BOYS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Bellmont63Angola49 
Ben Davis86Indianapolis Tindley67 
Brebeuf Jesuit54University44 
Central Noble63Whitko47 
Charlestown54Lanesville52 
Churubusco103Lakeland66 
Columbia City54Manchester49 
Cowan46Daleville39 
East Central58Union County36 
Eastern (Greentown)69Taylor52 
Eastern Hancock64Blue River53 
Fort Wayne Blackhawk89Marion71 
Fort Wayne Dwenger60Leo56 
Frontier61LaCrosse45 
Hebron67Wheeler46 
Highland54Whiting40 
Illiana Christian62Marquette Catholic50 
Indianapolis Chatard99Indianapolis Ritter71 
John Glenn71Knox38 
Kouts89Lake Station46 
LaPorte54Goshen53 
Maconaquah88Northfield54 
Milan67North Decatur30 
Muncie Burris84Hagerstown70 
Munster63Hammond Noll32 
North Harrison48Clarksville30 
NorthWood76Tippecanoe Valley39 
Pendleton Heights64New Castle58OT
South Bend Riley88Michigan City52 
South Ripley83Switzerland County41 
Tipton48Oak Hill43 
Twin Lakes76Lafayette Central Catholic41 
Westview60Wawasee51 
Woodlan50South Adams42 

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#17 USC 89 Arizona State 71

#19 Tennessee 93 South Carolina 73

#22 Loyola Chicago 54 Valparaiso 52

#23 Kansas 59 Kansas State 41

Indiana 82 Minnesota 72

Marquette 73 Butler 57

Central Florida 81 S. Florida 65

North Carolina State 74 Pittsburgh 73

Indiana State 87 Evansville 73

Maryland 79 Nebraska 71

North Carolina 82 Northeastern 62

Kentucky 82 Vanderbilt 78

Wyoming 83 New Mexico 74 OT

Seton Hall 60 DePaul 52

Boise State 79 Utah State 70

Duke 84 Wake Forest 60

Missouri State 68 Southern Illinois 53

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

#1 Connecticut 77 St. John’s 32

#9 Maryland 103 Illinois 58

#12 S. Florida 69 Cincinnati 65 OT

#19 DePaul 83 Xavier 75

Ball State 76 Buffalo 63

Miami Ohio 62 Toledo 60

Nebraska 71 #24 Northwestern 64

Western Michigan 71 Kent State 58

Temple 68 Tulsa 46

Oklahoma State 59 Kansas State 46

Bowling Green 76 Central Michigan 67

Rutgers 83 Minnesota 56

Central Florida 63 Tulane 61

Iowa State 84 Kansas 82

NBA SCOREBOARD

Orlando 107 New York 89

Atlanta 122 Boston 114

Philadelphia 118 Houston 113

Chicago 105 Detroit 102

Indiana 134 Minnesota 128 OT

Washington 130 Denver 128

Portland 126 New Orleans 124

Memphis 122 Oklahoma City 113

Golden State 120 Miami 112 OT

Utah 114 LA Clippers 96

NHL SCOREBOARD

Florida 4 Carolina 3

Toronto 2 Ottawa 1

Chicago 2 Detroit 0

Vancouver 5 Calgary 1

Edmonton 3 Winnipeg 2

INDIANA MBB: Indiana Takes Down Minnesota, 82-72

(IU BASKETBALL)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Jerome Hunter wasn’t going to have it.

Neither were the Indiana Hoosiers.

During Wednesday night’s be-tougher-than-the-other-guy 82-72 victory over Minnesota, with the Gophers trying to impose their will at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, IU set the record straight.

Don’t mess with the Cream ‘n Crimson.

“They tried to test us,” Hunter said. “They try to do that with the team they think we are. As long as they do that, we’ll show them we won’t be pushed around. We’re not soft.”

Hunter certainly wasn’t. The sophomore swingman’s career-high 16 points came on 5-for-6 shooting. That continued a new-found edge since returning from a two-game visit to his coach’s doghouse. Archie Miller called it, “coach’s decision.”

“I let my team down,” Hunter said. “I came back with a chip on my shoulder. I apologize. I’m here to help us win.”

Hunter has done that. He had 10 points against Ohio State, which came after totaling seven points and five rebounds at Northwestern.

“Since his return,” Miller said, “he’s played well. He’s played confident. He’s played hard and physical. He’s brought that to practice. He’s playing like he practices. He competes every day. He’s not messing around. His attitude is good.

“He’s playing to win. He has great confidence in his shot. He’s playing through his mistakes. He’ll play a big role for us down the stretch.”

Added guard Aljami Durham: “He works hard. He showed what he can do. I look forward to that as we continue the season.”

As far as any suggestion IU is soft, Miller pointed out that, “When it mattered most, we started to get some key stops.

“Our toughness level is questioned because we are slow to the ball. We are a little slow to be aggressive in terms of how hard you have to be. We’re focusing on doing more little things.”

The attitude, the effort, the willingness to practice hard no matter what happens in a game, he added, gives the Hoosiers a chance.

Or, as Durham put it about the closing minutes, when IU (12-9 overall, 7-7 in the Big Ten) pulled away with a 16-2 run, “We played team defense. We finally locked in. We strung a couple of stops together. That led to that gap we made at the end of the game.”

Drama was everywhere you looked in a game that featured eight ties and eight lead changes amid strong postseason implications.

Then the Hoosiers’ three-point shooting and defense took over. They were 5-for-7 in a decisive second-half stretch that turned drama into double-digit victory.

“Offensively, we were efficient when we didn’t turn it over,” Miller said. “At the end, we were able to make our free throws again. That big stretch came from defense to offense. We finally got some stops and got in transition.”

Forget all that talk about slow starts and forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.

He blew that away with a 20-point, 10-rebound effort that started with six early points.

He got plenty of help from Durham (16 points, two three-pointers), Armaan Franklin (11 points, three three-pointers) and Rob Phinisee (10-points, six assists).

IU’s early emphasis was simple — get Jackson-Davis the ball. The result — two dunks and a layup in just over three minutes. Two of those baskets came from Phinisee passes.

That spark was offset by four turnovers that gave Minnesota (13-9, 6-9) five points and a 12-11 lead after seven minutes.

Consecutive Franklin three-pointers pushed IU ahead 17-14.

The Hoosiers’ offense was clicking. Attacking the basket was leading to all kinds of good things.

Turnovers were the only thing messing that up.

Minnesota took advantage of eight Hoosier turnovers for an 11-0 edge on points off turnovers for a 37-35 halftime lead.

Jackson-Davis kept the Hoosiers close to start the second half. Then Durham hit a three-pointer.  Hunter followed with two more. That 9-0 run pushed IU ahead 52-46 against a team that was winless on the road.

Then came more turnovers, five of them in the first nine minutes of the second half, to ignite a mini Minnesota surge. It went ahead 55-53.

The Hoosier response — get the ball to Jackson-Davis, who muscled in a tying basket as the clock ticked under eight minutes.

The game-deciding run was on.

Three-pointers from Durham and Franklin in 12 seconds restored IU’s six-point lead. Two minutes later, off a Jackson-Davis basket, the Hoosiers led 65-57.

They continued the pressure, upping the lead to 10, then 12 then 14.

Minnesota cut that lead in half, but got no closer. It scored 25 points off of 17 Indiana turnovers, which gave Miller a final coaching point as the Hoosiers begin preparations for Saturday’s game against Michigan State.

“Our biggest things is turnovers,” he said. “We’re turning it over way too much.”

BUTLER MBB: Marquette Defeats Butler MBB, 73-57

(BUTLER RELEASE)

Marquette came away with a 73-57 win over Butler Wednesday night in Indianapolis, putting four players in double figures.

With the win, Marquette improves to 10-12 overall and 6-10 in BIG EAST play.

Marquette closed the first half by scoring the final eight points to take a 41-25 advantage into the locker rooms. It was the largest lead of the opening 20 minutes. The margin stretched to as many as 28 in the second half.

Greg Elliott led Marquette with 17 points, while Jamal Cain posted a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds. Marquette shot 45 percent from the field and out-rebounded Butler, 41-28.

Chuck Harris (21) and Bryce Golden (18) combined for 39 of Butler’s 57 points. Golden went 7-of-10 from the field, while Harris tied a career-high with five three-pointers.

Marquette went to the line 27 times, converting 24 of those. Butler went 12-of-18.

Butler was limited to 34-percent shooting. The Bulldogs were without Bryce Nze, who missed the game with a groin injury. Nze is averaging 10.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Bo Hodges was limited to 15 minutes, including only three in the second half, with a calf strain.

The Bulldogs return to action Sunday night, making the bus trip over to Xavier for a 7 p.m. tip.

INDIANA WBB: Top 15 Battle Set For Thursday Night Between No. 14 IU And No. 11 Michigan

(IU RELEASE)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A Top 15 showdown is set for Thursday night as No. 14 Indiana welcomes No. 11 Michigan. Game time is set for 6 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.
 
#14/12 INDIANA (13-4, 11-2 B1G) VS. #11/11 MICHIGAN (12-1, 7-1 B1G)
Thursday, February 18, 2021 • 6 p.m. ET
Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall • Bloomington, Ind.

ABOUT THE WOLVERINES

Coming off a COVID-19 pause last week, Michigan has won two games over Purdue and Michigan State. They are led by Big Ten preseason player of the year candidate junior forward Naz Hillmon who averages 26.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Junior guard/forward Leigha Brown adds 19.8 points per game. The Wolverines average 80.2 points per game while outrebounding its opponents by a Big Ten high +14.0 per game.

SERIES HISTORY

Indiana leads 46-29

LAST MEETING

3/1/20 – W, 78-60 (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

NOTES

The Hoosiers are coming off a pair of season sweeps last week against Penn State and Illinois. Junior guard Grace Berger earned a spot on the Big Ten Player of the Week honor roll for her performances as she notched her third – and the program’s – triple-double of the season against the Lady Lions on Wednesday.

In this week’s national polls, the Hoosiers climbed to its highest ever ranking in the USA Today/WBCA coaches poll at No. 12 and the highest of the season in the Associated press top 25 at No. 14.

Sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes continues to pace Indiana with 18.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Berger adds 15.3 points per game while senior guard Ali Patberg is also averaging double figures with 13.2 points per outing.

IU came in at No. 15 overall and a projected No. 4 seed in the NCAA Women’s Basketball committees first Top 16 seed reveal on Monday night. The announcement, which is a look at what the top 16 teams would look like in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended today, placed Indiana in the top 16 for the first time ever. It would also be the Hoosiers’ highest seeding in program history. Previously, Indiana’s highest seed in the modern format of the NCAA Tournament would be a No. 8 seed. The Hoosiers were a No. 6 seed in the 1983 NCAA Championships that featured 36 teams.

UP NEXT

Indiana host Iowa on Sunday. Tipoff and TV designations are still to be determined.

INDIANA STATE MBB: Key Shines on Senior Night to Lead Sycamores to Victory

(ISU RELEASE)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Senior Tyreke Key scored a career-high 34 points while sophomore Tre Williams added a career-best 23 to lead Indiana State over Evansville 87-73 on Senior Night Wednesday, Feb. 17 in Hulman Center.

Williams dominated the first half, scoring 20 of his points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor and a 6-for-7 free throw performance. Though Key scored a quiet six points in the opening stanza, the guard erupted in the second for 28 points on 69 percent (11-of-16) shooting, including 5-for-7 from the three-point line.

ISU (13-8, 10-6 MVC) secures its 12th 10-win Valley season in program history, while UE (8-12, 6-8 MVC) falls to two games below the .500 mark in league play.

Key’s 34 points combined with Williams’ 23 marked the second consecutive game that Sycamore teammates scored 20-or-more points in the same contest. Key now sits 53 points behind Butch Wade for No. 5 on the Indiana State all-time scoring list.

Joining Key and Williams in double-figures was sophomore Jake LaRavia, who dropped in 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor. Williams led Indiana State with six rebounds in the contest, while Julian Larry, Cooper Neese, LaRavia, and Williams each dished out three assists.

The Sycamores’ red-hot shooting from the floor continued from Sunday’s contest with the Purple Aces, shooting a blistering 64.8 percent (35-of-54) from the floor and 50-percent (7-of-14) from the three-point line. Their shooting percentage and 87 points were both a new high for the season. Evansville had a strong shooting night overall at 50-percent (25-of-50) from the floor, but Indiana State was once again dominant in the paint (54 to 26), won the rebounding battle (29 to 17), and had more assists (17 to 13).

Evansville held a 4-2 lead for 32 seconds and never led again, as Indiana State built up as big as a 14-point lead in the second half. The Purple Aces cut the Sycamores’ lead to just one with 10 minutes to play in the game, but ISU finished on a 26-16 run to pull out the victory.

UE had four players in double-figures with Jawaun Newton pouring in a team-high 18 points.

Indiana State has a nine-day break in its schedule, not set to play again until traveling to Valparaiso to finish the season Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 27.

VALPO MBB: Valpo Comes Up Narrowly Shy in Memorable Battle at Nationally-Ranked Loyola

(VALPO RELEASE)

The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team continued its trend of putting nationally-ranked opponents on notice on Wednesday night at Gentile Arena, coming within an eyelash of handing No. 22/23 Loyola its first home conference loss in exactly two years, but the host Ramblers escaped with a 54-52 victory. Valpo has played three games against nationally-ranked teams this season, earning one victory in addition to a pair of losses by three points or fewer.

How It Happened

Valpo played excellent defense from the outset, and Sheldon Edwards (West Palm Beach, Fla. / Palm Beach Lakes [TLAP Sports Academy]) knocked in a 3-pointer at the 15:07 mark of the first half to put Valpo ahead 9-7.

The Ramblers (19-4, 14-2) didn’t score from the 16:31 mark to the 9:27 mark, a drought of over seven minutes. During that time, Valpo built up an 11-7 edge in a low-scoring battle.

Goodnews Kpegeol (St. Paul, Minn. / North [Southwest Mississippi CC / Kansas State]) swished a 3 with 8:58 left in the half to put Valpo up four, and the lead fluctuated between three and six until the Ramblers closed to within two on a 3-pointer by Cooper Kaifes with 5:18 left in the half. Zion Morgan (Chicago, Ill. / Kenwood [Wabash Valley / UNLV]) responded with his first made 3 of the season and added another basket, and later Donovan Clay (Alton, Ill. / Alton) connected from distance to bolster the lead to nine with 1:18 to go in the half.

