#19 LSU 68 #13 GEORGIA 62

















Steelers’ Roethlisberger says Monday could be last home game

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Monday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns could be his last at Heinz Field.

“I don’t ever speak in definites or guarantees,” Roethlisberger said on Thursday. “That’s just not what I’ve ever done, or who I am. But looking at the bigger picture, I would say that all signs are pointing that this could be it.”

The 39-year-old insisted that he won’t make any final decisions until after the season, and Roethlisberger noted that his team remains in the playoff hunt.

But for now, the veteran quarterback publicly acknowledged for the first time that he could play his final home game on Monday.

“I’ll address the definite answer at some point down the road,” Roethlisberger said. “My focus is on winning this game. If it is indeed my last regular-season game (at Heinz Field), it’s going to be one of the most important games of my career.”

Roethlisberger, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2004 draft, is the franchise leader in just about every major statistical passing category. He has led Pittsburgh to three Super Bowl appearances and two championships in a franchise-record 18 seasons with the organization.

If this is it for Roethlisberger, he will retire in the top 10 in NFL history in three major statistical categories, fifth in yards passing (63,721), fifth in regular-season wins (163), and he’s eighth with 416 touchdown passes. Roethlisberger is 91-31 during the regular season at Heinz Field, the third-most wins by a quarterback at a venue, trailing only Tom Brady and John Elway.

“I’ve been so blessed to play in front of the best fans in all sports at the best venue,” Roethlisberger said. “What better way to have a last regular-season game than `Monday Night Football’ against a division opponent.”

Roethlisberger could be making his last start at Heinz Field against a team he has handled for years. It’s been an uneven season for Roethlisberger, who has thrown for 3,373 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But one of the highlights came in a 15-10 victory at Cleveland on Halloween, his 25th victory in 28 games against the Browns.

Roethlisberger will need at least one more win against the Browns if the Steelers want to make the playoffs this season.

“This is the Browns. This is a division opponent, and they’re hungry to come in and get a win, too,” Roethlisberger said. “I can sit here all week and be nostalgic, and think about everything that my career has been, but I have to focus on this game because it’s the most important game of the season for us.”

Pittsburgh will need more than a win against Cleveland to reach the playoffs. The 7-7-1 Steelers will also need a win at Baltimore in Week 18 and outside help to make the playoffs for a second straight season.

Pittsburgh still has an outside chance at the division title, and another game at Heinz Field for Roethlisberger, but any scenario starts with losses by Baltimore and Cincinnati on Sunday.

“I’ve given almost half of my life to this city, this team and the fans,” Roethlisberger said. “But the fun thing is I know I still have it in the tank to go out there this week and next week and give it everything I have to get us into the postseason. The ultimate goal is to win a Lombardi, and that’s still my goal.”

Last offseason, Roethlisberger took a voluntary pay cut to ease some of the burden of a $41 million salary cap hit. That helped ensure Roethlisberger’s return for an 18th season to the only NFL team he’s ever known.

“Coming into this season, I’ve always been one that has wanted to fulfill my obligation to my team,” Roethlisberger said. “And I don’t have a contract next season, so I guess the writing was on the wall. I wouldn’t say that I had my mind made up by any means. But I had my mind made up coming into this season that I was going to give everything I had to try and win a Super Bowl.”

Roethlisberger hasn’t made a public announcement regarding his future to teammates, but he feels that “some guys know what’s going on.” Roethlisberger said he’s largely been able to control his emotions because of the game’s magnitude and playoff implications it holds for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger said he doesn’t want any pomp and circumstance for what could be his final game at Heinz Field. He just wants a win for his team.

“All I ever said I wanted to do is win,” Roethlisberger said. “To me, that will always mean more than yards and touchdowns. I just want to win a football game because it’s so important for our season right now.”


The Denver Broncos canceled practice Thursday as they retested five players whose results showed both positive and negative results. They held virtual meetings and planned to expand Friday’s practice to make up for the lost time on the field.

“The decision was made because we have some positives today. Some may be false positives. We’re working through that,” coach Vic Fangio said. “We’ll come out with the list here later today (with who) might be on it.

“I just felt that we needed to hit the pause button, get our hands around what we’ve got here as far as numbers and roster and we’re going to hold the meeting here this afternoon instead of practicing and the hope is tomorrow to have a good practice on Friday and Saturday and go out there and get us a W.”

After confirming infections, the Broncos placed four players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including two starters in nickel back Bryce Callahan and right tackle Bobby Massie. The others are backup outside linebacker Stephen Weatherly and reserve cornerback/special teams ace Mike Ford.

The Broncos (7-8) visit the Chargers (8-7) Sunday.

On Wednesday, the Broncos activated starting center Lloyd Cushenberry III off the reserve/COVID-19 list and placed wide receiver Tim Patrick, swing tackle Calvin Anderson and backup safety Caden Sterns on the virus list along with practice squad wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland.


– Browns center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president, was activated from the COVID-19 reserve list as Cleveland got a little healthier heading into its Monday night game at Pittsburgh.

Tretter, whose tenure as president has spanned the epidemic, missed last week’s loss at Green Bay after testing positive. He had not missed a snap since signing with the Browns in 2017 after three seasons with the Packers.

Browns rookie cornerback Greg Newsome, who had also been in concussion protocol, returned along with kicker Chase McLaughlin.

– Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth came off the reserve/COVID-19 list, becoming the final starter to leave a list that has had at least 35 Rams over the past month.

Los Angeles’ COVID-19 problems forced the two-day postponement of their game against Seattle two weeks ago, but Whitworth’s return to practice leaves injured running back Raymond Calais as the only player on the Rams’ list.

The 40-year-old Whitworth went on the list on Christmas morning, and he missed the Rams’ 30-23 win at Minnesota. Guard David Edwards and undrafted rookie Alaric Jackson filled in for Whitworth at left tackle.

– The New York Jets got four starters back from the COVID-19 list as left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, defensive end John Franklin-Myers and safety Ashtyn Davis were all activated.

Practice squad wide receiver Vyncint Smith and defensive end Hamilcar Rashed Jr. were also restored to the practice squad from the practice squad/COVID-19 list.

Running back Tevin Coleman and defensive back Zane Lewis, currently on IR, were added to the list. The Jets had as many as 25 players on the COVID-19 list earlier this week, plus coach Robert Saleh, who returned to the team Wednesday. New York was down to 13 on the list Thursday night.

– The New York Giants had some more movement on their COVID-19 list. Starting right tackle Nate Solder was taken off the list after a week. He is ramping up in hopes of returning Sunday against the Bears in Chicago. Matt Peart started for him last week and suffered an ACL injury. Korey Cunningham, who replaced Peart, was added to the COVID-19 list along with receiver Darius Slayton and practice squad linebacker Omari Cobb. They will join defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence and Danny Shelton and defensive back Julian Love on the COVID-19 list.

– The Minnesota Vikings have placed linebacker Nick Vigil on the reserve/Covid-19 list.

– The Cincinnati Bengals returned defensive tackle D.J. Reader and defensive end Wyatt Ray to the active roster from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Both players had been on list since Dec. 25.

– Seattle placed starting left guard Damien Lewis on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He’s the third player on the virus list for Seattle along with defensive end L.J. Collier and cornerback Bless Austin.

– The Titans got their third starting offensive lineman back from the reserve/COVID-19 list in as many days with right guard Nate Davis activated. Rookie defensive back Caleb Farley also was removed from that list, but he remains on injured reserve.

– The Green Bay Packers activated wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling off the reserve/COVID-19 list and signed wide receiver David Moore to the practice squad.

