no, I don’t want to go.’ I’m excited for whatever comes.”

Poles said he remains in the process of deciding what to do with the first overall pick – which Chicago received from the Panthers as part of Carolina’s trade up to the top selection last season – and current quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears are widely expected to select Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner and consensus top passer in the 2024 class, and trade Fields.

Williams has reportedly opted not to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine and will instead work out for teams at his pro day on March 20.

Top quarterbacks often decide against performing at the combine, with former No. 1 picks Bryce Young and Joe Burrow being the most recent examples.

Though Williams won’t participate in on-field work, he will meet with teams in Indianapolis and said he’s excited for his “first date” with Chicago. He’s also set to talk to the Washington Commanders, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, New York Giants, and Minnesota Vikings, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports.

NFLPA REPORT CARDS: DOLPHINS ON TOP, COMMANDERS LAST AGAIN

The NFLPA released its second NFL Player Team Report Cards on Wednesday, intending to help players make career decisions and improve working conditions across the league.

An impressive 1,706 players provided information that shaped the rankings with categories including treatment of families, food/cafeteria, nutritionist/dietician, locker room, training room, training staff, weight room, strength coaches, team travel, head coach, and ownership.

The Miami Dolphins earned the highest overall grade, marking a slight increase from their second-place score in 2023. The Dolphins received no lower than an A- in each category, ranking first in food/cafeteria, training room, training staff, weight room, team travel, and ownership.

Meanwhile, it’s the second straight year the Washington Commanders wind up at the bottom of the league’s report card. The team’s facility was a major issue, as interviewed players criticized the locker room’s small size and need for renovation after multiple sewage leaks were reported. The training room, training staff, treatment of families, and team travel also all received scores of F or F-.

ALABAMA’S DALLAS TURNER TRYING TO STAND OUT IN INDY

INDIANAPOLIS — Seems like more than three years ago to Dallas Turner when he rolled into the Alabama Crimson Tide weight room as a self-described “chubby” freshman walking in the shadow of Will Anderson Jr. and Chris Braswell.

One of the top-ranked edge prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft, Turner’s first steps on his pre-draft journey brought him to Lucas Oil Stadium this week where he and Braswell are pushing to stand out from a crowd of 321 like-minded dreamers who just left college.

The NFL Scouting Combine, the annual event built to establish an apples-to-apples scouting protocol for grading prospects, is much more of an emotional and physical gauntlet than the TV production might imply. Defensive linemen and linebackers arrived Sunday or Monday, went through full medical testing with league-approved doctors at one of two local hospitals, and began 30-minute meetings with general managers and coaches of NFL teams.

“I had 12 meetings on my first day,” Turner said Wednesday during the late morning media session.

He’ll have more NFL team meetings to come Wednesday night. A few of his memorable meetings were with the Houston Texans, the team that drafted Anderson No. 3 overall in 2023, the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks. Braswell also met with the Texans and Alabama alum DeMeco Ryans early in the week.

The entire linebacker position group gets a pre-dawn wakeup call for drug testing Thursday morning and on-field workouts — bench press, 40-yard dash, short shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump — and position drills start after lunch.

Workouts are where Turner feels at ease. A polished basketball player who played on the same AAU team as Raptors All-Star Scottie Barnes in Florida, Turner is leaving Nike Team Florida glory days and college football behind.

He’s competing with Florida State’s Jared Verse, Penn State’s Chop Robinson — workout freak warning — and Alabama cornerbacks Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry to be the first defensive player drafted in a class likely to be dominated by premium talent at quarterback and wide receiver.

Whether Turner is a 3-4 outside linebacker, his position at Alabama, or a traditional defensive end is a question Anderson heard before the 2023 draft. It will ultimately be answered by his draft position and the scheme that team operates.

Turner said he was out of shape at 260 pounds when he came to campus with “COVID weight” and played at 240 pounds as a true freshman at Alabama. He plans to play in the NFL at 255 pounds — he was 225 as a high school freshman — and feels faster now than he was in the 220s.

“That’s probably the best weight I can move at and feel comfortable and stuff like that,” Turner said. “Compared to the 225 in my freshman season and the 255 at the end of my junior season, I could tell the difference for sure in the strength, power and explosiveness. I feel good at that weight. I feel like that gave me a lot of versatility and can play in any type of scheme.”

When Turner hits the lights at his hotel adjacent the Colts’ homefield on Wednesday night, he’s going to feel like he’s been in town more than three days.

Come Thursday when the lights are on at Lucas Oil Stadium, Turner has every intention of being up for the test he trained for since signing with Alabama.

“Just the culture — I feel like going into this professional level, it probably won’t be nothing new for me because we train as professionals,” Turner said. “It’s like a day-to-day life, just having a schedule and being coached by coach (Nick) Saban every day.”

PROSPECTS MIGHT TAKE A PASS ON ‘COGNITIVE TESTS’ AT SCOUTING COMBINE

INDIANAPOLIS — From Wonderlic scores to the new S2 cognitive test, NFL teams utilize in-person psychological and IQ tests to formulate a more complete evaluation of every prospect at the annual Scouting Combine.

But the longevity of the polarizing practice has been called into question this week by prospects refusing to submit to the scantron as part of their marathon of medical evaluation, on-field testing, private interviews and media obligations required as part of the annual pre-draft gathering.

Leaked cognitive testing results before the 2023 NFL Draft discredited the processing skills of then-Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who reportedly scored 18 out of 100 on the “S2” test.

Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans said the test wasn’t a factor in any way when the franchise selected Stroud with the No. 2 pick in April. Stroud had the Texans convinced he was a franchise quarterback even before he met with them at the 2023 Scouting Combine, and only cemented his status during their interview.

“You’d see C.J. come into our room in formal interviews and just see he had that calmness about him in the room. You can tell — for me, I could tell instantly if a guy has what it takes,” Ryans said. “I saw that in C.J. when I first sat down and he began to speak to us about his background and his college experience. Then you see his teammates and how they spoke about C.J. I remember being here last year, and every Ohio State teammate that sat in our room, they spoke highly of C.J. and the type of leader he was and what he meant to them and the things that he did to those guys to help them. You can’t hide. Your true character always will show, and it showed that C.J. was a really great guy, raised the right way, and he was the same guy throughout the entire year. He didn’t change.”

Stroud became NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, leading the Texans to the AFC South division title and a playoff win over the Cleveland Browns.

His agents at Athletes First sent a letter to all 32 NFL teams before the combine to outline reasons their clients would not submit to any “cognitive or psychological testing” this week, citing a breach in confidentiality with Stroud.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst was pleased to report no prospect opted out of their test at the 2024 combine. That’s noteworthy in part because Athletes First also represents Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur.

“It’s a very important part of our process, but it’s just a part of our process,” he said. “Really, the way our cognitive testing works, it’s not really used as much as an evaluation tool whether we’re going to choose a player or not (in the draft).

“It’s more about if we do choose a player, what are the best ways we’re going to support that player once we get him in the building.”

Gutekunst said the test the Packers use likely is different than most or all other teams. They ask prospects to participate because it provides a baseline for individual instruction and tells Green Bay coaches how that player best learns.

Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said Cincinnati as a franchise employs its scouting staff and position coaches to discern the information other teams are trying to gather with impersonal “cognitive” tests.

“We don’t believe in a lot of that. We put the resources in our own people to determine how well somebody will transition into our game. There’s no magic bullet and there’s no better mouse mousetrap,” he said. “The mouse still escapes some time. You can spend a lot of time on cognitive tests. And you can spend a lot of time researching the guy’s background on your own. And the results, in my opinion, are pretty similar.”

JETS GRANT QB ZACH WILSON PERMISSION TO SEEK TRADE

The Jets have given quarterback Zach Wilson permission to seek a trade, general manager Joe Douglas said Wednesday.

New York took Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in 2021 and saw him go 12-21 as an on-again, off-again starter for three seasons.

The Jets have four-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers coming back from a torn Achilles to be their starter in 2024.

Douglas may have signaled that the Wilson era in New York is all but over with his remarks Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

“I’ve had good conversations with his agent, Brian Ayrault,” Douglas said. “Where we are exactly, we’ve given them permission to talk to other teams about a trade. I’m going to circle back with Brian at some point either this week or next week just to see how those conversations go. Other than that, there’s nothing else to report.”

Wilson’s trade value, according to many league experts, is worth either a sixth- or seventh-round pick in April’s NFL draft or perhaps a middle-round pick swap.

Wilson, 24, was 4-7 in 2023 and passed for 2,271 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Through 34 games (33 starts), he has completed 57.0 percent of his passes for 6,293 yards, 23 TDs and 25 picks.

With Wilson on the way out, that leaves No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars as the only one of five first-round QBs in the 2021 draft class guaranteed of being his original team’s starter in 2024.

The San Francisco 49ers drafted Trey Lance third overall and traded him to the Dallas Cowboys last August. Justin Fields was the No. 10 pick by the Chicago Bears and Mac Jones went 15th to the New England Patriots, but both are on unstable ground this offseason.

REPORTS: CHIEFS RELEASING WR MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANTLING

The Kansas City Chiefs are releasing wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to save $12 million against the salary cap, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

The 29-year-old veteran won back-to-back Super Bowls with the Chiefs the past two seasons after spending his first four campaigns with the Green Bay Packers.

Valdes-Scantling caught 21 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown in 16 games (10 starts) in the regular season in 2023. He had a 16-yard TD grab in the 25-22 overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII.

A fifth-round pick by the Packers in 2018, Valdes-Scantling has 186 receptions for 3,155 yards and 16 touchdowns in 92 career games (60 starts).

Valdes-Scantling, who signed a three-year, $30 million contract with Kansas City in March 2022, would become an unrestricted free agent.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS

‘WHAT NIL STANDS FOR: NOW IT’S LEGAL’: RULING FREES BOOSTER-BACKED GROUPS TO NEGOTIATE WITH RECRUITS

Forced into yet another courtroom to defend its amateur model of athletics, the NCAA insisted that shelving its rules against name, image and likeness compensation being offered to recruits would make a difficult situation across the country even more chaotic.

The NCAA lost that argument last week when a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia. The antitrust suit challenges NCAA rules against recruiting inducements, saying they inhibit athletes’ ability to cash in on their fame.

Those who work for and with the booster-funded collectives that handle NIL deals with college athletes say lifting the rules will bring more clarity and simply make permissible what was once against the rules.

“I mean, people were already inducing recruits before this ruling,” said Jim Cavale, founder of Athletes.org, an burgeoning association for college athletes. “That was already happening. The only difference now is when they’re doing it, if somebody says, ‘Hey, is this within the rules?’ They can say, ‘Yes, it is.’”

He added: “Really, that’s what NIL stands for: Now it’s legal.”

The NCAA still has some rules regarding NIL compensation, which has ballooned into the millions for thousands of athletes. The schools themselves can’t pay and school employees such as coaches and athletic department administrators can’t be involved in the negotiation of NIL deals.

What exactly the ruling means is still being sorted out by the NCAA and its lawyers.

NCAA President Charlie Baker said in a letter to more than 1,100 member schools this week that the association planned to issue guidance soon. But the NCAA’s only jurisdiction over collectives were rules banning boosters from being involved in recruiting and from offering money or something of value to attend certain schools.

Even then it was a school that was at risk of being punished if a collective broke those rules. That’s what happened at Tennessee, which drew scrutiny from the NCAA for NIL deals between athletes and The Vol Club, managed by Spyre Sports Group marketing agency.

“There remains ambiguity even in the wake of this ruling, quite a bit of ambiguity and questions surrounding what can and cannot be done,” said Darren Heitner, a Florida-based sports law attorney who works with college athletes, collectives and agents on NIL contracts.

Faced with a wave of state laws clearing the way for college athletes to earn money based on their celebrity, the NCAA lifted its ban on in 2021 while making it clear that its approximately 500,000 athletes are still considered amateurs who cannot be paid to play. NIL wasn’t meant to be a stand in for paying college athletes, but that’s what it has become, with collectives carrying the load while trying to navigate NCAA rules.

“Everybody was doing work arounds,” said Michael Caspino, a California-based attorney who has reviewed NIL contracts from collectives for dozens of athletes, including Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava.

Collective representatives have not been permitted to directly talk dollars with recruits, whether from high school or the transfer portal, or present them with contracts. Athletes were technically not allowed to sign contracts until after they enrolled.

“Now, you don’t have to worry about that,” Caspino said. “That’s out the window. We can have as much direct negotiation and contact with anybody we’d like.”

Walker Jones, a former Mississippi football player who is the executive director of the Grove Collective, said the NCAA’s “archaic enforcement structure” wasn’t keeping up with the times. Athletes and their families want as much information as possible about NIL opportunities before deciding where to attend college.

“I can’t tell you how many phone calls I got from a parent of a student-athlete or an agent going, ‘Hey, I need to see a contract. Hey, I need to know what the deal is.’ And, unfortunately, I had to tell them, ‘Sorry, I can’t send you a contract,’” Jones said.

Jones said the rules put everybody involved at a disadvantage.

“The student-athlete would have to kind of take the coach’s word for it, or a third-party conversation that somebody had with somebody else to funnel third-party information,” he said “And then when they showed up at that place, it wasn’t exactly what they were told or it didn’t meet their expectations.”

Jason Belzer, the founder of Athlete NIL, which helps operate numerous collectives, said the removal of NCAA rules should make collectives more accountable.

“Now collectives have to potentially put things in writing,” Belzer said. “And what I can tell you is that the vast majority of collectives, the vast majority, do not have all of the money in the bank that they need to fund their rosters when they sign a kid, much less offer an athlete something.”

Blake Lawrence, CEO of Opendorse, which works with more than 40 collectives across the country, said the organizations and the athletes can now speak freely. He cited an observation from a friend with a collective at an ACC school.

“He was like, ‘In what world do you sign your agreement to go somewhere and then find out how much you’ll get paid?’” Lawrence said. “Of course, NIL is different than employment but in general athletes deserve to know what they could earn in a certain market and a collective has the most insight on what those numbers are.”

Russell White, the president of the newly formed Collective Association, said he doesn’t expect a huge surge in donations to collectives all over the country now that the NCAA is being forced to back off.

“I think that it’s not going to be this big, dramatic shift in the way money is spent or for the most part the budgets,” White said. “But I do think there will be less anxiety, less nervousness around, you know, am I in a safe space here or am I pushing that line?”

For now, the next move is up to the NCAA. Helen Drew, a sports law professor at the University of Buffalo and director of the UB Center for the Advancement of Sport, said the speed of change across college athletics is dramatic.

“While it’s great for the students, the collegiate athletes, to have the opportunity to capitalize upon their own talents — people keep referring to this as the wild, wild West — I have personally seen and I expect to see ‘deals’ where students will be taken advantage of because they aren’t sophisticated consumers and they don’t have protections built in,” she said. “I do have some significant concerns for the collegiate athletes as this unfolds.”

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BLOCK OR CHARGE? NEW RULE FOR ONCE-CONTENTIOUS CALL LEADING TO A MORE FREE-FLOWING GAME

Arizona guard Pelle Larsson takes a devilish pride in drawing charges, even if it leaves him battered, bruised and buried in ice bags after every game.

“It makes the offense look kind of stupid, to be honest,” Larsson said. “It’s even better than a steal or a block. It’s a turnover and a foul, so it’s the best defensive play you can make.”

Drawing an offensive foul is often a momentum changer, putting a charge in the charge-taking team, deflating the offending defenders.

It’s also been a massive point of consternation, a slippery slope on which no one’s exactly sure where the parameters for a block or a charge fall with the players who crash to the hardwood.

The NCAA took a stab at clarifying block-charge calls with a new set of guidelines for the 2023-24 season.

Unlike past attempts, this one seems to have hit the mark.

“I think it’s been good. I do,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “It’s one of those rules, I think it’s made it easier for the officials because now it’s clearly cut and dry.”

The NCAA Playing Rules and Oversight Panel laid out the new rules over the summer.

A defender now must be in position at the time the offensive player plants a foot to go airborne for a shot. If the defender arrives after the player has planted, officials have been instructed to call a block when there’s contact. Secondary defenders also have to be outside the restricted arc to draw a charge.

Previously, defenders only had to be in position to draw a charge before the offensive player went airborne.

As a result, all those instances of sliding in front of a driver, secondary offenders jumping in the way at the last second or undercutting a player already airborne are now automatic block calls.

“I can only tell you from what I have witnessed and what I have heard from officials and coaches,” NCAA coordinator of officiating Chris Rastatter said. “The number of block/charge plays at the basket is way down, which was the main intent of the rule change. I believe the impact of the rule change has been positive.”

The numbers back it up.

Scoring is up across college basketball — 73.89 points per game so far after finishing 71.76 last season.

Alabama (91.1) and Arizona (90.1) are the first teams to average more than 90 points per game since Gonzaga in 2020-21. The number of teams averaging at least 80 points per game has increased from 18 last year to 44 this season.

The NCAA doesn’t differentiate types of offensive fouls, but the eye test has been pretty clear so far.

“I think what you’re seeing is more scoring at the rim,” Arizona associate head coach Jack Murphy said. “Defenses have had to adjust. Way more vertical contests and less bang-bang plays at the rim that are 50/50 block/charge. I think it’s been good for the game.”

It definitely was an adjustment.

Early in the season, players who were used to sliding in front of driving opponents to take a charge often found themselves being hit with blocking calls. Once they got the hang of it, the collisions around the rim diminished and the game became more free flowing.

And, unlike previous attempts to emphasize block/charge calls, officials have — for the most part — stuck with the way they’re calling games, even into the more-physical conference seasons in January and February.

“It’s similar to league basketball or European basketball where you need to be there way earlier,” Larsson said. “You can’t really flop as much and just get the call. Used to be, you could just fall and they would call a charge.”

Not anymore — and the game seems to be better for it.

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

TOP 25 ROUNDUP: NO. 4 TENNESSEE TAKES DOWN NO. 11 AUBURN

Dalton Knecht scored 39 points on 12-for-21 shooting, and No. 4 Tennessee held on for a 92-84 win over No. 11 Auburn on Wednesday night in Knoxville, Tenn.

Zakai Zeigler added 17 points and a game-high nine assists for Tennessee (22-6, 12-3 Southeastern Conference). Jonas Aidoo finished with 14 points and seven rebounds for the Volunteers, who won their fifth game in a row.

Johni Broome scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Auburn (21-7, 10-5). Chad Baker-Mazara scored 13 points but missed seven of 10 shots from the field.

No. 5 Marquette 91, Providence 69

Kam Jones scored 17 points and David Joplin added 13 to lead the Golden Eagles over the Friars in Milwaukee.

Five Marquette players scored in double figures, as Tyler Kolek, Stevie Mitchell and reserve Chase Ross each added 12 points. Kolek also dished out six assists for the Golden Eagles (22-6, 13-4 Big East), who avenged a 72-57 loss to the Friars on Dec. 19.

Devin Carter led Providence (18-10, 9-8) with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. Davonte Gaines added 15 points, and Corey Floyd Jr. finished with 13.

No. 6 Arizona 85, Arizona State 67

Oumar Ballo recorded his eighth consecutive double-double and Caleb Love scored eight late points as the Wildcats turned back the Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz.

Arizona (22-6, 13-4 Pac-12) had its 18-point first-half lead whittled to five in the second half, but Love drilled two key 3-pointers to help the Wildcats complete the season sweep against ASU (14-15, 8-10).

Adam Miller led the Sun Devils with 16 points off the bench. Frankie Collins scored 15, making 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Jose Perez added 14 points.

No. 8 Iowa State 58, Oklahoma 45

Sophomore Demarion Watson scored a career-high 15 points off the bench to lead the Cyclones over the Sooners in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) won for the sixth time in seven games to stay a game behind Houston for the conference lead. The Cyclones improved to 17-0 at home this season.

The Sooners (19-9, 7-8) lost for the third time in four games.

No. 10 Duke 84, Louisville 59
Jeremy Roach’s 19 points led the Blue Devils to a lopsided win over the Cardinals in Durham, N.C., as Duke put the controversy from last weekend behind it.

Duke center Kyle Filipowski was in the starting lineup as usual despite sustaining a knee injury during Saturday’s postgame chaos when Wake Forest fans rushed the court to celebrate their school’s upset of the Blue Devils (22-6, 13-4 ACC). He collected nine points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the Louisville game.

Tre White led Louisville (8-20, 3-14) with 15 points, but the Cardinals didn’t stand much of a chance due to woeful shooting. They were 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) on 3-point attempts. Brandon Huntley-Hatfield had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Ty-Laur Johnson also scored 11 points.

No. 12 Creighton 85, Seton Hall 64

Ryan Kalkbrenner shot 10-for-10 for 23 points as the Bluejays took over third place in the Big East Conference by laying waste to the visiting Pirates in Omaha, Neb.

Baylor Scheierman had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Trey Alexander piled up 15 points, 10 assists and five rebounds for Creighton (21-8, 12-6 Big East), which was an overwhelming 16-for-22 (72.7 percent) during the second half before emptying its bench.

Dre Davis fought through foul trouble to deliver 18 points and eight rebounds, both team highs for Seton Hall. Kadary Richmond scored 15 points and Al-Amir Dawes 13 as the Pirates (18-10, 11-6) saw their three-game winning streak come to a halt.

No. 13 Illinois 105, Minnesota 97

Terrence Shannon Jr. had 29 points and Marcus Domask scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half as the Fighting Illini topped the Golden Gophers in Champaign, Ill.

Coleman Hawkins posted 20 points for Illinois (21-7, 12-5 Big Ten), which shot 61.3 percent from the floor to eclipse the 100-point mark in a regulation Big Ten game for the first time since Jan. 19, 1994.

Dawson Garcia delivered 29 points while freshman Cam Christie contributed a career-high 23 for Minnesota (17-11, 8-9), which lost despite shooting 60 percent from the floor and hitting 14 of 20 3-point attempts.

No. 14 Alabama 103, Ole Miss 88

Mark Sears scored 26 points, Aaron Estrada had a triple-double and the Crimson Tide overcame a 14-point first-half deficit to defeat the Rebels in Oxford, Miss.

Estrada had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Crimson Tide (20-8, 12-3 Southeastern Conference). Davin Cosby Jr. scored 15 points, Rylan Griffen scored 14 before fouling out and Grant Nelson — who also fouled out — and Nick Pringle added 10 apiece.

Allen Flanigan scored 28 points, Jaemyn Brakefield had 21 and Matthew Murrell added 12 to lead the Rebels (19-9, 6-9), who lost for the sixth time in their past seven games.

No. 18 South Carolina 70, Texas A&M 68

Zachary Davis converted a layup with 3.1 seconds left as the Gamecocks edged the Aggies in College Station, Texas.

Wade Taylor IV converted a runner from the right side with 9.7 seconds left to tie the score at 68, enabling the Aggies to overcome a seven-point deficit in the last two minutes. South Carolina’s Meechie Johnson then drove the lane and found Davis for the last of his 16 points.

Johnson scored a game-high 22 points for the Gamecocks (23-5, 11-4 SEC). Tyrece Radford scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Texas A&M (15-13, 6-9), which took its fifth straight loss.

No. 24 Florida 83, Missouri 74

Tyrese Samuel scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Gators defeated the Tigers in Gainesville, Fla.