Loyola took a bite out of the deficit in the final minute, creating a pair of opens 3s in a half where open looks were hard to come by for the Ramblers. They buried both to cut the Valpo edge to three at 29-26.

The lead went back-and-forth early in the second half, and Jacob Ognacevic (Sheboygan, Wis. / Sheboygan Area Lutheran) came off the bench to hit a go-ahead 3 at the 13:09 mark, snapping a 35-all deadlock.

Morgan flipped a one-point deficit into a two-point lead for the Brown & Gold with his second 3 of the night at the 4:58 mark. Lucas Williamson hit from 3 to create a four-point edge with 3:35 left, and Loyola expanded its largest lead of the game to six a moment later.

Facing a six-point deficit with under two minutes remaining, Valpo made a major push. Kpegeol went to the rim for a quick bucket with 1:23 left to cut the lead to four. Edwards made the defensive play of the game with a steal and score with 54 seconds remaining to make it 54-52, then the Valpo freshman came up with another big play on the ensuing Loyola possession to turn away a shot with one second on the shot clock, forcing a violation.

Krikke’s potential game-tying jumper with three seconds left was off the mark, but Kpegeol appeared to tie the game and send it to overtime with a last-second put-back. However, Kpegeol was called for a foul and the Ramblers escaped with the two-point win.

Inside the Game

Morgan poured in a team-high 15 points, establishing a career high while reaching double figures for the second time in the last three games. His performance came on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting and also included five rebounds, three assists and one steal.

Kpegeol poured in 10 points, matching a career high established in the Dec. 9 win vs. SIUE. He did so on an efficient 5-of-7 shooting while grabbing four rebounds and making plays on the defensive end.

Valpo has played four games against teams that have been ranked at some point in the season this year and led at halftime in all four. Purdue was unranked at the time of the matchup but later earned an AP Top 25 ranking, while Valpo owned halftime leads in both games vs. No. 25 Drake and on Wednesday vs. No. 22/23 Loyola.

Valpo entered the game 0-41 all-time in road games against nationally-ranked opponents, coming close to accomplishing program history. The team was 2-65 all-time against AP Top 25 teams before Matt Lottich took over as head coach. Since he took over the program, the team is 2-5 with two of the five losses coming by three points or fewer this season.

Loyola narrowly extended its home winning streak to 20 and haven’t lost an MVC home game in exactly two calendar years (Feb. 17, 2019). The Ramblers are unblemished at home this season and 32-2 in MVC home games since the start of the 2017-18 season.

Valpo won the rebounding battle 30-29, its first time winning the rebounding battle in the last nine contests. Clay topped the team with seven rebounds.

This matchup was a much different story than the first meeting between the two teams, when Loyola won 75-39 in Valpo.

Up Next

Valpo (8-15, 5-9 MVC) will play twice at Southern Illinois this weekend, starting on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. The game will air on Marquee Sports Network and on ESPN+.

WRIGHT STATE MBB: Raiders travel to Northern Kentucky for a pair to close regular season

(RAIDERS RELEASE)

The Wright State men’s basketball team takes its nine-game winning streak on the road to close the regular season this weekend with a pair of contests at Northern Kentucky. Friday’s tip is set for 6 p.m., with a Saturday start time of 5 p.m.

Both games will be streamed on ESPN3, and Raider fans can also follow the action by tuning in to WRZX 106.5 FM, where Chris Collins and Jim Brown will have all the play-by-play on the radio.

Following their sweep over Milwaukee, the Raiders remain in second place in the Horizon League standings and Championship seeding. The 2021 Horizon League Championship will see the top four teams in the regular season earn a bye into the quarterfinals and host a home game on Tuesday, March 2, with the winners advancing to the semifinals on March 8 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The semifinal games will be on ESPNU and ESPN2. The Horizon League Championship is set for March 9 at 7 p.m. on either ESPN or ESPN2. The first round and quarterfinals will be on ESPN+.

Last time out, Wright State ran its winning streak to nine with a sweep of Milwaukee last weekend, winning the opener 92-81 before a 92-82 victory on Saturday. Friday night, Loudon Love finished with a team-leading 21 points to pace five double-digit scorers. Tanner Holden turned in 17 points while Grant Basile had 15 points of his own. Jaylon Hall added 14 points off the bench and Trey Calvin was the final Raider in double digits, finishing the night with 10 points, all in the second half. On Saturday, Love led the Raider offense, turning in 29 points, including 18 in the first half, on 11-of-16 shooting overall with 12 rebounds. Hall joined Love with 19 points of his own. Tanner Holden finished with 14 points and nine rebounds and Trey Calvin was the final double-digit scorer, turning in 13 points.

NORSE NOTES

Northern Kentucky has won seven of its last eight games, splitting a pair of games at Green Bay last weekend. NKU enters the weekend fourth in the HL Championship seeding. Wright State and Northern Kentucky have previously met 38 times entering this weekend’s action, with the Raiders winning both matchups last year – a 95-63 January win inside the Nutter Center and a 64-62 road victory in February to clinch the HL regular season title. The Raiders Raiders hold a 26-12 advantage in the series. The first-ever meeting came Dec. 6, 1972, a 91-87 Raider win at Northern Kentucky.

THE NORSE SIDE

In the last five years, NKU has been incredibly tough at BB&T Arena, boasting a 59-12 (.831) record at home since 2016-17. Marques Warrick has won six Horizon League Freshman of the Week honors after earning the award on Feb. 8 and is second on the team in scoring on the season at 15.3 ppg. Since the start of league play, Warrick has elevated his scoring efforts to 16.9 ppg. Five Norse that saw action in at least 25 games last year return to the lineup in 2020-21 – Trevon Faulkner, Adrian Nelson, Bryson Langdon, Paul Djoko and Adham Eleeda – and seven new faces joined the roster this year.

GONE STREAKING

Saturday’s win over Milwaukee was Wright State’s ninth-straight victory, and the Raiders are making a habit of stringing together wins under Scott Nagy. The Raiders’ nine-game winning streak matches the longest in the Horizon League this season and is also the second-longest in the program’s Division I era with the 2006-07 team. The 2006-07 team, which knocked off Butler in the tourney finals to earn an NCAA berth, also won nine in a row. The Raiders won eight straight games last year from Dec. 12, 2019-Jan. 10, 2020, and also won eight straight from Dec. 22, 2017-Jan. 18, 2018. The Raiders will go into this weekend’s series at Northern Kentucky with a chance to tie their program record for most consecutive Horizon League wins, which is 11 set by the 2007-08 team.

MID-MAJOR POLL

Wright State jumped two spots to No. 7 in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, released Feb. 15. This is the Raiders’ highest ranking in the poll in the last two seasons. Horizon League foe Cleveland State also received votes this week. The Raiders opened the 2020-21 season at No. 20 in the listing’s preseason poll on November 23. Wright State climbed as high as 10th overall in the poll on three occasions last year and was in every weekly ranking during the 2019-20 campaign.

ASSOCIATED PRESS ATTENTION

Wright State saw its name on the latest Associated Press men’s basketball poll, announced on Feb. 15, receiving votes in the national poll for the first time this season. The Raiders also received votes in the AP Poll on February 10, 2020 and February 17, 2020.

THE OTHER TOP 25

Wright State is also climbing the charts in ‘The Other Top 25’ poll, published by SB Nation Mid-Major Madness. The Raiders are ranked No. 17 om the latest poll, released Feb. 15, moving up three spots from last week.

NATIONAL ATTENTION

As of Wednesday, Loudon Love enters this weekend’s contests ranked 4th nationally in total rebounds with 215 total boards through 21 games, while he is also ranked 20th in the nation with his 10.2 rebounds/game average. Love also has recorded 10 double-doubles so far this season, a mark that is tied for the 10th-most in the country. Grant Basile’s 62.4 percent field goal percentage is the 10th-best nationally and leads the Horizon League. As of Wednesday, Wright State is 2nd in the country with 893 total rebounds, 3rd nationally in total rebounds per game, averaging 42.52, and is No. 2 nationally in team defensive rebounds/game at 30.62 per. 

RSC Men’s Basketball Championship Bracket released for Feb. 22-March 2

RICHMOND, Ind. — The 2020-21 River States Conference Men’s Basketball Championship Bracket was announced on Wednesday, Feb. 17 during the live broadcast of the RSC Basketball Championship Pairings Show. A double-randomized draw seeded teams into the bracket and pairings. The pairings show was hosted by and broadcast live from Indiana University East.

The RSC Men’s Basketball Championship will feature all 12 teams that elected to participate in the playoffs this year. The first round will be Feb. 22 with the quarterfinals on Feb. 24, the semifinals on Feb. 27 and the championship final on March 2. 

The randomized bracket drawing first selected the position on the bracket and then selected the team that would be in that bracket position. Each of the 12 positions on the bracket were assigned a number.

Odd-numbered teams will host their first game of the championship while those receiving a bye will be home or away depending on the team that advances to play them. For teams that have a bye into the quarterfinals, they will be at home if the home team advances and away if the away team advance. 

The RSC Championship winner and runner-up will both advance to the NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship as the conference’s two automatic bids to nationals. 

2020-21 RIVER STATES CONFERENCE MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Monday, Feb. 22 — First Round
No. 2 Asbury (Ky.) at No. 3 Ohio Christian, 6 p.m.
No. 6 IU Southeast at No. 5 Rio Grande (Ohio), 8 p.m.
No. 8 Oakland City (Ind.) at No. 9 IU Kokomo, 7 p.m.
No. 12 Brescia (Ky.) at No. 11 Alice Lloyd (Ky.), time TBA

Wednesday, Feb. 24 — Quarterfinals
No. 2 Asbury/No. 3 Ohio Christian winner vs. No. 1 Point Park (Pa.) (Location TBA)
No. 6 IU Southeast/No. 5 Rio Grande winner vs. No. 4 Midway (Ky.) (Location TBA)
No. 8 Oakland City/No. 9 IU Kokomo winner vs. No. 7 WVU Tech (Location TBA)
No. 12 Brescia/No. 11 Alice Lloyd winner vs. No. 10 Carlow (Pa.) (Location TBA)

Saturday, Feb. 27 — Semifinals
Remaining teams — No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Remaining teams — No. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Tuesday, March 2 — Finals

RSC Women’s Basketball Championship Bracket set for Feb. 22-March2

RICHMOND, Ind. — The 2020-21 River States Conference Women’s Basketball Championship bracket was seeded on Wednesday, Feb. 17 using a double-randomized draw. The pairings and bracket positions were unveiled during a live broadcast of the RSC Basketball Championship Pairings Show on the RSC Game Central. 

The RSC Women’s Basketball Championship will feature all 11 teams that elected to participate in the postseason this year. The first round will be Feb. 22 with the quarterfinals on Feb. 24, the semifinals on Feb. 27 and the championship final on March 2. 

The randomized bracket drawing first selected the position on the bracket and then selected the team that would be in that bracket position.

Each of the 11 positions on the bracket were assigned a number. Odd-numbered teams will host their first game of the championship while those receiving a bye will be home or away depending on the team that advances to play them. 

For teams that have a bye into the quarterfinals, they will be at home if the home team advances and away if the away team advance. The lone exception in the quarterfinals is that Brescia will host IU Southeast because it drew an odd-numbered spot. 

2020-21 RIVER STATES CONFERENCE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Monday, Feb. 22 — First Round
No. 4 Alice Lloyd (Ky.) at No. 5 Rio Grande (Ohio), 5 p.m.
No. 8 Point Park (Pa.) at No. 7 Oakland City (Ind.), time TBA
No. 10 WVU Tech at No. 11 Carlow (Pa.), 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 24 — Quarterfinals
No. 2 IU Southeast at No. 1 Brescia (Ky.)
No. 4 Alice Lloyd/No. 5 Rio Grande winner vs. No. 3 Ohio Christian (Location TBA)
No. 8 Point Park/No. 7 Oakland City winner vs. No. 6 Asbury (Ky.) (Location TBA)
No. 10 WVU Tech/No. 11 Carlow winner vs. No. 9 Midway (Ky.) (Location TBA)

Saturday, Feb. 27 — Semifinals
Remaining teams — No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Remaining teams — No. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Tuesday, March 2 — Finals
Remaining teams

BALL STATE WBB: Full Team Effort Earns WBB Road Win At Buffalo

(BALL STATE RELEASE)

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Cardinals used a complete team effort as Ball State got 32 points from its bench tonight in a win at Buffalo. BSU had nine different players score in its first of two contests against Buffalo this week. The second game will be played at Worthen Arena on Saturday.

Ball State (11-8, 9-6 MAC) took the lead at the end of the opening quarter and never looked back, eventually taking home a 76-63 mid-week Mid-American Conference road win against Buffalo (11-7, 8-5 MAC) in Alumni Arena.

After the opening tip, the two teams collided a bit which was to be expected. That’s how it is almost every time Ball State faces the Bulls historically. But this time around, the Cardinals began to thrive early on in the ball game, closing out the first quarter with a slight  14-12 edge after a last-second jump shot from junior forward Blake Smith.

The Cardinals then used a 19-9 scoring spree in the second stanza to take a 33-21 advantage over the Bulls at intermission. It wasn’t just BSU’s offense that was causing the Bulls problems, it was also the Cardinals’ defense holding Buffalo to only five field goals in the second stanza.

Junior forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir connected on a jumper in the paint at the start of the third frame, sparking a 7-5 run after getting some help from sophomore guard Sydney Freeman and senior forward Oshlynn Brown. It gave BSU a nice 14-point (40-26) cushion over Buffalo at the eight-minute mark.

But Ball State found out quickly it wasn’t going to be a cake walk, as Buffalo clawed its way back into the contest to come to within three (42-39) in the third quarter and then again late in the fourth (64-61).

The Cardinals responded each time with some clutch baskets from Freeman, freshman guard Ivet Subirats and Smith, eventually allowing BSU to come out on top over the Bulls.

For the game, Brown led BSU both offensively and defensively with 15 points and 13 rebounds for her 44th career double-double. Smith chipped in a career-best 12 points, while Freeman also ended the night with 12. Rounding out the double-digit scoring was Subirats who tied her personal-high with 10.

The Ball State women’s basketball team will be back in action Saturday against Buffalo at Worthen Arena with an opening tip scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

MIAMI WBB: RedHawks Pick Up Road Win at Toledo, 62-60

(MIAMI RELEASE)

TOLEDO, Ohio – For the past two weeks the Miami University women’s basketball team leaned heavily on sophomore guard Peyton Scott, but on Wednesday night, it was Kelly McLaughlin’s and Katie Davidson’s time to shine as the RedHawks downed the Toledo Rockets 62-60 on Wednesday night inside Savage Hall.