– The Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

– The Houston Texans placed wide receiver Danny Amendola on the reserve/COVID-19 list and placed defensive back A.J. Moore Jr. on the list.

– The Carolina Panthers added safety Kenny Robinson, defensive end Darryl Johnson and practice squad running back Reggie Bonnafon to the COVID-19 list.

Ravens sign OL Patrick Mekari to 3-year extension

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens signed offensive lineman Patrick Mekari to a three-year extension Thursday.

The new deal keeps Mekari under contract through the 2024 season. The 24-year-old Mekari has played in 36 games with Baltimore, including 23 starts.

“We are excited to sign Patrick Mekari to a three-year contract extension through the 2024 season,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “Pat is an easy decision. He’s tough and gritty, smart, versatile and a five-position player who does everything the right way.”

The Ravens also activated quarterback Tyler Huntley and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Baltimore put offensive lineman Tyre Phillips (knee) on injured reserve.

Lamar Jackson did not practice for the Ravens on Thursday after being limited Wednesday. He’s missed the last two games because of an ankle injury.



Bulldogs Extend The Nation’s Longest Active Bowl Streak to 25 Games Third-ranked Georgia will face second-ranked Michigan in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. The Bulldogs (12-1) will represent the SEC in their second CFP appearance while the Wolverines (12-1) hail from the Big Ten and will be making their first appearance in a CFP contest. The winner of this contest will then advance to the CFP National Championship in Indianapolis on Jan. 10. The Bulldogs rank second nationally with 57 bowl appearances. They have made a school record 24 consecutive appearances, the nation’s longest active bowl streak. Georgia owns an all-time 33-21-3 record in bowl games. Last season, No. 9 Georgia won the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, beating an undefeated No. 8 Cincinnati squad 24-21. Orange Bowl History For The Bulldogs This will mark Georgia’s fourth trip to the Orange Bowl and first since 1960. The Bulldogs own a 2-1 record, topping TCU 40-26 in UGA’s first bowl game on Jan. 1, 1942, falling to Texas 41-28 on Jan. 1, 1949, and blanking No. 18 Missouri 14-0 on Jan. 1, 1960. Georgia-Michigan Series History Georgia and Michigan have squared off only twice and both of the matchups have come in Ann Arbor. The Bulldogs lost the first contest and won the second showdown. In the third game of the 1957 season, the Bulldogs traveled to Michigan and fell to the 10th-ranked Wolverines 26-0. Eight years later, College Football Hall of Famer and then second-year head coach Vince Dooley took his 10th-ranked team to Michigan’s campus and upset the seventh-ranked Wolverines 15-7 in what was also the third game on Georgia’s slate that season. Salute To The Seniors The 2021 Bulldog seniors will be playing their 14th game of this season in the CFP Semifinal. They enter the matchup with a 43-8 record. The most wins by a Georgia class is 44, and that’s been done three times including by the past two teams: 44-9 (2005), 44-12 (2019) and 44-9 (2020). This group of Bulldogs has won three SEC Eastern Division crowns, including the 2021 division title, and won the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl and 2021 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Georgia’s most decorated senior class came in 1983 as it went 43-4-1, winning the 1980 National Championship and three SEC titles (1980-82). Last year’s senior class concluded its career with a 44-9 record, including a CFP Semifinal victory over No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game and a trip to the National Championship. Aiming for Thirteen This season marked the first time since 1980 that the Bulldogs went 12-0 during the regular season. Georgia became only the fourth team in school history to finish a regular season undefeated and untied with double-digit victories (1946, 1980, 1982). Prior to this season, Vince Dooley’s 1980 consensus national champion was the last Georgia squad to go 12-0 after defeating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. The school record for wins in a season is 13, and that’s been done twice (2002 under Mark Richt and 2017 under Kirby Smart). * Mark Richt’s 2002 squad went 13-1, winning the SEC title over Arkansas and the Sugar Bowl over Florida State. It finished ranked No. 3. * Smart’s 2017 team finshed at 13-2, defeated Auburn for the league title and Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game/CFP Semifinal, before losing in overtime to Alabama in the CFP National Championship. It had a final ranking of No. 2.

Bulldogs Reap Rewards from Historic Season With some post-season awards yet to be announced, Georgia has already claimed a substantial share of the bounty. On Dec. 9, senior tackle Jordan Davis won the Outland Trophy — which goes annually to the nation’s top interior lineman, offense or defense — and the Bednarik Award, which goes to the top defensive player. Earlier, junior OLB Nakobe Dean won the Butkus Award, which goes each year to the nation’s top linebacker. Both Davis and Dean were also named to the Walter Camp All-America First Team, and OL Jamaree Salyer earned second-team All-America honors. A total of 10 Bulldogs won All-SEC honors, as voted by the league’s 14 head coaches. Head Coach Kirby Smart was named 2021 SEC Coach of the Year, while tight end Brock Bowers was named SEC Freshman of the Year.


This will be the third meeting between Michigan and Georgia.

Each team’s picked up a victory in the series.

Both previous games were played more than 55 years ago at Michigan Stadium, a 26 – 0 victory for the Wolverines in 1957 and a 15 – 7 win the Bulldogs during the 1965 season.

This will be the 19th time that Michigan plays a bowl game in the state of Florida.

The Wolverines have won six of their last 12 bowl appearances in the state of Florida.

Michigan is compiled a 9 – 9 bowl record in Florida and has one of its last 16 bowl games in the state.

Michigan is 3 – 1 against schools from the state of Florida in bowl games played in the Sunshine State.

This will be the 17th time that Michigan faces a Southeastern conference school in a bowl game.

The Wolverine have an 8 – 8 mark against the SEC in bowl games.

Michigan is no stranger to the Southeastern conference and will face an SEC school for the third time in school history.

The Wolverines have a 25 – 11 – 1 all-time record against schools from the SEC.

The most recent bowl matchup with the SEC team in the 2020 Citrus bowl, a 35 – 16 loss to Alabama on New Year’s Day.

Michigan has a 4 – 0 record this season and night games and will play its fifth on New Year’s Eve against Georgia in the Capital One Orange bowl.

The Wolverines will play their 68th night game in school history.

Michigan has compiled a 40 – 27 overall record in games starting after 5 PM local time.

Michigan has posted a 9 – 2 record at Michigan Stadium, a 25 – 16 record on the road and 5 – 9 record on a neutral site.

This will be coach Jim Harbaugh’s eighth bowl game as head coach.

Harbaugh enters the Orange bowl with a 2 – 5 record in bowl games, including 1 – 4 record at Michigan.



THE ALABAMA-CINCINNATI SERIES: Alabama and Cincinnati will meet for the first time at a neutral site and the sixth time overall in the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide holds a perfect 5-0 mark in the previous pairings and has outscored the Bearcats by a 156-27 margin in those contests.

ALABAMA IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: Alabama will be playing in its 12th College Football Playoff matchup when the Crimson Tide meets No. 4/4/4 Cincinnati in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 31, 2021. The Crimson Tide is 8-3 all-time in College Football Playoff games since the playoff’s inception in 2014 and is the only team to appear in seven of the eight playoffs. Alabama also holds the record for the most games played and wins in the history of the CFP. The Crimson Tide claimed CFP National Championships in 2015, 2017 and 2020 and has reached the National Championship Game in five of its six seasons in the Playoff.

INSIDE THE SERIES Overall: Sixth meeting (Alabama leads, 5-0) At Neutral Sites: N/A Current Streak: Alabama, Won 5 Last Meeting: Nov. 17, 1990 (W, 45-7) Series Notes: Alabama and Cincinnati will meet for the first time at a neutral site, and the sixth time overall, in the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide holds a perfect 5-0 mark in the previous pairings and has outscored the Bearcats by a 156-27 margin in those contests. Alabama head coach Nick Saban has never faced Cincinnati during his time as a collegiate head coach. Additionally, Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell has never squared off with the Crimson Tide during his six-year head coaching career.