Zyon Pullin scored 21 points and Micah Handlogten had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Florida (20-8, 10-5 SEC). Walter Clayton Jr. scored 13 points for Florida before fouling out with 14:08 to play.

Sean East II scored 20 points, Nick Honor scored 18 and Tamar Bates added 15 for Missouri (8-20, 0-15).

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

WOMEN’S TOP 25 ROUNDUP: NO. 20 OKLAHOMA REPEATS AS BIG 12 CHAMPION

Lexy Keys sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with four seconds left as No. 20 Oklahoma posted a 71-70 win over No. 3 Texas on Wednesday in Norman, Okla., to clinch a second straight Big 12 regular-season championship.

Keys hit the game-winning bucket for the Sooners (21-7, 15-2 Big 12) after Skylar Vann tracked down her own miss and fed Keys on the left wing. The Longhorns (26-4, 13-4) failed to get a clean shot on their final possession as their eight-game winning streak ended.

Keys’ 16 points trailed Payton Verhulst’s 18 for the team lead, while Vann paired six points with six rebounds for Oklahoma. Nevaeh Tot tallied seven points, 10 boards and eight assists to help the Sooners erase a 27-12 second-quarter deficit.

Madison Booker powered Texas with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Shaylee Gonzales and Taylor Jones each hit for 10 points in the Longhorns’ final Big 12 regular-season meeting with Oklahoma. Both programs will join the Southeastern Conference next season.

No. 2 Ohio State 67, Michigan 51

Jacy Sheldon scored 22 points and added three steals as the Buckeyes avenged a loss against the Wolverines and clinched the outright Big Ten regular-season title in Columbus, Ohio.

Sheldon hit four of Ohio State’s six 3-pointers while Cotie McMahon tallied 18 points and seven rebounds as the Buckeyes (25-3, 16-1 Big Ten) earned their 15th consecutive win. Ohio State’s most recent loss was a 69-60 decision at Michigan on Dec. 30.

Laila Phelia’s 13 points led the Wolverines (17-12, 8-9), who committed a season-high 29 turnovers. Jordan Hobbs pitched in 11 points and Elissa Brett recorded eight points and seven boards as Michigan lost for the third time in four games.

No. 10 UConn 67, Villanova 46

Paige Bueckers poured in 31 points and Aaliyah Edwards recorded a double-double to help the Huskies close their regular-season home slate with a victory over the Wildcats in Storrs, Conn.

Bueckers made 11 of 15 shots from the field and hit all seven of her free-throw attempts while Edwards racked up 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals for UConn (25-5, 17-0 Big East), which finished the regular season 13-1 at home.

Kaitlyn Orihel scored 15 points and Zanai Jones added 10 for the Wildcats (17-11, 10-7), who struggled on offense during a down night from Lucy Olsen. UConn stifled Olsen, who entered Wednesday leading the Big East with 23.6 points per game. She finished with a season-low six on 2-of-16 shooting.

Iowa State 82, No. 15 Kansas State 76

Addy Brown racked up 24 points and 11 rebounds to propel the Cyclones past the wilting Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan.

Iowa State (17-10, 11-6 Big 12) also used 14 points and seven rebounds from Audi Crooks along with 11 points and nine assists from Emily Ryan to win its third straight game. The Cyclones shot 50 percent from the field and outrebounded Kansas State 47-30 to sweep the two-game regular-season series.

Ayoka Lee’s 20 points and eight rebounds were not enough for the Wildcats (23-6, 12-5), who have lost two straight games and five of their past eight after starting the season 20-1. Serena Sundell and Jaelyn Glenn each notched 15 points in the loss. Sundell distributed a game-high 10 assists.

NHL NEWS

FLAMES TRADE TANEV TO STARS IN 3-TEAM SWAP

The Calgary Flames traded defenseman Chris Tanev to the Dallas Stars in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick, a 2026 conditional third-round pick, and defense prospect Artem Grushnikov, the teams announced Wednesday.

The Flames are retaining 50% of Tanev’s $4.5-million cap hit. The New Jersey Devils are also involved in the deal and are retaining a further 25% of Tanev’s salary. The Devils were given the Stars’ 2026 fourth-rounder in exchange, while Dallas received the rights to goaltender Cole Brady.

As a result of the retention, Tanev only carries a cap hit of $1.125 million for the Stars this season.

If the Stars advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2024, the Flames will receive Dallas’ third-rounder in 2026. If Dallas doesn’t win three rounds this spring, then no additional pick will be sent to Calgary.

“We just felt at this point in time, this was the right deal for us,” Flames general manager Craig Conroy said.

He added, “The team’s been playing really hard lately, so it’s exciting just to kind of see where we’re going. … Someone else is going to get an opportunity. Chris is a big loss, but that’s ice time for someone else.”

Tanev can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. A coveted right-handed shot, the veteran has chipped in with one goal and 14 points in 56 games this season while averaging just under 20 minutes of ice time per contest.

The 34-year-old also ranks second in the league with 171 blocks.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to add a player of Chris’ caliber to our team,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. “He is a proven defenseman with postseason experience that is comfortable in all situations on the ice. Chris is one of the best penalty killers in the NHL and will be a tremendous asset to our special teams play.”

Tanev led Calgary in shorthanded ice time per game (2:36) this campaign.

The Devils selected Brady in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL Draft. The 23-year-old has spent the last two seasons at the University of Massachusetts. Brady owns an .886 save percentage in nine appearances this campaign.

Grushnikov, meanwhile, was drafted by the Stars in the second round in 2021. The 20-year-old blue-liner has one goal and five points in 44 AHL games this season.

The Flames have been busy on the trade market this season. Conroy shipped out Nikita Zadorov to the Canucks in November, and Elias Lindholm joined his teammate in Vancouver a little over two months later.

The Stars have once again been one of the Central’s top squads this season. They currently sit in second place in the division with a 35-17-9 record.

There may be more decisions to come for the Flames, who own other hot deadline targets like goaltender Jacob Markstrom and pending unrestricted free-agent rearguard Noah Hanifin. Calgary currently sits five points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

RANGERS BECOME 1ST CLUB TO 40 WINS WITH VICTORY OVER JACKETS

NEW YORK (AP) — Artemi Panarin had two goals and an assist, Igor Shesterkin stopped 30 shots and the New York Rangers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist and Adam Fox also scored as the Rangers won their sixth-straight at home game and 11th in the last 12 games. New York, first in the Eastern Conference, improved to 12-2-1 in the last 15 games — three nights after having a 10-game winning streak snapped at Columbus on Sunday.

Kreider and Panarin scored empty-netters 41 seconds apart in the final minute. Kreider got his 30th – the third-straight season the veteran forward has achieved that milestone – and Panarin increased his career-best total to 35.

New York has 83 points, tied with Vancouver atop the NHL standings through the Canucks have played one more game.

“It’s a great job by the guys,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “We still have work to do. You get to the last quarter before the playoffs and you have to play some hockey that’s good hockey. I think our guys have done that.”

Panarin’s first goal of the night was the 250th of his career, which included two seasons with the Blue Jackets before he signed a seven-year free-agent contract with the Rangers in July 2019.

Cole Sillinger scored for the Blue Jackets and Elvis Merzlikins finished with 26 saves. Columbus, last in the East, has lost five of its last eight. The Blue Jackets had a number of opportunities to tie the contest in the waning minutes but couldn’t beat Shesterkin.

“We played a good game. The scoring chances were pretty much even,’’ Columbus coach Pascal Vincent said. ”The guys battled to the end.”

After a scoreless first period in which the Rangers outshot the Blue Jackets 17-9, Panarin opened the scoring at 7:17 of the second as he fired the puck past Merzlikins after Vincent Trocheck won a faceoff in the left circle.

Fox made it 2-0 on the power play with 5:41 left in the second, firing the puck past Merzlikins for his 10th. Fox has two goals and eight points in his last seven games and is the first Rangers defenseman since Brian Leetch (four times from 2000-04) with three-straight 10-goal seasons.

Sillinger spoiled Shesterkin’s shutout bid with his ninth goal at 3:24 of the third period.

“We had a lot of opportunities to tie the game,’’ Sillinger said. ”That’s a good team over there.”

Kreider scored into empty net to make it 3-1 with 53 seconds remaining before Panarin completed the scoring with 12 seconds to go. Panarin leads the Rangers with 82 points and has points in 48 of New York’s 60 games this season.

The Rangers finished February with a 10-1-0 record, outscoring opponents 40-22.

Shesterkin won his seventh straight game to improve to 26-12-1 this season.

“Good saves from him as usual,’’ Panarin said through a translator. “He’s doing good and we’re all proud of him.”

The 28-year-old Russian goaltender has allowed two or fewer goals in 20 of his 26 wins. He hasn’t lost since New York’s previous defeat at home, 5-2 on Jan. 26 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

“We played strong defensively,” Shesterkin said. “We played our game.”

The Rangers are 21-7-0 at Madison Square Garden this season and their 40 victories through 60 games equals the 1972-73 squad for fewest games to reach the 40-win mark in franchise history.

Columbus finished the season series 2-1-1 against the Rangers as their captain Boone Jenner captain played his 700th career game.

Rangers rookie forward Matt Rempe had a relatively uneventful sixth NHL game after having three fights in his first five contests as well as scoring the winning goal at Philadelphia last Saturday. The 6-foot-7 forward did not engage in a rematch bout with Columbus forward Mathieu Olivier. The two exchanged blows during last Sunday’s contest from which the 21-year-old Rempe sustained a black left eye.

Rangers forward Will Cuylle and Dmitri Voronkov of Columbus dropped the gloves for a brief skirmish with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.

UP NEXT

Blue Jackets: Host Carolina on Thursday night.

Rangers: At Toronto on Saturday night.

MCDAVID SCORES IN OT TO END 10-GAME DROUGHT AS OILERS RALLY TO BEAT BLUES 3-2

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor McDavid scored 4:34 into overtime and also had two assists to rally the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

Zach Hyman scored twice to give him 40 for the season as Edmonton won its second straight. Stuart Skinner finished with 30 saves.

Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Blues, who have lost three straight and five of six. Jordan Binnington had 31 saves.

Late in the extra period, McDavid danced past a couple of defenders before chipping a shot past Binnington for his 22nd of the season to snap a 10-game goal-scoring drought. He had 25 between goals.

The Blues had a terrific start to the game, scoring on the first shot just 2:19 in. Awarded an early power play when the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl was sent off for high-sticking, Thomas picked the top left corner past Skinner with a wrister from the top of the circle. It was Thomas’ 20th, tying his career high. It was the seventh time in the last eight games that the Oilers surrendered the first goal.

St. Louis added to its lead on its third shot at 4:49 as Jordan Kyrou made a nice pass from behind the net to allow Buchnevich to score his 24th on a point-blank shot.

Edmonton got one back on a power play of its own with 1:44 remaining in the first as McDavid fed a pass through to Hyman in tight and he sent his team-leading 39th past Binnington. It was Hyman’s sixth consecutive game with a goal. McDavid extended his home-game point streak to 24 games, his personal-best streak of that ilk.

The Oilers tied the game up five minutes into the second period as McDavid sent it back to Hyman on a 2-on-1 and he shoveled in his second of the game and eighth in the last six. It is the first time in Hyman’s career that he has hit the 40-goal mark, becoming the 13th player in Oilers history to do so.

Blues defenseman Justin Faulk played his second game in two nights after missing the previous 12 games because of a lower-body injury.

Edmonton’s Evan Bouchard had an assist on Hyman’s goal, giving him 57 points for the the most by an Oilers defenseman since Paul Coffey had 67 points in 1986-87.

UP NEXT

Blues: Return home to host Minnesota on Saturday.

Oilers: At Seattle on Saturday.

MEN’S GOLF

RORY MCILROY NOT BOTHERED BY MASTERS ‘ASTERISK’ COMMENTS FROM LIV GOLF’S TALOR GOOCH

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Here’s how things seem to work regarding LIV Golf and Rory McIlroy: Someone says something, the other side responds, and the cycle just keeps repeating from one topic to the next.

The latest chapters of the saga came Wednesday, when McIlroy said he wanted to give LIV player Talor Gooch “the benefit of the doubt” over comments he made saying if the world’s No. 2-ranked player wins the Masters to complete the career Grand Slam the accomplishment should come with an asterisk because some players who have signed with Saudi-funded LIV cannot play at Augusta National since they have fallen out of the top 50 in the world rankings.

“The Masters is an invitational and they’ll invite whoever they think warrants an invite,” said McIlroy, who’ll play in the Cognizant Classic that starts Thursday at PGA National — the site of what used to be called the Honda Classic. “I think to be fair to Talor, if you read the entire … the question and then the answer, it’s not as if he just came out with that. I feel like whoever did the interview led him down that path to say that, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt there a little bit. He just agreed with what the interviewer asked.”

Gooch made the comment to Australian Golf Digest, published earlier this week. Gooch — who is not in the Masters field at this point, presumably because his world ranking has plummeted since LIV events do not count in that formula — said “If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his Grand Slam without some of the best players in the world, there’s just going to be an asterisk. It’s just the reality. I think everybody wins whenever the majors figure out a way to get the best players in the world there.”

McIlroy — a three-time FedExCup champion — will be playing in the Masters for the 16th consecutive year. He lost a four-shot lead in the final round of 2011, played in the final group with winner Patrick Reed in 2018 and his best result was runner-up in 2022, three shots behind Scottie Scheffler.

Gooch has played in the Masters twice. He tied for 14th in 2022 and tied for 34th last year, and has won three times since joining LIV.

But that wasn’t enough to merit an invitation. LIV’s Joaquin Niemann got a special invitation from Augusta National last week after he won the Australian Open in December, finished fifth in the Australian PGA and tied for fourth in the Dubai Desert Classic — four shots behind McIlroy.

“I played with him a few weeks ago in Dubai, and he went down to Australia and won,” McIlroy said of Niemann. “He was in Oman last week. He has been chasing his tail around the world to get this, play his way into Augusta or show enough form to warrant an invite. I don’t know if the same can be said for Talor.”

If McIlroy wins the Masters, he would join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as those who have claimed the men’s career Grand Slam.

McIlroy has offered countless comments on LIV and golfers heading there in recent years, ranging from outrage (“I hate what it’s doing to the game of golf. I hate it. I really do,” he said after winning the FedExCup in August 2022) to eventually striking a more conciliatory tone (“I can’t judge people for making that decision,” he said in recent months). When Rahm left for LIV in December, McIlroy told Sky Sports that he wants Ryder Cup eligibility rules to be rewritten because “I certainly want Jon on the next Ryder Cup team,” he said.

And on Wednesday, that cycle — someone says something to start something — likely continued. When McIlroy was asked for a response to his former agent Chubby Chandler recently suggesting that he might actually join LIV, the response: “He might know a few things. Who knows?”

It was hard to gauge how serious McIlroy was in that moment. Which seems about right, given how complicated this era of golf has seemed at times.

The likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau — all recent major winners — joined LIV for highly lucrative deals in recent years and the PGA Tour had to find new ways to remain competitive. Earlier this year the PGA Tour signed Strategic Sports Group as a minority investor for as much as $3 billion, and it remains unknown if it will eventually strike a deal with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

Camilo Villegas, a past champion of what is now the Cognizant and part of the field at PGA National this week, was announced Wednesday as the new chairman of the PGA Tour Players Advisory Council. It means he will join the PGA Tour Policy Board for a three-year term starting Jan. 1, and said he’s eager to take on the role at a challenging time for the game.

“I think the game of golf is in an interesting situation,” Villegas said. “I think the rope is pretty tangled up. It needs to be untangled. It will get untangled. How long will it take? We don’t know. We wish we had a crystal ball. I truly believe the game of golf will win.”

2024 COGNIZANT CLASSIC: PREVIEW, PROP PICKS, BEST BETS

The popular PGA Tour stop at PGA National long known as the Honda Classic has rebranded to the Cognizant Classic, and it has drawn two top-10 players to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for the first time since 2019.

Those would be World No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 9 Matt Fitzpatrick, who will be battling a deep field of players competing for the final spots available for next week’s signature event at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Our golf experts preview the event that begins Thursday on The Champion course, and provide their favorite prop picks along with best bets to win this week.

COGNIZANT CLASSIC
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Feb. 29-March 3
Course: PGA National, The Champion (Par 71, 7,147 yards)
Purse: $9M (Winner: $1.62M)
Defending Champion: Chris Kirk
FedEx Cup Leader: Matthieu Pavon

HOW TO FOLLOW
TV: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC)
Streaming (ESPN+): Thursday-Sunday, 6:45 a.m.-6 p.m.
X: @CognizantClassic

PROP PICKS
–Carson Young to Beat Jake Knapp (-120 at DraftKings): Knapp has had a whirlwind week following his maiden PGA Tour win in Mexico, where Young quietly finished T8. Young has made the weekend in six of his past seven starts and enters the week a career-best 162nd in the world.

–Rory McIlroy and Eric Cole Top 20 (+230 at BetMGM): McIlroy is the heavy pre-tournament favorite to win and is -225 to finish Top 20 on his own. Cole is +125 to finish in the Top 20, which the reigning rookie of the year has done in seven of his past 10 starts. We like the pairing of the two to provide a better payout.

–McIlroy Top Irish Player (-225 at DraftKings): We’re doubling down on McIlroy against a softer field as he builds momentum toward Bay Hill, the Players and the Masters. The Northern Irishman is up against Shane Lowry (+225) and Padraig Harrington (+1100) in this group. Lowry has consecutive top-5s at PGA National — two of the four top-5s he has on tour since the start of the 2021-22 season. Harrington snapped a streak of four consecutive missed cuts with a T70 in the United Arab Emirates and a T52 in Mexico his past two starts.

2024 Prop Picks Record: 12-12

BEST BETS
–Rory McIlroy (+800 at BetMGM) is the heavy betting favorite as he makes his first appearance at PGA National since 2018. He won the event in 2012 and is coming off a win in The Match 9 charity event on Monday night. McIlroy is the book’s third-biggest liability, drawing a field-high 6.4 percent of the bets and 12.9 percent of the money since opening at +750. McIlroy has received even heavier action at DraftKings, where he leads with 25 percent of the money backing him at +700.
–Cameron Young (+2200) is still seeking his first tour victory as he comes off a T16 at the Genesis. He opened at +2000 and is second in the field with 4.7 percent of the total bets and third with 5.3 percent of the money backing him to win.
–Eric Cole (+2500) lost to Kirk in a playoff last year en route to becoming the only rookie to qualify for the second leg of the playoffs at the BMW Championship. He’s third at BetMGM with 4.1 percent of the total bets backing him.
–Matt Fitzpatrick (+3300) joins No. 2 McIlroy as top-10 players in the field. Fitzpatrick enters the event at No. 9. He is +3000 at DraftKings, where the Englishman is fifth with 4 percent of the money backing him.
–Shane Lowry (+3300) has finished in the top-10 each of the past two years at PGA National. The Irishman has longer odds at +4500 at DraftKings, where he has been supported by 7 percent of the total bets.
–Kirk (+4000) opened 2024 with a win at The Sentry and will be defending his fifth career tour title this week.
–Stephan Jaeger (+4000) has two T3s in his past three starts.
–Adam Svensson (+4000) is BetMGM’s biggest liability this week as he’s second in the field with 5.4 percent of the money backing him to win. The Canadian is coming off a T10 at the Genesis and finished T49 here a year ago.
–Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+5500) is the book’s second-biggest liability. He has three consecutive top-25 results and did finish solo second at the American Express last month.

NOTES
–The top 10 players in the FedEx Cup standings after this event who did not finish in the Top 50 last season will earn spots into next week’s signature event at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Aon Swing 5 will be comprised of the next five players earning the most points at this event and last week’s Mexico Open. Finland’s Sami Valimaki, who finished second last week, tops the Aon Swing 5 and has secured his spot at Bay Hill.
–The 10th hole at PGA National has been converted from a 508-yard par-4 into a 530-yard par-5. Last season, the 14-hole stretch from No. 4 through No. 17 ranked as the longest stretch on tour without a par 5.
–Ryan Palmer will make his 500th career PGA Tour start.
–Justin Leonard holds the tournament scoring record of 264 set in 2003.

RICKIE FOWLER: PGA TOUR NEEDS ‘BETTER WAY’ TO ENTERTAIN FANS

Rickie Fowler said Wednesday the PGA Tour has to “figure out a better way to entertain our fans.”

He made the comments at a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the newly named Cognizant Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Fowler was asked about the Tour being encouraged to be more innovative in the wake of the partnership announced earlier this month with Strategic Sports Group (SSG).

“Luckily I haven’t had to think about that too much,” Fowler said when asked whether he had any ideas.

“I’m excited about the partnership because I feel like there’s some very smart and influential people (who are) part of that SSG group that I feel like ultimately can help the Tour evolve and head in a potentially better direction and be in a better position for the future.”

But he also cautioned that golf remains “a very traditional sport with traditional tournaments.”

“I feel like ultimately we’re in the entertainment business, and we’ve got to figure out a better way to entertain our fans and (have) it come across better on TV,” Fowler said.

“How we do that? I don’t exactly know. But, like I said, I feel like with the people that are involved, I definitely trust the guys, the players that have been involved, and I feel like the guys — especially since they’re not just golf guys, I think they have enormous respect for the game of golf, but also they come from a lot of different avenues in sports and business, and I feel like they can help us kind of give direction on where we can or need to go.”

Fowler caught fire last season and ended a lengthy drought by winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July before tying for 16th at the Tour Championship, but the fan favorite could do no better than a T35 in five starts in Hawaii, California and Arizona to start the new season.

MCILROY AIMS TO KICK OFF FLORIDA SWING WITH WIN AT PGA NATIONAL

After an unusually wet and windy West Coast swing, the PGA Tour has made it to Florida, where four straight weeks of tournaments will kick off with the newly named Cognizant Classic on Thursday at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Rory McIlroy headlines the field as he readies for a run of three straight weeks of competition. He’s won each of the next three tournaments before — the Cognizant (formerly Honda) Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship — but is returning to PGA National for the first time since 2018.

The World No. 2 is a Northern Ireland native but now calls the Palm Beach area home.

“The tournament has struggled to attract a really strong field here the last number of years,” McIlroy said. “Then with a new sponsor coming in in Cognizant, I thought it would be a good time to step up and show some support for the tournament.”

McIlroy held off Tiger Woods to win this event in 2012, which propelled him to No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time in his career.

The course won’t be precisely the same this time around, as tournament organizers have made the 10th hole a 530-yard par 5 rather than a brutal 508-yard par 4. That changes the course’s par from 70 to 71, though that won’t matter much to players in the thick of the tournament.

“Whether someone shoots 11- or 15-under to win, you’re still having to get round in 269 shots over four days,” McIlroy said. “It’s a complete perception thing. Par is irrelevant in my eyes.”

World No. 9 Matt Fitzpatrick of England is in the field, as is longtime Florida resident and 2017 tournament champ Rickie Fowler.

Fowler caught fire last season and ended a lengthy drought by winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July before tying for 16th at the Tour Championship. But the fan favorite could do no better than a T35 in five starts in Hawaii, California and Arizona to start the new season.