McLaughlin had her third double-double of the season with 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Red and White. Davidson added 22 points, including 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Scott, who came into Wednesday’s contest averaging 35.0 points per game over her past four games, had just seven points while battling foul trouble most of the second half.

The win improves Miami to 3-17 overall and 2-14 in Mid-American Conference play. Toledo falls to 9-10 overall and 5-10 in the MAC.

How it Happened:

Miami used an outstanding defensive effort in the first quarter to race out to a 22-7 advantage over the Rockets. In the first quarter Miami forced five turnovers while holding UT to just 2-for-12 shooting after 10 minutes of play.

A Davidson triple gave Miami its biggest lead of the half, 36-13, with three minutes to play. Miami went to the locker room with a 36-19 advantage, its sixth game in a row leading at halftime.

Toledo cut the lead to 42-30, but freshman Jada Duckett grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a three-point play to put Miami up 45-30 late in the third. Miami led 45-32 entering the final stanza.

With Scott on the bench to begin the fourth quarter with four fouls, UT cut the lead to 47-37 with eight minutes to play, but that is where McLaughlin took over. The senior record a put back as the shot clock expired and scored six of Miami’s next nine points, pushing Miami to a 58-40 advantage with 4:30 to play.

Toledo connected on a deep three pointer to make it a 60-52 game with one minute to play and got to within five with 20 seconds to go, but even a three pointer at the buzzer would not be enough as the RedHawks came away with a 62-60 win.

Due to software stat issues at Toledo, stats will not be available until later.

Up Next:

Miami returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 24 when it hosts Akron at 5:30 p.m.

CINCINNATI WBB: Women’s Basketball Falls to No. 12 USF in Overtime, 69-65

(BEARCATS RELEASE)

TAMPA, Fla. – The University of Cincinnati women’s basketball team pushed No. 12 USF into overtime before falling 69-65 Wednesday at the Yuengling Center.

IImar’I Thomas and Caitlyn Wilson came alive in the second half and nearly pulled off UC’s first win over a ranked opponent since a 65-62 victory over No. 24 Marquette during the 2010-11 campaign.

Thomas, the American Athletic Conference Co-Preseason Player of the Year, tallied 14 of her team-high 23 points after halftime. She finished 8 of 17 from the field with six rebounds and seven assists.

Wilson scored all of her 18 points in the second half, including eight in the third quarter on a pair of 3-pointers.

USF registered three players in double figures led by Sydni Harvey’s 23 points and three 3-pointers. Bethy Mununga posted 19 points and a game-best 14 rebounds. Elisa Pinzan had 11 points and nine assists.

UC went toe-to-toe with USF in a game that included 10 ties and 18 lead changes. Wilson’s second 3-pointer of the third quarter gave UC a 31-29 advantage at 3:51 and the Bearcats never trailed the rest of the period.

After a layup by Mununga gave USF a 42-41 lead at 7:13 in the fourth quarter, UC again regained the lead when Wilson made a trio of free throws after being fouled while attempting a 3-pointer. Thomas then scored on a layup to give the Bearcats a 46-42 lead at 6:02.

A 3-pointer from Arame Niang gave UC its largest lead of the game at 52-47 with 4:38 left in regulation.

After Wilson made a layup with 2:48 left to the Bearcats a 56-52 lead, Pinzan hit a jumper and Mununga  converted a layup at 1:33 tie the game at 56-56 and eventually force overtime.

UC held a 65-64 lead with 1:26 left in overtime when Thomas found Jada Scott for a layup inside.

However, Mununga made a pair of free throws on USF’s next possession and scored on a layup inside to give the Bulls a 68-65 lead en route to their 11 consecutive win.

USF scored 15 points off 16 UC turnovers and went 20 of 29 from the foul line, including 9 of 12 in overtime.

UC limited USF to 30 percent shooting in the first half, including 1-of-14 shooting from 3-point range, and trailed 24-23 at intermission.

Milan Schimmel, playing in her first game since Jan. 2, scored six points on 3 of 8 shooting for the Bearcats.

UP NEXT

UC plays host to Houston on Saturday at Fifth Third Arena. Tipoff is 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+. The Bearcats will salute IImar’I Thomas and Addaya Moore during Senior Day ceremonies following the game.  

Serena stopped: Osaka beats Williams in Australian Open SF

As Serena Williams walked off the court after her latest so-close-yet-so-far bid for a 24th Grand Slam title ended with a loss to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open, the 39-year-old American paused and put her hand on her chest as thousands of spectators rose to applaud.

Was this, Williams was asked at a news conference after the 6-3, 6-4 semifinal defeat, her way of saying goodbye?

“If I ever say farewell,” she replied with a smile, “I wouldn’t tell anyone.”

When the next question returned the conversation to the subject of Williams’ many mistakes Thursday (Wednesday night EST) – twice as many unforced errors, 24, as winners, 12 – she shook her head, teared up, said, “I’m done,” and abruptly ended the session with reporters.

Once again, Williams played well enough to get to the closing days of a major tournament. And once again, he couldn’t quite get the job done in order to add one more Grand Slam trophy to her collection of 23 and equal Margaret Court for the most in tennis history.

Osaka, who also beat Williams in the chaotic 2018 U.S. Open final, reached her fourth major title match and stretched her winning streak to 20 matches by claiming the last eight points.

“I don’t know if there’s any little kids out here today, but I was a little kid watching her play,” Osaka, 23, said about Williams, “and just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream.”

The No. 3-seeded Osaka’s Grand Slam collection also includes last year’s U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open and she is, without a doubt, the most dangerous hard-court player in the women’s game at the moment.

That used to be Williams, of course. But she was off-target too much in this contest.

“I could have won. I could have been up 5-Love,” said Williams, who instead took a 2-0 lead at the outset before dropping the next five games. “I just made so many errors.”

Sabonis, Brogdon lead Pacers past Timberwolves 134-128 in OT

Domantas Sabonis had 36 points, 17 rebounds and 10 rebounds, and Malcolm Brogdon added 32 points and nine rebounds as the Indiana Pacers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-128 in overtime on Wednesday night.

Sabonis, Brogdon and the Pacers erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Indiana trailed 98-88 and eventually took a five-point lead in the fourth. Sabonis knocked down a pair of free throws with 11.1 seconds left in regulation to help send the game to overtime tied at 121.

“We got some key stops, and that helped our offense,” said Sabonis, whose 36 points were a career high.

The Pacers played their second straight overtime game, coming off an OT loss to Chicago on Monday. After giving up the first five points in overtime Monday, Indiana jumped out to a quick five-point lead Wednesday in OT.

Brogdon hit a 3 to start overtime, and Sabonis followed with a basket in the paint for a 5-0 run.

“That’s exactly what the guys were talking about at the end of regulation, getting into that last five minutes and really digging in,” Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “I thought we came out more assertive on offense to start that (overtime).”

Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota. Malik Beasley added 31 points in his first game of the season off the bench, and Ricky Rubio finished with a season-high 20 points and 13 assists.

Minnesota lost its second game in as many nights after falling to the Los Angels Lakers 112-104 Tuesday.

“I thought we had some tired guys towards the end,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said.

Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards had a good look at a game-winning shot at the end of regulation, but his 3-pointer rimmed out as time expired.

Minnesota led 73-69 at halftime. Both teams struggled offensively in the third quarter. Neither team topped 20 points in the period as the Timberwolves moved out to a 92-86 lead heading into the final period. Minnesota was 6 of 22 from the floor in the third.

The Wolves led by five in the final minute of regulation after a basket by Towns made it 121-116, but the Pacers made a late push thanks to a 3-pointer by Jeremy Lamb and two free throws by Sabonis.

“As a young team, we’ve got to know that in winning time, you can’t make any mistakes,” Rubio said. “The momentum can change so much. I think we made a lot of mistakes down the stretch.”

Coming off a career-high 28 points a night earlier, Edwards was quiet offensively. The No. 1 draft pick made some noise late in the first half with a big dunk, but shot 3 for 15 overall.

Naz Reid had 18 points off Minnesota’s bench. The Timberwolves’ reserves outscored Indiana’s reserves 57-39.

Jazz beat short-handed Clips 114-96 for 9th straight win

Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points, Rudy Gobert had 23 points and 20 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz rolled past the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 114-96 on Wednesday night for their ninth consecutive victory.

Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points for the NBA-leading Jazz, who improved to 24-5 with their 20th win in 21 games. After three tight quarters, Utah broke it open in the fourth to win this matchup of Western Conference powerhouses – although it wasn’t a proper showdown with the Clippers missing injured superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

With the 7-foot-1 Gobert scoring 17 points in the second half while playing a dominant game on both ends of the court, the Jazz beat the Clippers for the ninth time in the teams’ last 12 matchups.

“I think it really started from the defensive end, our physicality,” Gobert said. “They were really aggressive in the first half. They were just playing harder than us. Regardless of who we play, we can’t really let that happen if we’re going to be the team we want to be. In the second half, we became more aggressive and we got better shots.”

After a rough first half that didn’t resemble Utah’s impressive recent play, the Jazz opened up a tight game with a 14-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, followed by a 16-3 run to put it away.

“(Gobert) was the aggressor on defense, on the boards, everywhere,” Mitchell said. “That’s something that really set the tone. He did that from the jump. That’s the Rudy we need every day, and he’s been doing that.”

Lou Williams scored 16 points and Reggie Jackson added 15 for the Clippers, whose four-game winning streak ended.

The Clippers were profoundly disadvantaged in this heavyweight matchup: Leonard missed his third straight game with a bruised leg, and George missed his seventh straight with an injured toe. Nicolas Batum also sat out with a concussion, leaving LA without three regular starters.

“I can’t fault our effort and our competing, (but) it’s just one of those games where they played well enough to beat us, especially in the fourth quarter when they got it going,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s why they’re the best in the league defensively, because of the way they make you play.”

Lillard has 43, go-ahead score as Blazers edge Pelicans

By necessity, Damian Lillard has played hero ball so often this season that it’s difficult to be awed by another sterling performance.

Somehow, he continues topping himself.

Portland’s leading man showcased his clutch credentials with 43 points, including a go-ahead three-point play with 16.5 seconds left, to lift the Trail Blazers to their sixth consecutive victory, 126-124 over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

Lillard also added 16 assists – his third consecutive game of at least 30 points and 10 assists – for a team playing without backcourt mate CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic.

“Our guys fought hard, but we just could not contain him at all,” said Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy. “Stopping them is 90% stopping him.”

Lillard had 11 fourth-quarter points and was clutch in the final seven minutes. JJ Redick gave the Pelicans a 105-103 lead with 7:34 left, capping a 7-0 New Orleans run, but Lillard then came off the bench and immediately hit a 3-pointer as Portland regained the lead. Anfernee Simons added a 3-pointer on the next possession to make it 109-105.

The Pelicans retook the lead on a pair of 3-pointers by Lonzo Ball and Redick and led for the final time at 124-123 with 26.4 seconds left after Zion Williamson made two free throws. Williamson’s finished with 36 points.

But Lillard drove past Ball on the left side of the lane for the layup and drew contact to put Portland up 126-124.

“There were 26 seconds on the clock, and I knew that whether we scored or not, if we just got a quality shot and gave ourselves enough time, even if we fouled and they made both free throws, we still would have had a chance to tie and go into overtime,” Lillard said. “So, it was really no pressure on that possession.

“I just wanted to attack, make an aggressive move. I was able to get some space. I drew contact and I just focused on the finish.”

The Pelicans had a final chance, but Ball missed a 3-pointer and Brandon Ingram threw up an airball at the buzzer.

Lillard had 11 points in the third quarter as the Blazers outscored New Orleans 35-22 to take a 94-91 lead, with Gary Trent Jr. hitting a 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer.

Tim Tebow retires from baseball after five years with Mets

Tim Tebow is retiring from baseball after five years as a minor leaguer with the New York Mets.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner returned to baseball in 2016 for the first time since his junior year of high school and reached Triple-A, encouraged by then general manager and current team president Sandy Alderson.

Tebow played 77 games at baseball’s highest minor league level in 2019, batting .163 with four home runs. He finishes his career with a .223 average over 287 games.

“I want to thank the Mets, Alderson, the fans and all my teammates for the chance to be a part of such a great organization,” Tebow said in a statement released by New York on Wednesday. “I loved every minute of the journey, but at this time I feel called in other directions.

“I never want to be partially in on anything. I always want to be 100% in on whatever I choose. Thank you again for everyone’s support of this awesome journey in baseball, I’ll always cherish my time.”

A lefty-hitting outfielder, the 33-year-old was invited the major league spring training this season, taking one of New York’s 75 spots after Major League Baseball limited spring roster sizes as a coronavirus precaution. Position players aren’t slated to report to the Mets’ spring complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, until next week.

Over four big league spring trainings, Tebow batted .151 in 34 games, connecting for his first and only homer last spring before camps were closed.

“It has been a pleasure to have Tim in our organization as he’s been a consummate professional during his four years with the Mets,” Alderson said. “By reaching the Triple-A level in 2019, he far exceeded expectations when he first entered the system in 2016 and he should be very proud of his accomplishments.”

Tebow’s baseball career began with a bang – he homered in his first professional at-bat during an instructional league game against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fall of 2016. Later that fall, he made headlines by comforting a fan who had a seizure in the front row of Tebow’s Arizona Fall League debut.

Steelers GM Colbert: Work to do to bring back Big Ben

Ben Roethlisberger is still a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet despite optimistic overtones from both the team and its longtime franchise quarterback, Roethlisberger’s return for an 18th season hardly looks like a given.

While stressing Roethlisberger “did a lot of really good things” in 2020, general manager Kevin Colbert on Wednesday stopped short of wholeheartedly endorsing the idea of Roethlisberger being in the fold in 2021.

“We have to do what’s best for the organization, do what’s best for Ben,” Colbert said. “But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, not only with Ben but with the whole unrestricted free agent situation.”

The Steelers have 19 players heading to free agency, including wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and outside linebacker Bud Dupree. That doesn’t include perennial Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey or tight end Vance McDonald, close friends of Roethlisberger who have retired in recent weeks.