ALABAMA WINS 29th SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: With its 41-24 win over then-No. 1/1/1 Georgia in the 2021 Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 4, Alabama captured its 29th SEC title. The Crimson Tide has now won seven of the last 10 league crowns (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021) and is unbeaten in its last eight SEC Championship Game appearances (2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021).

SEC WESTERN DIVISION TITLE: Alabama’s 42-35 win against then-No. 25/21/22 Arkansas on Nov. 20 clinched the program’s 16th SEC Western Division title (14th outright). The Crimson Tide represented the Western Division against SEC Eastern Division champion Georgia in the 2021 SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, defeating the Bulldogs, 41-24. The appearance in Atlanta marked Alabama’s 14th in the SEC Championship Game with the Crimson Tide holding a record of 10-4 across that stretch, including an 8-1 record in the SEC Championship Game under head coach Nick Saban.

THE 12-WIN CLUB: With its 41-24 win over then-No. 1/1/1 Georgia in the 2021 Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 4, Alabama reached the 12-win mark for the 11th time in the last 14 seasons under head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide also reached the 12-win plateau in 2008 (12), 2009 (14), 2011 (12), 2012 (13), 2014 (12), 2015 (14), 2016 (14), 2017 (13), 2018 (14), 2020 (13) and 2021. Across those 11 seasons with 12-or-more wins, Alabama has won eight Southeastern Conference titles and six national championships, including three College Football Playoff national titles in 2015, 2017 and 2020.

TIDE REACHES 11 WINS FOR THE 25TH TIME: With the win at Auburn on Nov. 27 to close out the 2021 regular season, Alabama secured its 11th victory of the year, marking the 25th time in program history that the Tide has achieved the feat. Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has had 13 11-win seasons (2008-09, 2011- 21). It is the 11th straight season with at least 11 wins, which is the longest streak of its kind in SEC history. The SEC has had three streaks of three seasons with at least 11 victories, including Alabama from 1973-75, LSU from 2005-07 and South Carolina from 2011-13.

SEC RECORD FOR 10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama extended its record for most consecutive 10-win seasons in SEC history to 14 when it defeated then-No. 25/21/22 Arkansas on Nov. 20 in Tuscaloosa. It ties Florida State and head coach Bobby Bowden for the longest such record in college football history. In the Tide’s previous 10-plus win seasons, UA finished with a 12-2 record in 2008 and 2014; 14-0 in 2009; 10-3 in 2010; 12-1 in 2011; 13-1 in 2012 and 2017; 11-2 in 2013 and 2019; 14-1 in 2015, 2016 and 2018; and a perfect 13-0 in 2020.

NEUTRAL SITES: Alabama is 96-50-4 (.653) all-time in 150 neutral site contests. The list includes all Alabama/Auburn games not played on campus, including Legion Field from 1948-88. Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide is 28-6 (.824) in neutral site games. Alabama is 2-0 in neutral site games this season, defeating then-No. 1/1/1 Georgia, 41-24, on Dec. 4 after previously beating then- No-14/16 Miami, 44-13, on Sept. 4, both at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Alabama’s last loss at a neutral site came at the hands of Clemson in the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Santa Clara, Calif.

DOMINATING THE AP TOP 25: Alabama’s season-opening win over then-No. 14 Miami in the 2021 Chickfil-A Kickoff Game was head coach Nick Saban’s 22nd career win by 25-plus points against a ranked opponent. Saban is the all-time leader for the most wins by 25-plus points in the Associated Press Poll era (since 1936), passing Bobby Bowden’s previous record of 20. Saban is also the NCAA record holder with 23 career wins of 20-plus points against AP top-15 opponents, including Alabama’s 42-21 win against then-No. 12 Ole Miss on Oct. 2. Twenty of Saban’s 23 20-plus point wins against AP top-15 opponents have come at the Capstone.

AGAINST THE TOP 10: Alabama owns an 83-77-1 all-time record against teams ranked in the top-10 of the Associated Press Poll. Since the start of the 2008 season, the Crimson Tide has posted a 34-11 (.756) overall record against top-10 teams, including a 19-5 (.792) mark versus the top 10 since the inception of the College Football Playoff. In Saban’s six national championship seasons at Alabama, his teams have gone 18-2 against top-10 opponents.

SABAN LEADS IN WINS VS. TOP-FIVE TEAMS: Alabama’s 41-24 win over then-No. 1 Georgia in the 2021 SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4 was Nick Saban’s 28th career victory against a team ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, the most in college football history. Saban’s 28-14 career record in top-five contests gives him a .667 winning percentage, which is also college football’s best. Following Saban on the all-time victory list are Bobby Bowden (18/.378 winning percentage), Barry Switzer (15/.516), Woody Hayes (15/.516), Steve Spurrier (15/.429) and Lou Holtz (15/.419). Saban’s record includes eight wins in the College Football Playoff: No. 3 Michigan State (38-0) and No. 1 Clemson (45-40) in 2015; No. 4 Washington (24-7) in 2016; No. 1 Clemson (24-6) and No. 3 Georgia (26-23) in 2017; No. 4 Oklahoma (45-34) in 2018; No. 4 Notre Dame (31-14) and No. 3 Ohio State (52-24) in 2020. Alabama also went 3-0 in BCS National Championship Games (vs. Texas, 37-21, 2009; vs. LSU, 21-0, 2011; vs. Notre Dame, 42-14, 2012).

ALABAMA IN THE AP POLL: Alabama’s No. 1 ranking in the most recent Associated Press Poll on Dec. 5 marked the 228th consecutive week that the Crimson Tide has appeared in the poll. That streak is the longest active streak in college football. The 228 weeks more than triples second-place Georgia with the Bulldogs appearing in the poll for 81 consecutive weeks. Clemson previously held the second-longest streak behind the Crimson Tide with 107 straight appearances but did not appear in the Week 6 iteration of the 2021 poll. Before that, Ohio State held the second-longest streak with 132 straight weeks but did not appear in the Week 2 iteration of the 2020 poll. Alabama’s 228 straight weeks tops the Crimson Tide’s previous program-long streak of 71 consecutive weeks under head coach Gene Stallings in the mid-1990s.

ALABAMA IN THE AP SINCE 2008: Alabama began the 2008 season at No. 24 in the Associated Press Preseason Poll. The Crimson Tide opened the year with a dominant 34-10 win over then-No. 9 Clemson in Atlanta, and since that win over the Tigers, UA has not been ranked lower than No. 17 in 224 polls that have followed. According to College Poll Archive, the Tide has now spent 96.8 percent of the 12-plus years ranked in the top 10. A whopping 87.8 percent of that time Alabama has been ranked in the top five. The Crimson Tide has also been ranked No. 1 a total of 106 times since 2008. Only 13 other teams have earned the No. 1 ranking over that time, with the second-most appearances coming from Clemson at 23.

MORE THAN A DECADE AT NO. 1: With Alabama’s Aug. 16, 2021 preseason ranking at No. 1, the Crimson Tide has been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll at least once each season since 2008. The 14-year streak is the longest in the history of the AP rankings. The previous long streak was seven seasons by Miami (Fla.) from 1986-92.