“Never got anything going on the West Coast,” Fowler said. “I don’t think we exactly had the best weather, either. I’m not blaming it on that, but it definitely didn’t help me to get things going, so I’m excited to get things going back in Florida, which has been home for 15 years, at least trending and heading in the right direction. I’m ready to kind of get things going back how they were last year.”

The defending champion is Chris Kirk, who beat Eric Cole in a playoff last season. It was Kirk’s first win on tour in nearly eight years, as he had taken off much of 2019 to address alcoholism and mental health before reviving his career.

Kirk’s win helped him qualify for The Sentry, the season-opening signature event, which he won at 29 under.

“I think that my win here last year definitely helped me a lot on Sunday (at The Sentry) to be more comfortable where I was at and just to be able to stay aggressive and take it one step at a time,” Kirk said, “and definitely kind of gave me the belief that after not winning for a long time, it felt like this was where I was supposed to be.”

Other notables in the field include Jake Knapp, a rookie who won last week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta, and France’s Matthieu Pavon, the Farmers Insurance Open winner and surprise FedEx Cup leader.

INDIANA SPORTS RELEASES

COLTS FOOTBALL

COLTS GM CLOSES DOOR ON WR MICHAEL PITTMAN’S DEPARTURE

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts general manager Chris Ballard closed the door on the potential departure of wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in free agency.

Ballard, asked Wednesday if Indianapolis’ leading receiver could hit free agency if no long-term contract agreement is reached before Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline, was adamant the exit is already closed.

“No,” Ballard said.

“We’ve had talks with his agents. We’ll work hard to get the deal done. (The franchise tag) is a tool we can use. I’m not going to say we’re not going to use it, I’m not going to say we are.”

Pittman had a team-best 109 receptions, 1,152 yards and four TD catches in 2023. Using the franchise tag would guarantee a one-year salary of $21.8 million for the 2024 season.

Ballard remains in daily contact with owner Jim Irsay after his medical emergency, and said head coach Shane Steichen also maintains close contact with Irsay.

“He is progressing well,” Ballard said. “We won’t do anything without talking to him.”

Because of the lessons the franchise has learned with quarterbacks recovering from injuries, Ballard is tapping the brakes on 2023 first-round pick Anthony Richardson’s rehab from shoulder surgery.

“I learned a lot of lessons living through the last one. Forgive me for being cautious, and I know Anthony has made some statements. It’s important to be ahead of schedule,” Ballard said. “We’re here to pull the reins and make sure we don’t get too far ahead of schedule. He’s in good shape. He’s throwing. I’m encouraged by where he’s at, really happy about where he’s at.”

INDIANA PACERS

GAME REWIND: PACERS 123, PELICANS 114

In a midweek matchup between two teams looking to make late-season pushes, the Indiana Pacers put on a show in front of a national audience.

On Wednesday, the Pacers (34-26) used a strong start and fantastic finish to post a 123-114 over the surging New Orleans Pelicans (35-25) at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Before the ESPN-broadcasted game, the Pelicans had won six of their last seven games on the road and eight of their last 11 overall.

After putting together perhaps their best defensive opening quarter of the season, the Pacers held a 64-53 advantage over the Pelicans at intermission. The Pacers led by 11 going into the fourth quarter before the visitors cut it to single-digits in the final frame.

The Pelicans were able to pull within three points with 3:15 remaining, but All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton hit a 25-foot stepback 3-pointer before feeding Pascal Siakam with assists on three straight baskets to help the Pacers to a 121-111 lead with 1:17 left.

Indiana was able to hold on from there.

“Tyrese’s three was the big play in the game, certainly on the offensive end…(New Orleans) needed to get aggressive at the end and Ty and Pascal connected and took advantage of their pressure,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s a massively important win. This time of year, each game has such great meaning. Happy for the guys and now we go on a road trip where it’s going to be the same thing. Each game is huge.”

The Pacers and Pelicans will have little rest before they face-off again, as the Blue & Gold, winners of four of their last five games, will have the chance to claim their season series against the Pelicans on Friday in New Orleans at Smoothie King Arena.

In the Wednesday win, six players scored in double figures for the Blue & Gold. A trio of Pacers had double-doubles, as Siakam finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, Haliburton recorded 17 points and 13 assists, and Myles Turner logged 14 points and 10 rebounds. Both Bennedict Mathurin and Obi Toppin scored 16 points for the Pacers, and rookie Ben Sheppard put in 11.

Five players scored in double digits for the Pelicans, as Brandon Ingram had 30 points on 8-for-20 shooting, while Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum scored 23 points each.

As a team, the Pacers shot 49 percent overall while holding the Pelicans to 46.7 percent. Indiana’s bench outscored New Orleans’ reserves 44-24 and the Pacers won the rebounding margin 50-40 (14-7 offensive) in the game.

“Obviously they have length and we know how aggressive they are on the glass and obviously Zion is a force out there,” Siakam said. “I thought we did a decent job of just putting bodies on those guys. Everyone did great. Myles was guarding Zion, he did a great job on him. Drew (Nembhard) was guarding CJ (McCollum), he did a good job…That’s what we’re going to need every night.”

The Pacers limited the Pelicans to 43.8 percent shooting while scoring at a 52 percent clip themselves in the first half. Turner had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Blue & Gold, while Siakam had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in the opening 24 minutes.

The Pacers put their defensive clamps on the Pelicans in the first quarter while their historic offense hummed. Indiana made 64 percent of its shots while limiting the visitors to 36 percent to lead 40-24 by the end of the opening frame.

Siakam helped set the tone for the Pacers right away, blocking a layup attempt by Jonas Valanciunas on the first possession and turning into a layup on the other end. The Pacers then held the Pelicans to 1-for-8 shooting in the first 3:30 of the game, establishing a 9-3 lead in the process.

Indiana mustered a 14-2 run midway through the first quarter that featured 3-pointers from Sheppard, Haliburton, and Toppin each to lead 28-16 with 2:17 on the clock before New Orleans drilled a pair of 3-pointers.

In the final 56 seconds, the Pacers scored six points, with the final play of the first quarter about blowing the roof off the fieldhouse.

With six seconds left, a block by Turner turned into a fastbreak where Toppin slammed home a pass off the backboard by Haliburton, jolting the home crowd.

In the second quarter, the Pelicans found some rhythm on offense to cut into their deficit.

After the Pacers went back up by 20 to start the second quarter, the Pelicans mustered a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 13 with 9:17 left in the half, forcing a Blue & Gold timeout.

Out of the brief huddle, the Pacers strung together a 7-2 run after Sheppard hit his third 3-pointer of the half, but the Pelicans answered with a 16-4 spree to make it 57-51 with 2:10 remaining. Five different players scored for the Pelicans during the stretch.

Indiana got 3-pointers to fall from Mathurin and Nembhard in the final 96 seconds of the half, and Haliburton hit a 14-footer with three seconds left to give the Pacers an 11-point lead at the break.

In the third quarter, the teams traded haymakers, but the Pacers were able to stay ahead at 96-85 thanks to a late scoring run. The Pelicans got as close as five points of the lead in the third quarter, but never went ahead.

Ingram scored eight points during a 10-0 Pelicans run early in the third frame to make it 70-65, but two 3-pointers by Nembhard and a trey by Haliburton gave the Pacers a 81-69 advantage with 4:47 on the clock.

A Sheppard steal and layup sparked a 13-5 Pacers run that saw Mathurin bury back-to-back 3-pointers, and the Pacers took a 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Pelicans chipped away at the Pacers’ lead early in the fourth by going on a 14-6 run, where McCollum, Williamson, and Ingram split the points, to cut it to 112-109 with 3:15 remaining.

Down the last stretch, however, the Pacers came up clutch.

Inside the Numbers

The Pacers dished out 34 assists as a team.

All nine players that took the floor for the Pacers scored at least eight points in the game.

Tyrese Haliburton recorded his 34th, double-double of the season, Myles Turner logged his 13th, and Pascal Siakam had his fifth.

Bennedict Mathurin has scored in double digits in four straight games.

The Pelicans, who are giving up 112 points per game, allowed 123 points from the Pacers.

Indiana is 18-5 when outrebounding their opponent this season.

New Orleans ranked second in the NBA in steals per game going into Wednesday night with an 8.4 average. They finished with two steals against the Pacers.

The Pacers made all nine of their free throws attempts.

You Can Quote Me On That

“He knows how to play the game…He’s doing what we need him to do. He guarded Zion for a few minutes tonight and did a solid job, he guarded Ingram a few times, he switched out on McCollum. The guy’s a versatile player and he can score.” – Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle on Pascal Siakam

“Obi – he’s terrific. He’s growing, he’s getting better. Defensively, he’s made great strides. Offensively, he’s just got a natural knack for how we play, which is really important to our flow and chemistry. Sometimes it’s really hard to get him off the floor.” – Carlisle on Toppin

“Myles took the challenge. It’s a tough challenge. I mean, that is one physical force. That’s like Shaquille O’Neal that is playing point guard and has the quickness and the speed and the rim explosion and everything. He’s just a very unique player. I question whether we’ll ever see a guy quite like him again. He’s just very, very special. And so the game plan is like Rosetta Stone for two days and learning a new language. You’re doing things that your brain is not used to seeing. To be able to just simply hold your own, you’ve got to have a lot of guts and a lot of wherewithal because it’s going to be a physical pound. And Myles did his job tonight.” – Carlisle on Turner’s defense on Zion Williamson

“I thought it was one of Tyrese’s most important games. The offense didn’t come easy early, but he kept running the team, he kept orchestrating, he kept the ball moving. He played the long game and knew that at some point in the game, things would pop…That’s exactly what happened. It didn’t happen until the fourth quarter. But his patience and discipline was rewarded with us winning the game.” -Carlisle on Haliburton

“Ben Sheppard is a constant. You know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get high energy, great effort, playing within the system, stepping into open shots, and making unselfish plays. That’s why we love him. That’s why his teammates love playing with him.” -Carlisle on Sheppard

“Just on the struggle bus right now. Just trying to figure it out, how I can help the team win and figure out what I can do. At the end of the game, they trust me with the ball in my hands and made some plays to win the game.” – Haliburton on bouncing back from a rough game

“(The performance) was a part of the evolution of our relationship and our partnership. It just takes a little time to figure it out. … I just got off the minutes restrictions after All-Star break, so trying to figure out our minutes, what our rotations are going to be, how we know who has it going, and figuring that stuff out. It takes some time” – Haliburton on him and Sikam building chemistry

“I think that at his position, what he does really well, he can defend multiple positions, he can shoot the ball really well. You can see his confidence growing every night and that’s a big thing for him. … He’s doing a really good job right now and it’s good to see him kind of hitting his stride right now. He’s becoming a good rotational piece for us.” – Haliburton on Sheppard

“It felt good. Obviously they came within three, great shot by Tyrese and then after that it was just him making plays, doing what he does. Every time they try to double him and things like that, just trying to find the seams. You know you can get the ball any time, so you kind of just get ready for that. I was just watching him a little bit, trying to see where I can just be in his vision and he made some great passes to close the game.” – Siakam on how he and Haliburton closed out the game

“I’m definitely getting better at it. I think also the team is just understanding some of the things that I do well and we’ve been working on a lot of things. I think it’s just going to naturally continue to progress.” – Siakam on finding his fit in the offense

Stat of the Night

Indiana limited New Orleans to 36 percent shooting in the first quarter while recording four blocks and a steal. The Pacers led by 16 after the first quarter and were outscored in the next three quarters.

Noteworthy

Pacers starting forward Aaron Nesmith missed a fourth straight game on Wednesday due to a right ankle sprain.

Prior to the start of the season, Indiana was scheduled for just one nationally televised game (Jan. 30 at Boston). The Pacers’ run during the In-Season Tournament gave them three additional games on national TV, so Wednesday’s broadcast on ESPN was their fifth national game of the season.

Indiana and New Orleans have split their season series for three straight seasons. The Pacers haven’t won their series against the Pelicans since the 2018-2019 season.

Up Next

The Pacers travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans once again on Friday, March 1 at 8:30 PM ET.

INDY FUEL

FUEL HOST HEARTLANDERS TO KICK OFF MARCH

GAME DAY TIMING:

6:00 P.M.: Doors open

7:00 P.M.: Puck drop

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S MONTH CELEBRATION NIGHT:

Come out to Indiana Farmers Coliseum to help the Fuel honor women in our community on March 1! From players and staff to fans alike, celebrate the women in your life while enjoying an Indy Fuel game!

It’s also a Do317 Night! Enjoy $3 domestic beer and soda, $1 popcorn, and $7 craft beer and speciality T-shirts!

Stick around after the game for postgame autographs in the lobby with select players!

PARKING: Parking at Indiana State Fairgrounds is $10. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to park due to anticipated large crowds at the Fairgrounds.

TICKETS: Tickets for today’s game can be purchased at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Box Office or online HERE. Kids two and under do not need a ticket as long as they sit on the lap of a ticketed patron.

BAG POLICY: The Indy Fuel now follow the same bag policy as all Indiana State Fairgrounds events. All bags are subject to search upon entering the arena. All bags larger than 14” x 14” x 6” (backpacks, suitcases, duffel bags, etc.) are prohibited. Please plan accordingly to help facilitate a quick and efficient entry process. Please report suspicious bags to an Indiana Farmers Coliseum team member.

INDY IGNITE

INDY IGNITE MAKES THE FISHERS EVENT CENTER THEIR HOME COURT

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s first professional volleyball team, Indy Ignite has revealed that the Fishers Event Center will become their official home court. This new, state-of-the-art venue in Fishers, Indiana, will host all Indy Ignite home games once they begin play in January 2025. 

The announcement Wednesday morning took place at the Fishers Event Center, followed by an exclusive hard-hat tour of the future home of Indy Ignite. At the event, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, Pro Volleyball Federation CEO Jen Spicher, Indy Ignite Co-Owner Jim Schumacher, Former Husker Volleyball Player Kenzie Knuckles, and Indy Ignite General Manager Mary Kay Huse spoke about the team and the fierce competition they will bring to the Indy region. 

“Indy Ignite is proud to represent not just Indianapolis—but the entire, region-wide volleyball community that makes Indiana one of the best states in the sport,” said Huse. “From the Fishers Event Center, our team will be able to serve the thousands of young athletes in Central Indiana, giving them everything they need to have an incredible night with their families—great food, easy access, and of course, the world’s greatest volleyball players in action.”

Slated to open in November 2024, the Fishers Event Center will be the largest mid-size event center in the region, seating crowds of up to 7,500 people. This brand-new facility is part of a $550 million expansion to the Fishers District, one of the region’s largest shopping, living, and dining destinations. 

Before Indy Ignite games, fans can explore the walkable, 40-acre Fishers District and enjoy a variety of high-end restaurants within minutes of the arena. The Fishers Event Center will also feature its own exclusive sports bar, VIP courtside lounges, and dedicated family suites for guests to watch the game in private. 

Indy Ignite will share the venue with the ECHL Indy Fuel hockey team and the recently announced Fishers Freight Indoor Football League team. Together, these pro sports teams will bring over a hundred events to Fishers each year, creating new opportunities for exciting, fast-paced fun for the whole family. 

“We are beyond excited to welcome Indy Ignite and the Pro Volleyball Federation to the Fishers community,” said Fadness. “The Fishers Event Center is set to become an epicenter of entertainment for the entire region, and Indy Ignite is going to spark a new chapter for sports in our city. We look forward to cheering them on as they revolutionize the world of volleyball from right here in our own backyard.”

Several local volleyball teams joined the announcement, representing clubs and high schools across the Indianapolis region. This included the nationally-ranked Hamilton Southeastern High School Girls Volleyball Team that won the Indiana State Championship in both 2022 and 2023. 

In their speeches, Mary Kay Huse and Jen Spicher addressed the athletes in the audience and emphasized that Indy Ignite is their team—made to inspire young women like them to pursue their dreams. 

“Central Indiana is an undeniable hotbed for both men’s and women’s volleyball, where thousands of talented athletes first learn to love the game,” said Spicher. “These incredible young ladies deserve an opportunity to continue their careers on the professional stage, and that is our core mission and vision at Pro Volleyball Federation. We are so proud to welcome Indy Ignite to the league, as we continue to disrupt the status quo and bring pro volleyball to passionate sports communities like Indianapolis.”

Pro Volleyball Federation began play in January 2024 with seven teams competing for a place in the four-team Pro Volleyball Federation Championship in May. Indy Ignite will be one of three expansion teams to debut in January 2025—with season ticket deposits available now! Visit IndyIgniteVB.com to secure your season tickets and become a member of the exclusive Indy Ignite Founders Club today. 

ABOUT INDY IGNITE 

Indy Ignite is bringing the heat of professional women’s volleyball to Indianapolis. As part of the nation’s premier pro volleyball league, our mission is to pursue victory, empower women and serve our community through the competitive world of pro volleyball. Together, we are paving the way for the next generation of women’s sports and inspiring girls to pursue their passion with relentless ambition. Indy Ignite will debut in January 2025. Sign up for updates, season tickets and more at IndyIgniteVB.com

ABOUT PRO VOLLEYBALL FEDERATION

Pro Volleyball Federation is REAL PRO VOLLEYBALL and the premier women’s professional volleyball league in North America. Pro Volleyball Federation began play in January 2024 with world-class players and coaches, including some of America’s greatest volleyball players and elite players from around the world. Our entire focus is on ensuring that the level and quality of play, treatment of players, quality of event presentations and the day-to-day fan experience is world-class and the very best offered in North America. For more information, visit ProVolleyball.com.

FISHERS FREIGHT

YOUR NEW PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM: FISHERS FREIGHT

FISHERS – There is officially a name for the brand new Indoor Football League team coming to the new Fishers Event Center in March 2025. The team publicly known for two months as “Indy Indoor Football” will go by the Fishers Freight.

The Freight nickname pays homage to the history of the team’s new home in Fishers. Formerly known as Fishers Station and originally as Fishers Switch back in 1872, the railroad industry has played a massive part in the history of Fishers.

“The railroad is the reason the city even exists in the first place,” said Hamilton County historian David Heighway in an interview with the Indy Star in 2020.

The colors portray the same colors dawned by the Nickel Plate Road train that last rumbled through the streets of Indianapolis in 2015. The locomotive shown in the main logo is the original Nickel Plate Road train and the yellow lines hugging the train all-around are a main-stay throughout the overall Fishers Freight brand.

“We wanted to pay homage to the history behind the city we will be calling home,” said Team Owner Jim Hallett. “We’re very excited to be the Fishers Freight and welcome everyone to come see us in action in the Fishers Event Center.”

“We’re thrilled to have the Fishers Freight representing this community and continuing to help build the new event center into a hub for sports and entertainment in our city. We look forward to bringing affordable family fun experiences to Fishers and I’m grateful for everyone who has worked tirelessly to make it happen.” Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said.

You can sign up for tickets and purchase merchandise at fishersfreightfootball.com. The team is set to kick off in March of 2025 in the brand-new Fishers Event Center.

INDIANA SWIMMING

HOOSIERS SWEEP BIG TEN OPENING NIGHT RELAYS

COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 5-ranked Indiana swimming and diving won conference championships in both opening night relays Wednesday (Feb. 28) at the 2024 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships inside the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on the campus of the Ohio State University.

The Hoosiers earned maximum points from the first night of competition, winning the 200-yard medley relay and 800-yard freestyle relay, and now lead the team standings with 128 points through two events.

“We had a solid start in session one,” IU head swimming coach Ray Looze said. “I love the energy of this team, and I’m super excited to watch the rest of this competition. This is a special group of guys.”

Indiana kicked off the session winning the 200 medley relay in 1:22.17 – the second-fastest time in program history and just four hundredths off the meet record time. IU improved from a third-place finish at the 2023 championships to win the event for the first time since 2020. The Indiana time is the sixth-fastest time in the country, set by senior Brendan Burns (20.98), junior Finn Brooks (22.91) and seniors Tomer Frankel (19.41) and Gavin Wight (18.87).

Burns and Frankel were also part of IU’s 800 freestyle relay victory. Junior Rafael Miroslaw and Frankel had identical 1:32.32 splits as the Hoosiers took the lead at the halfway mark and did not relinquish it. Junior Kai van Westering went 1:32.97 before Burns anchored in 1:33.25. Their 6:10.86 ranks No. 5 in the country. Indiana has won its 20th 800 freestyle relay and third straight – Miroslaw, Frankel and Burns have been part of each of those last three.

The Big Ten trailed a team diving exhibition between the relays for a second-straight season. Three divers from each squad executed a total of six dives, two from each board.

“It was a great day to see the team so well participated in with all the men stepping up to try to make this event a scoring event here at Big Tens and the NCAA meet,” IU head diving coach Drew Johansen said. “The IU guys got a taste of being back in that finals environment today, and I’m sure it’s going to help them as we move forward into the scoring days going forward.”

TEAM SCORES

1. Indiana – 128

2. Michigan – 108

t3. Wisconsin – 102

t3. Penn State – 102

5. Ohio State – 100

6. Minnesota – 98

7. Purdue – 96

8. Northwestern – 94

RESULTS

200 MEDLEY RELAY

1. Brendan Burns, Finn Brooks, Tomer Frankel, Gavin Wight – 1:22.17 (Big Ten Champion, NCAA A Cut)

800 FREESTYLE RELAY

1. Rafael Miroslaw, Tomer Frankel, Kai van Westering, Brendan Burns – 6:10.86 (Big Ten Champion, NCAA A Cut)

UP NEXT

The 2024 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships resume Thursday for day two, the first full day of action. Athletes will compete in the 500 freestyle, 200 IM, 50 freestyle, 1-meter dive and 400 medley relay with preliminaries beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Finals are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

PURDUE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

SENIORS SHINE IN LOSS TO PENN STATE

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Four seniors left everything on the floor in their last time at Mackey Arena, as the Purdue women’s basketball team dropped its home finale to Penn State 93-88 on Wednesday night.

Honored in a postgame ceremony, Caitlyn Harper, Jeanae Terry, Abbey Ellis and Madison Layden combined for a season-best 70 points with 29 rebounds, 18 assists, four steals and two blocks.

The Boilermakers (12-16, 5-12) were led offensively by Harper’s best night as a Boilermaker with 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting and 3-of-4 from behind the arc with eight rebounds, a steal and a block. The 29-point outing was one shy of her career high set during her time at Cal Baptist in 2022. The sixth-year senior from Hartland, Wisc., crossed the 1,900-point line with 1,925 in her career.

Ellis electrified the crowd with 18 points on the night with a pair of 3-pointers. The fifth-year senior likewise passed the 1,900-point plateau for her career with her fifth straight game in double figures. The Australian moved up to 29th in Purdue history with 1,089 points as a Boilermaker.

Terry produced another typical Terry night in her Mackey Arena finale. The fifth-year senior recorded 15 rebounds, seven points, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. It was her 17th career game as a Boilermaker with seven points, rebounds and asssits. She also pulled within one point of reaching 1,000 for her career.

Layden etched her name into two career clubs at Purdue. The senior from Kokomo tallied 16 points with a quartet of 3-pointers and a season-high seven assists. Layden became the 37th player in Purdue history to reach 1,000 points in a career when she hit a pull-up jumper with 4:27 to play in the fourth. The Kokomo native achieved the feat in 107 games, good for 27th fastest. Layden also became the sixth player in Purdue history to reach 200 career 3-pointers, while passing Brittany Rayburn for fifth in Boilermaker history.