Roethlisberger currently holds a $41.25 million salary-cap hit in 2021, the highest of any player in the league. Both sides have taken turns in recent weeks talking about the need to lower that number considerably, particularly with the Steelers facing the difficult prospect of navigating a salary cap that might be $15 million to $20 million less than in 2020 thanks to a significant decline in gate revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compliance will require restructuring some of the more cap-unfriendly contracts and potentially cutting a couple of high-priced veterans, which puts Colbert in a tight spot.

How does he improve a roster he admits wasn’t good enough to move beyond the first round of the playoffs in 2020 without having money to keep his top-end free agents, let alone land a few?

“We’re making guestimates on what we can do to put the best team together, for our sake,” Colbert said. “For Ben’s sake, what team can he anticipate being around him if we decide we can move forward together?”

That won’t be known for a while, which makes for some tricky math. Roethlisberger is due a $15 million roster bonus in mid-March, well before the draft and just three days into the league new year. Any agreement likely would have to be reached before that date, when the roster makeup for 2021 will still be in flux.

Sheriff: Family believes Jackson suffered from CTE

Vincent Jackson’s family thinks the former NFL wide receiver suffered from the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said Wednesday.

“They believe he had a lot of concussion problems,” Chronister told Q105-FM, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “When you suffer from that, you’re not yourself, you’re not your normal self. And they believe wholeheartedly all of these actions are a result of what he suffered while he was playing in the NFL.”

Jackson was found dead Monday at a Homewood Suites hotel in Brandon, Florida, where he had been checked in since Jan. 11.

His family reported him missing on Feb. 10 but the case was canceled two days later when deputies located him, spoke to him, and assessed his well-being.

Jackson, who was 38, played for the then-San Diego Chargers from 2005 to 2011 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012 to 2016.

A number of late NFL stars, including Ken Stabler, Junior Seau, and Chris Henry, have been diagnosed with CTE postmortem. The disease is the result of repeated brain trauma and has no cure.

Chronister said an autopsy showed Jackson suffered from chronic alcoholism, but authorities are still determining a cause of death.

“It could be several weeks before we know what led to the untimely and tragic death of Vincent Jackson,” the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement obtained by The Athletic’s Greg Auman. “The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office continues to conduct a thorough investigation alongside the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Based on statements made by relatives of Jackson to detectives, his family had reason to believe he may have suffered from chronic alcoholism and concussions. However, the exact cause and manner of Mr. Jackson’s death will not be certain until his autopsy, among other reports, is complete.”

Jackson posted six 1,000-yard seasons and made three Pro Bowls over his 12-year career.

2021 NFL MOCK DRAFT 2.0

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

3. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

4. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

6. Philadelphia Eagles: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

7. Detroit Lions: Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

8. Carolina Panthers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

10. Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

11. New York Giants: Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (Fla.)

12. San Francisco 49ers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

13. Los Angeles Chargers: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

14. Minnesota Vikings: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

15. New England Patriots: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

16. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

17. Las Vegas Raiders: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

18. Miami Dolphins: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

19. Washington Football Team: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

20. Chicago Bears: Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

21. Indianapolis Colts: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

22. Tennessee Titans: Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

23. New York Jets: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida

26. Cleveland Browns: Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

27. Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

28. New Orleans Saints: Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama

29. Green Bay Packers: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue

30. Buffalo Bills: Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami (Fla.)

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jalen Mayfield, OL, Michigan

223-2: Nadal blows 2-set lead against Tsitsipas in Australia

Rafael Nadal entered his Australian Open quarterfinal with a 223-1 record when grabbing the first two sets of a Grand Slam match.

Thanks to his own mistakes – and some spirited play by Stefanos Tsitsipas – that mark is now 223-2.

A couple of uncharacteristically sloppy overheads and a framed backhand in a third-set tiebreaker began Nadal’s undoing, and his bid here for a men’s-record 21st major championship eventually ended Wednesday with 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5 loss to the younger, sharper Tsitsipas.

“Was little bit of everything, no? I missed a couple of balls in the tiebreak that I shouldn’t – that I could not – miss if I want to win. And that’s it,” said Nadal, who briefly left the Spanish portion of his post-match news conference after clutching at his cramping right hamstring.

“I have to go back home,” Nadal said, “and practice to be better.”

At his put-the-ball-where-he-wants-it best in the early going, Nadal went ahead rather easily, winning 27 consecutive points on his serve in one stretch and running his streak of consecutive sets won at major tournaments to 35, one shy of Roger Federer’s record for the professional era.

Nadal and Federer are currently tied at 20 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other man in the history of a sport that dates to the late 1800s.

But Tsitsipas never wavered and that surprisingly poor tiebreaker by Nadal – thinking too far ahead, perhaps? — helped hand over the third set and begin the epic comeback.

“I started very nervous, I won’t lie,” the fifth-seeded Tsitsipas said. “But I don’t know what happened after the third set. I just flied like a little bird. Everything was working for me. The emotions at the very end are indescribable.”

As Tsitsipas played, in Nadal’s estimation, a “very, very high level of tennis” over the last two sets, the 34-year-old Spaniard’s play dipped considerably.

Nadal made a total of only 10 unforced errors in the first two sets combined, then 32 the rest of the way – 11 in the third, 14 in the fourth, seven in the fifth.

The only other occasion in which Nadal went from a two-set advantage to a defeat in a Slam came at the 2015 U.S. Open against Fabio Fognini (who just so happened to have lost to Nadal in the fourth round at Melbourne Park this year).

Muchova upsets Barty and will face Brady in Australian semis

op-ranked Ash Barty built a big lead in the Australian Open quarterfinals before her opponent took a medical timeout and left the court.

More than an hour later, it was Barty heading abruptly for the exit, upset 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday by 25th-seeded Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic.

Muchova earned her first semifinal berth at a Grand Slam tournament and ended Barty’s bid to become the first Australian woman to win the title at home since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

“It’s heartbreaking, of course,” said Barty, who took nearly all of last year off because of the coronavirus pandemic, including opting not to try to defend her 2019 French Open title. “But the sun will come up tomorrow. You’re either winning or you’re learning, and today is a massive learning curve for me.”

No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal built a big lead in a night-time quarterfinal, but his bid for a men’s-record 21st Grand Slam title ended with an upset five-set loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

It is only the second time in Nadal’s career he has lost a Grand Slam match after taking the opening two

Now the 22-year-old, fifth-seeded Tsitsipas will try to reach his first major final by beating Daniil Medvedev on Friday.

The women’s semifinals Thursday will be the first matches at Melbourne Park with crowds in nearly a week after the easing of restrictions imposed by the Victoria state government during a five-day lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city to contain the spread of a COVID-19 cluster.

Tournament director Craig Tiley said Wednesday that attendance will be capped at 7,477 – about half the capacity of Rod Laver Arena – for each of the last four days of the tournament.

Muchova’s opponent will be 22nd-seeded Jennifer Brady, who beat fellow American and good friend Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Brady reached her second Grand Slam semifinal, following a run that far at the U.S. Open in September.

“I hope I make it a habit,” Brady said. “Hopefully I have a new habit of making finals.”

AP sources: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres agree on 14-year deal

 Fernando Tatis Jr. has helped make baseball fun again in San Diego.

In return, the Padres have agreed to give the electrifying shortstop a $340 million, 14-year deal that could keep him with San Diego until he’s 35 years old, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The two people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the deal hadn’t been announced.

It will be the longest contract signed in MLB history. Giancarlo Stanton, now with the New York Yankees, signed a 13-year, $325 million deal with Miami in 2015. Bryce Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with Philadelphia in 2019. The biggest deal by dollars remains Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, 12-year contract signed with the Angels in 2019.

The 22-year-old Tatis has bloomed into a superstar in less than two full seasons with the Padres, hitting .301 with 39 home runs, 98 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 143 games. He helped San Diego end a 13-year playoff drought in 2020 and win a wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals before the Padres were swept by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.

He has quickly become one of the faces of baseball. He stands out because of his flair, easy smile, blond dreadlocks flowing from under his cap, a uniform dirtied by his hard-charging play and his dance moves in the dugout after hitting home runs.

Tatis was literally raised in the game at the feet of his father, who played 11 seasons in the big leagues. He has dared to challenge old-school norms – after hitting his second home run in an 11-9 win in Game 2 of the wild-card series against the Cardinals, he unleashed an emphatic bat flip. A photo of Tatis in that moment is on the cover of the video game MLB The Show ’21.

In August, Tatis caused a stir when he hit a grand slam on a 3-0 count with the Padres leading the Texas Rangers by seven runs. The furor died down and the Padres became the first team in MLB history to hit grand slams in four straight games and five in six games.

Tatis comes from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, also known as the Cradle of Shortstops.

San Diego promoted Tatis to the majors on opening day of 2019, forgoing the chance to delay his free agency by waiting a few weeks – a reality of the game experienced by other young stars like Kris Bryant with Chicago Cubs and Harper with the Washington Nationals.

Tatis has two years of service and would have been eligible for salary arbitration for the first time next offseason. While his deal sets a record for length, Tatis may have left dollars on the table if he continues on his star trajectory. His $24.29 million average salary will rank just 19th in the sport.

It’s the first big payday for Tatis, who got a $700,000 signing bonus as an amateur from the White Sox in 2015, earned $555,555 as a rookie in 2019 and $219,185 in prorated pay last season.

Arenado unlikely to use opt-outs: ‘I plan on being a Cardinal’

Though he’s only been in red for a couple of weeks, Nolan Arenado’s quickly taken to life with the St. Louis Cardinals.

His contract includes two opt-out clauses, including one at the end of this season. However, the star third baseman – acquired by the Cardinals from the Colorado Rockies earlier in February – indicated that he’s unlikely to exercise the clauses when the time comes.

“There’s a very high chance I will not be opting out,” Arenado recently told Jared Carrabis and Dallas Braden on the “Starting 9” podcast. “You know, very, very high. I didn’t come here to do that. I think (the opt-outs were) part of the deal, that was part of how we made the contract and how we made it look right and put those things in there, but I plan on being a Cardinal for the rest of the way out, that’s my goal.

“I said that in Colorado and so I can see why people could probably question it, but you know, I really believe this is where I wanna be.”

Arenado originally signed his eight-year, $260-million extension with Colorado before the 2019 season. But his relationship with the Rockies soured, leading them to trade him before he could potentially walk away this winter. Colorado received five players in exchange for Arenado and $51 million.

For waiving his no-trade clause to facilitate the deal, the Cardinals agreed to give Arenado a second opt-out clause after the 2022 season. He also got a one-year, $15-million extension through 2027.

The 29-year-old has won eight Gold Gloves and made five All-Star teams during his career.

Mets fire hitting coordinator years after 3 complaints of sexual harassment

New York Mets hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis was fired by the club in January “for violating company policy and failure to meet the Mets’ standards for professionalism and personal conduct,” years after being investigated for inappropriate behavior toward three female Mets employees, reports The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Ken Rosenthal, and Katie Strang.

The three women, who worked or had previously worked for the Mets, went to the team’s human resources department about Ellis in 2018.

One of the women who went to the Mets’ HR department documented some of what Ellis said in her journal. In one instance, she said Ellis told her “I stare at your ass all the time. If only I could have 15 minutes alone with you” when they were alone in a vehicle together, adding that he wanted “to put her up against a wall.”

“On January 19 of this year, following the termination of Jared Porter, we received new information regarding conduct of the disciplined employee in the 2017-2018 timeframe,” the Mets said in a statement. “We immediately commenced a new investigation and terminated the employee on January 22.”

The Mets did not say what new information emerged. Asked what the team had previously been told about Ellis, the club responded:

“In July 2018, a complaint regarding inappropriate conduct by a Mets employee was brought to the attention of Mets management at that time. The organization initiated an investigation and, as a result, the employee was disciplined, put into a probationary status, and ordered into counseling. We had not received previous or subsequent complaints about this employee.”

The third woman who spoke to HR in 2018 said the Mets didn’t contact her until 2021. She said the team asked about the sexual relationship she’d had with Ellis in 2017 and not the harassment she’d described experiencing after ending the relationship.

The Mets hired Porter as general manager in December and fired him in January after he admitted sending unsolicited, explicit images to a female reporter in 2016 while he was an employee of the Chicago Cubs.

Another former Mets employee, Mickey Callaway, was recently suspended by the Los Angeles Angels after a report that he’d behaved in a lewd manner toward five women who worked in sports media. The incidents date back to when he was Mets manager and pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians.

AP sources: Chicago Cubs agree to deals with Workman, Strop

The Cubs bolstered their pitching depth Wednesday, agreeing to contracts with veteran relievers Brandon Workman and Pedro Strop.

Workman received a $1 million, one-year deal, according to a person familiar with the contract who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced. The 32-year-old right-hander can earn an additional $2 million in bonuses.

The 35-year-old Strop returned to the Cubs on a minor league deal that includes an invite to big league spring training, according to a second person familiar with the contract who spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced. The deal includes a March 30 opt-out date.

The Cubs had been looking for pitching depth in the runup to spring training, concerned about covering a full campaign after last season was shortened because of the pandemic. They announced contracts with right-hander Trevor Williams and lefty reliever Andrew Chafin on Feb. 8, and right-hander Jake Arrieta also has a deal in place to return to his former team.

Workman struggled last year, going 1-4 with a 5.95 ERA and nine saves in 21 appearances for Boston and Philadelphia. He was traded from the Red Sox to the Phillies in August.

But Workman was terrific in 2019 with Boston, going 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 73 appearances. He is 25-20 with a 3.89 ERA in 209 career games.

Wearing his hat off to the left, Strop became a fan favorite in Chicago after he was acquired along with Arrieta in a 2013 trade with Baltimore for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.

Strop had 2.90 ERA in 411 appearances with the Cubs over seven years, mostly in a setup role. He was a key member of the 2016 team that won the franchise’s first World Series title since 1908.

Strop signed a $1,825,000, one-year deal with Cincinnati after the 2019 season. He was let go by the Reds last August and then signed a minor league contract with the Cubs. But he didn’t appear in a big league game for the rest of the year.

Indians saves leader Cody Allen retires at 32

Cody Allen, the Cleveland Indians’ career saves leader and an underappreciated closer for the team, has retired at age 32.

The Indians announced Allen’s retirement Wednesday on Twitter, posting: “From a 23rd round draft pick to the franchise saves (leader). Congrats on a great career, Cody.”

Allen spent seven seasons with Cleveland, which drafted him in 2010. The right-hander recorded 149 saves and appeared in 456 games – both club relief records.