UNDEFEATED CINCINNATI FACES NO. 1 ALABAMA IN THE CFP SEMIFINAL • No. 4 Cincinnati became the first non-Power 5 team to make the College Football Playoff after finishing as the nation’s only undefeated team and beating Houston, 35-20, on Dec. 4 to win a second-straight AAC Championship. • The Bearcats will face the Crimson Tide in the 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. • UC will play in its fourth New Year’s Six Bowl, joining appearances in the 2009 Orange Bowl, 2010 Sugar Bowl and the 2021 Peach Bowl. Cincinnati fell to Georgia, 24-21, in Atlanta last postseason. • Alabama enters the game with a 12-1 record after beating Georgia, 41-24 in the SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide is led by Heisman Trophy-winning QB Bryce Young and SEC Defensive Player of the Year DE Will Anderson. • Cincinnati features the nation’s top cornerback tandem in senior Coby Bryant and junior Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. Bryant won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back, becoming the first Bearcat to win a national award since kicker Jonathan Ruffin won the Groza Award in 2000. Gardner became UC’s third ever consensus All-American, joining Ruffin (2000) and punter Kevin Huber (2007-08). • Luke Fickell won nearly every national Coach of the Year honor, taking home The Home Depot National Coach of the Year honor, the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and The Sporting News Coach of the Year among several honors.

FICKELL HAS BEEN HERE BEFORE • Luke Fickell was Ohio State’s defensive coordinator when the No. 4-ranked Buckeyes defeated No. 1 Alabama, 42-35, in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Sugar Bowl to cap the 2014 season – the CFP’s first year. • Led by Fickell’s defense, OSU shut down No. 2 Oregon to win the first CFP National Championship, 42-20, held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Fickell also won a national championship as part of Ohio State’s staff in 2002.

RIDDER NEARS SINGLE-SEASON TOUCHDOWN PASS AND YARDAGE RECORDS • Senior QB Desmond Ridder holds countless Cincinnati and AAC records. He enters the CFP Semifinal nearing another record. With 30 touchdown passes in 2021, he is one behind the school record of 31 set by Ben Mauk (2007) and Gunner Kiel (2014). • Ridder has 3,190 passing yards this season. He needs 353 yards to tie the single-season school record of 3,543 set by current quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Gino Guidugli in 2002. • Ridder (12,280 career total yards) broke the AAC and Cincinnati total yardage records earlier this season. He is also the AAC’s and Cincinnnati’s all-time leader in total touchdowns with 116 (87 passing, 28 rushing, 1 receiving). He broke Guidugli’s career touchdown pass mark of 79 earlier in the season.

BEARCATS IN RECENT BOWLS • Cincinnati led most of the game before falling on a field goal with :03 left to Georgia, 24-21, in the 2021 Peach Bowl to cap a 9-1 2020 season on Jan. 1, 2021. RB Jerome Ford had a 79-yard touchdown run, while QB Desmond Ridder passed for 206 yards with scoring tosses to WR Alec Pierce and TE Josh Whyle. CB Coby Bryant had an interception, while LBs Darrian Beavers and Joel Dublanko forced fumbles in the game. CB Ahmad Gardner did not play in the game. • UC routed Boston College, 38-6, in the Birmingham Bowl, on Jan. 2, 2020 at Legion Field, which featured a lightning delay. Ridder rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns in the game, while throwing for another score. • Cincinnati defeated Virginia Tech, 35-31, in the 2018 Military Bowl on Dec. 31, 2018, in a game that featured seven lead changes and 905 yards of combined offense. RB Michael Warren rushed for 166 yards and two TDs to earn MVP honors, while UC backup QB Hayden Moore came in for Ridder, who was injured early in the game.

CINCINNATI PROVES IT’S ELITE • No. 4 Cincinnati and No. 3 Georgia are the only two teams in the nation that rank in the Top 10 in both scoring offense (UC – 39.2, 8th) and scoring defense (UC – 16.1, 4th). • Cincinnati sports a 22-1 record (.957) since the start of 2020, with the Bearcats only loss over the last 24 months coming by three points, 24-21, to Georgia in the 2020 Peach Bowl, on Jan. 1, 2021. • Against ranked teams, UC is 2-0 in 2021 and 5-1 since the start of 2020. Fickell is 6-8 against ranked teams with UC. • Six Bearcats accepted Senior Bowl invitations: QB Desmond Ridder, WR Alec Pierce, LB Darrian Beavers, CB Coby Bryant, S Bryan Cook and DE Myjai Sanders. • 16 Bearcats collected All-AAC honors, including 12 on the First Team. Head Coach Luke Fickell and quarterback Desmond Ridder both repeated as AAC Coach of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, respectively. Gardner won AAC Defensive Player of the Year.

BREAKING RECORDS IN THE CLASSROOM • Desmond Ridder and Alec Pierce became the fifth and sixth CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Americans in school history in December, while Lorenz Metz and Brian Cook collected second team honors. The Bearcats led the nation with four Academic All-Americans. UC posted a school-record GPA (3.212) in spring 2021. • Cincinnati saw 19 players graduate this December. Four-year players under Luke Fickell have a 100% graduation rate.

Hester, Ware, Andre Johnson 1st-year Hall of Fame finalists

(AP) — DeMarcus Ware, Andre Johnson and Devin Hester, all in their first year of eligibility, are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2022.

The 15 modern-day players who will be considered on Jan. 18 by the selection committee include tackle Tony Boselli, in his sixth year as a finalist, and defensive lineman Richard Seymour, in his fourth year.

Other finalists announced Thursday are safety Leroy Butler, wide receivers Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne, linebackers Sam Mills and Zach Thomas – all finalists for the third time; defensive linemen Jared Allen and Bryant Young, and cornerback Ronde Barber, two-time finalists; and tackle Willie Anderson and linebacker Patrick Willis, their first time in the finals.

A maximum of five modern-day players can be elected for enshrinement in August to the Canton, Ohio, hall. The inductees will be announced on Feb. 10 at NFL Honors, the prime-time TV program during which The Associated Press reveals its individual award winners for the 2021 season.

Three others – Dick Vermeil in the coaching category, Art McNally as a contributor, and Cliff Branch as a senior player – also are candidates for the class of 2022. Voting on each of those three will be held individually.

Hester is the rare finalist who made his mark mostly on special teams. He opened the 2007 Super Bowl for Chicago with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the only time in Super Bowl history that has occurred. An All-Pro three times, Hester was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s and one of two return specialists on the NFL 100 All-Time Team.

Thomas, a five-time All-Pro, also was a regular on special teams, for Miami, and made his mark as one of the surest tacklers in football as an outstanding linebacker from 1996-2008, a golden era for the position.

Boselli has been part of a strong group of offensive linemen considered for the Hall of Fame in recent years. Kevin Mawae, Steve Hutchinson and Alan Faneca preceded the former Jaguars star into the hall. A three-time All-Pro, Boselli made the All-Decade Team of the 1990s despite playing only half the decade.

Like Boselli, Butler is in his 16th year of eligibility. The Packers’ hard-hitting safety, a four-time All-Pro who also made the All-Decade Team of the 1990s, was among the most versatile defensive backs the game has seen.

The late Mills is under consideration in his 20th and final year of eligibility as a modern-day candidate. A three-time All-Pro who made his mark initially in the USFL, Mills then starred for the Saints and expansion Panthers – helping Carolina to the NFC championship game in its second season.

Ware, a four-time All-Pro, led the Cowboys in sacks for eight seasons, topped the NFL with 20 sacks in 2008 and 15 1/2 in 2010, and won a Super Bowl with Denver for the 2015 season. He finished with 138 1/2 sacks and made the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

Johnson, the other first-year eligible in the final 15, twice made the All-Pro team during a strong time for wide receivers. He led the league in receptions twice (103 in 2006 and 115 in 2008) and in receiving yards twice (1,575 yards in 2008 and 1,569 yards in 2009). Johnson finished his career with 1,062 receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 receiving touchdowns.