Freshman Sophie Swanson was the other Boilermaker in double figures with 10 points. The Barrington, Ill., native reached double figures for the third straight game.

The Boilermakers scored 20 or more points in all four quarters and shot 44.9% from the field with 10 3-pointers. Purdue dished out 22 assists to just eight turnovers and won the rebounding battle 41-32.

While Purdue’s offense was efficient, Penn State (17-11, 8-9) connected on 56.1% of its shots. Five different players finished in double figures led by Ashley Owusu’s 23 points.

Bothe sides came out firing in the first quarter. Layden notched her 200th career triple on Purdue’s second possession and added another one later in the frame. Six different Boilermakers scored in the opening period, as Purdue trailed 22-20.

 Purdue tied or took the lead in the second on five different occasions, before the Lady Lions used a 9-2 run before halftime to take a 47-40 lead into the break. Purdue shot 41% in the first half and flipped 10 offensive rebounds into 10 points.

After Penn State opened a nine-point gap early in the third, Harper took over to score 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting and 2-of-2 from behind the arc. The Boilermakers went on a 14-6 run to tie the game at 57-57 with 4:39 to play on an Ellis triple. Harper later scored five straight in a 40-second span with two minutes to play to pull Purdue back within one. Penn State led 65-62 with 10 minutes to play.

Harper and Ellis rolled off five quick points to open the final frame and give Purdue a 67-65 lead. Terry and Layden combined for their 5-0 run midway through the period to put the Boilermakers back ahead by two. Penn State countered with a 9-2 run and open an 89-81 gap with 51 seconds to play. The Boilermakers managed to cut the deficit down to a one-possession game with eight seconds left after an Abbey Ellis layup but that was the closest they would get.

The seniors scored 43 of Purdue’s 48 points in the second half.

NOTES

• Purdue leads the all-time series with Penn State 35-25.

• The Boilermakers finished with 23 second chance points, a season high.

• The game featured eight lead changes and nine ties.

• Purdue topped 10 3-pointers for the 15th time under head coach Katie Gearlds.

• Harper’s efficient night moved her up to sixth in program history with a career 54.2% field goal clip.

• Only Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles have recorded more 7-7-7 games than Terry since 2021-22.

• The seniors combined for 30 wins at Mackey Arena over the last three seasons under Gearlds.

• Harper played over 30 minutes for the 13th time this season, after doing it just three times last year.

UP NEXT

The Boilermakers will close out the regular season on the road Sunday night with a 7 p.m. tip on FS1 against Michigan.

PURDUE SWIMMING

PURDUE OPENS BIG TENS WITH TRIO OF TOP-5 TIMES, BIG WIN IN DIVING

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A trio of times that rank among the top five in team history and a resounding victory in the exhibition team diving event highlighted the opening night of the Big Ten Championships for Purdue men’s swimming & diving.

The Boilermakers finished fourth in the 200 medley relay with an NCAA provisional qualifying time (B Cut) of 1:24.07 that ranks third in team history. Brady Samuels, Andrew Witty, Charlie King and Idris Muhammad teamed up to give Purdue a top-three mark in the record book in the meet-opening event for the fourth time in the last five years at Big Tens.

Holden Higbie, Max Miller and Jordan Rzepka teamed up for the victory in team diving, posting a strong list score of 393.20 to win by 57.10 points. It marked the second week in a row the Boilermakers have won the event at Big Tens after the women did likewise. The same men’s trio also won the event at the Purdue Invitational in November.

Each diver performs two dives and the event features two dives from each board – 1-meter, 3-meter and 10-meter. Miller was the 1-meter entry, Rzepka competed on 3-meter and Higbie took to the tower. As freshmen, Higbie (76.8 in round 1) and Miller (63.00 in round 2) ripped their debut dives at Big Tens to give Purdue an early lead. Rzepka sealed the runaway victory with strong scores of 74.40 and 81.90 on his two dives in rounds 3 and 6.

The Boilermakers closed out the session with a time of 6:25.31 in the 800 freestyle relay, moving into fourth place in team history. Purdue’s quartet was Ethan Shaw, Connor McCarthy, Aaron Frollo and Andy Kelly. Shaw’s leadoff leg split of 1:35.81 goes down as a lifetime best and the fifth-fastest mark in team history in the 200 free. McCarthy (1:35.10), Frollo (1:37.24) and Kelly (1:37.16) also posted lifetime best 200 relay splits in the race.

Samuels led off the 200 medley relay with a career-best 50 backstroke split (21.06). Muhammad broke 19 seconds (18.91) on his freestyle anchor leg.

The Big Ten Championships continue Thursday with the first full day of action. Swimming prelims begin at 10 a.m. ET, diving prelims at noon and the finals session is at 5 p.m. The entire meet is being streamed live on the Big Ten Network’s B1G+ website and app.

WEDNESDAY AT BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS

* – Purdue Season-Best Time

(B) – NCAA Provisional Qualifying Time

200 Medley Relay

Samuels, Witty, King & Muhammad, 1:24.07* (B) – Finished 4th (52 Points); 3rd Fastest in Team History

800 Free Relay

Shaw, McCarthy, Frollo & Kelly, 6:25.31 – Finished 8th (44 Points); 4th Fastest in Team History

Ethan Shaw leadoff split of 1:35.81* is LTB & 5th Fastest in Team History in 200 Free

Team Diving (Exhibition)

Higbie, Miller & Rzepka, 393.20 – Event Winner; Won by 57 points

OPENING NIGHT TEAM SCORES

1.) #5 Indiana 128

2.) #18 Michigan 108

T-3.) #21 Wisconsin 102

T-3.) Penn State 102

5.) #13 Ohio State 100

6.) Minnesota 98

7.) Purdue 96

8.) Northwestern 94

PURDUE TRACK

ANIAMAKA AND MILLER QUALIFY FOR NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Graduate student Cameron Miller and junior Praise Aniamaka of the Purdue track & field team have qualified for the 2024 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston from March 8-9.

Miller will race in the 200-meter and Aniamaka will compete in the triple jump. The 200m semifinal is set for Friday, March 8, at 5:40 p.m. ET, and the final is on Saturday, March 9, at 4:50 p.m. The triple jump prelims and final will be at 3:30 p.m. on March 9.

Both Miller and Aniamaka earned their spot at the national championships as one of the top 16 competitors in their respective events. Miller earned the No. 4 overall seed and Aniamaka is the No. 16 seed. The duo are coming off medal-winning performances at the Big Ten Championships on February 24.

The school record-holder in 200m, Miller will make his third career NCAA appearance and second indoors. In 2023, he notched a fourth-place finish in the 200m indoors and was eighth in the 200m, sixth in the 4×100 relay and 22nd in the 4×400 relay outdoors while running for Louisville. Miller was bestowed with First Team All-America distinction three times and earned honorable mention accolades once.

Aniamaka will compete at the NCAA Championships for the second time in his career and the first time indoors. He was ninth outdoors in 2023 to earn Second Team All-America honors.

The two Boilermakers to qualify are the program’s most at the indoor meet since five earned berths at the 2021 event. Purdue is one of seven Big Ten programs with multiple men’s qualifiers at this year’s championships.

Miller set the Purdue and Big Ten record in the 200m with a time of 20.40 on January 20. Along with breaking the school record that had stood for 20 years, Miller’s time was the fastest in the NCAA and third-fastest in the world at the time. The mark came in his first meet as a Boilermaker. One month later, Miller was third at the Big Ten Championships with a finish of 20.82 in the final.

Aniamaka was the Big Ten runner-up at last weekend’s conference championships thanks to a season-best jump of 15.96 meters. The mark secured Aniamaka’s fourth career Big Ten medal and his spot in next weekend’s NCAA Championships. He sits at No. 4 in program history with an indoor personal-best of 16.05m, achieved last season. Outdoors, Aniamaka is No. 7 in the Purdue record books with a PR of 16.10m, set at the 2023 NCAA Championships.

Additional information about the 2024 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, hosted in Boston at The Track at New Balance, can be found at NCAA.com.

NOTRE DAME WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

NOTRE DAME HOSTS VIRGINIA TECH FOR TOP-20 CLASH

On Thursday, No. 17 Notre Dame (21-6, 11-5) will host No. 5 Virginia Tech (23-4, 14-2) for a battle of two teams looking to make a deep run into March. The Hokies already have the No. 1 seed for the ACC Tournament locked up, and the Irish are one of seven teams fighting for a double-bye next week.

The contest will pit the ACC’s two leading scorers against each other; Notre Dame’s Hannah Hidalgo leads the conference at 23.7, and Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley sits at 23.3. The two are the leading candidates for ACC Player of the Year, and Thursday might help a lot of voters make their decision.

The Irish have a three-headed monster in Hidalgo, Sonia Citron and Maddy Westbeld, but the Hokies have a monster of their own with Kitley and point guard Georgia Amoore. Amoore is posting 17.9 points per game and averages 2.6 3-pointers per game, which ranks second in the ACC.

On the topic of deep shots, Virginia Tech hits a lot of them. The Hokies lead the ACC with more than 9 treys per game. Notre Dame is pacing the ACC in conference play in terms of 3-point defense, allowing a bucket just 25.6 percent of the time.

Notre Dame is 15-2 all-time against Virginia Tech. Dave O’Brien, Stephanie White and Holly Rowe will be on the 7 p.m. call for ESPN.

BUTLER WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

BUTLER WINS AT DEPAUL 73-70

CHICAGO – The Butler Bulldogs defeated the DePaul Blue Demons on Wednesday night for just the second time in program history. BU spoiled Senior Night for the home team by pulling out their sixth conference win of the season. The victory improves the teams overall record to 14-14.

DePaul used a 9-0 scoring run to take a 19-16 first quarter lead over Butler. Jorie Allen scored the first four points of the game for the Blue Demons and would end the opening frame with a game-high 10 points. The 9-0 run made the game 11-5, but Caroline Strande was able to stop the scoring spree with a 3-pointer from the left wing. It was the second made 3-pointer of the game for BU as Karsyn Norman knocked down her first attempt from behind the arc.

The Bulldogs used a timeout just three minutes into the second quarter with DePaul scoring on three consecutive trips. Anaya Peoples and Katlyn Gilbert got layups and Kate Clarke hit a transition 3-pointer before the stoppage. The ‘Dawgs trailed by just two at the halfway point of the second but would be outscored 10-5 over the final five giving the Demons a 38-31 halftime lead.

Clarke hit her second 3-pointer of the game just nine seconds into the second half, but the Bulldogs countered with a 7-0 scoring run to get back within three of the Blue Demons.

Jordan Meulemans got Butler within a point of DePaul at 47-46 with her first made 3-pointer of the game and Rachel Kent would hit from the same spot on the next possession to tie the game at 49-49. The Bulldogs used a 14-2 scoring run to open up a 54-49 lead, but the Blue Demons were able to tie the game at 54-54 heading to the fourth.

DePaul scored 10 points over the first three minutes of the fourth to regain their lead. Strande was the only Bulldog to score over the opening minutes for BU hitting a pair of 3-pointers.

The two evenly matched teams came together at 68-68, but Allen was able to break the tie with her 20th point of the night.

A huge moment in the game came late in the shot clock for the Bulldogs with 1:27 left on the game clock. Gilbert challenged a deep 3-point attempt from Strande and fouled her to pick up her fourth personal. Strande made two of three from the line to tie the game and the Bulldog defense got a stop on the next trip down.

Butler used a full timeout with 37 seconds left in the game and got an open look from the top of the key, but the ball rimmed out.

The Blue Demons got the ball to Peoples with the game on the line, but her shot with eight seconds to play was off and the rebound went to Ari Wiggins. Wiggins raced down the court and was fouled trying to score with just three seconds remaining. Wiggins made one of her two attempts and DePaul would call a timeout to advance the ball.

The Blue Demons didn’t get a shot off as the ball was mishandled and went out of bounds to BU. Jordan Meulemans got the ball for Butler, stepped up to make two free throws and the game was over.

Inside the Box Score

– Each Bulldog win over DePaul has been played at Wintrust Arena

– Five Bulldogs scored in double figures Wednesday night

– BU shot 45 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range (10-20)

– The Bulldogs went 17-for-24 from the free throw line

– Rachel Kent and Caroline Strande each ended the game with 15 points

– Ari Wiggins had 10 points, four rebounds and two assists for BU

– Karsyn Norman went 4-for-5 from the field to score 10 points

– Riley Makalusky has 12 pints for BU in 29 minutes

– Jorie Allen led DePaul with 30 points

– Katlyn Gilbert was a force in the game with eight points and 17 rebounds

Up Next

Butler will host Marquette Saturday afternoon at 3 PM. The 2024 Senior Class will be recognized before tip.

BUTLER MEN’S BASKETBALL

SECOND HALF PERFORMANCE SENDS ST. JOHN’S TO WIN OVER BUTLER

St. John’s strong second half turned a six-point halftime lead into an 82-59 win over Butler Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Butler is now 16-13 (7-11 BIG EAST) on the season, while St. John’s improves to 17-12 (9-9).

HOW IT TRANSPIRED:

A 12-2 run by St. John’s built the Red Storm lead to 25-13 with 8:35 remaining in the first half, matching the largest advantage of the opening 20 minutes.

A Posh Alexander jumper as the first half horn sounded cut the St. John’s lead to 39-33.

Trailing by only eight (51-43) with 15:19 remaining, Butler surrendered the next eight points as St. John’s built a 16-point lead. The lead never got back to single digits.

St. John’s out-scored Butler, 43-26, in the second half.

OF NOTE:

Butler had a total of 15 turnovers, with 12 of those coming in the second half.

Glenn Taylor, Jr. went 5-for-7 from three-point range, posting a game-high 17 points for St. John’s.

RJ Luis Jr. (15) and Chris Ledlum (10) also scored in double figures for the Red Storm.

St. John’s turned those 15 Butler turnovers into 23 points.

Posh Alexander led Butler with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Pierre Brooks II scored 13 points.

Butler shot only 39 percent from the field.

Joel Soriano’s 13 rebounds helped St. John’s take a 40-33 rebounding advantage; the Red Storm’s 13 offensive rebounds became 17 second-chance points.

St. John’s committed only six turnovers and shot 44 percent from the field.

UP NEXT: The Bulldogs travel to Chicago for a Saturday tip against DePaul. The Noon (Eastern, 11 a.m. Central) game will air on FS1. Butler will then return to Hinkle Fieldhouse Wednesday, March 6 for Senior Night against Xavier. That is the final contest in advance of the Bulldogs heading to New York City for the 2024 BIG EAST Tournament.

BUTLER SWIMMING

BULLDOGS SCORE 100 POINTS ON OPENING DAY OF BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIPS

INDIANAPOLIS – The Butler swim team competed in two relay events on Wednesday to signal the start of the 2024 BIG EAST Swimming Championships. The meet is held in downtown Indianapolis this year at the IUPUI Natatorium. The 200 Medley Relay team set a new school record and Kate Schilling set a new school record for BU while competing in the 800 Free Relay.

“We had a strong start to the meet and tonight got us excited for the days ahead,” Assistant Coach Allie Carmichael said. “Starting off the meet with a Butler record was incredibly exciting and showed exactly what the coaches know this team is capable of. Followed up by another school record in the 200 free by Kate and great 800 free relay put Butler in a great position to attack the rest of the meet!”

The ‘Dawgs earned 52 points by finishing in fourth place of the 200 Medley Relay. The team of Gianna Leffler, Emily Landwehr, Lauren Bergman, and Olivia Stotts clocked in at 1:43.77.

Kate Schilling, Elizabeth Naylor, Sadie Brown, and Emily Landwehr teamed up for the Bulldogs in the 800 Freestyle Relay to place sixth with a time of 7:33.83. That effort landed 48 points with BU.

Day two will begin at 10 a.m. ET with the prelims of the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free. The men’s 3-meter dive prelims will begin at 1 p.m. The finals will begin at 5:45 p.m., with the 200 freestyle relay closing out the night.

Scores

UConn – 244

Seton Hall – 180

Villanova – 171

Xavier – 120

Georgetown – 108

Butler – 100

Providence – 72

IUPUI MEN’S BASKETBALL

JAGUARS FALL TO MILWAUKEE LATE, 75-70

INDIANAPOLIS – The IUPUI basketball team was unable to get all the way to the finish line as the Jaguars battled the Milwaukee Panthers in a catfight inside Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The visiting Panthers scored the game’s final six points and escaped with a 75-70 victory behind a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds from BJ Freeman.

Jlynn Counter led four Jaguars in double-digits with 15 points and sophomore Abdou Samb scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed five boards. Bryce Monroe contributed 13 points and six assists off the bench and John Egbuta closed with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

“I’m proud of the guys,” head coach Matt Crenshaw said. “I thought we showed a lot of grit and a lot of fight. We started really well and threw the first punch tonight, which is something we emphasized coming in.

“We had a few too many turnovers at critical times and we allowed them to get some second chances that were costly. I liked how we moved the ball and made unselfish plays for one another. We were just a possession or two short tonight though.”

IUPUI (6-24, 2-17 HL) went up 70-69 with 1:39 to play when Vincent Brady II dropped in a layup off a feed from Monroe. The Jaguars then got a defensive stop when Faizon Fields was called for a travel, trying to work against Samb. However, Samb misfired on a short hook shot in close and Freeman was then fouled 94 feet away from his own basket, leading to free throws. Freeman calmly sank both for the guests to retake the lead. IUPUI misfired on three attempts on their next possession, all from inside 10-feet, before Fields grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled.

After Fields made both freebies, IUPUI had one last chance to draw even, but Brady came up empty on a potential game tying wing three with six seconds to play.

In a game where shooting percentages were nearly identical across the board, it was Milwaukee’s work on the glass the proved pivotal. The Panthers grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and converted them into 15 second chance points and ultimately outrebounded IUPUI 38-31.

IUPUI scored the game’s first nine points and built a 19-4 lead in the opening six-plus minutes behind Counter and Egbuta’s torrid starts. Milwaukee counterpunched with a quick 7-0 run and continued to chip away throughout the first half. The Panthers took a brief 31-30 lead late in the half on a Kentrell Pullian layup but IUPUI retook the lead before halftime when Brady tipped-in a Monroe miss just before the final horn.

IUPUI will close out the regular season at Cleveland State on Saturday (Mar. 2) at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN+.

BALL STATE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

DEFENSE SHINES IN WBB’S WIN OVER AKRON

MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State women’s basketball team (24-4, 13-2 MAC) returned to its winning ways after earning an impressive 75-41 win over Akron (9-17, 4-11 MAC) Wednesday night in Worthen Arena.

The Cardinals’ defensive game was strong from start to finish as Ball State held Akron to its lowest point total of the season.

After a somewhat slow start, the Cardinals were able to hold their own on defense to jump out to a quick 8-2 lead over the Zips in the opening minutes of the ball game. Later in the quarter, Ally Becki went on an 8-0 run in over a minute span that would give Ball State the 19-9 edge over Akron at the end of the first stanza.

A steal from Marie Kiefer and a layup from Nyla Hampton kept the Cardinals in cruise control at the seven-minute mark of the second quarter to push BSU’s lead to 23-11. The Cardinals defense caused the Zips some fritz as Akron committed 16 turnovers in the first half while Ball State had only seven miscues. The Cardinals also shot 47 percent (14-30) from the field and Becki got her stroke back scoring 11 by the break. Ball State went on to take an impressive 37-19 advantage over Akron at intermission.

Ball State’s defense did not let up in the third quarter which gave Akron no time for a comeback of any sorts. All-in-all neither team shot extremely well in the third, after a scoreless minute late in the frame, Annie Rauch completed an old fashioned 3-pointer with a layup and made free throw to put BSU up 48-23 at the 2:59 mark. The Cardinals went on to take the third frame from the Zips, 56-27.

The final quarter saw a lot of action from the Cardinals’ bench. Ball State was able to stay the course on both offense and defense to end tonight’s contest with a victory.

For the game, Richard led all players with 21 points while Becki finished the night with 19. Richard went 8-11 (.727) from the field while also pulling down six rebounds.

The Cardinals outscored the Zips 38-24 in the paint while scoring 38 points off Akron’s 23 miscues.

The Ball State women’s basketball team will wrap up its home portion of the regular season Saturday when it hosts Eastern Michigan at 11 am ET for Senior Day. The Cardinals will recognize seniors Estel Puiggros, Annie Rauch, and Sydney Shafer prior to tipoff.

BALL STATE TRACK

ROGERS AND ORIANI NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-MAC

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Following the indoor MAC Championship meet, the Ball State track and field team received multiple postseason accolades. Jenelle Rogers and Jenna Oriani were both named First Team All-MAC and Rogers picked up a specialty award. 

Rogers was named First Team All-MAC and Most Outstanding Field Performer. At the indoor MAC Championships, Rogers won the pentathlon with a total score of 4056. She won three of the five events, including the 60m hurdles (8.52), shot put (14.33m) and long jump (5.88m). In the open events, Rogers continued to impress with a first-place finish in the long jump (6.26m), and fourth place finishes in both the shot put (14.90m) and the high jump (1.72m). Individually, Rogers earned 29.5 of the Cardinals’ 61.50 points. Her efforts qualified her for the NCAA Championships on March 8-9 at New Balance track in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Oriani was also named First Team All-MAC. She was an essential contributor on the track, earning 21 total points for the Cardinals. In the 400, Oriani secured the championship title, finishing in a time of 55.31. Soon after, she finished fourth in the 200m, running a time of 24.63. Closing out the day, Oriani ran the final leg of the 4x400m relay. In a close race, Oriani crossed the finish line in 3:47.18 to secure the team a third-place finish. 

Earlier in the season, Oriani captured a new Ball State record in the 300m finishing with a time of 39.48. 

BALL STATE SWIMMING

WOMEN’S S&D TIED FOR FOURTH AFTER DAY 1 AT MAC CHAMPIONSHIPS

ATHENS, Ohio – – The Ball State women’s swimming & diving team opened the 2024 Mid-American Conference Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships with a pair of solid relay efforts Wednesday evening at the Ohio University Aquatic Center.

With just the two relays contested on the opening day of the championships, the Cardinals collected 58 points and are tied for fourth overall with Buffalo. Akron and Miami are tied for first with 74 points.

The meet started with the Cardinals claiming third in the 200 medley relay, with Lilia Newkirk, Laura Wright, Hannah Jones and Payton Kelly combining for the third-fastest time in program history at 1:40.12.

Ball State then closed the day with the third-fastest 800 freestyle relay in the program’s record books at 7:24.58. The effort by Marcella Ribeiro, Kiran Stauffer, Alexa Von Holtz and Kelly earned the Cardinals fifth place.

Action in the 2024 MAC Championships picks up Thursday with three individual swimming events, 1-meter diving, and the 200 freestyle relay. Prelims start at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m.