Allen had a 24-31 record with a 3.14 ERA and 153 saves in 481 games. He also had seven postseason saves.

Allen got more than 30 saves three times, including 32 in 2016 when he helped the Indians win the AL pennant and get to Game 7 of the World Series.

After acquiring All-Star Brad Hand in a trade, the Indians chose not to re-sign Allen after the 2018 season. He pitched in 25 games for the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, going 0-2 with four saves and a 6.26 ERA.

Twins bench coach Mike Bell takes leave for kidney cancer

Minnesota Twins bench coach Mike Bell has taken an indefinite leave from the team because of kidney cancer.

The 46-year-old Bell had surgery to remove the growth on Jan. 28, shortly after being diagnosed. He’s been recovering at home with his family in Arizona.

“He’s also very, very optimistic and also very encouraged and waiting for his return to the dugout,” manager Rocco Baldelli said Wednesday. “The situation, it’s obviously serious, but Mike has handled this with great courage.”

Bell was hired prior to the 2020 season to replace Derek Shelton, who departed to become manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bell is the younger brother of current Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell and the son of longtime major league player and manager Buddy Bell.

Baldelli said he won’t make any immediate changes to the coaching staff. The Twins have their first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Friday at spring training in Fort Myers, Florida, with the first full-squad workout following four days later.

PURDUE FOOTBALL: Florida defensive back C.J. Williams announces transfer to Purdue

The Purdue football program added another transfer Wednesday when defensive back C.J. McWilliams joined the team after spending five years at Florida.

McWilliams played just one game for the Gators last season before opting out because of COVID-19.

McWilliams also missed the 2019 season with a knee injury. He appeared in nine games in 2018 with one start and finished the season with 16 tackles. In 2017, he played in seven games after redshirting in 2016. 

INDIANA BASEBALL: Big Ten Announces 2021 Baseball Schedule

(IU RELEASE)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Big Ten announced its conference-only schedule for the 2021 baseball season on Saturday afternoon. The Indiana University baseball team will play 44 games, including 20 home contests at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Ind.

Weekend of March 5 (U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.)

Friday, March 5 vs. Rutgers – 4 PM ET

Friday, March 5 vs. Minnesota – 8 PM ET

Saturday, March 6 vs. Rutgers – 10 PM ET

Sunday, March 7 vs. Minnesota – 7 PM ET

Weekend of March 12 (Bloomington, Ind.)

Four games vs. Penn State

Weekend of March 19 (Bloomington, Ind.)

Three games vs. Purdue

Weekend of March 26 (East Lansing, Mich.)

Three games at Michigan State

Weekend of April 2 (Columbus, Ohio)

Four games at Ohio State

Weekend of April 9 (Bloomington, Ind.)     

Three games vs. Illinois

Weekend of April 16 (Evanston, Ill.)

Three games at Northwestern

Weekend of April 23 (Bloomington, Ind.)

Three games vs. Minnesota

Weekend of April 30 (Bloomington, Ind.)

Three games vs. Iowa

Weekend of May 7 (Piscataway, N.J.)         

Two games vs. Rutgers

Two games vs. Nebraska

Weekend of May 14 (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Three games at Michigan

Weekend of May 21 (Bloomington, Ind.)

Two games vs. Nebraska

Two games vs. Ohio State

Weekend of May 28 (College Park, Md.)

Three games at Maryland

Exact dates and times of each contest, including the pods, will be announced in the near future. To allow for maximum flexibility in the potential rescheduling of games, there will not be a Big Ten Baseball Tournament this season.

Consistent with IU Athletics’ ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, coaches, staff, spectators and the local community, baseball games will be played without fans at Bart Kaufman Field indefinitely. IU Athletics’ decision is in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and is consistent with what has transpired on all Big Ten campuses.

PURDUE BASEBALL: Big Ten Baseball Schedule Announced

(PURDUE RELEASE)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Five home weekends at Alexander Field highlight Purdue baseball’s unique 2021 conference-only schedule announced by the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday.

The 44-game schedule is slated to run from March 5 through Memorial Day Weekend. All games will be played as part of Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend series. However, Mondays will remain an option if agreed upon by both teams and as a backup in case of weather.

The Boilermakers will host Rutgers (March 26-28), Iowa (April 2-4), Illinois (April 23-25) and Northwestern (May 7-9) as part of traditional three-game weekend series. Minnesota and Penn State also visit Alexander Field from May 28 to 30 for a three-team pod weekend in which each squad is scheduled to play four games.

Purdue also plays in consecutive pod weekends in mid-April. The Boilermakers are slated to play Michigan State and Penn State the weekend of April 9 to 11 in East Lansing. The following weekend, Illinois and Michigan State are on the schedule in Champaign. Full schedule information about the three-team pods is still pending.

SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN

• Home: 16 Games – Rutgers (3), Iowa (3), Illinois (3), Northwestern (3), Penn State (2), Minnesota (2)

• Road: 16 Games – Indiana (3), Michigan State (2), Illinois (2), Ohio State (3), Maryland (3), Minnesota (3)

• Neutral: 12 Games – Nebraska (4), Michigan (4), Penn State (2), Michigan State (2)

Purdue opens its season with neutral-site series vs. Nebraska (March 5-7 in Round Rock, Texas) and Michigan (March 12-14 in Greenville, S.C.). Both weekends are scheduled to be four-game sets at Minor League Baseball stadiums. The Boilermakers will be the designated home team vs. Nebraska at Dell Diamond and the designated visiting team vs. Michigan at Fluor Stadium. Saturday doubleheaders are expected to feature a nine-inning game and a seven-inning game.

The rest of the schedule features traditional three-game road series at Indiana (March 19-21), Ohio State (April 30-May 2), Maryland (May 14-16) and Minnesota (May 21-23).

Purdue has not played at Michigan State since May 2015. Illinois has not visited Alexander Field since April 2017 and has played just that one series in West Lafayette since Alexander opened in March 2013.

Coincidentally, Minnesota and Penn State also played a series against each other at Alexander Field in April 2018 due to heavy snowfall in the Minneapolis area.

Located 30 miles north of Austin, Dell Diamond is the home of the Round Rock Express, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Fluor Stadium in South Carolina’s largest city is the home of the Greenville Drive, the High-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Purdue has not played at an MiLB stadium since 2018 when the Boilermakers went a combined 6-1 at San Antonio’s Nelson Wolff Stadium and Penn State’s Medlar Field.

EARLY NEUTRAL SITE WEEKENDS
 March 5-7 in Round Rock: Purdue vs. Nebraska, Iowa vs. Michigan
• March 5-7 in Minneapolis: Minnesota hosts Indiana & Rutgers inside U.S. Bank Stadium
• March 5-7 in Greenville: Illinois vs. Ohio State, Maryland vs. Michigan State
• March 12-14 in Greenville: Purdue vs. Michigan, Northwestern vs. Michigan State
• March 12-14 in Minneapolis: Minnesota vs. Illinois, Iowa-Nebraska-Ohio State pod inside U.S. Bank Stadium

OHIO STATE BASEBALL: 2021 Baseball Schedule Announced by the Big Ten
Buckeyes have six home weekends beginning on March 26-28

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Big Ten Conference has announced the 2021 Baseball schedule. The regular season opens on March 5 and concludes over Memorial Day weekend. Each team is slated to play 44 games.

The Buckeyes open the season with a four-game set against Illinois in Greenville, S.C. on March 5-7. Those games will be played at Fluor Field in Greenville. The next weekend, the Buckeyes will play two games each against Nebraska and Iowa at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

The aggressive scheduling starts on March 19-21 as the Buckeyes will head to Piscataway, N.J., for a three-game series with Rutgers. Ohio State will play home series with Iowa and Maryland (March 26-28), Indiana (April 2-4), Penn State (April 23-25) Purdue (April 30-May 2), Michigan State ((May 14-16) and Northwestern (May 28-30). Including the trip to Rutgers, the Buckeyes will also travel to Michigan (April 9-11), Maryland (April 16-18), Minnesota (May 7-9) and Indiana (May 21-23).

The Buckeyes are under the direction of 11th-year head coach Greg Beals who has a career record of 546-440-1 and a 303-238-1 mark at Ohio State.

2021 Baseball Schedule
March 5-7       vs. Illinois (Greenville, S.C.)
March 12-14   vs. Nebraska & Iowa (Minnesota, Minn.)
March 19-21   at Rutgers
March 26-28  IOWA & MARYLAND
April 2-4         INDIANA (4-game series)

April 9-11       at Michigan
April 16-18     at Maryland
April 23-25     PENN STATE
April 30-2       PURDUE

May 7-9          at Minnesota
May 14-16      MICHIGAN STATE
May 21-23      at Indiana & vs. Nebraska (Bloomington, Ind.)
May 28-30      NORTHWESTERN

NOTRE DAME SOFTBALL: IRISH HEAD TO ACC POD WEEKEND TO FACE SYRACUSE AND #18 DUKE

(NOTRE DAME RELEASE)

CHAPEL HILL & DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA — RV Notre Dame will travel to the Research Triangle Feb. 18-21 to join all ACC teams in an ACC Pod Weekend. The Irish will first take on Syracuse in three games at host site North Carolina (Anderson Softball Stadium), before heading to Durham for a three-game series at No. 18/19 Duke.

Notre Dame enters the second week of the season with a 2-1 record, notching run-rule wins over North Alabama (9-0, six innings) and Alabama State (13-0, five innings, combined no-hitter). Pitcher Alexis Holloway leads the Irish in the circle with a 0.00 ERA, allowing just one hit in two appearances (total 7.0 innings) and throwing a complete game shutout against North Alabama.

Outfielder Abby Sweet leads all Notre Dame batters with a .667 average, notching a 1.000 slugging percentage last weekend. Fellow outfielder Emma Clark tied the program’s single-game stolen base record with four vs. North Alabama, and totaled six steals on the weekend.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Vs. Syracuse (at Anderson Softball Stadium, Chapel Hill, North Carolina)

Game 1: Feb. 18, 11 a.m. ET

Game 2: Feb. 18, 1:30 p.m. ET

Game 3: Feb. 19, 4 p.m. ET

Live Stats: und.com/mediastats

No live stream available

At Duke (Duke Softball Stadium, Durham, North Carolina)

BY THE NUMBERS

0.00: P Alexis Holloway (1-0) owns a 0.00 ERA after opening weekend, totaling 112 pitches (7.0 IP) and 10 strikeouts, allowing just one hit on the weekend. In 2020, she ranked second in the ACC with a 1.09 ERA.

0: Ps Alexis Holloway, Payton Tidd and Morgan Ryan combined for a no-hitter in the 13-0 win at Alabama State. Tidd earned the win, as Ryan started. Tidd and Ryan each pitched two innings, while Holloway entered to pitch the fifth and final inning.

1.000: OF Abby Sweet posted a 1.000 SLG on opening weekend in games vs. North Alabama, No. 8 Alabama and Alabama State. She scored four runs in the 13-0 win vs. Alabama State, the first Irish player to get home four times in a single game since Katie Marino at Virginia (4/19/2019). Sweet currently boasts a 19-game on-base streak.

3: Notre Dame came in at No. 3 in the preseason ACC Coaches poll, with IF Katie Marino on the preseason All-ACC team. Of the top six teams in the ACC, Notre Dame is one, and will face the other five in the regular season.

3: Deanna Gumpf announced the selection of three captains for the 2021 season: Seniors IF Sarah Genz,  P Alexis Holloway and OF Abby Sweet.  Holloway and Sweet are the eighth and ninth two-time team captains in program history.

4: OF Emma Clark wrote her name in the history books against North Alabama, stealing four bases to match a single-game program record. She joined Ruth Kmak as the only two players in Irish history to steal four bases in a game. Kmak’s record came vs. Loyola-Chicago (April 16, 1990). Clark batted 1.000 in her three at-bats, also notching an RBI.

5: IF Karina Gaskins racked up five RBI in the 13-0 win over Alabama State, the first Irish player to achieve the feat since All-American Cait Brooks at Pitt (April 27, 2019). Gaskins hit her first-career home run in the game, the first home run of the season for Notre Dame,  scoring three runs on the play.

6: As the schedule stands for 2021, Notre Dame has faced or will face six teams that were ranked or receiving votes in the initial USA TODAY/NFCA poll: No. 8 Alabama, RV Liberty, No. 25 Duke, RV Clemson, No. 12 Florida State and No. 15 Virginia Tech (initial rankings).

7: The Irish totaled seven stolen bases in the 13-0 combined no-hitter at Alabama State, the most in program records since at least 2012.The last time Notre Dame posted four or more steals was in 2019 vs. Seattle (Feb. 21, Mary Nutter Classic). OF Emma Clark continued her stealing success with two steals (six total on the weekend), as OF Abby Sweet added three and OF Leea Hanks posted two.

16: The Irish return 16 veterans in 2021, including every starter from the 2019-20 season. They are joined by six freshmen.

750: Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf posted her 750th career win on Feb. 28, 2020, in a 6-2 victory over Duke. Gumpf joined former Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw as the only coaches in Notre Dame history to achieve the feat.

BIG 10 WOMEN’S SOCCER: Penn State Favorite In 2020-21 Big Ten Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll

Big Ten Players to Watch List includes six candidates for M.A.C. Hermann Trophy

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Penn State is the preseason choice to win the 2020-21 Big Ten Conference women’s soccer championship, according to a poll of the Big Ten coaches released Wednesday.

The reigning Big Ten Tournament champion Nittany Lions, who have also won 19 conference titles, were selected first in the 2020-21 Big Ten preseason poll by the conference’s 14 head coaches. Defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin, which is coming off its first outright conference title since 1994 and third overall, finished second in this year’s preseason poll, while last season’s Big Ten Tournament runner-up Michigan was chosen third.

Each of the top three teams in this year’s Big Ten preseason poll advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 in 2019, with PSU doing so for the 16th time and fifth in six seasons, Wisconsin for the second year in a row and Michigan for the first time since 2013.

Rounding out the top five in the team balloting were Rutgers and Ohio State. The Scarlet Knights tied for second in last year’s Big Ten regular-season standings before reaching the NCAA Tournament for the eighth consecutive season and 14th time overall. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are just a season removed from a run of four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Also on Wednesday, the conference unveiled the 2020-21 Big Ten Players to Watch List, as selected by the conference coaches. Highlighting the list are three 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-Americans in first-team senior forward Amirah Ali of Rutgers and senior goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer of Wisconsin, as well as second-team senior midfielder Sarah Stratigakis from Michigan.