Two of his contemporaries, Holt and Wayne, also are in the finals. Holt was selected to NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s and won a Super Bowl with the 1999 Rams. Wayne retired as NFL’s second all-time leading receiver in the postseason with 93 catches and won a Super Bowl with the Colts.

Anderson was considered one of the elite right tackles in the game for 13 pro seasons with Cincinnati and Baltimore, making three All-Pro squads.

Pass-rushing standout Allen was a four-time All-Pro who led the NFL in sacks twice (2007, 2011) while playing for the Chiefs, Vikings, Bears and Panthers. The versatile Seymour, a three-time All-Pro selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, played in four Super Bowls for New England. Young was the 1999 Comeback Player of the Year and had 89 1/2 career sacks for San Francisco while being voted to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

Young’s last season in 2007 was the first for Willis with the 49ers – and he won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2010s, he was a five-time All-Pro.

Barber was one of the league’s stingiest cover cornerbacks during his 26 seasons in Tampa, where he also played some safety. A key to the Cover-2 defensive scheme, Barber was a three-time All-Pro and a member of NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s. He led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2001 and won a Super Bowl the next season.

Thorne leads No. 11 Spartans past No. 13 Pitt in Peach Bowl

ATLANTA (AP) Payton Thorne’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Reed gave No. 11 Michigan State the lead with less than three minutes remaining and the Spartans overcame an 11-point deficit to beat No. 13 Pittsburgh 31-21 on Thursday night in the Peach Bowl.

Linebacker Cal Haladay’s 78-yard interception return for a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining ended Pitt fill-in quarterback Davis Beville’s bid for a last-minute comeback in the game the Panthers played without star QB Kenny Pickett.

Thorne threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as Michigan State (11-2) rallied after trailing 21-10.

Cam Bright returned a fumble recovery 26 yards for a touchdown only 20 seconds into the second half for Pittsburgh (11-3). The Panthers lost fill-in starting quarterback Nick Patti to an injury in the first quarter.

Defensive end John Morgan forced the fumble by Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne that was returned by Bright for a 21-10 lead.

It was the second big play by Pitt’s defense. Brandon Hill’s interception late in the first half set up an 87-yard touchdown drive for a 14-10 lead.

Thorne’s 15-yard scoring pass to tight end Connor Heyward cut the Panthers’ lead to 21-16 with 8:06 remaining. The Spartans were stopped on their 2-point play, with Heyward kept out of the end zone on another reception.

Thorne completed 29 of 50 passes for 354 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Thorne’s scoring pass to Reed with 2:51 remaining gave the Spartans a 22-21 lead. A 2-point pass to Jalen Nailor pushed the lead to three points.

With Pickett, who opted out of the game after finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting, watching from a coach’s box, the Panthers’ transition at quarterback quickly took on added drama.

Making his first start since 2019, Patti was knocked out of the game in the first quarter.

On third down from the Michigan State 16 on the Panthers’ second possession, Patti dropped back before taking off on a run and diving for the end zone, reaching out for the touchdown before landing hand on his left shoulder.

Patti grabbed his shoulder after rising to his feet and was escorted to the Pitt locker room. When he returned later in the first half, he was not wearing shoulder pads and his left arm was in a sling.

Beville, a sophomore who threw only four passes and played in only two games in the regular season, took over for Patti and completed 14 of 18 passes for 149 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Brandon Hill’s interception of Thorne’s pass for Maliq Carr gave Pitt the ball at its 13, setting up the 87-yard touchdown drive.

Beville completed passes of 10 and 52 yards to Jordan Addison, the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver, against Michigan State’s pass defense, which ranked last in the nation. Beville’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Jared Wayne gave the Panthers a 14-10 halftime lead.

Addison had seven catches for 114 yards.


Pitt: The game was expected to be a chance for Patti to make his case for the starting job next season. Former Southern Cal starter Kedon Slovis has announced he is transferring to Pitt and also will be part of the competition. Beville may have shown enough to be another contender.

Michigan State: Thorne showed poise in regrouping from a slow start. His two turnovers – one on an interception and one on a fumble – were costly, leading to two touchdowns. Thorne took advantage of his experience to take over the game in the final quarter.


Due to rain throughout the morning and most of the afternoon, the annual Peach Bowl parade in downtown Atlanta was canceled. The rain stopped in time for the retractable roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to be open for the game.

With the roof open, fans would have been strongly encouraged to wear masks, which remained mandatory in enclosed areas of the stadium.

Beamer gets mayonnaise bath as South Carolina wins Mayo Bowl

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Shane Beamer anticipated getting a bucket of mayonnaise dumped over his head would be awful.

And yet, it was worse than he could have imagined.

Beamer got hit in the back of the head by the cooler before 4 1/2 gallons of mayo cascaded over his face and down his shirt, capping the Gamecocks’ celebration after their 38-21 victory over North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Thursday.

“I got hammered in the back of the head from the cooler – and then came the mayo,” Beamer said. “I may have a concussion. It was awful.”

He changed his shirt for the postgame news conference, but joked, “I still have mayo in my pockets.”

But, for Beamer, it was all worth it to cap the season with a bowl win.

Jaheim Bell had five catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns for South Carolina (7-6), which rebounded nicely after it lost 30-0 to Clemson in its regular-season finale on Nov. 27. Kevin Harris added 169 yards rushing and a score.

Bell, a sophomore tight end, got free for a 69-yard touchdown reception from converted wide receiver Dakereon Joyner and hauled in a 66-yard TD catch from former graduate assistant coach Zeb Noland on South Carolina’s first two possessions. Juju McDowell added a 35-yard TD run in the second quarter as South Carolina averaged 11.6 yards per play while opening a 25-13 halftime lead.

“Everyone on offense was locked in and keyed into the details,” Bell said.

Sam Howell threw for 205 yards and a touchdown, and reserve running back British Brooks had a bowl record 63-yard touchdown run for the Tar Heels (6-7).

South Carolina rushed for 301 yards, despite Tar Heels coach Mack Brown saying North Carolina’s game plan was to stop the run.

“You’re not going to win football games like that,” Brown said. “They ran it, we didn’t.”


South Carolina rotated Joyner and Noland under center, and both were effective.

Joyner came into the game having attempted only one pass this season and 31 in his college career. But the element of surprise proved effective on the Gamecocks’ first possession, when Joyner hit the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Bell in stride down the middle of the field.

Joyner, who was named the game’s most valuable player, finished 9-of-9 passing for 160 yards and also ran for 64 yards.

“The element of making them defend the quarterback run was big,” Beamer said. “And he’s a talented thrower, too. … We just wanted to give them something else to defend.”

Joyner, who has struggled at times to find a role with the Gamecocks, said he learned about playing quarterback during the first bowl practice earlier this month.

“This means everything to me,” Joyner said. “This still feels like a dream. I thank God for preparing me these last four years. Never give up on your dreams. Adversity will come, but it’s how you overcome it.”

Beamer said in hindsight he should have used Joyner more at quarterback earlier in the season.


Howell, a projected first-round pick in the NFL draft, wouldn’t say if he plans to turn pro. After the game, he retreated to a corner of the field, spending time soaking in the moment of what could be his final college game.

“I have a decision to make,” he said, adding that it will involve a lot of prayer.

Howell made several impressive throws with his strong, accurate arm. But the junior quarterback spent most of the game under heavy duress playing behind an offensive line that struggled.