Ball State Women’s Results on Day 1 at MAC Championships

200 Medley Relay | Program Record – 1:39.69 by Crist, Wright, Jones, A. Sakbun in 2023

4th – Lilia Newkirk, Laura Wright, Hannah Jones, Payton Kelly – 1:40.12 – 3rd in Program History

800 Freestyle Relay | Program Record – 7:22.09 by Payne, Ribeiro, Kelly, Stauffer in 2013

5th – Marcella Ribeiro, Kiran Stauffer, Alexa Von Holtz, Payton Kelly – 7:24.58 – 3rd in Program History

INDIANA STATE SOFTBALL

SYCAMORE SOFTBALL READY FOR GOVERNORS CLASSIC

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State Softball will travel to Clarksville, Tenn. this weekend to compete in the Governors Classic hosted by Austin Peay, where play begins on Friday, March 1.

The Sycamores will play five games throughout the weekend, beginning with a matchup at 11:30 a.m. ET against IUPUI and to wrap up Friday’s play the Sycamores will take on SLU at 2 p.m. ET. On Saturday, ISU will play twice again, first taking on Ohio at 11a.m. ET and then turning around to play Austin Peay at 4 p.m. ET. ISU will wrap up their weekend Sunday morning with another matchup against Ohio at 11 a.m. ET.

Last Time Out

The Sycamores went 4-1 last weekend in Memphis, Tenn. with wins over Tenn.Tech, Memphis, SIUE (twice), and falling to Tenn.Tech. on Saturday night. Indiana State now holds an overall record of 8-6 on the 2024 season. Indiana State recorded their third five-inning run rule of the season against Tennessee Tech with a score of 13-0.

Abby Robakowski tied game one against SIUE to go into extra innings when she hit her first collegiate home run.

Danielle Henning went 4-4 on Saturday’s game in the 3-2 victory over Memphis.

Kennedy Shade recorded seven hits and six RBIs this weekend in Memphis, with a .467 batting average. Shade drove in two of the three runs with an RBI single and RBI double in the 3-2 victory over Memphis. Shade went 2-2 against SIUE where she drove in three of the four runs in the 4-1 victory over the Cougars.

Lauren Sackett threw 11.1 innings this weekend in Memphis where she went 1-0 defeating Memphis, and recorded a save against SIUE. Sackett struck out 13 batters over the weekend, where she allowed only five hits and three runs scored.

The Opponents- IUPUI

Coached by Elisabeth Berine who is entering her eighth season as head coach for IUPUI.

Sycamores lead the all time series 24-12 over the Jaguars.

2-12 record this season.

Returning for the Jaguars is junior Kendal Calvert who led the 2023 team at the plate with a .369 batting average with four doubles, four triples and one home run. Calvert was one of the top scorers with 24 runs where she collected 12 RBIs. The outfielder led the team on the bases with 11 stolen bases and an on base percentage of .391 where she recorded 12 multi-hit games.

The Opponents- Saint Louis University

2023 Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year, Christy Connoyer, is entering her 14th season as head coach for SLU.

Indiana State and SLU had a matchup previously this season in Nashville, Tenn. where the Billikens defeated the Sycamores 5-1.

6-4 record this season. 

Sophomore Abby Mallo returns for the Billikens after being selected for the All Region Third team, All-Conference team, & A-10 All-Rookie team in 2023. Mallo is ranked 10th in RBIs per game (1.12), 71st in home runs per game (0.25) in the national rankings.

The Opponents- Ohio University

Coached by Jenna Hall who is entering her second season as head coach for Ohio.

The Bobcats lead the all time series 2-0 against the Sycamores.

10-5 record this season.

Tori O’Brien returns for the Bobcats, O’Brien was named to the 2023 Academic All-District Team and Named Second Team All-MAC. In her 2023 season, O’Brien finished with a .321 batting average with 35 hits, scored 16 runs, recorded eight RBIs and drew eight walks.

The Opponents- Austin Peay

Coached by Kassie Stanfill who is entering her sixth season as head coach for Austin Peay.

Only matchup between Austin Peay and Indiana State was held in 2017 when the Sycamores won 17-5 over the Governors.

5-6 record this season.

Junior Kylie Campbell returns for the Austin Peay roster this season. Campbell was named to the All-ASUN Conference Third Team in 2023. Campbell led the team and ASUN conference in triples (5) which ranks eighth-most in a single season in program history. Cambell she set the program single season record for fielding percentage with no errors in 325 chances, and had four game-winning hits in 2023.

Up Next

The Sycamores will travel to Huntington, W. VA to play five games in the Marshall tournament on Mar 8-10. ISU will face Ball State, Notre Dame, and Marshall.

INDIANA STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL

SYCAMORES CLINCH SHARE OF REGULAR-SEASON TITLE BEHIND AVILA’S CAREER NIGHT

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Indiana State men’s basketball clinched a share of the regular season Missouri Valley Conference title with a win over Evansville on Wednesday, 85-67.

Robbie Avila dropped a career-high 35 points on 14-for-24 shooting from the floor, beating his previous high of 30. He recorded eight rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes of action, committing only one turnover. Ryan Conwell tallied 15 points making 5-for-8 from three. He secured seven rebounds and three assists.

Xavier Bledson was huge off the bench, scoring 12 points in 28 minutes on 4-for-7 shooting, also grabbing three rebounds and dishing out five assists. Isaiah Swope chipped in 11 points with three triples, five rebounds, and four assists. Julian Larry posted a solid effort across the board with eight points, eight assists, six rebounds, and three steals.

The game was tight from the jump with the scoring being tied at 9 apiece just over four minutes into the game. ISU used a 10-0 run to break the lead open. Larry drained a triple off an Avila assist, then Larry returned the favor by assisting on an Avila layup in the next possession. Bledson made his first three of the game before Avila made another layup to end the run. ISU led 19-9 with 13:07 on the clock.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Bledson and Conwell gave the Sycamores a 16-point lead, its largest to this point, at the 11-minute mark, 27-11.

Evansville used the next six minutes to slowly work back into the game. UE amassed a 16-1 scoring run of its own, cutting its deficit down to a point, 28-27, with 5:03 left in the half.

The Sycamores used yet another scoring run of 12-4 to close out the half. Avila started the 12-4 run with seven-straight points – including scoring on a layup after ISU secured an offensive rebound and converting a tough and-one under the basket. Conwell knocked down another triple at the 1:43 mark and Avila scoring with 17 seconds left to give ISU a 40-31 lead at the break.

The Purple Aces hung tight for the first five minutes of the half, trailing only 50-45. In the next five minutes, ISU logged an 18-5 run to take back control of the game. Bledson and Conwell combined for the first seven points. Larry scored off a layup, followed by Swope draining a three. Avila next converted his second three-point play of the game, then Swope rounded out the run with another jumper from deep. Indiana State led 68-50 with 10 minutes left in the game.

The Sycamore offense continued its power through the last minutes of the game. Bledson made a layup with 6:31 on the clock, and just more than a minute later Avila recorded his third and-one of the game. After another minute of no scoring, Avila then secured this fourth and-one, giving ISU an 80-58 lead with 4:23 remaining. Conwell knocked down his fifth triple of the game with 2:45 to play before Coach Schertz cleared the bench with 1:50 to play. Derek Vorst grabbed an offensive board and put back a layup with 90 seconds left for the final points of the game for Indiana State, leading to the 85-67 victory.

News & Notes

Indiana State clinched a share of the MVC regular season title with the win. ISU hasn’t won a regular-season title since 2000. The Sycamores have a chance to win the title outright with a win on Sunday against Murray State.

The Sycamores finished shooting 40.6% (13-for-32) from deep, the first time shooting above 40% since January 27 (10 games).

ISU assisted on 80.65% of made shots (25-of-31). The 25 assists are the third highest of the season.

ISU shot over 50% from the field for the second time in the last three games (50.8%, 31-for-61).

Indiana State recorded double digit offensive rebounds (10) for only the fifth time this season. The highest mark is 12 set against Southern Indiana.

Robbie Avila is now one of six players in the MVC this season with two-or-more 30+ point games.

Julian Larry played 37 minutes with no turnovers and Robbie Avila recorded 35-8-5 in 35 minutes with one turnover.

Coach Schertz is in 10th for all-time career coaching wins at Indiana State with 59 wins in his third season. With two more wins to get to 61, Coach Schertz will tie Bob King for ninth.

Up Next

Indiana State returns to Hulman Center for the final time in the 2023-24 regular season for Senior Day against Murray State. ISU will honor its two graduating seniors Jake Wolfe and Xavier Bledson, graduate assistant Jeremiah Keene, and student managers Alex and Staley Cisneroz. Tip is set for 4 p.m. ET.

INDIANA STATE SWIMMING

FOURTEEN SYCAMORES CLAIM ALL-CONFERENCE RECOGNITION AT MVC SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Fourteen different Sycamores were honored on the Missouri Valley Conference Swimming & Diving All-Conference team following this past weekend’s conference championships held at the Deaconess Aquatic Center in Evansville, Ind.

Erin Cummins (500 Free), Claire Parsons (500 Free & 1650 Free), Alexandria Cotter (200 IM & 400 IM), and Kaleigh Kelley (100 Fly) all finished within the top three in an individual A-Final to claim First Team All-Conference recognition. Parsons took the individual title in the 1650-yard Freestyle and was named the MVC Swimming Freshman of the Year.

Ten additional Sycamores also competed in the A-Finals over the Missouri Valley Championships finishing inside the top-eight in their specific events. Esther Rydbeck Norden, Dorotea Bukvic, Alexa Szadorski, Zoe Smith, Chloe Farro, Kaimi Matsumoto, Raz Harel, Ali Pearson, Haley Halsall, and Olivia DiRuzza all competed in the event finals in multiple events throughout the weekend.

The Sycamores closed out the 2024 MVC Championships finishing second overall in the team standings with 1294.5 points to finish runner-up to Missouri State. Indiana State set 11 new school records over the four day event with several going down multiple times.

Indiana State continues the 2024 season with the CSCAA NIC Meet over March 14-16, while divers Bailey Betzer and Zoe Smith will compete at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships over March 14-16.

PURDUE FT. WAYNE MEN’S BASKETBALL

BENCH KEY IN OT VICTORY AT WRIGHT STATE 79-77

DAYTON, Ohio – Purdue Fort Wayne defeated Wright State 79-77 on Wednesday (Feb. 28) in overtime at the Nutter Center in Horizon League play. Anthony Roberts blocked Trey Calvin’s attempt to tie the game with five seconds left in the extra session to win the game for the Mastodons.

Jalen Jackson had a career-high 27 points in the contest, going 11-of-22 from the floor. However after Jackson it was very balanced scoring for the ‘Dons. Eight Mastodons finished with five points or more. The Mastodon bench scored 25 points, the most in a game since Dec. 31 vs. Detroit Mercy.

Maximus Nelson led the bench effort with four 3-pointers for 12 points. Corey Hadnot II added eight points and Johnathan DeJurnett added five points and six rebounds in 12 minutes.

Eric Mulder had a career-high 13 rebounds to go with six points and a game-high three steals.

The ‘Dons limited Wright State to 1-of-8 in the extra session. The big shot in OT came by Nelson when he made a 3-pointer to put the ‘Dons ahead 79-77 with 2:09 left. Neither team scored the rest of the way, thanks partly to Roberts’ block at the end.

The game featured 18 lead changes and 12 ties. The final tie of regulation came with 17 seconds left. The ‘Dons were down by two when Bello drove to the hoop and was fouled. He made both free throws to knot it up. WSU had a chance at the buzzer but their shot to win was no good and the game went to overtime.

The largest lead for either team was six points.

Wright State was led by Tanner Holden’s 19 points.

The ‘Dons shot 41.1 percent from the floor and 11-of-28 (39.3 percent) from three. WSU finished at 44.9 percent and 5-of-17 (29.4 percent) from beyond the arc.

The ‘Dons improve to 19-11 (10-9 Horizon League). Wright State falls to 17-13 (12-7 Horizon League).

Other results around the Horizon League on Wednesday clinched a home game for the ‘Dons on Tuesday, March 5 in the opening round of the 2023-24 Barbasol Horizon League Championship. It will be a 7 p.m. contest at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.

But Purdue Fort Wayne will be in action on Saturday (March 2) against Robert Morris to close out the regular season. It will be Senior Night at 7 p.m. with Roberts honored prior to the game.

PURDUE FT. WAYNE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

MASTODONS’ FURIOUS COMEBACK FALLS JUST SHORT AGAINST GREEN BAY

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Purdue Fort Wayne women’s basketball nearly erased a 20-point deficit to Horizon League-leading Green Bay on Wednesday (Feb. 28), but came up just short and ultimately fell 70-61.

Prior to the game, Amellia Bromenschenkel was presented with a game ball, recognizing her joining the 1,000-point club in the Mastodons’ last outing.

Renna Schwieterman led the Mastodons with 16 points, her most against a Division I opponent this season. She shot 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. She was one of three Mastodons with six rebounds as Shayla Sellers and Bromenschenkel pulled down six boards as well. Bromenschenkel was the other Mastodon in double figures with 13 points.

The ‘Dons outshot Green Bay 11-to-7 from 3-point range in the game with eight in the second half compared to Green Bay’s two after the break. Schwieterman led the team with four triples while Sellers hit three in the second half.

Green Bay led 24-7 after the first quarter thanks to a 60 percent effort from the floor. Schwieterman and Bromenschenkel each had five points in a second quarter that only had 25 points combined by the two sides.

The ‘Dons cut the lead down to 10 in the third quarter. Audra Emmerson led the team with six points in the third, but it was Sydney Graber who flipped the momentum for the Mastodons. Graber collected a deflected pass and drained a three as time expired. It was Graber’s second 3-pointer in her career and first since the 2020-21 season. The Mastodons jumped out to a 9-4 run to start the fourth. The ‘Dons came within four points on several occasions, the first of which came after Sellers hit a triple.

It was a four-point game with two minutes left and the Mastodons had three 3-pointers that could have swung the score to the Mastodons’ favor, but all rimmed out. From there, Green Bay shot free throws to extend the lead out to its final line of nine.

The Mastodons fall to 19-11 and 12-7 in the Horizon League while maintaining third place with one game remaining. Top-ranked Green Bay improves to 27-4 and 18-2 in league play. The ‘Dons host Youngstown State at 3 p.m. on Saturday (Mar. 2) in their regular season finale. It will be a Senior Day doubleheader with the men’s program, who will play Robert Morris at 7 p.m.

PURDUE FT. WAYNE MEN’S VOLLEYBALL

‘DONS VISIT NO. 13 LOYOLA CHICAGO AND NO. 14 LEWIS

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Purdue Fort Wayne men’s volleyball will hit the road this week to play a pair of top-15 MIVA teams.

Game Day Information (Thursday)
Who: No. 13 Loyola Chicago Ramblers
When: Thursday, Feb. 29 | 8 PM ET
Where: Chicago, Ill. | Gentile Arena
Live Stats: Link
Watch: Link
Game Notes: Purdue Fort Wayne | Loyola Chicago | MIVA

Game Day Information (Saturday)
Who: No. 14 Lewis Flyers
When: Saturday, March 2 | 6 PM ET
Where: Romeoville, Ill. | Neil Carey Arena
Live Stats: Link
Watch: Link
Game Notes: Purdue Fort Wayne | Lewis | MIVA

Know Your Foes

• No. 13 Loyola Chicago is 9-8 and 4-3 in the MIVA. After a 3-1 start to MIVA play, the Ramblers are 1-2 over their last three, with losses to Ball State and Lindenwood. They beat the Lions in a rematch. LUC’s season is highlighted by a 3-2 win at Hawaii and a 3-2 win over Ohio State. The Ramblers are led by Parker Van Buren, who is second in the MIVA with 4.00 kills per set.

• No. 14 Lewis is 9-7 and 3-3 in the MIVA, with wins over Lindenwood, McKendree and Quincy. The Flyers have suffered losses at the hands of Ohio State, Loyola Chicago and Lindenwood. The Flyers are coming off a trip to California, in which they lost 3-1 at Long Beach State and won 3-2 at CSUN. Max Roquet is Lewis’ leader at 3.22 kills per set, while two-time Player of the Week Nico Paula is digging out 2.22 attacks per set.

Series Histories

• Loyola Chicago leads the series 42-24. The two teams have split the last two matchups, both coming in Fort Wayne. The ‘Dons have not won in Chicago since 2022 in the MIVA Tournament.

• Lewis leads the series 44-26 and has won the last two in Romeoville. In the MIVA Tournament last season, the Mastodons got 19 kills out of Jon Diedrich and 10 digs from Mark Frazier.

Defensive Excellence

Wilmer Hernandez was named the MIVA Defensive Player of the Week on February 27 after leading Purdue Fort Wayne to a 2-1 week. This came on the heels of a career weekend against McKendree, in which he had 19 digs against the Bearcats in a four-set win. This mark is the best in the NCAA in four-set matches this season. For the week, he averaged 2.69 digs per set.

Career-High Digs

Three Mastodons had career-high dig performances against McKendree this season. Wilmer Hernandez had 19 digs against the Bearcats in the first matchup, then Jon Diedrich and Bryce Walker had career-highs of 15 and seven the following day.

Efficient Hitting

The Mastodons have hit over .300 in six matches this season, including three over .400. They are 6-0 in such matches.

Movin’ Up The List

Jon Diedrich joined the 1,000-kill club in 2023 in a match against Charleston. He is among the 20 Mastodons that have eclipsed this mark. Here’s where he ranks.

8. Felipe Ralat – 1468 (1992-95)

9. Norman Almodovar – 1424 (1991-94)

10. Craig Collins – 1362 (1992-95)

11. Tony Luhning – 1345 (1988-91)

12. Jon Diedrich – 1339 (2020-24)

Papa Jon

Fifth-year player Jon Diedrich is the active NCAA career leader with 1,339 kills. Ohio State’s Jacob Pasteur is right behind with 1,298.

Hello, My Name Is Bryce And I’ll Be Your Server

Bryce Walker is nearing the program’s all-time top-10 list for aces.

10. Colton Stone – 102 (2016-19)

       Andrew Sellan – 102 (2012-16)

12. Jeff Ptak – 99 (1999-03)

13. Loren Gebert – 97 (1983-86)

14. Scott Lane – 95 (1999-00)

15. Bryce Walker – 94 (2021-24)

Bryce the Beast

Bryce Walker has the best career hitting percentage among active MIVA players  with at least one full season played with a .352 clip. His percentage of .332 last season was fifth in the conference. If he had enough attempts, his percentage of .424 would be fifth-best in the nation.

Now Walk It Out

Bryce Walker’s career mark of 94 aces is the second-most among active middle blockers in the country and the most in the MIVA.

Last Time Out

Purdue Fort Wayne beat McKendree twice last weekend, topping the Bearcats 3-1 and 3-2. The Mastodons had their best defensive outings of the season, tallying season-high dig numbers in both matches.

Coming Up

Purdue Fort Wayne will welcome Lindenwood and Ohio State to the Gates Sports Center for a pair of MIVA matches on March 15-16.

EVANSVILLE MEN’S BASKETBALL

ACES FALL TO SYCAMORES IN HOME FINALE

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Four seniors were honored on Wednesday evening as the University of Evansville men’s basketball team wrapped up its home slate with an 85-67 loss to Indiana State.  Prior to the game, Gage Bobe, Kenny Strawbridge Jr., Antonio Thomas and Yacine Toumi were recognized before giving speeches after the contest.


Box Score


Evansville was led by Kenny Strawbridge Jr., who scored 14 points while recording 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal.  Tanner Cuff and Gage Bobe finished the night with 10 points apiece.  Robbie Avila led Indiana State with 35 points and 8 boards.
 
Bobe knocked a triple for UE’s first points of the night to make it a 3-3 game.  Ben Humrichous’ first basket of the night got UE within a point at 8-7 just over three minutes into the game before a layup by Kenny Strawbridge Jr. tied the score at 9-9.  Indiana State took control at that point, going on an 18-2 run to open a 27-11 lead with an even 11 minutes on the clock.  ISU hit four out of five 3-point attempts during the run.
 
Cam Haffner knocked down a jumper on the ensuing UE possession and that was the first of an Aces run that got them right back into the game.  Over the next six minutes, the Aces outscored the Sycamores by a 16-1 margin to cut the deficit to just one.  ISU missed nine shots in a row as Evansville made its comeback.  Haffner connected from downtown to get UE back within single digits at 27-18 with just over nine minutes remaining in the half.
 
Antonio Thomas converted a 3-point play during the run before his drive to the basket at the 5:03 mark made it a 28-27 game in favor of the Sycamores.  Over the final minutes, ISU regrouped to open a 40-31 halftime lead. 
 
Bobe had the hot hand early in the second half, converting a 4-point play before adding a triple at the 14:59 mark to cut the ISU lead to 50-45.  ISU slowly took control, beginning with a 7-0 run that pushed the lead back into double figures.  Their advantage reached 20 for the first time with just over five minutes remaining before they finished the night with the 85-67 decision.
 
Yacine Toumi had a strong effort, registering 9 points and a team-high 8 caroms.  Ben Humrichous and Antonio Thomas completed the game with 7 points apiece.
 
ISU shot 50.8% on the night with UE shooting 38.3%.  The Sycamores out-rebounded the Aces by a 39-30 final.  Sunday’s regular-season finale at Belmont is set to tip at 4 p.m. CT.

EVANSVILLE BASEBALL

FOUR-RUN SIXTH KEYS #9 VANDERBILT PAST EVANSVILLE, 7-3

EVANSVILLE, Ind. –  A four-run sixth inning by the #9 Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team was too much to overcome on Wednesday night for the visiting University of Evansville, as the homestanding Commodores posted a 7-3 victory over UE at Hawkins Field in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Tonight was a close game that just didn’t go our way, as we were one batter away from bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning,” said UE head coach Wes Carroll.  “We ran into some really good arms tonight, and we weren’t able to deliver as many barrels as we needed, and then I felt like we hurt ourselves in a couple of innings by just not playing clean, crisp, defensive baseball.

“I thought that we got a real warrior effort on the mound by our starter Shane Harris.  And, it was nice to see the effort by Jakob Meyer tonight as well.  That was great to see, as we really need him going forward this season.”

Vanderbilt struck first for two runs in the first inning, getting the second run just in ahead of a tag with two outs that had to be reviewed by video to confirm.  UE then got one run back in the third inning on a two-out RBI double by graduate outfielder Mark Shallenberger off the wall in left field to make it a 2-1 contest.

Harris held Vanderbilt at bay after the first inning, striking out six men against just one walk while yielding the two first-inning runs on five hits over 4.0 innings of work.

The Commodores would get a run in the fifth inning after Harris left the game on a run-scoring fielder’s choice ground out to push the lead to 3-1, before breaking things open with a four-run sixth inning while using ‘small ball.’

After a one-out walk and stolen base, a single to right field put men on the corners.  Then, junior outfielder Jacob Humphrey scored a run on a bunt base hit to open the scoring.  Sophomore RJ Austin followed with an RBI single to right field, before aggressive base running on a strikeout that bounced in the dirt brought in Vanderbilt’s third run of the frame on the throw down to first base.  Junior catcher Alan Espinal then bounced a ball past a diving UE defender into left field to push the Vanderbilt lead to 7-1.

Evansville would answer back in the seventh inning on a 423-foot home run to dead center field by senior first baseman Kip Fougerousse to trim the deficit to 7-2, before staging one last rally in the ninth inning.