In addition, more than one-third (15) of the students on the 2020-21 Big Ten Players to Watch List are returning all-conference selections, including last season’s Big Ten Midfielder of the Year (Stratigakis) and Goalkeeper of the Year (Bloomer). What’s more, the Big Ten Players to Watch List features 21 Academic All-Big Ten selections, eight Big Ten Distinguished Scholars and six students (Ali, Bloomer, Stratigakis, Michigan’s Alia Martin, Penn State’s Sam Coffey and Wisconsin’s Maia Cella) who were named to the 2020-21 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List.

The 2020-21 Big Ten women’s soccer season, which features teams playing an 11-game schedule entirely against conference opponents, kicks off Thursday when Illinois and Purdue meet at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. (2 p.m. ET). The majority of other conference schools will begin their seasons over the weekend, beginning a seven-week run towards the four-team Big Ten Tournament that will be played April 15 & 18 on the campus of the highest seed.

Here’s a look at the complete 2020-21 Big Ten Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll and Players to Watch List:

2020-21 BIG TEN WOMEN’S SOCCER PRESEASON POLL

1. Penn State

2. Wisconsin

3. Michigan

4. Rutgers

5. Ohio State

6. Iowa

7. Northwestern

8. Indiana

9. Nebraska

10. Illinois

11. Purdue

12. Maryland

13. Minnesota

14. Michigan State

2020-21 BIG TEN WOMEN’S SOCCER PLAYERS TO WATCH LIST

Hope Breslin, Sr., M, Illinois

Ashley Cathro, So., D, Illinois

Makena Silber, Jr., F, Illinois

Anna Aehling, Fr., D, Indiana

Jen Blitchok, Fr., F, Indiana

Avery Lockwood, So., M, Indiana

Samantha Cary, So., D, Iowa

Hailey Rydberg, Jr., M, Iowa

Sara Wheaton, Jr., D, Iowa

Malikae Dayes, Sr., D, Maryland

Mikayla Dayes, Sr., F, Maryland

Alyssa Poarch, Jr., F, Maryland

Raleigh Loughman, Jr., M, Michigan

Alia Martin, Sr., D, Michigan

Sarah Stratigakis, Sr., M, Michigan

Lauren Kozal, So., GK, Michigan State

Bria Schrotenboer, So., D, Michigan State

Gia Wahlberg, Jr., F, Michigan State

Sophia Boman, Fr., M, Minnesota

Katie Duong, So., M, Minnesota

Makenzie Langdok, Sr., F, Minnesota

Grace Brown, Sr., D, Nebraska

Dakota Chan, Jr., M, Nebraska

Kenzie Coons, Jr., M, Nebraska

Regan Steigleder, Sr., M, Northwestern

Olivia Stone, Jr., F, Northwestern

Mackenzie Wood, Jr., GK, Northwestern

Kayla Fischer, Jr., F, Ohio State

Peyton McNamara, Fr., M, Ohio State

Izzy Rodriguez, Sr., D, Ohio State

Kerry Abello, Sr., F, Penn State

Sam Coffey, Sr., M, Penn State

Frankie Tagliaferri, Sr., M, Penn State

Marisa Bova, Jr., GK, Purdue

Sarah Griffith, Jr., F, Purdue

Grace Walsh, Jr., M, Purdue

Amirah Ali, Sr., F, Rutgers

Nneka Moneme, Sr., F, Rutgers

Meagan McClelland, Jr., GK, Rutgers

Jordyn Bloomer, Sr., GK, Wisconsin

Maia Cella, Sr., M, Wisconsin

Cameron Murtha, Sr., F, Wisconsin

PURDUE WOMEN’S SOCCER: Boilermakers Open Season Thursday vs. Illinois

(PURDUE RELEASE)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue soccer team opens the 2020-21 season on Thursday, Feb. 18, against Illinois at the Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield, Indiana, with kickoff set for 2 p.m. ET.

As the Boilermakers return to the pitch for the first time since November, 2019, fans can follow along with live stats at FightingIllini.com, and updates can be found by following Purdue Soccer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, fans will not be allowed.

“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to compete again,” sixth-year coach Drew Roff said. “I’m proud of how our team has trained and worked over the last several months, and we’re ready to face some outside competition and see where we’re at. I’m very proud of our team, we have a great group, great leadership and some really talented young players that have joined the mix. We’re ready to put our best foot forward and start off with a big match tomorrow. We’re very excited to get started.”

Eighteen Boilermakers return from last year’s squad, including all eleven starters and every minute played in goal. Additionally, players responsible for 87 % (46 of 53) of the team’s points scored in 2019 are back. Nine newcomers also join the squad.

Illinois is the designated home team for Thursday’s contest. The match was originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, in Champaign, Illinois, and the date and location change was due to Illinois’ field not being ready for play.

TRIO OF PRESEASON HONORS

Redshirt junior forward Sarah Griffith, junior goalkeeper Marisa Bova and junior midfielder Grace Walsh have been recognized on the Big Ten Players to Watch List, the Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday.

Griffith started all 20 matches in 2019 and was second on the team with three goals, two game-winning goals, three assists and nine points. She led the team with 36 shots and 20 shots on goal as a sophomore.

Bova played every minute in goal last season and helped lead Purdue to nine shutouts, the team’s most since 2007. She recorded seven statistics that rank in the top-10 in a single season in program history, including No. 2 in shutouts (nine), No. 6 in goals-against average (0.87), No. 8 in fewest goals allowed (18), No. 9 in save percentage (.786) and No. 10 in wins (eight).

Walsh also started all 20 matches in 2019 and had one goal, 11 shots and five shots on goal while playing every minute of all but three matches. She was a key piece of the Boilermaker defense that notched nine shutouts, including a 1-0 upset victory at top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament.

The trio also were three of 22 soccer student-athletes and part of a department-record 96 Boilermakers named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team in the fall.

NOTRE DAME HOCKEY: Notre Dame Hockey: Irish Head To #5 Wisconsin For Weekend Series

(ND RELEASE)

WHO: Notre Dame (10-11-1, 8-9-1-1-2-1 B1G) at #5 Wisconsin (14-8-0, 12-6-0-0-0-1 B1G)
WHEN: Friday, February 19 – 8 p.m. ET | Saturday, February 20 – 5 p.m. ET
WHERE: Labahn Arena, Madison, Wisconsin
WATCH: Friday & Saturday – Fox Sports Wisconsin & BTNPlus.com
FOR STARTERS

  • Notre Dame heads to Wisconsin for another road series, beginning on Friday, Feb. 19. The teams, who opened the season against each other at the Compton Family Ice Arena on Nov. 13-14, will meet at LaBahn Arena for the first time in series history.
  • Notre Dame is 7-1-0 on the road this season, including series sweeps at then third-ranked Michigan (Nov. 27-28) and at then first-ranked Minnesota (Jan. 15-16) and the Irish penalty kill is 17-for-17 away from home.
  • Notre Dame’s power play is also 7-for-20 on the road and that.350% leads the country in road games.
  • Dating back to Notre Dame’s game two, 2-1 win at Minnesota on Jan. 16, senior goaltender Dylan St. Cyr has started eight of nine games and posted a .931 save percentage to go along with a 2.12 goals against average and a 4-4-0 record.
  • With 526 career wins, Head Coach Jeff Jackson (Lake Superior State and Notre Dame) enters the weekend tied with George Gwozdecky (Miami and Denver 1989-2013) for 11th all-time in wins, while John MacInnes of Michigan Tech (1956-81) ranks 10th with 555.

THE NOTRE DAME-WISCONSIN SERIES

  • Former opponents in the WCHA, Notre Dame and Wisconsin have met 78 times in program history with Wisconsin leading the all-time series 45-25-8.
  • The first meeting between the two teams came during the 1921-22 season when the Irish skated away with a 3-0 victory at Badin Rink (outdoors at Notre Dame).
  • The teams met once more, in 1925-26, before taking a 40 year hiatus and returning to competition when Notre Dame earned varsity status.
  • The teams have never met at LaBahn Arena.
  • As a head coach, Jeff Jackson is 8-7-1 all-time against the Badgers (1-1-0 at Lake Superior State). The one win Jackson had over the Badgers at Lake Superior State came on April 4, 1992, in Albany, New York, as the Lakers defeated Wisconsin 5-3 to win the NCAA Championship (the first of Jackson’s two NCAA Championships at Lake State).

VS. THE BADGERS IN THE B1G

  • Since joining the Big Ten, Notre Dame leads the series 7-6-1. The teams opened the 2020-21 season back on Nov. 13-14 at the Compton Family Ice Arena, with the Badgers posting a 2-0 win and a 5-3 victory.
  • Colin Theisen had a hat trick in that game two loss.
  • The teams split last season’s series 2-2-0, including a split at the Kohl Center on Nov. 15-16. Wisconsin took game one, 3-0, and Notre Dame took a back-and-forth game two, 5-4 in overtime.
  • Alex Steeves had the OT game winner (just moments after Nate Clurman cleared a puck off the Notre Dame goal line) and Trevor Janicke, Cam Burke and Colin Theisen also scored for the Irish.
  • Later in the season at home (Jan. 24-25), Notre Dame dropped game one, 6-4, before bouncing back to take game two, 5-2.
  • With a career-high four points on a goal and three assists, Alex Steeves helped the Irish to that 5-2 win.
  • During the 2017-18 season, then-freshman forward Michael Graham had a breakout weekend against the Badgers during their January series as he posted five points on four goals and an assist.
  • Eight of Graham’s 18 career goals have come against the Badgers in just eight games played (8-3-11 points).

OHIO STATE HOCKEY: MHKY: Buckeyes Take on No. 7/6 Wolverines This Weekend 

(OSU RELEASE)

COLUMBUS, Ohio —  The Ohio State men’s hockey team returns to the ice with a series against No. 7/6 Michigan this weekend. The Buckeyes (5-14-1, 5-13-0-0-1-0 B1G) and Wolverines (11-7-0, 9-7-0-1-0-0 B1G) will meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Value City Arena. The games will be streamed through BTN Plus. Ohio State Radio will have the action on 1460 AM and John Mowat and Herb Howenstine will be on the broadcast.

Buckeye Notes to Know

·       Ohio State had its series at Penn State last weekend (Feb. 12-13) postponed because of positive COVID-19 results among Penn State’s Tier 1 personnel.

·       Ohio State last played Feb. 5-6, falling twice at home to Notre Dame. Michigan split a series with Wisconsin last weekend (W 5-1, L 2-3) in its first games since Jan. 21-22.

·       Ohio State and Michigan met in Ann Arbor Jan. 15-16, with the Wolverines posting 4-2 and 5-0 wins. The squads last met in Columbus Nov. 1-2, 2019, with Ohio State posting a sweep (3-2, 2-1).

·       The Big Ten announced the conference tournament will be held March 18-20 in Notre Dame, Ind. It will be a single elimination tournament, with the top seed getting a bye into the semifinals.

·       Austin Pooley, the Buckeyes’ captain, is one of 15 candidates for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

·       Travis Treloar leads the Buckeyes with 16 points, ranking third in points among Big Ten rookies. His six goals are second and his 10 assists are tied for third among league freshmen.

Buckeye Snapshot

·       Ohio State is 5-14-1 this season and 5-13-0-1-0-0 in Big Ten play. The team is looking to end a five-game losing streak.

·       The Buckeyes are scoring 2.05 goals a night and allowing 3.60 per outing. The squad has been outshot on average, 33.8-27.8.

·       Ohio State’s power play is 13-for-67 (.194) and the penalty kill is 57-for-74 (.770).

·       Freshman Travis Treloar is first on the team with 16 points, followed by sophomore Mark Cheremeta with 14, junior Quinn Preston with 12 and senior defenseman Grant Gabriele and sophomore Tate Singleton with 10 each.

·       Treloar, Preston and Singleton are tied for first with six goals each.

·       Treloar and Cheremeta share the team lead with 10 assists apiece.

·       In goal, Tommy Nappier has started 18 games and has a 3.17 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. Evan Moyse has four appearances and one start, with a 3.80 goals-against average and .860 save percentage. Ryan Snowden has played in three games, starting one, with a 5.97 goals-against and .854 save percentage.

Buckeyes vs. Wolverines

·       Ohio State and Michigan faced off for the first time in 1964 and after games in 1969-70, 1974-75 and 1978-79, have met at least once each season since 1981-82 when Michigan joined Ohio State in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

·       The Wolverines lead the all-time series, 86-47-14, including 37-25-6 in Columbus.

·       The teams faced off in Ann Arbor Jan. 15-16, with the Wolverines winning 4-2 and 5-0. The last four games between the teams were all in Ann Arbor.

·       Sophomore Tate Singleton leads Ohio State with four goals and five points vs. the Wolverines (in six games). Quinn Preston is next with three goals and four points in 10 games. Senior Austin Pooley has played a team-high 15 games vs. UM and has two goals.

·       Six Buckeyes – Quinn Preston (Trenton), Dalton Messina (Macomb), Grant Gabriele (Brighton), CJ Regula (Bloomfield Hills), Patrick Guzzo (Marysville) and Ryan Dickinson (Brighton) – call Michigan home.

·       Ohio State associate head coach Steve Miller and Michigan assistant coach Kris Mayotte were both on the staff that coached Team USA to the World Junior Championship gold medal last month. The duo were part of the coaching staff at Providence when they captured the 2015 NCAA title.

Up Next

·       The Buckeyes hit the road for two games at Wisconsin. The teams will meet at 8 p.m. ET Feb. 26 and at 5 p.m. ET Feb. 27. Sports Time Ohio and Fox Sports Wisconsin will televise game one and game two will be on Fox Sports Wisconsin. The games will also be streamed on BTN Plus and Ohio State Radio will carry the action.

·       Ohio State will close its home schedule and the regular season at home against Arizona State March 4-5. Puck drop each night is set for 5:30 p.m. and the games will be on BTN Plus and Ohio State Radio.

OHIO STATE WR: WRE: Buckeyes Host #3 Penn State in Regular Season Finale Friday

(OSU RELEASE)

No. 9 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Penn State

Date: Feb. 19, 2021

Time: 7 p.m.

Venue: Columbus, Ohio – Covelli Arena

Watch: BTN

COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 9 Ohio State returns home to host No. 3 Penn State in the regular season finale for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has won its previous two matches at home but hasn’t wrestled in the Covelli Center since Jan. 29. The match will also be senior night for the team as they will honor Elijah Cleary, Gary Traub and Zach Steiner prior to the match. The first bout will start at 7 p.m. and BTN will have the coverage.