“We wanted to limit their explosive plays – and we wanted to make sure (Howell) didn’t get too many yards when he got out of the pocket,” South Carolina safety Jaylan Foster said.


South Carolina: The Gamecocks posted wins over Florida and Auburn this season in what was expected to be down season Winning seven games was an encouraging sign that Beamer may finally have this once-proud program headed in the right direction. “This is a great statement about where we are,” Beamer said.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels started the season ranked in the top 10 in the country and finished the year with a losing record, so it’s hard to describe this season as anything but a major disappointment. The defense needs major improvements and offensive line is in need of an upgrade as well.


South Carolina: There is plenty of excitement about the program moving forward, especially with former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler set to transfer in.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels will look to either Jacolby Criswell or Drake Maye to inherit the quarterback spot if Howell leaves. Maye is the younger brother of former UNC basketball star Luke Maye.

Embiid scores 34, 76ers beat Nets 110-102 in Durant’s return

NEW YORK (AP) Kevin Durant came back and Joel Embiid waved him off the floor.

Durant used the same dismissive motion toward the Philadelphia 76ers when they were in Brooklyn two weeks ago, but this time the final word – and more importantly the victory – went to Embiid.

Embiid scored 34 points and the 76ers spoiled Durant’s return to the lineup by beating the Nets 110-102 on Thursday night.

Embiid punctuated the victory with a follow shot while being fouled. He and Durant then both received technical fouls for jawing at each other and the center was talking to multiple Nets as the game ended, waving his arm to send them off the floor.

Afterward, the players professed a mutual respect for each other and their teams.

“If there’s one player I think is probably talented or more talented than me, it’s definitely him,” Embiid said. “So I have a lot of respect for him. I admire his game. So we’re just competitive. Wins matter, every single one of them, and it’s always good to beat the best in the conference.”

Durant downplayed the chatter, acknowledging that his gesture at the end of the Dec. 16 victory may have led to Embiid’s.

“If you’ve been watching Joel and I play against each other, it’s been like that every game, even the All-Star Game,” Durant said. “We just respect each other so much that that natural competitive fire I guess comes out. So it’s the name of the game.”

Durant had 33 points in his first game in two weeks, having missed three games in health and safety protocols. He picked up right where he left off, having averaged 39.7 points in the three games before that.

But Embiid converted a tiebreaking three-point play with 3:14 remaining and Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry hit 3-pointers to send the 76ers to their third straight victory.

“Tonight’s game was fun to be a part of but I think we shot ourselves in the foot throughout this game,” Durant said. “But it’s good to be back.”

James Harden had 33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his sixth triple-double, continuing his strong stretch since returning from a three-game absence in health and safety protocols. But the Nets had no good answer for Embiid all night.

Maxey added five 3-pointers and 25 points, while Curry scored 17 for the 76ers, who were led by assistant coach Dan Burke after Doc Rivers was placed in health and safety protocols earlier Thursday.

“It’s been a crazy past week and I’m just happy to end the road trip off the three wins and get back to my family,” Maxey said.

Embiid scored 16 points in the first 9 1/2 minutes and Andre Drummond added six more after replacing him, giving Philadelphia a 39-31 lead after one quarter. Embiid banked in a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left in the half to give the 76ers a 55-54 edge.

Durant scored 14 in the third and the Nets were up seven after he made consecutive 3-pointers. But Maxey made two in a row to end the period and send the Sixers to the fourth up 84-82.


76ers: Burke said Rivers was feeling well and was upbeat. “He said he feels good, he’s not the least bit worried, and if anybody just takes things in stride and keep it real or keep it relative, it’s Doc,” Burke said, “and that’s the lead we’ve got to follow.” … Burke was 0-2 as an acting head coach under Nate McMillan in Indiana.

Nets: A day after Kyrie Irving returned to practice, coach Steve Nash said he hadn’t had any further discussion with the point guard about whether he would get vaccinated, making him eligible to play in home games. “Not since we had those conversations in the preseason and since then we have not,” Nash said. … The Nets fell to 6-1 against Atlantic Division opponents.


Along with Rivers, assistant coaches Sam Cassell and Brian Adams were both unavailable because of protocols. Assistant coach Dave Joerger stepped away from the team in November to undergo treatment for cancer. That left just Burke, Eric Hughes and Jamie Young among Rivers’ assistant coaches.


76ers: Host the Houston Rockets on Monday.

Nets: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Bucks complete sweep of Magic 136-118, push win streak to 5

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points, Jrue Holiday added 25 points and Khris Middleton had 22 as the Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to five games with a 136-118 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.

DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points off the bench for the Bucks, who completed a two-game sweep in Orlando. Antetokounmpo, who had his 11th 30-point game, added 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double.

“For sure, we have a complete team – great guys, great teammates and great talent – and the more we play together, the better we will get,” Antetokounmpo said. “The sky is the limit for this team, but we’ve got to stay humble and stay hungry.”

Franz Wagner, coming off a career-best 38-point effort on Tuesday, scored 20 points for Orlando. Moritz Wagner, older brother of the Magic rookie, had a season-best 19 points. Gary Harris added 17 points. Wendell Carter Jr. had 14 points and 10 rebounds as Orlando lost its fourth straight game and fell to 2-13 at home.

Antetokounmpo was too much for Orlando to handle.

“You want to get it out of (Antetokounmpo’s) hands, but he’s got four shooters around him,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “You say you will live with certain things, but he’s so efficient in how he gets to the rim. They’re world champs for a reason.”

Milwaukee swept the four-game season series against the rebuilding Magic and pushed its winning streak against Orlando to 11 games, dating to 2019. The Bucks’ only longer active winning streak is a 12-game run against Detroit. Nine of Milwaukee’s last 11 wins over the Magic have been by double figures, including three routs this season.

The Bucks improved to 7-0 this season when three players scored at least 20 points. Also, their 136 points were a season high, and they are 10-0 when topping 120 points.

“To play off those three – Jrue, Khris and Giannis, we’re very fortunate to have enough to win on the road,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said. “That’s the key to being a good NBA team – you’ve got to have players. (GM) Jon Horst and the front office have done a great job of putting together a roster with a lot of depth and a lot of different ways (to win). I love our roster and love the talent up and down it.”

The Bucks, who improved to a season-best 11 games over .500, broke open a close game with a 17-5 outburst to close the third quarter. Antetokounmpo then scored 14 of Milwaukee’s first 17 points of the fourth quarter. He finished with 16 points in the final period.

Orlando used a sizable second-half run to wipe out a big deficit. The Magic used a 17-3 run to tie the game at 71-all, prompting injured Magic players Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs to playfully dance along the sidelines.

Orlando’s only second-half lead, at 80-79, lasted five seconds, and Milwaukee responded with 10 straight points and a 17-5 run to regain control.


Franz Wagner entered the game tied for first in scoring among NBA rookies at 15.6 points per game. The No. 8 pick in last summer’s draft also ranks seventh in rebounding (4.7), sixth in assists (2.7) and second in 3-point shooting (36.4%).

“We continue to talk about and say the level of professionalism that you have to have every day to make yourself successful, and that’s what he does,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said of the rookie.


Bucks: Holiday had double-digit assists just once in the team’s first 23 games, but he’s since done it three times in a six-game span. He came into Thursday averaging 24.8 points and 8.2 assists over the previous six games.

Magic: Out the past six games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Mo Bamba rejoined his teammates on the bench. . Robin Lopez, who spent the 2019-20 season alongside brother, Brook Lopez, in Milwaukee, was placed in the protocols on Thursday. He joined teammate Hassani Gravett, who left Tuesday’s game early after feeling ill.


Bucks: Host New Orleans on Saturday.

Magic: At Boston on Sunday.