After a lead-off walk and a single by senior shortstop Simon Scherry, UE advanced both men to scoring position in the ninth inning on a wild pitch.  Graduate catcher Brendan Hord was then able to drive in a run on a one-out ground ball that was booted for an error.  With men on the corners and only one out, UE had the tying run in the on-deck circle, but Vanderbilt’s reliever Brennan Seiber got a strike out and a line-out to center field to end the threat and the contest.

With the victory, Vanderbilt improves to 7-3 on the season, while Evansville sees its record even at 4-4.  UE will now return home to host Purdue Fort Wayne in a four-game series beginning on Friday night at 5 p.m. at German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium.

SOUTHERN INDIANA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

EAGLES CONCLUDE REGULAR SEASON AT HOME THURSDAY AND SATURDAY

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Following a four-game road swing, University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball returns home to the friendly confines of Screaming Eagles Arena Thursday against Lindenwood University and Saturday against Southeast Missouri State University. Both games are set for 5 p.m.

Both matchups can be seen live with a subscription to ESPN+ and heard on 95.7 FM The Spin (http://957thespin.com).

Thursday is Heart Health Night with Ascension. Fans are encouraged to wear red apparel to red out Screaming Eagles Arena. There will be giveaways and an informational table courtesy of Ascension. On Saturday, the regular season finale, USI Women’s Basketball will recognize senior guards Addy Blackwell (Bloomington, Indiana) and Tori Handley (Jeffersonville, Indiana) as well as team manager Mason Auker for Senior Night.

Southern Indiana (20-6, 15-1) comes into the home slate this week on a six-game winning streak, the second-longest of the season for the Screaming Eagles. USI swept its four-game road swing within the last two weeks. Earlier this season, USI won 10 straight contests between December 22 and February 1.

With nine Great Lakes Valley Conference championships in program history, USI claimed its first-ever Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship last week in only the second season in Division I. Southern Indiana will be the No. 1 seed at the OVC Tournament next week, March 6-9, earning a double-bye into the semifinals.

By winning the regular season title, Southern Indiana became the first reclassifying women’s basketball program to win a conference title since California Baptist University won the Western Athletic Conference in 2020-21. Only a few other teams have achieved the feat since 2000.

Last Saturday, Southern Indiana won a thrilling 96-89 overtime game at Western Illinois University for the team’s 750th win in program history. Head Coach Rick Stein has had a hand in 602 of the 750 program victories as an assistant coach and head coach. Saturday’s win marked USI’s 14th 20-win season in program history. Earlier this season, USI achieved its 35th overall winning season.

Saturday was USI’s first overtime game of the season and 19th overtime win all time. The Screaming Eagles had five players score in double digits for the second consecutive game. Junior guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) led the way with her seventh double-double this season, posting 25 points and 10 rebounds. Shafford was a point shy of her career high, but the guard set a new career-best with seven three-pointers made. The last time a Screaming Eagle made seven triples in a game was Stephanie Carpenter in February 2014 against Maryville University.

Also scoring in double figures on Saturday was senior forward Madi Webb (Bedford, Indiana) with 15 points, freshman forward Chloe Gannon (Manchester, Tennessee) had 14 points, and senior forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana) and sophomore guard Ali Saunders (Depauw, Indiana) each added 12 points. Blackwell also had a notable performance with nine points and a career-best eight assists.

On the season, Shafford paces USI at 14.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Raley and Webb are second and third on the team in scoring with 12.4 and 10.8 points per game, respectively. Southern Indiana is averaging 72.3 points on an OVC-best 45 percent shooting. USI also has the best field goal percentage defense in the OVC, holding opponents to 36.8 percent.

Lindenwood (7-19, 5-11) enters the week trying to keep its OVC Tournament hopes alive and potentially clinch a berth. The Lions are a game back of the coveted eighth and final spot in the OVC Tournament. Lindenwood is 1-12 on the road this season. The Lions are coming off a solid home win against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Saturday, winning 61-54. Freshman guard Ellie Brueggemann averages 14 points per outing to lead Lindenwood, which tallies 66.1 points per game as a team.

Southern Indiana has won also seven previous meetings against Lindenwood, including the first four meetings when both teams were in the GLVC. This season, USI won a tight contest, 71-68, at Lindenwood in the second game of the conference slate. Raley led USI with 21 points while Shafford chipped in 17 points.

Southeast Missouri (8-19, 5-11) comes into the week in a similar situation as Lindenwood, sitting one game back of eighth place in the OVC standings. SEMO dropped both of its home contests last week, falling 61-48 to Little Rock and 64-61 against the University of Tennessee at Martin. The Redhawks average 61.9 points per game and are led by two players posting double figures. Sophomore guard Alecia Doyle and junior guard Jaliyah Green are averaging 13.6 and 13 points, respectively.

SEMO leads the all-time series against USI, 12-3. After splitting two games in 2022-23, Southern Indiana captured the conference opener at Southeast Missouri in late December this season. The Screaming Eagles got the best of the Redhawks, 75-37. Shafford had a USI-high 15 points while Raley dropped a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Tickets for both games this week are on sale and can be purchased by visiting the USI Ticket Office online. For more information, call the USI Ticket Office at 812-465-1189.

SOUTHERN INDIANA BASEBALL

USI HOSTS ST. THOMAS FOR THREE-GAME SET

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — University of Southern Indiana Baseball finishes a seven-game homestand this weekend when it hosts the University of St. Thomas for a three-game set at the USI Baseball Field. The series is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Following the USI-St. Thomas series, the Screaming Eagles will be on the road for the next nine games, including visits to the University of Tennessee and the University of Illinois. Links to follow the Eagles during the opening weekend of 2024 can be found on USIScreamingEagles.com and on the USI Baseball Schedule.   

USI Baseball Notes:

USI wins opening home series. The USI Screaming Eagles won its home opening series by taking two of three from Eastern Michigan University. USI won the opening game in dramatic fashion, rallying from five runs down, to win 11-9; lost the middle game, 7-4, and captured the final game and the series, 3-1.

USI dropped to 2-2 during homestand. The Eagles are 2-2 during the seven-game homestand after falling to Ball State University, 10-4.

Hit leaders on homestand. Freshman outfielder Ethan Rothschild led the Eagles last week, hitting .400 (6-15) with three runs score and two RBI. Junior outfielder Terrick Thompson-Allen followed with a .375 average, tying for the team lead with four runs scored and two RBIs.

Pitch leaders on homestand. Freshman right-hander Grant Parson had the best start of the USI hurlers, posting his first collegiate win. Parson allowed one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out seven in 6.0 innings. Freshman right-hander Clayton Weisheit came out of the bullpen to get his first collegiate save and did not allow an earned run in two games and 4.0 innings.

Leaders in week two. Freshman outfielder Ethan Rothschild leads USI after two weeks with a .400 average (6-15), while senior outfielder Ren Tachioka, who has been out for the last three games with an injury, follows with a .368 average. Sophomore shortstop Caleb Niehaus and freshman outfielder Cameron Boyd are tied for the team lead with four RBI each. 

USI predicted 8th in 2024 OVC. The USI Screaming Eagles are predicted to place eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2024. 

USI reached OVC Championship during 1st Division I season. The Eagles earned a trip to the OVC Championship during its first season of transitioning to NCAA Division I. The Eagles lost in the opening round of the tournament.

USI under Archuleta. The Eagles are in their 18th season under Head Coach Tracy Archuleta, who has led the Eagles to two NCAA Division II national championships (2010, 2014) in his 17 years at the helm. He also has been recognized as the Division II ABCA National Coach of the Year twice (2010, 2014); the ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year five times (2007, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018) and the GLVC Coach of the Year twice (2011, 2014) since taking over the program in 2007. He also is the winningest coach in the history of the program with 546 victories in 17-plus years.

Long road coming up. In March, the Eagles will have a long road to go, playing 14 of 17 games away from the USI Baseball Field. 

St. Thomas in 2024. The Tommies of the University of St. Thomas are 4-4 to start the spring after taking three of four from Southeast Missouri State University over the weekend.

Tennessee in 2024. The University of Tennessee is rolling to start the 2024 season, going 8-1 through February 27. The Volunteers, who have five games between now and when the Eagles visit Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 6, have won seven-straight at press time.

USI vs. St. Thomas and Tennessee. USI will be playing St. Thomas and Tennessee for the first time in the history of the baseball program.

VALPO BASEBALL

BASEBALL TO BEGIN SPRING TRIP WITH WAKE FOREST TOURNAMENT

Valparaiso (2-5, 0-0 MVC)

at Wake Forest Tournament

Latham Park (5,100) | Elon, N.C.

David F. Couch Ballpark (3,823) | Winston-Salem, N.C.

Friday, March 1, 3 p.m. CT at Elon (4-4, 0-0 CAA) – RHP Connor Lockwood

Saturday, March 2, 3 p.m. CT at No. 1 Wake Forest (7-1, 0-0 ACC) – TBD

Sunday, March 3, 9 a.m. CT vs. Binghamton (2-4, 0-0 American East) – TBD

Next Up in Valpo Baseball: The annual spring trip has arrived for the Valparaiso University baseball team as the Beacons will spend 19 consecutive days on the road as the team departs on Wednesday, Feb. 28 and returns to Valpo’s campus after a game at Campbell on Sunday, March 17. The first weekend of the spring trip features a tournament in North Carolina. Valpo will start the weekend by playing at Elon on Friday before visiting the No. 1 team in the nation – Wake Forest – on Saturday afternoon. The three-game event will wrap up on Sunday morning as Valpo battles Binghamton in a game hosted by Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Last Time Out: Valpo visited No. 17 Alabama for a three-game series last weekend, dropping all three games to the Crimson Tide, who prevailed 14-2, 13-3 and 11-1 in a trio of seven-inning contests. The highlight of the weekend was the offensive production of Kyle Schmack, who went 5-for-10 (.500) in the series, scored four of the team’s six runs and drove in three.

Following the Beacons: Links to live coverage for all three games will be available on ValpoAthletics.com. Friday’s game will be broadcast on FloBaseball, while Saturday’s contest will be carried by ACC Network Extra.

Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack (190-300) is in his 10th season in charge of the program. He ranks third in program history in seasons coached and games coached as he enters 2024 having skippered 482 Valpo games. He enters the season with 188 victories, the third most in program history. Schmack, a member of the 2003 Detroit Tigers, served as pitching coach/associate head coach at Valpo for seven seasons prior to his promotion.

Series Notes: Valpo and Elon have never clashed in baseball, though the two teams did meet on the men’s basketball hardwood with Elon winning 82-78 on Dec. 29 of this season. Binghamton will also be a first-time opponent for the Beacons, who have squared off with Wake Forest on two prior occasions, falling 13-4 and 3-0 in March 2012 in Winston-Salem.

Valpo vs. Ranked Adversaries

Valpo’s game against Wake Forest will be the team’s fourth in a five-game span against Top-25 competition after dropping all three at No. 17 Alabama last weekend.

Valpo’s only three games against a top-25 team last season were a three-game series at No. 22 Southern Miss in March. Valpo won the series opener 6-1, snapping a streak of 15 straight losses to Top-25 teams that dated back to a win over No. 25 Illinois on April 17, 2018.

The win over No. 22 Southern Miss was Valpo’s best win in terms of national ranking since beating No. 9 Arizona State on April 21, 2013.

Since 2012, Valpo has Top-25 wins over No. 22 Southern Miss (March 10, 2023), No. 25 Illinois (April 17, 2018), No. 25 DBU (March 11, 2016), No. 9 Arizona State (April 21, 2013) and No. 4 Arkansas (Feb. 26, 2012).

Valpo did recently play a team that was No. 1 in the country in at least one poll on March 15, 2022 at Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish were No. 6 according to D1Baseball, which is the industry standard poll. The highest ranked team Valpo has played during the Brain Schmack Era, per D1Baseball, was a three-game set at No. 3 Louisville in 2020.

In The Other Dugout: Elon

Picked to finish fifth of 12 in the CAA Preseason Poll.

Starting pitcher Justin Mitrovich was a member of the preseason all-league team.

Went 33-22 last season including a 19-9 CAA mark.

Lost two of three to Navy during the first weekend of the season before taking two of three from NJIT. Coming off a 6-3 win over UNCG on Tuesday.

In The Other Dugout: Wake Forest

Ranked No. 1 in the nation by D1Baseball and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Went 54-12 last season and 22-7 in the ACC on their way to NCAA Regional and Super Regional crowns and a College World Series Appearance.

This will mark Valpo’s ninth straight game against a team with 30 or more wins last season.

Swept Dayton last weekend before beating North Carolina A&T in a midweek game on Tuesday.

In the Other Dugout: Binghamton

Preseason favorite to win the American East conference.

Were the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament last season and advanced to the championship game in that event.

Were swept at Houston in a three-game series to start the season before taking two of three at UNCG.

First team all-conference selections Tommy Riefler (.371 average last year) and pitcher Gabe Driscoll are back.

VALPO SOFTBALL

SOFTBALL STAYS IN-STATE AT HOOSIER CLASSIC THIS WEEKEND

Valparaiso (3-11, 0-0 MVC)

March 2-3 – at Hoosier Classic (Bloomington, Ind.)

March 2 – at Indiana (11-4) – 2 p.m. CT | vs. Bowling Green (1-3) – 4:30 p.m. CT

March 3 – vs. Bowling Green – 10 a.m. CT | at Indiana – 12:30 p.m. CT

Next Up in Valpo Softball: After the far-flung travels of the first three weekends of the season, the Valpo softball team stays a bit closer to home this week. The Beacons won’t have to cross state lines to head down to Indiana’s Hoosier Classic March 2-3, where they will face the host Hoosiers and Bowling Green twice apiece.

Previously: Valpo posted a 1-4 record at last weekend’s Frost Classic. The weekend was highlighted by a 2-1 extra-inning win over Georgetown, as Sydney McDermott two-hit the Hoyas for the program’s first win over a current Big East program since 2016.

Looking Ahead: One final weekend of nonconference play awaits the Beacons next weekend, as they trek west to Omaha, Neb. for Omaha’s Connie Claussen Classic.

Following Valpo Softball: All four games will be broadcast live on BTN+ ($). All four games will also have live stats available, linked at ValpoAthletics.com.

Head Coach Meaggan Pettipiece: Meaggan Pettipiece was hired in September 2022 as head coach of the Valpo softball program and enters her second season in 2024. Pettipiece is in her 15th season overall as a collegiate head coach, most recently spending three seasons at Akron prior to coming to Valpo. Pettipiece, who owns 261 career coaching victories, was an All-American on the diamond and helped California University of Pennsylvania to a D-II national title in 1998 collegiately before playing internationally for Team Canada, including at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Series Notes: Indiana – The Beacons are 0-11 all-time against the Hoosiers, including a pair of losses in the last matchups at the 2022 Hoosier Classic, 9-4 and 9-0. Kayla Skapyak had a pair of hits over the two games and stole a base, while Caitlyn Kowalski combined to pitch five innings of relief over the pair of contests.

Bowling Green – Valpo trails the all-time series against the Falcons, 6-4. This marks the second straight season and the third time in the last four years the two programs will meet in early-season action – last season, BGSU won 7-2 at the DePaul Dome Tournament, while the Falcons earned a 6-1 win in 2021 at the Thundering Herd Round Robin. Caitlyn Kowalski started in the circle in both of those contests. In last year’s game, Regi Hecker went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored, Alexis Johnson was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Kayla Skapyak was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.

Who’s Back: Valpo returns 12 of 16 letterwinners from last year’s squad for the 2024 season. In all, 69.2% of Valpo’s plate appearances are back for this season and 49.4% of last season’s innings pitched return.

Who’s New: A group of nine newcomers joined the Beacons for the 2024 season. Kam Utendorf transferred in after playing her freshman season at Black Hawk College, joining eight true freshmen on this year’s team.

A Large Roster: The combination of 12 returnees and nine newcomers gives Valpo a 21-player roster for the 2024 campaign. That’s a five-player increase over last season’s group of 16 players, and it is the largest roster the softball program has had since fielding 21 players for the 2008 season.

Finding the Formula: The Beacons have used the early-season tournaments to mix and match lineups, both offensively and defensively. Sophomore Kim Rodas is the only player to start all 14 games in the same spot in the batting order (third). Defensively, senior Kayla Skapyak has started all 14 games in center field, the only Beacon to start every game in the same position. At least three different players have started at least one game at pitcher, first base, shortstop, left field and designated player.

Hitting the Road: This weekend’s games continue a long and winding road for the Beacons before they finally get the chance to play at the Valpo Softball Complex. This is the fourth of five weekends of action prior to the start of Missouri Valley Conference play, as Valpo already played at Texas A&M, Presbyterian and Chattanooga, and will close preconference action next weekend at Omaha. The Beacons will open MVC action with back-to-back weekends on the road as well – at Evansville and at Drake – before finally opening the home slate March 29 against Bradley. All told, Valpo is scheduled to play its first 29 games of the season away from home.

Winning in Extras: Valpo came away with a 2-1 extra-inning win over Georgetown last weekend, scoring one run in the international tiebreak in the top of the eighth before retiring the side in order in the bottom half of the frame. The win was Valpo’s first in extra inning since a 7-5, eight-inning win over Cleveland State March 8, 2020 in what turned out to be the final game of the COVID-shortened season. Valpo had dropped its last four extra-inning games before Saturday’s win.

McDermott Mows Them Down: Freshman Sydney McDermott came to Valpo after earning Ohio All-State honors each of her last three years of high school, and showcased that form in a trio of strong performances last weekend. She opened the weekend engaging in a pitcher’s duel against the reigning Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, giving up just three hits and one earned run in a tough-luck loss against Texas A&M-CC. McDermott rebounded with a two-hitter, surrendering a single unearned run while striking out a season-best eight, in the 2-1 extra-inning win over Georgetown. She closed the weekend by giving up just one run in 3.2 innings of relief work Sunday against Ohio. For the weekend, McDermott posted a 0.79 ERA and a .175 batting average against in 17.2 innings of work.

Runners on the Move: The Beacons continued their early-season aggression on the basepaths by going 7-for-9 on stolen base attempts over the weekend. After going just 21-for-36 in the steals department last season, Valpo is already 19-for-21 this season. Senior Kayla Skapyak is a team-best 6-for-6 on the bases this year and is up to 17 career steals, while fellow senior Alexis Johnson – who entered the season with just six steals in her first three seasons – already has five thefts on as many attempts through three weekends of play.

Garnica Getting on Base: Sophomore Kaia Garnica failed to reach base in her lone plate appearance against Lehigh in the finale on opening weekend, but since then, she has reached base at least once in nine consecutive games. Garnica – who delivered three RBIs in Valpo’s win over Youngstown State – has drawn four walks and is tied for third in the MVC with three HBP, adding up to an on-base percentage of .400.

Rookies Delivering: Valpo faced a four-run deficit after the top of the first in its weekend finale against Ohio last weekend, but erased the entire deficit in its first turn at the plate thanks to a pair of key two-out hits by freshmen. Cici Wilson delivered a two-run single to get the Beacons on the board, giving her a team-best six RBIs on the year, and Kayden Krug drove in the first two runs of her collegiate career with Valpo’s first triple of the season.

Newcomer of the Week: Sophomore Kam Utendorf became Valpo’s first MVC Newcomer of the Week since May 2019 on Feb. 20 after slashing .643/.706/.786 the previous weekend at Presbyterian. She had a trio of multi-hit games, including three-hit performances in both of Valpo’s victories – going 3-for-3 with two runs scored, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base in the win over Morehead State and 3-for-4 with a run scored, two RBIs and two doublesin the win over YSU. Through three weekends, Utendorf’s .419 batting average ranks second in the MVC.

Offensive Bests: Valpo exploded for 13 runs in its win over Morehead State to open the Pinnacle PC Invitational, the program’s largest scoring output since a 13-0 win over Wagner in March 2019. The Beacons closed the weekend with a 13-hit performance in the win over YSU, the program’s best single-game total since racking up 16 hits in a win over Holy Cross in Feb. 2022.

Multi-Hit Efforts: Three different Valpo players already have at least four multi-hit games this year. Regi Hecker leads the way with five multi-hit efforts, including a pair of three-hit games. After tallying just six multi-hit games in her rookie season, Kim Rodas already has four multi-hit games this year, while Kam Utendorf counts a pair of three-hit games among her four multi-hit outings.

Making Debuts: All nine of Valpo’s newcomers made their debuts in the Beacon uniform in the opening weekend of play, eight of those coming on opening day. Four of those debuts came in the season opener against Tulsa, as Kam Utendorf started at shortstop, Anna Wilming pitched in relief and Cici Wilson & Natalie Bush both appeared as pinch-hitters. Four more debuts came against Texas A&M, as Sydney McDermott started in the circle, Kayden Krug entered as a pinch-hitter and Carson Kuhlmann & Madison Stamper were both defensive replacements. Lana Tellez made her collegiate debut in the nightcap of the twinbill with Lehigh the next day as a defensive replacement.

Hecker Hacking: Senior outfielder Regi Hecker started the 2024 regular season just as she closed the 2023 regular season. Hecker, who paced Valpo last year in batting average, hits, doubles, RBIs and stolen bases, closed 2023 by hitting .412 (14-for-34) with four multi-hit games over the Beacons’ final 12 games of the regular season. Through three weekends this year, Hecker ranks second on the team with a .350 batting average and a .447 on-base percentage.

International Experience: Sophomore infielder Kim Rodas continued her international career playing for Mexico over the summer, as she earned a bronze medal at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. Rodas previously medaled with Team Mexico at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games, where her squad claimed the silver.

UINDY TRACK

THREE HOUNDS SET TO PARTICIPATE AT INDOOR NATIONALS

INDIANAPOLIS – The UIndy women’s indoor track and field team will send three participants to the 2024 NCAA DII Indoor Track and Field Championships. Standouts Zoe Pentecost (weight throw), Sabrina Robison (pole vault), and Ellie Lengerich (pentathlon) are set to compete for the All-America status and national championship glory.

The national meet is slated to begin on Friday, March 8, and last through March 9. The festivities will take place on the campus of Pittsburg State in Pittsburg, Kan.

Listed below are where each athlete ranks among their Division II peers.

Name    Rank      Event     Mark

Zoe Pentecost     1st          weight throw      19.85m

Sabrina Robison 4th         pole vault            4.20m

Ellie Lengerich    12th       pentathlon           3790 points

UINDY MEN’S BASKETBALL

MEN’S HOOPS SITS ATOP LATEST MIDWEST RANKINGS

INDIANAPOLIS – The UIndy men’s basketball team is ranked first in the latest NCAA DII Midwest Region poll, released on Wednesday. This is the season’s first set of ranking the top 10, as last week programs were simply listed as “under consideration.”

The Greyhounds conclude the regular season this weekend, battling Missouri-St. Louis on Thursday evening at 8:30 ET. 

UIndy is on pace to make its 14th NCAA tournament appearance and second under head coach Paul Corsaro. Winners of seven of their last eight, the Hounds are currently 19-7 this winter and have already secured a share of the GLVC regular season crown for the second consecutive year – the first time a league program has done so since Kentucky Wesleyan three-peated from 1997-00. 