Ohio State and Penn State are meeting for the 35th time on Friday evening. Penn State leads the all-time series 22-12 and has won the last five meetings.

This is the final regular season match of the season for the Buckeyes who are 5-3 overall following it’s narrow 18-16 defeat at Michigan last Friday.

It’s senior night on Friday and Ohio State will recognize Elijah Cleary, Gary Traub and Zach Steiner prior to the match.

Penn State comes in at 4-0 on the year and the Nittany Lions last match was also against Michigan last Sunday. PSU came away with an 18-13 win in another close bout.

According to Track Wrestling, eight Buckeyes have Top 25 rankings including five in the Top 10.

Sammy Sasso is having a tremendous season and looks poised to finish it off in style. The Nazareth, Pa. is a perfect 8-0 on the season with a team-high three pins and a tech fall. He has been ranked No. 2 all season and has beaten three Top 10 wrestlers so far.

Kaleb Romero is 5-1 on the season and has won three of his last four matches by major decision. He has battled an ankle injury the last couple of weeks but comes in Friday ranked No. 2 in the 174-pound class according to Track Wrestling.

Malik Heinselman became the latest “Black Shirt” member this season. The black shirt signifies a student-athlete is conducting themselves in the right way on and off the mat and he can now wear black inside the Jennings Wrestling Facility. Heinselman joins Sammy Sasso, Ethan Smith and Kaleb Romero. Heinselman is 6-1 on the season.

Redshirt-junior Ethan Smith lost his first match of the season and has since on a seven-match win streak. He is 7-1 with three major decisions and a tech fall in his last five matches.

PURDUE WOMEN’S SOCCER: Boilermakers Open Season Thursday vs. Illinois

(PURDUE RELEASE)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue soccer team opens the 2020-21 season on Thursday, Feb. 18, against Illinois at the Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Indiana, with kickoff set for 2 p.m. ET.

“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to compete again,” sixth-year coach Drew Roff said. “I’m proud of how our team has trained and worked over the last several months, and we’re ready to face some outside competition and see where we’re at. I’m very proud of our team, we have a great group, great leadership and some really talented young players that have joined the mix. We’re ready to put our best foot forward and start off with a big match tomorrow. We’re very excited to get started.”

Eighteen Boilermakers return from last year’s squad, including all eleven starters and every minute played in goal. Additionally, players responsible for 87 % (46 of 53) of the team’s points scored in 2019 are back. Nine newcomers also join the squad.

Illinois is the designated home team for Thursday’s contest. The match was originally scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, in Champaign, Illinois, and the date and location change was due to Illinois’ field not being ready for play.

TRIO OF PRESEASON HONORS

Redshirt junior forward Sarah Griffith, junior goalkeeper Marisa Bova and junior midfielder Grace Walsh have been recognized on the Big Ten Players to Watch List, the Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday.

Griffith started all 20 matches in 2019 and was second on the team with three goals, two game-winning goals, three assists and nine points. She led the team with 36 shots and 20 shots on goal as a sophomore.

Bova played every minute in goal last season and helped lead Purdue to nine shutouts, the team’s most since 2007. She recorded seven statistics that rank in the top-10 in a single season in program history, including No. 2 in shutouts (nine), No. 6 in goals-against average (0.87), No. 8 in fewest goals allowed (18), No. 9 in save percentage (.786) and No. 10 in wins (eight).

Walsh also started all 20 matches in 2019 and had one goal, 11 shots and five shots on goal while playing every minute of all but three matches. She was a key piece of the Boilermaker defense that notched nine shutouts, including a 1-0 upset victory at top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament.

A LOOK BACK AT THE 2019 BOILERMAKERS

Purdue went 8-9-3 in 2019, highlighted by a Big Ten Tournament upset victory at top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Wisconsin and another win over rival Indiana to keep the Golden Boot trophy for a fifth consecutive year. The Boilermakers’ underclassmen averaged 8.7 starters per game, while 14 of their 18 goals were scored by underclassmen.

The defense posted nine shutouts, the most since 2007, while a balanced offensive attack saw nine goal scorers, the most since 2015. Purdue notched two upset victories over top-25 squads, with the win at Wisconsin the first over a top-10 club since 2009.

Now-senior forward Hannah Melchiorre was recognized with several postseason awards. She was named one of 27 collegiate semifinalist for the 2020 Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup, which recognizes athletes for their character and leadership both on and off the field. Additionally, Melchiorre was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team, the second player in program history to earn the honor, and to the Academic All-District 5 First Team to become the second Purdue soccer player to earn multiple all-district recognitions.

Additionally, 24 Boilermakers were named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team in the fall of 2019 and six collected Big Ten Player of the Week accolades.

OPENING THE SEASON STRONG

The Boilermakers are a perfect 5-0-0 in season openers under Roff, and they are 3-1-1 in Big Ten openers. Three of Roff’s five season-opening victories have been shutouts, while Purdue had a clean sheet in all three Big Ten-opening wins. 2019 saw Purdue open the campaign with a 1-0 win over Georgia and a 1-0 shutout of Nebraska to commence conference play.

Thursday marks the first time in program history Purdue opens the season against a Big Ten foe.

SERIES HISTORY VS. ILLINOIS

Purdue is 9-12-3 all-time against Illinois in a series that began in 1998, the Boilermakers’ inaugural season. The Fighting Illini won the last matchup, 3-1 in 2018 in Champaign, though Purdue has won three of the last four and is 4-2-1 in the series since 2012. Under Roff, the Boilermakers are 3-1.

The two teams have met three times at a neutral site, with all three previous meetings coming in the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue is 1-2 in those postseason contests following a 3-0 victory in 2007.

SCOUTING THE FIGHTING ILLINI

Illinois went 9-8-1 in 2019 and was 3-7-1 in the Big Ten to finish 11th in the conference. The Fighting Illini posted a 6-3-0 mark at home, were 3-4-1 on the road and 0-1-0 at a neutral site.

BALL STATE VOLLEYBALL: WVB Welcomes NIU To Worthen Arena Thursday & Friday

(BALL STATE RELEASE)

THE WEEK AHEAD: The Ball State women’s volleyball team will look to get back on the winning track this week when it hosts Northern Illinois for a pair of key Mid-American Conference West Division matches … The teams are slated to play at 7 p.m. Thursday and again at 2 p.m. Friday in Worthen Arena.

HOW TO FOLLOW: Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and resulting county health department guidance, general public attendance at Ball State women’s volleyball matches is currently prohibited … Fans can watch both matches live on ESPN+ with Joel Godett calling the play-by-play action … Four-year Ball State letterwinner Mackenzie Kitchel (2013-16) will serve as the analyst Thursday, while four-year Ball State letterwinner Amber Seaman (2016-19) will take over analyst duties Friday … Ball State Sports Link Digital will also provide live audio coverage of each match … Links for all options to follow can be found by visiting the women’s volleyball schedule page.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK:

• Ball State is coming off a tough series versus Bowling Green, which saw the MAC-leading Falcons sweep the Cardinals twice at Worthen Arena … The last time BSU lost two straight home matches was Oct. 25, 2019 vs. Miami (0-3) and Oct. 25, 2019 vs. BGSU (2-3) … Ball State rebounded by winning its next nine matches to earn the MAC West Division title, capture the MAC Tournament championship and advance to the 2019 NCAA Division I Championship.

• They say defense wins championships, and Ball State’s defense has been on full display so far this season with the Cardinals ranking second in the MAC by holding opponents to a .159 attack percentage … Ball State also ranks third in the league in digs per set (18.03) and is sixth in blocks per set (2.03).

• After missing the first three series while on maternity leave for the birth of her daughter Marlee Mae, Ball State head coach Kelli Miller Phillips was back on the sidelines for last week’s series versus Bowling Green … Fritz Rosenberg served as the program’s acting head coach for the first three weeks, leading BSU to a 5-1 record.

SCOUTING BALL STATE:

• Ball State enters the NIU series ranked second in the MAC by limiting opposing teams to a .159 attack percentage … In addition, BSU’s 18.03 digs-per-set average is third in the league, while its 2.03 blocks-per-set average is sixth … Despite missing last weekend’s series versus Bowling Green, sophomore libero Maggie Huber leads the league and ranks fourth nationally with a 6.26 digs-per-set average … Freshman middle Lauren Gilliland is third in the MAC and ranks 120th nationally with her 1.14 blocks-per-set average … On offense, Ball State is seventh in the MAC with a .205 attack percentage … The Cardinals have found offensive success spreading the ball, with five different players averaging at least 1.65 kills per set … Kia Holder leads the charge at 3.10, while sophomore opposite Allison Hamaker is second at 2.23 … The Cardinals currently use a 6-2 rotation, with freshman Kate Vinson and redshirt sophomore Esther Grussing dishing out 6.14 and 4.52 assist per set, respectively.

SCOUTING NORTHERN ILLINOIS:

• The Huskies enter the week with a 2-6 overall record, most recently splitting a home series versus Eastern Michigan … NIU is 10th in the MAC in hitting percentage (.171) and 11th in opponent hitting percentage (.249) … Sophomore outside hitter Katie Jablonski leads the Huskies attack with a 2.88 kills-per-set average, while senior middle Kennedy Wallace leads the squad’s attackers with a .233 hitting percentage and is third on the team at 2.39 kill per set … Junior setter Grace Balensiefer runs the offense, handing out 9.42 assists per set … At the net, junior middle Angie Gromos has a team-high 1.00 blocks-per-set average, while Wallace has a team high 27 total blocks and averages 0.82 per set … Sophomore libero Samantha Juarez paces the NIU defense with 4.76 digs per set, while the team is seventh in the league averaging 16.27 digs per set.

MAC WEST HONORS:

• So far this season, the Ball State women’s volleyball program has earned MAC weekly honors a total of four times … The latest was sophomore libero Maggie Huber who picked up MAC West Division Defensive Player of the Week accolades after averaging 7.00 digs per set at Toledo during the third week of play … The awards started with freshman setter Kate Vinson earning MAC West Division Setter of the Week following opening weekend … After the second week of the season, senior outside hitter Kia Holder was named MAC West Division Offensive Player of the Week, while Ball State’s 6-2 setter tandem of redshirt sophomore Esther Grussing and Vinson claimed MAC West Division Setter of the Week.

MAC PRESEASON POLL:

• In the annual MAC Preseason Poll which was released Thursday, Jan. 21, the defending MAC West Division champion Cardinals were selected to finish second in the league behind 2019 division co-champion Central Michigan … Ball State also picked up a pair of votes to defend its 2019 MAC Tournament Championship.

2020-21 West Division Preseason Coaches’ Poll

1. Central Michigan – 67 points (7 first-place votes)

2. Ball State — 64 points (5)

3. Western Michigan — 45 points

4. Eastern Michigan — 31 points

5. Toledo — 23 points

6. Northern Illinois — 22 points

2020-21 East Division Preseason Coaches’ Poll

1. Miami — 62 points (4)

2. Bowling Green — 60 points (5)

3. Ohio — 55 points (3)

4. Akron — 28 points

5. Kent State — 24 points

6. Buffalo — 23 points

Tournament Champions: Bowling Green (5), Ball State (2), Central Michigan (2), Kent State (1), Miami (1), Ohio (1)

PRESEASON ALL-MAC:

• After stellar freshman campaigns which saw them help Ball State women’s volleyball claim the program’s first Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship since 2002, Marie Plitt and sophomore outside hitter Natalie Risi were both named to the 2020-21 Preseason All-MAC West Division Team as voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches.

THE SERIES VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS:

• While Ball State has won the last three meetings, it still trails the Huskies 34-36 in the all-time series … The last time the teams met, the Cardinals scored a 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-22) win in DeKalb on Nov. 9, 2019 … Ball State holds an 18-10 advantage in matches played in Muncie, including a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 26-24) sweep last season on Oct. 4, 2019 … BSU has won the last two matches played at Worthen Arena.

IN THE MAC:

• With a 5-3 record in MAC play so far this season, Ball State enters the week with a league-best 397-202 (.663) all-time record in MAC play …Western Michigan is two matches back in second at 395-204 (.659) … Northern Illinois is fourth on the list based on winning percentage (.616) and seventh based on wins (276).

HOME SWEET HOME:

• The Cardinals enter Thursday’s match against NIU with a 203-53 (.793) all-time record versus MAC opponents in Worthen Arena … Overall, the Cardinals are 279-89 (.758) in matches played on its current home floor … Ball State was 6-2 in MAC matches at home last season, including a 3-1 win over Central Michigan to win a share of the MAC West Division title to close the regular season.

STILL HOLDING STRONG:

• Kia Holder has continued right where she left off in 2019, turning in several dominating offensive performances so far this season … She has collected double-digit kills in six of BSU’s eight matches, including a season-high 17 in the five-set win at Toledo (Feb. 5) … In fact, going back to the last 10 matches last year, Holder has smashed double-digit kills in 14 of her last 18 outings … Prior to the run, Holder only had four double-digit kill performances in her first 50 career matches.

HOLD ON, THERE’S MORE:

• Over the last 18 matches, Kia Holder is averaging 3.07 kills per set and is hitting .225, which is .063 better then her career attack percentage of .162 … In addition, she has made tremendous strides at the net, including a career-high six total blocks at Buffalo (Jan. 29) … She registered her first two solo blocks of the season in the series at Buffalo, and has 21 total blocks this year after logging just 20 last year.

BIG IMPACT AT THE NET:

• Lauren Gilliland enters the week ranked third in the MAC with a 1.14 blocks-per-set average … In her collegiate debut, Gilliland collected nine total blocks versus Akron (Jan. 22) and followed with seven more against the Zips the next night (Jan. 23) … She has registered at least two blocks in seven of BSU’s eight matches, including six in the first match at Toledo (Feb. 4), giving her three matches with six-or-more.

NEARLY NO STOPPING HER:

• Marie Plitt continues to pace the squad with a .317 (49-10-123) attack percentage this season, which ranks eighth in the MAC … She hit a season-best .480 (14-2-25) in the Jan. 23 win over Akron, and has hit at least .300 in five of BSU’s eight matches this season … As a freshman last season, Plitt finished the year with a .295 attack percentage … BSU’s single season attack percentage record is currently .391 set by Julie Zylka in 2000.