Beal scores 29 in return, Wizards beat Cavaliers 110-93

WASHINGTON (AP) Bradley Beal had 29 points and 10 assists in his first game back from the NBA’s health and safety protocols as the Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-93 on Thursday night.

Beal, in his first game action in 12 days, shot 13 of 23 from the floor in 34 minutes, then confirmed postgame that he had joined the heavy majority of NBA players in receiving his first virus vaccine.

“For me, it’s selfishly I’m more concerned about my father and my family,” Beal said. “The last thing I want to do is see him in the hospital on the table. So if that helps, then I’ll do it. But I still have a lot of questions and concerns about it.”

Kyle Kuzma had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which shot 45 of 90 from the floor (50%) and committed only eight turnovers. The Wizards (18-17) seized the lead for good midway through the second quarter and avoided falling below .500 for the first time this season.

Deni Avdija scored 13 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made four 3-pointers for 12 points in his return from a virus-related absence.

“It was good to be back around the guys and be able to see that they know what we can bring and they know how the energy changes when we’re around,” Beal said. “It was a good feeling to have, and it was definitely a good win.”

Kevin Love had 24 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland in its first game since losing point guard Ricky Rubio for the season with a torn left ACL. Evan Mobley added 21 points as Cleveland lost consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 5-6.

“We’ve just got to figure it out,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of managing the loss of Rubio and several short-term virus absences. “We’ve got to put our guys in position to be successful.”

Beal made nine of 13 shots before halftime, and his dunk off a feed from Corey Kispert gave Washington its largest lead of the half, 58-51, at the break.

“He’s kind of been in these situations before,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of Beal. “He’s 10 years in the NBA, I think he kind of knows how to keep his body right, keep himself ready. It’s just the sign of a professional.”

Washington pieced together a 16-2 run that stretched into the third quarter.

Caldwell-Pope opened the third with a 3, Beal followed with a tough leaner, Brad Wanamaker converted a three-point play and Kuzma dunked in transition as Washington raced to a 68-52 advantage.


Cavaliers: F Lamar Stevens and G/F Dylan Windler returned after a 12-day layoff spent in the league’s health and safety protocols. . In Rubio’s absence, rookie G Kevin Pangos made his first career start. . The Cavs had their streak of consecutive 100-point offensive performances snapped at 17 games.

Wizards: C Daniel Gafford had 11 points and nine rebounds. … G Spencer Dinwiddie was placed into health and safety protocols before the game. . Beal picked up a technical with 8:35 to play in the third quarter. .Wanamaker made his third career NBA start and first with Washington after signing a 10-day contract via the NBA hardship exception on Thursday. . C Jamie Echenique also signed a 10-day contract via hardship exception.


Kathleen Fitzpatrick, aka “Ms. Fitz,” the Washington teacher whose half-court shot earned her third graders hot chocolate and became a viral video hit, made a halftime appearance.

With a team-store discount for the crowd on the line, this time the former Rutgers guard came up empty in three attempts from the center circle.


Cavaliers: Host Atlanta on Friday night.

Wizards: Host Chicago on Saturday night.

Hansen, Missouri stun No. 1 South Carolina 70-69 in overtime

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Lauren Hansen made a driving layup with 0.1 seconds left and Missouri stunned No. 1 South Carolina 70-69 in overtime Thursday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

The Tigers (12-2) overcame the absence of scoring leader Aijha Blackwell and four other players to beat a No. 1 team for the first time in program history. They were previously 0-8 against No. 1 ranked teams.

“This is a huge win for us and I couldn’t be more proud,” Missouri coach Robin Pingleton said. “The grit they showed and the belief. Their ability to play through tough possessions and different players stepped up at different times.”

It marked only the seventh time an unranked team has beaten the top-ranked team, and the first since Colorado beat Stanford on Jan. 17, 2021. South Carolina had won 43 straight nonconference games.

South Carolina (12-1) was coming off its biggest comeback in school history, overcoming an 18-point deficit to beat No. 2 Stanford last Tuesday. On Thursday night, the Tigers always had an answer when the Gamecocks cut it close.

Hansen and Hayley Frank each scored 21 points, LaDazhia Williams added 12, and Mama Dembele had 11. The Gamecocks trailed by as many as six in final three minutes of regulation. No. 1 ranked teams have lost seven consecutive overtime games.

“Wins like this don’t just happen, but it s body of work over time,” Pingleton said. “Even though there were some players not here, we want to acknowledge them.”

Aliyah Boston scored 17 points for South Carolina. Kamilla Cardoso added 14, and Zia Cooke had 10.

“We really take a hit when she is not on the floor, 28 minutes is a lot of minutes, but not enough minutes,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “Our team can learn from this and they listen the most after losses.”

With the Gamecocks up 69-68 with less than five seconds to play, Hansen drove to the basket and scored on a layup to upend South Carolina. The Gamecocks made a layup at the end of overtime, but it was deemed not off in time and the Tigers completed the upset.

The loss snapped the longest active streak of wins against unranked opponents at 43 that was held by South Carolina. It’s also their first loss to an unranked SEC foe since 2017 which was also at Missouri.

It’s the Tigers fourth straight win and first win against a ranked opponent since 2019.


South Carolina: Boston couldn’t quite get it going in the first half, which proved costly for the Gamecocks. They’ll have a week to regroup before their next game.

Missouri: This is potentially their biggest win in program history and they did it playing just seven players. For a team picked 10th in the preseason poll in the SEC, the Tigers appear to be a much more lethal group in the conference and maybe even the nation.


South Carolina: At LSU on Jan. 6.

Missouri: At Vanderbilt on Sunday.


Purdue Wins Music City Bowl on OT Field Goal

NASHVILLE – An overtime goal line stand by the defense, followed by a 39-yard game-winning field goal by Mitchell Fineran lifted the Purdue football team to a 48-45 win over Tennessee in the 2021 TransPerfect Music City Bowl. In the highest scoring game in Music City Bowl history, the Boilermakers picked up their 11th bowl win behind 627 yards of total offense, including 534 in the air, a program best in a bowl.

After winning the toss in overtime, Jamari Brown and Kieran Douglas held Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright short of the goal line by mere inches on 4th-and-goal, keeping the Volunteers off the board on their overtime possession. Purdue then set up Fineran  just inside the right hash for a 39-yard kick down the middle. The kicker went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts.

With the win, Purdue ends the 2021 campaign with a 9-4 record, the most victories in a season since 2003.

Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for a program bowl record 534 yards and five touchdowns. The performance was O’Connell’s sixth 300-yard passing game of the season and his fifth consecutive game with at least three passing touchdowns. The Long Grove, Ill., native became just the second Boilermaker in history to have multiple 500-yard games, joining Drew Brees. Completing 26-of-47 through the air, the fifth-year senior set a new school record for completion percentage in a single season 71.6%.

Broc Thompson hauled in seven catches for a career-high 217 yards, stepping up with the absence of consensus All-American David Bell to earn TransPerfect Music City Bowl Most Valuable Player honors.

The Volunteers struck first on their opening drive, but their lead did not last long as O’Connell found Thompson on a deep ball to start Purdue’s second drive. The 75-yard touchdown was the Boilermakers’ longest of the season and knotted the contest up at 7-7. Tennessee connected on a long pass of its own, using a 61-yard touchdown to grab the lead back before another score doubled their lead after one quarter of play.

Purdue dominated the second quarter, outscoring Tennessee 16-0. The Boilermakers scored on four of their five drives during the 15 minutes, starting with a trio of field goals from Mitchell Fineran. With less than one minute to go in the half, DaMarcus Mitchell stripped Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker and Prince James Boyd Jr. jumped on the loose ball. Two plays later, O’Connell rolled out of the pocket to find a wide open Payne Durham in the end zone. Flipping the game in their favor, the Boilermakers went into the locker room with the lead, 23-21.