The complete rankings can be found below.

NCAA DII MIDWEST RANKINGS

RKSCHOOLDII RECIN-REGION
1.UIndy19-718-6
2.Ky. Wesleyan17-617-7
3.Northern Mich.17-816-7
4.Lake Superior St.17-616-6
5.Upper Iowa17-817-8
6.Walsh17-516-5
7.Ferris St.16-716-7
8.Lewis14-1114-11
9.Ill. Springfield14-1214-11
10.William Jewell15-1015-10

MARIAN MEN’S BASKETBALL

MARIAN SURVIVES SECOND HALF RALLY FROM BETHEL TO WIN 91-82 IN CROSSROADS LEAGUE TOURNAMENT

INDIANAPOLIS – The Marian men’s basketball team took the win in the Crossroads League Tournament Quarterfinals, with a score of 91-82 over the Bethel Pilots. Marian is now 23-6 overall with the win, advancing to the semifinals.

The Knights got an early start in the matchup with Brody Whitaker two consecutive baskets in the first couple minutes of play. At the 15-minute mark the home team built an 11-point lead over the Pilots, as Maximus Gizzi drained a paint jumper to strengthen the lead. Nolan Foster and Josh Bryan helped to increase the gap against the Pilots with consecutive scores bringing the total on the board to 25-11 eight minutes into the game. Bryan had no signs of stopping hitting another 3-pointer to strengthen the lead for the Knights.

A little under a minute after the halfway mark of the first half Gus Etchison hit an easy three bringing the score 33-19 in favor of the Knights. Ben Henderson got his hand in the mix throwing a good 3-pointer bringing strengthening the lead for the Knights. The hot-shooting Knights continued to score at will, jumping in front by 21 as Etchison and Foster scored inside. Marian led by as many as 29 points in the first half, and ended the first 20 minutes of play holding a 59-36 lead over Bethel.

After halftime Bethel found a new groove, forcing Marian to use an early timeout as the Pilots jumped out 7-2 to start the second period. Marian continued to hold a double-digit lead as the clock ticked to the 15-minute mark, but the Pilots continued to build momentum, as a three-point play by Preston Phillips going into the media timeout dropped the once-26-point lead to 10. The Knights answered the run with Whitaker earning his way to the free throw line, helping Marian reclaim their stake in the game, as the score lifted to 73-60 in favor of Marian with 11:17 to play.

Despite Marian holding their double figure advantage, Bethel would continue to pester, and broke through to make it a 10-point contest once again after Drew Lutz swished three free throws. The Pilots were able to get within two scores of Marian as the clock ticked toward nine minutes, they turned up their offense to cut the Knights’ lead down to six points. The difference on the board was dropped to three points with 6:29 to play, as a Drew Lutz triple made it a one-possession game.

Marian turned back to Etchison after the lead shrunk to three, as the guard nailed a quick three to once again make it a six-point game. Etchison’s basket sparked the Knights, as Gavin Foe and Gizzi made back-to-back three’s to punctuate an 8-0 run, pushing Marian back on top by 12 points with 3:28 to play. The Knights protected their 88-76 lead over the final three minutes, holding on to survive the scare by claiming a 91-82 win.

Gus Etchison led the Knights in points with 20 and Maximus Gizzi was not far behind as he finished the game with 18. Jackson Ames lead the team in rebounds with six rebounds while Etchison added five. Brody Whitaker was also in double figures in the win, scoring 17 points to go with four rebounds before fouling out of the game. Josh Bryan and Nolan Foster led the bench in scoring with eight points each.

Marian advances to the CL Tournament Semifinals to play on the road against the Grace Lancers on Saturday afternoon, with tip off set at 1:00 p.m.

TAYLOR TRACK

TAYLOR TRACK SET FOR NAIA INDOOR NATIONALS

UPLAND, Ind. – The Taylor men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams will close their seasons at the NAIA Indoor National Championships on February 29 through March 2, when they compete inside the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex on the campus of Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota.

Taylor will have 20 student-athletes competing in 12 different events over the course of the three-day meet. The TU women will showcase 10 individuals competing in seven events, with the men’s squad having 10 individuals competing in five events.

The Taylor women’s team will enter Nationals carrying a No. 8 rating in the most recent USTFCCCA NAIA ratings index. The Trojans carry top-five seeds to Nationals in four events and boast a total of six top-seven seeds.

The Trojans’ strongest event comes with Mollie Gamble and Audrey Brinkruff ranked third and fourth in the 5,000-meters. TU will also carry lofty expectations with its two relays, seeded third in the distance-medley relay and fifth in the 4×800-meter relay. The group of Emily Johnson, Ashley Hall, Abby Mays and Noel VanderWall are set to run in the distance-medley relay, with Johnson, Mays, Kaitlin Burden and Olivia Jeanette racing in the 4×800.

Along with running the distance-medley relay, VanderWall is seeded fourth in the mile, while Taylor’s other top-seed comes via Ahna Neideck being ranked seventh nationally in the 3,000-meters.

Patience Sakeuh and Hall will also represent Taylor on the heels of their Crossroads League Championship individual performances, with Sakeuh seeded 23rd in the 60-meter hurdles and Hall seeded 26th in the 400-meters.

On the men’s side, TU’s strongest event figures to be the pole vault, where Josh Forbes and Isaac Brown are seeded fourth and 14th respectively.

The Trojans will also have Nathan Burns and Luke Harber competing in the 5,000-meters and Ryan Hanak racing in the 3,000-Meters, while Jake Thompson competes in the long jump.

TU’s lone qualifying relay team of Nate Conkel, Ben Eiffert, Bradley Braxton and Joel Mumaw will race in the distance-medley relay.

Any individual or relay finishing among the top-eight at NAIA Nationals will automatically earn NAIA All-American honors, in addition to scoring points for the team standings.

TU is set to open its showing at Nationals on Thursday, February 29 at 3:00 pm (ET) with Gamble and Brinkruff taking the track in the 5,000-meters prelims. The men’s team will open shortly after, with Burns and Harber racing in the men’s 5,000 prelims.

Fans can access the NAIA’s pay-per-view webcast, live results, full events schedule and more by visiting the Taylor Indoor Track and Field National Championships Centrals at the links provided on TaylorTrojans.com.

Taylor Women’s Qualifiers and Seed

DMR: Emily Johnson, Ashley Hall, Abby Mays, Noel VanderWall (3)

5,000: Mollie Gamble (3), Audrey Brinkruff (4)

Mile: Noel VanderWall (4)

4×800: Emily Johnson, Kaitlin Burden, Abby Mays, Olivie Jeanette (5)

3,000: Ahna Neideck (7)

60-H: Patience Sakeuh (23)

400: Ashley Hall (26)

Taylor Men’s Qualifiers and Seed

PV: Josh Forbes (4), Isaac Brown (14)

5,000: Nathan Burns (12), Luke Harber (32)

3,000: Ryan Hanak (16)

DMR: Nate Conkel, Ben Eiffert, Bradley Braxton, Joel Mumaw (20)

LJ: Jake Thompson (25)

INDIANA WESLEYAN WOMEN’S TENNIS

WOMEN’S TENNIS JUMPS TO NO. 17 IN LATEST NAIA COACHES’ TOP 25 POLL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Indiana Wesleyan women’s tennis jumped to No. 17 in the second regular season installment of the NAIA Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, announced by the national office on Wednesday.

The Wildcats went 1-2 since the last poll was released on Feb. 14th. The red and gray beat Indiana Tech, but drop two matches to No. 12 Lindsey Wilson and No. 20 UNOH.

IWU will be back in action on the road on Friday to face Cumberland University at 9:00 a.m.

To view the full NAIA poll, click HERE.

INDIANA WESLEYAN MEN’S BASKETBALL

MEN’S BASKETBALL STAYS AT NO. 6 IN FINAL NAIA COACHES’ TOP 25 POLL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Indiana Wesleyan men’s basketball stayed at No. 6 in the final regular season installment of the NAIA Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, announced by the national office on Wednesday. This extends their longest active streak in the polls to 121 straight.

The Wildcats went 3-1 since the last poll was released on Feb. 14th. Their only loss coming against Marian in the regular-season finale.

IWU will return to Luckey Arena tonight to face the University of Saint Francis in the Crossroads League Quarterfinals at 7:00 p.m.
Links for tickets, video, and stats will be available at IWUWildcats.com.

To view the full NAIA poll, click HERE.

EARLHAM SOFTBALL

EC SOFTBALL PRIMED FOR RETURN TO ACTION

RICHMOND – For the first time in over 30 years, Earlham College softball will take the field for the 2024 season. After a multi-year project to return to action, the Quakers will begin their season on March 2 against The University of Olivet on the new Ellie Bewley Softball Stadium.

THE SCHEDULE

38-games are scheduled for the 2024 Earlham softball season, 16-games will take place at the Ellie Bewley Softball Stadium. Starting on their home turf with a doubleheader against University of Olivet and then going away to play in Florida against eight different teams for their spring break tournament, Mar. 11-15. After spring break the Quakers are back at home with a doubleheader against Centre College on March 20 and then have another doubleheader against Wittenberg University that following Saturday, March 23. The Quakers then have their first away game since Florida against Wilmington College March 27. Earlham softball starts their conference play with a doubleheader against Bluffton, March 30. In conference play the Quakers play two non-conference doubleheaders against Kenyon on April 4 and Denison on April 23. Continuing conference play Earlham has their first conference home game with a doubleheader against Transylvania University, April 6. Following on April 9, the Quakers have another home doubleheader against Rose-Hulman and then play a doubleheader away at Hanover, April 13. Quakers will continue away with a doubleheader at Defiance College April 15 and Franklin College April 20. Quakers return home to finish off their season with doubleheaders against Manchester on April 27, Mount St. Joseph on May 2, and Anderson University on May 4.

THE PLAYERS

The Heartland Conference has selected four Quakers as “Athletes to Watch” ahead of the 2024 season. Morgan Cooksey, a freshman pitcher from Williamsport, Indiana. Bo Shelton a freshman mid-infielder from Pendleton, Indiana. Bella Schatko a freshman mid-infielder from Noblesville, Indiana. And, Emmerie Stump a freshman first baseman/outfielder from Indianapolis, Indiana.

THE COACHES

Hired in 2022, Stacey Goyette will finally get to lead the Quakers in her first season as head softball coach. Goyette has a wide range of experience as a player and coach. As a player at Butler University she led the team in offense in 1992 and 1993 with BA’s of .311 and .381 respectively.  Goyette is ranked 8th in Butler’s all-time single season batting average leaders and earned 8th in career doubles with 38.  As a pitcher, Goyette is 9th in all-time single season ERA at 1.56 and ranked 6th with a career ERA of 1.82 in 376 innings pitched.  Goyette in her time playing Division I softball earned second-team All-MCC in 1992 and first team All-MCC in 1993.  After college, Goyette spent years coaching high school and travel ball softball.  In 2016, Goyette eventually returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach and main pitching coach.  In her 6 year stint as assistant coach, Butler University softball made the BIG EAST conference tournament 3 times and in 2022, she steered Alyssa Graves to BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-year.

Alongside Goyette is assistant coach Maddie Moore and graduate assistant Faith Muterspaugh. Moore previously played for Goyette at Butler University.  In her 5 years as shortstop for the Bulldogs, Moore had a career fielding percentage of .942 and BA of .253.  In 2019 Moore earned 2nd-Team All BIG EAST. Graduate assistant, Muterspaugh, played 4 years at Anderson University as a utility player and hit .280 her senior year.

ANDERSON MEN’S BASKETBALL

ANDERSON TO FACE HOPE COLLEGE IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

The Anderson University men’s basketball team (23-4) is slated to take on the Hope College Flying Dutch (22-6) in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at Case Western University at 4:45 p.m. in Cleveland.

In the second matchup, the hosts Case Western Reserve University (21-4) will take on Mary Baldwin (17-10) at 7:15 p.m.

Friday, March 1

Semifinal #1: Anderson University vs Hope College – 4:45 p.m. (Live Video)(Live Stats) (Tickets)

Semifinal #2: Case Western Reserve University vs Mary Baldwin University – 7:15 p.m. (Live Video)(Live Stats)

Saturday, March 2

Regional Final: Winner of Semifinal #1 vs Winner of Semifinal #2 – 7:15 p.m. (Live Video)(Live Stats)

TRINE MEN’S BASKETBALL

MEN’S BASKETBALL HOSTING OPENING ROUNDS OF NCAA TOURNAMENT

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Trine University men’s basketball team will be hosting First and Second Round contests in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2. The Thunder received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament with a 23-4 overall record.

Trine will be hosting three other schools in their pod, including two conference champions. The Thunder will play the Fontbonne University Griffins in the First Round game, the champions of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) with a 20-7 mark.

The other First Round game played inside the MTI Center will feature Coe College from the American Rivers Conference (A-R-C). The 21-5 Kohawks received an at-large bid after coming up short in their conference tournament semifinals. Coe will square off with Wabash College, the champions of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). The Little Giants enter the NCAA Tournament at 20-8.

Coe and Wabash will compete in the first game played on Friday beginning at 5:40 p.m. while Trine and Fontbonne will follow at 8:10 p.m. The two winners will meet on Saturday beginning at 8:10 p.m. 

Tickets for the First and Second Round games played inside the MTI Center can be purchased at the door using cash or card. There will be no preseale tickets. Tickets to Friday’s game will allow you to watch both the Coe and Wabash game as well as the Trine versus Fontbonne game. Tickets to Saturday’s game will be sold seperately. More information can be found at the TOURNAMENT CENTRAL page.

TRINE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HEADS TO OSHKOSH FOR FIRST ROUND MATCHUP

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Trine University women’s basketball team qualified for the NCAA Tournament after winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) Tournament and will travel to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for their First Round game. Trine will be facing Gustavus Adolphus College.

The Thunder will enter the tournament with a record of 21-7 while the Gusties are 25-2 overall. Gustavus Adolphus won the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Tournament Championship to secure an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The host Oshkosh is 22-5 overall. The Titans received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after coming up short in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Tournament Championship game. They will take on undefeated Webster University from the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). The Gorlocks of Webster are 27-0 coming into the event.

Tip-off for the Trine versus Gustavus Adolphus game will be at 6:00 p.m. EST followed by the Oshkosh and Webster matchup at 8:30 p.m. EST. The winners will meet on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.

Tickets for the First and Second Round games for the Thunder can be puchased online by using the OSHKOSH TICKETING LINK or at the gate with CASH ONLY. Tickets for Friday’s games will allow you to view both the Trine and Gustavus Adolphus matchup as well as the Oshkosh versus Webster game. More information can be found at Oshkosh’s TOURNAMENT CENTRAL page.

TRINE TRACK

SPAHR FIELD MVP FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR; SIX NAMED ALL-MIAA

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. – The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) has unveiled the indoor season MVP’s and All-MIAA recipients. Six members of the Trine University men’s and women’s track and field teams were honored for their performances in the 2024 MIAA Indoor Championships.

The MIAA Men’s Field MVP was junior Ethan Spahr for the second consecutive season. The Osseo, Michigan native set two personal and school records and he was the event champion in the triple jump at 13.36 meters (43′ 10.00″) to garner All-MIAA honors. He was also second in both the high jump and long jump. Spahr tied the school record mark in the high jump at 1.98 meters (6′ 6.00″). In the long jump, his score of 6.79 meters (22′ 3.50″) gave him 26 total points at the MIAA Indoor Championships.

Senior Jake Gladieux from Oregon, Ohio won the 60-meter hurdle finals with a time of 8.05 seconds to secure his fifth All-MIAA award of his indoor career. Gladieux also set new personal best times in the 60-meter dash (6.97 seconds) and 200-meter dash (21.95 seconds).

The third All-MIAA recipient from the men’s team was senior Kimball Hughes. The Reading, Michigan native won the weight throw with a new personal best score of 16.28 meters (53′ 5.00″). He was fourth in the shot put at the event as well (14.46 meters / 47′ 5.25″).

On the women’s side, junior Mackenzie Miller was tabbed All-MIAA after claiming first place in the long jump. Her score of 5.37 meters (17′ 7.50″) allowed the Paw Paw, Michigan native to secure the first All-MIAA award of her career and Miller also tallied two school records at the MIAA Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash (7.85 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (26.17 seconds).

In the triple jump, freshman Emmaline Leatherman was named All-MIAA after winning the event with a new personal best score of 10.51 meters (34′ 5.75″). The Madison, Indiana native also set a new career-best score in the long jump at 4.89 meters (16′ 0.50″) and scored in the high jump at 1.35 meters (4′ 5.00″).

Sophomore Bailey Puckett from Cambridge City, Indiana was named All-MIAA following an event win in the mile run. Puckett led the pack with a time of 5:06.51 to earn her first career All-MIAA honor in indoor track and field.

The teams travel to Wartburg College to compete in the Last Chance Meet on March 1-2 in an attempt to qualify for the NCAA DIII Indoor National Championships.

BETHEL TRACK

NAIA ANNOUNCES MEN’S AND WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD QUALIFIERS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championship from Thursday, Feb. 29 to Saturday, Mar. 2 at the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex on the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings, S.D., the Pilots are sending eight athletes to compete.

QUALIFIERS

Riley Hershberger: 200 Meter (25.17)

Rylin Bagarus: 60 Meter Hurdles (8.92)

Gabrielle Zeilenga: Pole Vault (3.80m), Long Jump (5.79m)

Sophia Sumer: Pole Vault (3.70m)

Grace Conway: Pole Vault (3.61m)

Alecia Parker: Shot Put (13.38m)

Cailyn Helmuth: Pentathlon (3384)

Shane Glasco: High Jump (2.08m)

HOW TO FOLLOW

Watch NAIA Network

Live Results

Championship Schedule

For more information, click here for the NAIA website.

For the latest information on each of Bethel University’s 31 intercollegiate athletic teams, visit BUPilots.com or follow the Pilots on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @BUPilots or YouTube at /BethelSportsNetwork.

DEPAUW WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

HASSEL AND MONT SELECTED TO ALL-NCAC TEAM

Greencastle, Ind. – After helping DePauw to a North Coast Athletic Conference tri-championship, guards Ava Hassel (Jr., Portsmouth, Ohio/Notre Dame) and Riley Mont (So., Aurora, Ill./West Aurora) have been selected to the All-NCAC team for a second consecutive year.

Hassel has earned first team honors for the second consecutive year and leads the Tigers in scoring (11.8), assists (2.9) and steals (1.7). She also paces the squad with 49 3-pointers made this season. Hassel was named the MVP of last weekend’s NCAC Tournament.

Mont is a second team choice this year after earning third team distinction last season as well as newcomer of the year. She is second on the team in scoring (10.4) and third in rebounding (4.1) and assists (1.6). Mont was named to the all-tournament team at last weekend’s NCAC Tournament.

The Tigers have won outright or shared a record seven consecutive NCAC titles and have now won eight NCAC Tournament championships.

DePauw opens NCAA Division III Championship play on Friday, March 1, with an 8:30 p.m. game against Berea in Neal Fieldhouse.

DEPAUW MEN’S BASKETBALL

JACOBS AND STEVENSON EARN ALL-NCAC HONORS

Greencastle, Ind. – DePauw forwards Sam Jacobs (So., Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) and Reph Stevenson (Fr., Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) have been chosen to the All-North Coast Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Team in voting by the league’s coaches.

Jacobs, who was the 2023 NCAC Newcomer of the Year, was a second team selection and led the Tigers in scoring with 12.7 points per game while grabbing 3.3 rebounds and dishing out 2.2 assists. He shot 48.6 percent from the field including 39.3 percent from 3-point range.

Stevenson, a third team honoree, averaged 10.7 points per outing in his rookie season and led the Tigers and the NCAC with 8.3 rebounds per contest which is the most by a DePauw freshman in program history. He also led DePauw with 57.5 percent field goal shooting and blocked a team-high 20 shots. Stevenson recorded and NCAC-high six double-doubles.

OAKLAND CITY TRACK

DAKYRA HOWARD TO COMPETE AT NAIA INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Dakyra Howard will compete at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championship hosted by Dakota State University at the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex in Brookings, S.D. February 29 – March 2nd. 

The Oakland City Freshman from Homestead, FL won the triple jump event at the RIver States Conference Indoor Championships on February 17th in Logan, OH, qualifying for the NAIA National Championships.  Howard won the RSC event with a school record 11.40m 37’5″, the second place mark came in at 10.83m 35’7″. 

Howard will compete as the #22 seed in the triple jump event against 30 total qualifiers.  Dakyra will compete on Saturday March 2nd at 10:00am in the first of three flights.

The top 9 performers from the prelims will advance to compete in the finals. 

PURDUE NORTHWEST HOCKEY

#11 DI HOCKEY READY TO COMPETE IN ACHA DI NATIONAL TOURNAMENT

After winning the program’s first ever GLCHL Tournament Championship, the #11 Purdue Northwest Pride DI Hockey team are ready to compete in the ACHA DI National Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Pride open up First Round on Thursday, March 7 when they take on #22-seed Indiana Pennsylvania. Puck-drop is set for 1:30 PM CT at the Centene Community Ice Center.

Below is ALL the tournament information for the national tournament including schedule, tickets, and hotel information:

Tournament Bracket

Tournament Schedule

INDIANA TECH MEN’S LAX

MEN’S LACROSSE COMES IN AT NO. 4 IN FIRST NAIA COACHES POLL OF 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Indiana Tech men’s lacrosse team came in at No. 4 in the first Men’s Lacrosse Coaches’ Top 10 Poll of the 2024 season, the NAIA released Wednesday.

Indiana Tech received 77 points in the poll after starting the year at No. 2 in the preseason rankings due to last year’s National Runner-Up finish. Tech would face an early test with No. 1 Keiser University in their first game of the season in a rematch of last years national championship match, where the Seahawks would edge the Warriors again. Tech sits at 0-1 to start the season and will look to bounce back with a series of tough road games to come, starting with Rockhurst University (Mo.) on March 9th.

In the poll, the Warriors sit behind No. 1 Keiser, No. 2 Webber International (Fla.), and No. 3 Reinhardt (Ga.), while they come in ahead of No. 5 Cumberlands (Ky.) by three points. William Penn (Iowa), Concordia (Mich.), Madonna (Mich.), St. Ambrose (Iowa), and Aquinas (Mich.) round out the top ten.

INDIANA TECH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CLIMBS TO NO. 16 IN FINAL NAIA COACHES POLL OF 2023-24

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Indiana Tech women’s basketball team has continued to stay hot on the court resulting in their ascent in the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, which saw them climb three more spots to No. 16 on Wednesday morning in the final poll of the 2023-24 season.

The Warriors are currently on a 16-game win streak and finished conference play with a perfect 22-0 record with no signs of slowing down. Tech holds a 25-3 overall record as they get set for postseason play. The Orange & Black head into the WHAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will host No. 8 seed Aquinas College in the quarterfinals tonight, February 28th at 6pm.

The Warriors received 284 points in the poll to vault them up to No. 16, as they sit 25 points behind No. 15 ranked Cumberlands (Ky.) and eleven points ahead of No. 17 ranked Loyola (La.).