HUBER DIGGING LIBERO:

• Sophomore Maggie Huber has jumped right into the role of Ball State’s starting libero, ranking first in the MAC and fourth nationally with a 6.26 digs-per-set average … She has registered double-digit digs in all six matches she has played this season, including a career-high 35 digs in each match at Toledo (Feb. 4 & Feb. 5) … Huber played a significant part in Ball State’s backcourt as a freshman last season, collecting double-digit digs in 24 matches and even saw some time as the team’s libero … She finished the year ranked second on the team with a 3.02 digs-per-set average.

DYK LIBERO FACT:

• The last Ball State libero to finish a season with a digs-per-set average above 5.0 was Catie Fredrich in 2012 at 5.02 … Kate Avila, BSU’s libero the last four years, was the next closest with a 4.94 average in 2017.

SERVING IT UP:

• Sophomore defensive specialist Chloe Rickenbach enters the week as one of six players in the MAC with double-digit service aces at 10 … In addition, her 0.36 aces-per-set average is fifth in the league … She has served up at least one ace in five matches, including a season-high three in the second match at Buffalo (Jan. 29) … Maggie Huber is not far behind, ranking ninth in the MAC at 0.30 aces per set after scoring a career-high four in Ball State’s win at Toledo (Feb. 5).

OHIO STATE VB: BUCKEYES BATTLE BACK TO UPSET NO. 8 NITTANY LIONS

(OSU RELEASE)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s volleyball team erased a 2-0 deficit to clinch a hard-fought 3-2 win (17-25, 13-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-8) over No. 8 Penn State on Wednesday at the Covelli Center. The Buckeyes remain undefeated on the season with a 7-0 record while the Nittany Lions drop to 2-3.

Tonight’s win is Ohio State’s first victory against a ranked opponent this season and under first-year head coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg.

The Buckeyes were a force at the net as they earned a season-high 15 blocks. Lauren Witte led the charge with a career-high nine rejections. Vanja Bukilić, Emily Londot and Rylee Rader tallied five blocks apiece and Mac Podraza had three denials.

Londot recorded her third double-double of the year on a match-high 20 kills and 12 digs. Bukilić hit .303 on her way to a season-best 16 kills. Jenaisya Moore joined the duo in double figures with 11 kills.

Once again, Podraza did a little bit of everything as she earned her second straight double-double behind 42 assists and a career-high 15 digs. She also chipped in five kills, three blocks and two aces. Kylie Murr and Hannah Gruensfelder posted 15 and 10 digs, respectively.

SET 1: The Buckeyes burned an early timeout as they trailed 12-7. Penn State pulled away for a 25-17 win.

SET 2: A 9-0 run put the Nittany Lions ahead 13-5. Ohio State tried to get back in the set but fell 25-13.

SET 3: The teams were evenly matched until three straight points put the Buckeyes up 15-12 and forced a Nittany Lion timeout. Ohio State was able to keep Penn State at enough of a distance to take the set, 25-23.

SET 4: Ohio State went on a 4-0 sprint to take an 11-8 lead. The Nittany Lions tied the frame at 12-all and the teams proceeded to trade points. A 6-0 Buckeye run opened the gap, 22-17, and Ohio State held on for a 25-22 triumph.

SET 5: Penn State needed a break after Ohio State scored five straight points. The Nittany Lions used their second timeout down 10-6. The Buckeyes tallied the last four points of the match to complete the comeback, 15-8.

UP NEXT

Ohio State heads to Illinois for a Friday-Saturday series.

HCAC Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Notebook, Week 5

Athletes of the Week:
Men’s Track:
Ja’qway Janvier (Miami Gardens, Fla.) Defiance College | Sophomore – Janvier won three events as the Yellow Jackets hosted the John Hartpence Invitational last Friday. In addition to winning both the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash, Janvier also claimed the long jump title. In the 60 meters, he clocked a time of 6.96 seconds, which is the best in the HCAC and tied for 10th nationally this season.
Men’s Field:
Noah Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Senior – Thomas won the long jump at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Spikes Invitational with a season-best leap of 21′ 6″. He also won the 60-meter dash in 7.13 seconds to help Rose-Hulman win the meet.
Women’s Track:
Zaleeya Martin (Shelbyville, Ind.) Hanover College | Sophomore – Martin posted a record-breaking performance on Friday evening at Rose-Hulman. The sophomore broke the school record in the 60-meter dash, winning the event in a time of 8.0 seconds flat. Her time currently ranks her first among HCAC opponents. She was also a member of the 4×200-meter relay that won the event with a time of 1:57.74.
Women’s Field:
Nosa Igiehon (Wheeling, Ill.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Sophomore – Igiehon won the triple jump, long jump and 60-meter hurdles at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Spikes Meet to help RHIT take home the team win. Igiehon recorded the third best triple jump in RHIT history (36′ 5″) and also the HCAC’s best high jump this season (5′ 3″). She also won the 60-hurdles in 9.60 seconds.
 
Notable Performances:
Men:

  • Andy Vilardo (Bloomington, Ind.) Hanover College | Senior – Vilardo claimed a runner-up finish in the 3,000-meter run to pace the Panthers on the track Friday evening. The senior completed the event in a time of 9:02.96, ranking him fourth among HCAC opponents.
  • Reece Hunter (Mooresville, Ind.) Hanover College | Senior – Hunter claimed the top spot in the high jump on Friday evening, winning the event with a height of 1.85 meters. The jump tied him for first among HCAC opponents.
  • Jacob Bird (Culver, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | First-Year – Bird won both the 200- and 400-meter dash events at the Rose-Hulman Friday Spikes Meet with season-best times of 23.34 and 51.73 seconds. His 400-meter time of 51.73 seconds ranks No. 1 in the HCAC so far this season.
  • Noah Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Senior – Thomas won the long jump at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Spikes Invitational with a season-best leap of 21′ 6″. He also won the 60-meter dash in 7.13 seconds to help Rose-Hulman win the meet.
  • Jacob Burnam (Louisville, Ky.) Transylvania University | Junior – Burnam won the men’s mile run event at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Spikes meet with an HCAC-best time of 4:18.02, a mark that currently ranks 14th in all of NCAA DIII. Later in the night, Burnam led the Pioneers to victory in the men’s 4×400 meter relay. The team won the event in 3:36.55, the second-fastest mark in the conference this season.

Women:

  • Jessica Beckman (Gleenwood, Ind.) Hanover College | Sophomore – The sophomore continued her indoor success on Friday evening as she won the shot put with a toss of 11.32 meters, beating the current conference favorite from Rose-Hulman. The toss moved her into second overall among HCAC opponents.
  • Christina Rogers (Laurel, Md.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Junior -Rogers won the 200-meter dash at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Spikes Meet with a season-best time of 27.56 seconds.
  • Kortney Smith (Louisville, Ky.) Transylvania University | Sophomore – Smith took home a victory in the women’s 800-meter run at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Spikes meet on Friday night. The sophomore posted a time of 2:31.51, the fastest mark in the HCAC this season.

HCAC Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Notebook, Week 5

Athlete of the Week:
Men’s Swimming:
Evan Sellers (Fishers, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | First-Year – Sellers swam the No. 9 fastest time in NCAA Division III this season with a mark of 10:02.05 in the 1,000-freestyle against Washington University (Mo.) on Saturday. Sellers placed second in both the 1,000 and the 500 (4:51.81) to lead Rose-Hulman’s team scoring in a loss to a perennially top five Division III squad.
Men’s Diving:
Michael Nixon (Sunnyvale, Calif.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Junior – Nixon finished second in 1-meter diving against Washington University with a 6-dive score of 162.45 points.
Women’s Swimming:
Brynna Sentel (Sullivan, Ill.) Franklin College | Senior – Sentel turned in a dominant performance in Saturday’s dual win over DePauw, winning three races in a matchup where every point was key as Franklin bested the Tigers 163.5-132.5. She picked up a win in the 1000 freestyle in 10:57.39, the 100 freestyle in 54.31 and the 500 freestyle in 5:15.38 and helped Franklin stay unbeaten in duals in 2021 and run their dual meet winning streak to 37 straight.
Women’s Diving:
Faith Jackson (Greenwood, Ind.) Franklin College | Sophomore – Jackson earned vital points for the Grizzlies in their win over DePauw on Saturday afternoon. She took second place with 238.75 points on the 1-meter board and won on the 3-meter board with 223.20 points.
 
Notable Performances:

  • Samantha Stevens (Eagan, Minn.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Senior – Stevens finished second in 1-meter diving against perennial power Washington University (Mo.), scoring 208.28 points in 6 dives.

BIG 10 MEN’S LACROSSE: Maryland Voted Preseason Favorite in Big Ten Men’s Lacrosse

Four-time Big Ten champion Terrapins named unanimous preseason favorite by coaches

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Maryland has been voted unanimously by the conference coaches as the 2021 Big Ten men’s lacrosse preseason favorite. The Terrapins are followed in the preseason poll by Penn State in second, Ohio State in third and Rutgers in fourth, with Johns Hopkins and Michigan rounding out the poll in fifth and sixth, respectively. All six head coaches voted in the preseason poll and selected three players from their own teams to the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch List.

Last season, Maryland was ranked No. 4 and led all Big Ten teams in the final United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coaches Poll. The Terrapins began 2020 with a 5-1 overall record and secured wins over three Top-20 teams in High Point, Pennsylvania and Notre Dame before the season ended prematurely on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Maryland currently sits at No. 5 in both the 2021 USILA Coaches Poll and the Inside Lacrosse 2021 Media Poll. The Terrapins return two 2019 All-Big Ten honorees in seniors Jared Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas. Prior to the 2021 season, Bernhardt (second team), Bubba Fairman (third team), Justin Shockey (honorable mention), Roman Puglise (honorable mention) and Wisnauskas (honorable mention) were named USILA Preseason All-Americans.

In addition to Maryland, Penn State (No. 6/No. 6), Ohio State (No. 10/No. 8), Rutgers (No. 17/No. 17) and Johns Hopkins (No. 20/No. 19) all appear in the Feb. 15 USILA and Inside Lacrosse polls. Michigan received votes in both polls.

The Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch List features 18 standouts from the six schools, including eight 2019 All-Big Ten honorees.

In total, seven student-athletes on the Players to Watch List were also named 2021 USILA Preseason All-Americans: Maryland’s Bernhardt (second team) and Fairman (third team); Ohio State’s Tre Leclaire (honorable mention) and Ryan Terefenko (first team); Penn State’s Mac O’Keefe (second team); and Rutgers’ Connor Kirst (first team) and Kieran Mullins (honorable mention). Bernhardt, Fairman, Leclaire, Terefenko, O’Keefe and Kirst also received Preseason All-American recognition from Inside Lacrosse and were joined on the list by three additional student-athletes from this year’s Players to Watch List: Johns Hopkins’ Joey Epstein (honorable mention), Maryland’s Brett Makar (honorable mention) and Penn State’s Nick Cardile (third team).

In 2019, Johns Hopkins’ Epstein was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a third-team USILA All-American after scoring 48 goals and adding 25 assists for 73 points. Penn State’s O’Keefe was named the 2019 Big Ten Tournament MVP and a second-team USILA All-American after leading the country in goals (78) and goals per game (4.33).

The 2021 Big Ten Men’s Lacrosse Tournament will be played the week of Saturday, May 1, and will feature a six-team field with the top two teams from the regular season receiving first-round byes. The quarterfinals will be played on the campus of the higher seed on Saturday, May 1. Penn State will host the semifinals on Thursday, May 6, and the championship game on Saturday, May 8.

The 2021 preseason poll and complete Players to Watch List can be found below.

2021 BIG TEN MEN’S LACROSSE PRESEASON POLL

1.         Maryland

2.         Penn State

3.         Ohio State

4.         Rutgers

5.         Johns Hopkins

6.         Michigan

2021 MEN’S LACROSSE PRESEASON PLAYERS TO WATCH LIST

 Connor Desimone Sr. Attack Johns Hopkins
 Joey Epstein Jr. Attack Johns Hopkins
 Cole Williams Gr. Attack/Midfield Johns Hopkins
 Jared Bernhardt Sr. Attack Maryland
 Bubba Fairman Sr. Midfield Maryland
 Brett Makar Jr. Defense Maryland
 Bryce Clay Jr. Attack Michigan
 Avery Myers Gr. Midfield Michigan
 Josh Zawada So. Attack Michigan
 Jeff Henrick Gr. Defense Ohio State
 Tre Leclaire Gr. Attack Ohio State
 Ryan Terefenko Gr. Midfield Ohio State
 Nick Cardile Gr. Defense Penn State
 Mac O’Keefe Gr. Attack Penn State
 Jack Traynor Jr. Midfield Penn State
 Adam Charalambides Gr. Attack Rutgers
Connor KirstGr.Midfield Rutgers
 Kieran Mullins Sr. Attack Rutgers

INDY FUEL HOCKEY: FOUR GOALS GIVES INDY WIN IN FIRST MEETING WITH KOMETS

(FUEL RELEASE)

INDIANAPOLIS – In the first game of four games in five days, the Indy Fuel hosted the Fort Wayne Komets on Wednesday night. Indy would take a 2-1 lead into the locker room after the first period only to score two more goals in the second to eventually earn a 4-1 win over the Komets.

The Fuel opened the scoring early when Peter Krieger jumped on a Fort Wayne turnover and forwarded a pass to Nic Pierog who beat Stefanos Lakkas over the shoulder to give Indy a 1-0 lead. On their first power play chance of the night Matt Marcinew doubled the Fuel’s lead deflecting a point shot by Nic Pierog. Deflecting a shot by Shawn Szydlowski on the power play, Justin Vaive sent the Komets to the locker room down by a goal after 20 minutes.

Scoring his second goal of the night 11 seconds into the middle stanza, Nic Pierog fired a one-timer past Lakkas to give Indy a 3-1 lead. Dylan Malmquist tripled Indy’s lead eight minutes into the second period when he walked down the side boards and wristed a shot past Lakkas, giving the Fuel a 4-1 lead.

With each team killing off a penalty of their own, both goaltenders would hold strong for the first half of the period. Fighting off 10 shots in the third period, Dan Bakala would shut out the Komets in the final 10 minutes of the game to give Indy a 4-1 win on Wednesday night.

Various ticket options are now on sale for the Fuel’s 7th season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Lock up your seat for every second of the action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with a Fuel Ticket Plan – grab yours by heading to IndyFuelHockey.com or by calling the Fuel front office at 317-925-FUEL. Don’t forget to follow the Fuel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (IndyFuel) for news, updates, contests and much more throughout the 2020-21 season.