GRACE MEN’S BASKETBALL

STILL TOP DOG: GRACE HOLDS NAIA’S NO. 1 RANKING

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team held firm at No. 1 in the final regular season NAIA poll.

The Top 25 Coaches’ Poll was released on Wednesday, marking the final poll of the 2023-24 season.

Grace has been ranked No. 1 for six straight polls, dating back to Nov. 29.

The Lancers (27-1, 17-1 Crossroads League) just completed their best regular season in team history. Grace won its most games (27) and conference games (17) in program history, winning the CL regular season title for the second straight season.

Grace is the No. 1 seed in this week’s CL Tournament. The Lancers are hosting eighth-seeded Taylor tonight at 7 p.m. With a win, Grace would host the semifinals on Saturday at 1 p.m. against either Marian or Bethel.

With a win in the semifinals, Grace would also host the championship game for the conference tournament on Tuesday. The Lancers are two-time defending champions of the conference tournament.

COMPLETE NAIA POLL

BUY TICKETS TO GRACE GAMES

WATCH GRACE’S GAMES LIVE 

VINCENNES MEN’S BASKETBALL

DEFENSE ALLOWS NO. 5 TRAILBLAZERS TO CRUISE TO BIG REGION 24 ROAD WIN AT LINCOLN TRAIL

ROBINSON, Ill. – The Vincennes University men’s basketball team jumped up three spots in this week’s NJCAA Division I National rankings, getting back into the top-five at No. 5 this week.

VU’s first test since getting back into the top five was a short road trip to Robinson, Ill. to face off against the Lincoln Trail College Statesmen.

The Trailblazers were able to hold the Statesmen offense a bay, allowing just 52 points as VU came away with the wire-to-wire 93-52 victory.

Vincennes got off to a bit of a slow start offensively before breaking the game open with a 14-2 first half scoring run.

The Blazers would grab complete control of the game later in the first half with the help of a massive 15-0 scoring run to take a 35-14 lead.

The lead would hold as the Blazers headed into the halftime locker room break with a 42-20 advantage over the host Statesmen.

Vincennes looked to add on to their big halftime lead in the second half, outscoring Lincoln Trail 27-8 to begin the final 20 minute period to increase the lead to 69-28.

Lincoln Trail would cut into the deficit and get the VU lead down to 30 before VU responded back with a 13-0 scoring run to put the game away at 87-44.

VU Hall of Fame Head Coach Todd Franklin emptied his bench, not only getting all 11 active players into Wednesday night’s game, but every VU player who played Wednesday scored as VU cruised down the stretch to a big 93-52 victory over Lincoln Trail College.

“I just thought we played with more intensity, particularly defensively,” VU Hall of Fame Head Coach Todd Franklin said. “We don’t try to make it overly complicated. But we have some real set ideas about how we are supposed to go about what we are doing, particularly on that defensive end of the floor and tonight as the game went along, especially the last 10 minutes of the first half and start of the second half, I thought our defense was much more locked in. I thought some guys showed a ‘I’m not just hoping we stop you, I’m bringing this to you’ mentality and that’s what I want to see. I think you can see the energy in the guys when they did it, it just changes.”

“That’s what makes it fun to play,” Franklin added. “That’s the message that I put across to these guys all the time. I want them to have fun playing. That’s how you have fun playing and I thought tonight, we’ve still got a ways to go, you can see runs of that and you can see differences in players. Mike, early in the game, there was a little bit of doubt and a little bit of hope on his play. But then as it went along, he got locked in on the simple fundamentals that we do and he did them aggressively and you saw the difference in the level of his play and his enjoyment of play.”

“I think we’re seeing more of that,” Franklin said. “I thought you saw more of that on both ends of the floor. Going to the glass like we meant to go get it. Some guys came in there and got some big offensive rebounds where they weren’t going in there hoping that it comes to me, no we’re going to go get it. I thought we saw some guys diving on the floor and doing some things that we’ve traditionally done and maybe haven’t done quite as well this year. I thought I saw tonight some guys starting to take hold of those things and you see what it does. It feeds on itself. Guys start liking playing together and being out there. So that’s why I thought we won and that’s why we played well and I thought that’s why most of the guys that played tonight played well. Because they gave themselves a chance to play well, not perfect, but well. The energy and intensity was right. The score didn’t matter, it’s just how did we play and I thought we took another step forward tonight and another step forward into becoming a team that might contend for some big things.”

The Trailblazers were led by sophomore Ryan Oliver (Antioch, Tenn.) who ended with a team-high 16 points and six rebounds, 13 of his points coming in the first half.

Sophomore Kris King (Washington, D.C.) came off the bench to put together a very efficient 15 points on just eight shots, while also grabbing four rebounds and picking up three steals defensively.

Sophomore Michael Osei-Bonsu (Bolingbrook, Ill.) had a big second half, scoring nine of his 12 points in the final period, while also grabbing six rebounds and ending with a pair of blocks.

Freshman Damarien Yates (Somerville, Tenn.) scored in double figures as well, finishing his night with 12 points and six rebounds.

Freshman Lebron Thomas (Bishopville, S.C.) ran the VU offense very well from the point guard position, just missing out on a double-double with 10 points and nine assists, the 24th time this season Thomas has scored in double figures.

Sophomores Kent King (Washington, D.C.) and Victor Lado (Louisville, Ky.) came off the bench to add seven points each, with King adding four rebounds and three assists, while Lado ended with three rebounds and a team-high three blocks.

“Ryan had Huttenlocker defensively tonight and he followed the gameplan and did it with intensity for the most part and he caused him a lot of trouble,” Franklin said. “That’s huge. You can say ‘Ryan scored x amount of points’, but how many points did he get for us because he didn’t let Huttenlocker get anything going. Not only does that take points off of him but it changes the entire dynamic of their team. I thought he did a great job of that.”

“I thought Lebron was better on the ball tonight than he has been,” Franklin added. “He’s getting better. He’s got to take that on. We’ve been challenging him. He’s still got a ways to go but I thought he did a good job and didn’t let their point guard in there easily. He was staying on task most of the time and made it tough on him. When you do that, particularly with those lead guard spots, it creates panic. Then, if they do manage to get in there, then they have to fight so hard that you saw tonight we were able to come over and get some blocked shots. You’re able to block shots when they have had to fight hard to get in there and they are not completely balanced, then the guy can read it off the play, move over and get a blocked shot and that guy is live and engaged.”

“When both of those things are happening, those things happen and you saw them happen a lot tonight,” Franklin said. “It’s not coincidence why it happened. We were fighting like heck out front. So if they did get through us, they had to fight like heck to get there and they are off balance and you can read it as that guy coming over to help and block those shots and make those plays. All of those things tie together. You have to get them started at some point for them to really take hold and I thought we got it started tonight and you can see what happens.”

“Then we got some breakaway plays and some easy buckets because of our defense generated tonight,” Franklin added. “Not because we’re gambling. We didn’t gamble. It was because we were up there and solid and you get those opportunities when you’re solid. They start to happen for you. I thought all of those things were really good but like I said, it’s just another step. We’re late season, we’re trying to turn it on and come down this stretch run playing for everything and I think this last week and a half we’re starting to try to make that turn. We’ve got to continue it and there’s a lot better basketball still in us. I said that a week ago and you can see, there’s better basketball coming out right now. We’re giving ourselves a chance for that better basketball to come out and I think there’s more in there. If we can get more out then we’ll be hard to beat.”

The Trailblazers will be on the road again this weekend when VU heads to Mt. Carmel, Ill. to face off against Wabash Valley College Saturday, March 2. Tip-off time for your Trailblazers is set for 7 p.m. eastern.

“We’re already in tournament time,” Franklin said. “We’re in a different situation than everybody else and people in JuCo, you have to understand, we’re already in it because there’s only 24 teams that go. But you can also get that stuff qualified beforehand. That’s our goal. Our goal is to be at Hutch and be ready to play when we get there. By whatever means, the District tournament is important, but we’ll see how important. We want to get ourselves locked in to that 24 and we really want to get locked in to that 16 if you get one of the eight byes.”

“So all of these games for us are playoff games,” Franklin added. “We’ve got two more. If we can get those two more, we get to 27-3 and we’re going to be top four or so in the country, especially when you pull out our resume because we’re ranked five but if you look at our resume, especially when we add another D-I win tonight and have two more opportunities. With who we’ve played and what they say the committee is supposed to look at, we’re going to look even better than five.”

“We’re trying to get to that Sweet Sixteen right now,” Franklin said. “These are playoff games for us. Just like in Division I, if you make it to the Sweet Sixteen, you’ve had a good year. It’s not about ‘did you win your conference tournament’. If you’re in the Sweet Sixteen and contending for a National Championship, if that’s what you want to do, than this is what we have to do to get there. If we don’t do that, then you have to win your District Tournament to bail yourself out. But right now we have an opportunity to get all that stuff done before that and keep playing and adding on.”

“Not only to win the regular season title, which we are one game up right now with two to play” Franklin added. “As long as we don’t lose, we win it. So that’s on the table. But I never make any bones about it, our goal every year, as it should be if you were playing at Kentucky, Duke or Kansas, to say you had a good year, you have to at least be in that Sweet Sixteen and try to contend for National titles when you are there. That’s what we are doing right now. That’s exactly what we were doing tonight against Lincoln Trail. We’re both trying to get ourselves ready to when we get there, we play our best ball and we’re trying to get there. We are winning games that will get us there right now. We’ve got two more to get that will probably just about put us there. I don’t know how we wouldn’t be one of those teams with a bye if we win these next two games. I don’t know how losing one in the postseason would knock us out of that. Then we’ll be winning in the District Tournament to make sure we’re a top four, three or two seed to improve your chances once you’re there. But we’re trying to get to the Sweet Sixteen so tournament play is on for us right now.”

VINCENNES WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

LADY BLAZERS SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN IN BIG REGION 24 ROAD WIN AT LINCOLN TRAIL

ROBINSON, Ill. – The Vincennes University Lady Trailblazers 2023-24 regular season is quickly coming to a close, with VU hitting the road this week for the final two regular season games.

First coming against the Lady Statesmen of Lincoln Trail College Wednesday night in Robinson.

VU wasted little time getting going offensively, scoring the first 16 points of the game and cruising to a wire-to-wire 128-59 victory over Lincoln Trail.

The Lady Blazers hit the ground running Wednesday night, opening the game on a 16-0 scoring run and building a commanding 28-9 advantage after the first 10 minutes of play.

The run continued in the second quarter with the Blazers outscoring Lincoln Trail 27-6 to end the first half and head into the locker room leading 70-29.

VU’s offense continued to roll in the second half, ending the third quarter on an 8-0 scoring run to take a 100-46 lead into the final quarter of play.

In the fourth quarter, the Lady Blazers were able to empty the bench and put the game away for good with a 15-0 scoring run.

Vincennes closed out the game strong and cruised down the stretch to a big 128-59 victory over the Lady Statesmen.

The Lady Trailblazers spread the scoring out very well, with eight of the nine active players scoring eight or more points Wednesday night.

VU was led offensively by freshman Destinee Hooks (Indianapolis, Ind.) who picked up another double-double with 28 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds. Her fourth double-double of the season and third in the last five games.

Freshman Giavonnie Belton (Indianapolis, Ind.) came off the bench to put up 21 points along with a team-high three steals.

Sophomore Elikya Baseyila (Paris, France) ended her night with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore Katrina Litte (Valmiera, Latvia) also recorded a double-double, her second collegiate double-double with 15 points, 11 assists and five rebounds.

Sophomore Brie Miller (Bainbridge, Ind.) came off the bench to score in double figures, ending with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore Maycee Lange (Vincennes, Ind.) was the sixth VU scorer in double figures Wednesday night, ending with 13 points, eight rebounds and matching Belton’s team-high with three steals.

Freshmen Karina Scott (Noblesville, Ind.) and Makyla Tucker (Indianapolis, Ind.) each finished with eight points, with Scott adding four rebounds and three assists, while Tucker finished with seven assists.

Sophomore Najra Voloder (Konjic, Bosnia) rounded out the VU scoring, ending with four points and a team-high four blocks defensively, tying her career-high.

The Lady Trailblazers will close out the 2023-24 regular season with a very tough test against the No. 3-ranked Wabash Valley College Lady Warriors.

Vincennes will travel down to Mt. Carmel, Ill. for the regular season finale Saturday, March 2, with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m. eastern.

SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETICS

INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/

EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/

WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/

FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/

ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/

ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index

TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index

BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/

DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/

HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/

MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/

HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/

OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx

ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index

IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/

IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/

IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/

PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/

INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx

GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/

ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/

GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/

HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php

TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/

VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index

NBA STANDINGS

https://www.foxsports.com/nba/standings

NHL STANDINGS

https://www.foxsports.com/nhl/standings

NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS

https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/standings/

NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL STANDINGS

https://www.ncaa.com/standings/basketball-women/d1

BASEBALL YEAR IN REVIEW: 1927 (BASEBALL ALMANAC)

Off the field…

On August 23rd, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts executed two Italian immigrants for a double murder. It was widely believed that the men’s reputation as anarchists prevented them from receiving a fair trial and the case remains one of the most controversial in American history. On April 15, 1920, a paymaster for a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts, and his guard were shot and killed by two men who escaped with over $15,000. It was thought from reports of witnesses that the murderers were Italians. The suspects, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were later arrested. Neither, however, had a criminal record, nor was there any evidence of their having had any of the money. In July of 1921, they were found guilty after a trial in Dedham, Massachusetts, and sentenced to death. Years later it was determined that Sacco was probably guilty of the crime, but that Vanzetti was innocent.

American Aviator Charles Lindbergh astounded the world on May 21st by landing in Paris after a solo flight from New York across the Atlantic in “The Spirit of St. Louis”. Upon his return to the United States he received an unprecedented welcome, was promoted to colonel, and made a nationwide tour to foster popular interest in aviation. Lindbergh later married Anne Morrow, the daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico and made several more historic flights with her. After the kidnapping and death of their son in 1932, the Lindberghs moved to England where Charles collaborated with Alexis Carrel on the invention of a perfusion pump that could maintain organs outside the body.

In the American League…

With an all-star lineup known as “Murderer’s Row”, the New York Yankees outscored its opponents by nearly four-hundred runs and hit .307 as a team. Babe Ruth set the original single season mark with sixty home runs which was more than any other American League team had combined. Outfield counterparts, Earle Combs in center and Bob Meusel in left, hit .356 and .337 respectively. Lou Gehrig had his first big season, batting .373 with forty-seven home runs and a league leading one-hundred seventy-five runs batted in. Second year man Tony Lazzeri ranked third in the loop with eighteen home runs.

On May 30th, Washington Senators ace Walter Johnson tossed the final shutout of his career (number one-hundred ten) with a three hit, 3-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox. The “Big Train” went on to retire at the end of the season, but eventually returned to the majors as a manager for both the Senators and Cleveland Indians.

In the National League…

On May 3rd, Jess Barnes (Brooklyn Dodgers) and Virgil Barnes (New York Giants) combined for the first match-up in Major League history between two brothers. Jess pitched the last seven innings, surrendering runs in the seventh and eighth, while Virgil allowed twelve hits in the first seven 2/3 innings, and finished with a 7-6 loss.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Jimmy Cooney pulled off a rare unassisted triple play in the opener of a Memorial Day doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cooney first caught a Paul Waner line drive, then stepped on second to retire brother Lloyd Waner and finally tagged Clyde Barnhart who was attempting to get back on first. Amazingly, the feat would be duplicated the following day by Detroit Tigers first baseman Johnny Nuen against the Cleveland Indians.

Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Paul Waner set a new National League record after finishing fourteen straight games with at least one long hit (twelve doubles, five triples, three home runs). The following day, his twenty-three game hitting streak also came to an end.

Around the League…

During a May 14th game between the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, a section of ten rows in the right field stands at the Baker Bowl collapsed spilling hundreds of fans onto spectators below. There are many injuries, but the one death that occurred was caused by the crowd’s ensuing stampede, not the collapsing bleachers.

The New York Yankees grand finale for the 1927 season, the World Series, was the quickest ever played and lasted only seventy-four hours and fifteen minutes. They became the first American League team to sweep a World Series, and it was only the second four game sweep in World Series history (Braves over Athletics in 1914). The Yankees trailed a total of only two innings during the entire series out scoring the Pirates 23-10. Pittsburgh, only once, managed to score more than one run in an inning (during Game 4).

TODAY IN NBA HISTORY

FEB. 29

February 29, 1964

Cincinnati Royals teammates Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson combined for a rare 40-40 performance as the Royals defeated the host Philadelphia 76ers 117-114. Rookie of the Year Lucas collected a team-record 40 rebounds and league MVP Robertson tallied 43 points.

NUMBERS IN SPORTS

32 – 53 – 13 – 23 – 11

February 28, 1940  – The world’s first televised basketball game as the University of Pittsburgh defeated Fordham University, 50-37. It would have been hard to appreciate the uniforms on the black and white broadcast.

February 28, 1960 – We touched upon it a bit the other day on the historic first Miracle on Ice as the US knocked off the USSR, but on this date the United States wins its first Olympic ice hockey gold medal at Squaw Valley before a home crowd, with 9-4 win over Czechoslovakia

February 28, 1966 – Los Angeles baseball pitching greats , Sandy Koufax, Number 32 and Number 53 Don Drysdale begin a joint holdout against Dodgers. They had some weight behind it to as this pair provided 49 wins for the Dodgers in 1965. Drysdale earned 23 W’s and Joufax led the Majors with 26 in ’65.

February 28, 1967 – Number 13, Wilt Chamberlain did the incredible once again when he drained his 35th consecutive shot in an NBA game

February 28, 1981 – Here is one man that you didn’t want to foul and put on the line.Houston Rockets star guard, Calvin Murphy who wore Number 23, set an NBA record with 78 consecutive free throws over a span of games.

February 28, 1998 –  Vancouver Canucks Mark Messier is fourth NHL skater to earn 1,600  career points. The legendary star center and left winger wore Number 11 for his entire career with 3 different NHL teams which included the Canucks, the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers.

TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY

FEB 29

1940 — American golfer Jimmy Demaret wins his third PGA Tour event within an 8-day span, taking the St. Petersburg Open by 1 stroke from Byron Nelson.

1940 — Detroit’s Cecil “Tiny” Thompson becomes first goaltender in NHL history to play 40 (or more) games for 12 straight seasons; milestone comes in a 3-1 Red Wings loss at Toronto.

1952 — Dick Button leads an unprecedented American sweep when he wins World Men’s Figure Skating Championship in Paris; beats compatriots James Grogan and Hayes Alan Jenkins for his 5th straight world title.

1956 — MLB’s Cleveland Indians franchise is sold for nearly $4m; former player and the team’s general manager Hank Greenberg is part of the new ownership group.

1964 — Cincinnati’s Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson combine for a rare 40-40 performance as the Royals beat host Philadelphia 76ers, 117-114; NBA MVP Robertson has 43 points; Rookie of the Year Lucas, 40 rebounds.

1972 — Future Baseball Hall of Fame right fielder Hank Aaron becomes first player to earn $200,000 average annual salary; signs 3-year deal with Atlanta Braves after one of his best seasons – .327 average, 47 HRs and 118 RBIs.

1976 — American driver Richard Petty wins the only Winston Cup race run on Leap Day, taking the Carolina 500 at Rockingham by 2 laps over Darrell Waltrip.

1980 — Future Hockey Hall of Fame right wing Gordie Howe scores in the 3rd period to become first NHL player to score 800 career goals as Hartford Whalers beat St. Louis Blues, 3-0 at Springfield Civic Center.

1992 — Boston’s Ray Bourque becomes just the 3rd defenseman in NHL history to score 1,000 career points with a goal and 2 assists in the Bruins’ 5-5 tie with Washington Capitals at Boston Garden.

2020 — Watford beats Liverpool, 3-0 at Vicarage Road; first Reds loss since Manchester City January 2019; ends joint-longest winning streak (18) and second longest unbeaten run (44) in English top-flight football history.

TV SPORTS THURSDAY

AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL (MEN’S)

1 a.m. (Friday)

FS2 — AFL: Essendon at Geelong

AUTO RACING

6:25 a.m.

ESPN2 — Formula 1: Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain

9:55 a.m.

ESPN2 — Formula 1: Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain

COLLEGE BASKETBALL (MEN’S)

6:30 p.m.

FS1 — Nebraska at Ohio St.

7 p.m.

CBSSN — William & Mary at Elon

ESPN2 — Memphis at East Carolina

ESPNU — Longwood at Gardner-Webb

8:30 p.m.

FS1 — Michigan at Rutgers

PAC-12N — Stanford at Utah

9 p.m.

CBSSN — New Mexico St. at Liberty

ESPNU — Tennessee St. at Little Rock

10:30 p.m.

FS1 — UCLA at Washington

PAC-12N — Southern Cal at Washington St.

11 p.m.

CBSSN — Saint Mary’s (Cal) at Pepperdine

ESPN2 — Gonzaga at San Francisco

COLLEGE BASKETBALL (WOMEN’S)

6 p.m.

ACCN — Clemson at Wake Forest

BTN — Wisconsin at Maryland

7 p.m.

ESPN — Virginia Tech at Notre Dame

SECN — Texas A&M at Tennessee

8 p.m.

ACCN — Florida St. at Louisville

BTN — Illinois at Michigan St.

9 p.m.

ESPN2 — LSU at Georgia

SECN — South Carolina at Arkansas

COLLEGE LACROSSE (WOMEN’S)

4 p.m.

ESPNU — Northwestern at Boston College

COLLEGE SWIMMING & DIVING (WOMEN’S)

7:15 p.m.

PAC-12N — Pac-12 Championships: 1M Diving, Federal Way, Wash.

GOLF

2 p.m.

GOLF — PGA Tour: The Cognizant Classic, First Round, PGA National Members Club, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

9:30 p.m.

GOLF — LPGA Tour: The HSBC Women’s World Championship, Second Round, Sentosa Golf Club – Tanjong Course, Singapore

MLB BASEBALL

1 p.m.

MLBN — Spring Training: Philadelphia vs. Toronto, Dunedin, Fla.

8 p.m.

MLBN — Spring Training: LA Dodgers vs. Cincinnati, Goodyear, Ariz.

NBA BASKETBALL

7:30 p.m.

TNT — Golden State at New York

10 p.m.

TNT — Miami at Denver

NFL FOOTBALL

3 p.m.

NFLN — NFL Scouting Combine: Defensive Linemen and Linebackers, Indianapolis

NHL HOCKEY

9 p.m.

ESPN — Colorado at Chicago

SOCCER (MEN’S)

11:45 a.m.

FS2 — Saudi Pro League: Al-Hazem at Al-Nassr

2:35 p.m.

FS2 — The French Cup: Le Puy Foot vs. Rennes, Quarterfinal, Saint-Étienne, France

8:05 p.m.

FS2 — CONCACAF Champions Cup: Independiente at New England Revolution, First Round – Leg 2

TENNIS

5 a.m.

TENNIS — Dubai-ATP Quarterfinals

6 a.m.

TENNIS — Dubai-ATP Quarterfinals

10 a.m. TENNIS — Dubai-ATP, Acapulco-ATP Quarterfinals; Santiago-ATP, Austin-WTA, San Diego-WTA Early Rounds