Getting the ball to start the second half, Tennessee found the end zone before the Boilermakers countered with a touchdown of their own. On the 10th play of the drive, O’Connell dropped a perfect pass into the back corner of the end zone to TJ Sheffield. The sophomore wide receiver did the rest, making an impressive over-the-shoulder catch to put Purdue back in front 30-28. A Volunteer field goal made it a 31-30 game in favor of the opposition heading into the fourth quarter.

Both high-tempo offenses found another level in the fourth quarter. O’Connell hit Durham on a crossing route that turned into a 62-yard touchdown catch after the tight end spun away from several would-be tacklers. After Tennessee marched back to tie the game at 27-27 with 3:37 to play, O’Connell found Thompson again, this time, for a 70-yard run-and-catch for a score. The Volunteers matched the punch with a two-yard scoring catch with 1:35 to play.

Tennessee had a chance to win the game as time expired in regulation, but Chase McGrath’s 56-yard effort fell short and right of the uprights.

In overtime, Purdue elected to go on defense. Tennessee chose to forgo a 34-yard field goal and converted a 4th-and-2. Five plays later from the Purdue one-yard line, Brown and Douglas stonewalled Wright’s run less than a foot away from the end zone.

On Purdue’s only drive in overtime, O’Connell kept the offense near the middle of the field to set up Fineran’s game-winning effort from 39-yards.


• Purdue ends the season with a 9-4 record, the most wins in a season since 2003.

• The 2021 Boilermakers tie for the second-most wins in program history, while becoming the 12th team in the program’s 134-year history to record nine wins in a season.

• Purdue won its fifth game away from home, accomplishing the feat for the first time since 1943.

• A victory was Purdue’s first in a bowl since a 38-35 win over Arizona in the 2017 Foster Farms Bowl, Jeff Brohm’s first season guiding the Boilermakers.

• Purdue quarterbacks have completed a school-record 407 passes this season, surpassing the previous program mark of 377 set in 1998 led by Drew Brees (361).


• Purdue ending the season averaging 355.4 passing yards per game, besting the 341.8 mark set in 1985.

• The Boilermakers completed 407 passes on the season, snapping the previous school record (377) set in 1998.

• Purdue threw for 4,620 throughout the 2021 campaign, eclipsing another 1998 record (4,208).

• The Boilermakers finished the year with 219 passing first downs, surpassing 204 from the 1998 season.

• QB Aidan O’Connell set a new school record for completion percentage 71.6% easily eclipsing David Bough’s previous mark of 66.0 percent in 2018.


• The fifth-year senior, who has already announced that he’ll return for a sixth year, threw for 534 yards; it was his sixth 300-yard game of the season, the third-most 300-yard games in school history and the most since Curtis Painter (2007).

• O’Connell is just the second Boilermaker with multiple 500-yard games in a career, joining Drew Brees.

• O’Connell threw five touchdown passes, his fifth consecutive game with at least three touchdowns through the air, he fell short of the single-game Purdue record by one.

Colts’ Leonard off virus list, ready to face Raiders

(AP) — Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard couldn’t wait to get back to work Thursday.

He has even bigger plans for Sunday.

Less than three hours after team officials activated the two-time All-Pro and two other starters from the reserve/COVID-19 list, Leonard explained how difficult it was to miss Saturday’s game at Arizona – and how eager he is to face the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend.

“Actually, I tested negative that morning and then probably around 1 or 2 is when I tested positive,” he said while wearing a mask on a video call with reporters Thursday. “I got on a plane ride back home around 7 and now we’re here. I feel good.”

That’s good news for the Colts, who had six starters including Leonard out because of the virus last weekend and would have been severely short-handed Sunday if the NFL hadn’t reduced the isolation period from 10 days to five.

Under the previous guideline, Leonard would have missed this week’s game, too.

Instead, all six starters who missed the Arizona game because of the virus have been activated over the past two days. It’s still unclear whether quarterback Carson Wentz or right tackle Braden Smith will clear the protocols before Sunday.

But nobody missed the game more than the passionate Leonard, who uses any slight as motivation. And now the masterful takeaway artist has even bigger plans for Sunday – clinching a playoff spot by beating the Raiders.

“That definitely sucked – going home, not being able to go out there and perform with my guys, not being able to see my family, not being able to watch the game fully,” he said. “Thank God, they changed the rule. I’m back, I’m feeling good and I’m ready to rock `n’ roll.”

Four Boilermakers Place at Matmen Open

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – The Purdue wrestling team put four individuals on the podium at the 2021 Matmen Open on Thursday, led by fifth-place finishes from seniors Parker Filius and Michael Woulfe and sophomore Gerrit Nijenhuis at 141, 174 and 285 pounds, respectively.

Filius, Woulfe and Nijenhuis all won their first two matches of the day to advance to the consolation semifinals. Filius topped Wil Gil of Franklin & Marshall, 7-2, and followed up with a 3-1 decision over We Rachal of Illinois, while Nijenhuis topped Michigan’s Jaden Bullock, 7-3, to earn his spot on the 174-pound podium, and backed it up with a 3-0 decision over Penn’s 21st-ranked Nick Incontrera. Woulfe needed only 1:52 to stick Brown’s Lear Quinton, and used a seven-point first period to secure an 11-6 decision over No. 26 Boone McDermott of Rutgers.

All three were bumped to the fifth-place match with losses in the consolation semifinals, but rebounded with victories in their final match of the day. Filius opened the championship session with a 9-6 victory over No. 8 seed McKenzie Bell of Rider, rallying with a takedown in the second and two in the third to earn his fourth and final victory of the tournament. Nijenhuis followed with a dominant 14-3 major decision over Rutgers’ Connor O’Neill, scoring five takedowns and a two-point nearfall in the win. Woulfe closed out the tournament with his second ranked win of the day, topping No. 28 Jake Slinger of Pittsburgh 8-4 in the final bout of the day.

Sophomore Cooper Noehre came up short of a spot on the podium, falling in the round of 12 to No. 3 seed Jake Keating of Virginia. Noehre went up early with a pair of first-period takedowns, but Keating reversed the Boilermaker and then scored eight unanswered points in the third to advance.

After advancing to the semifinals at 157 pounds Wednesday, junior Kendall Coleman medically forfeited out of the tournament and settled for sixth place overall. He is 9-3 overall on the season.

The Boilermakers open Big Ten duals next weekend, traveling to Nebraska and Iowa for duals at each respective school on Friday and Sunday, Jan. 7 and 9. Friday’s dual at Nebraska is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT, and will air on B1G+, while the Boilermakers’ match at Iowa will air on the Big Ten Network and start time is still to be announced.

2021 Matmen Open


133: Dustin Norris (Freshman-Unattached)

Round 1: Abe Hinrichsen (Cal Poly) – L, D 9-5

Conso. Round 1: Ethan Rotondo (Wisconsin) – L, D 15-8

141: #2 Parker Filius (R-Senior) – 5th Place

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Chris Rivera (Campbell) – W, MD 8-0

Quarterfinals: #6 CJ Composto (Penn) – L, MD 9-1

Round of 12: #7 Wil Gil (Franklin & Marshall) – W, D 7-2

Conso. Quarterfinals: We Rachal (Illinois) – W, D 3-1

Conso. Semifinals: #5 Joey Zargo (Wisconsin) – L, SV 6-4

5th-Place Match: #8 McKenzie Bell (Rider) – W, D 9-6

141: Michael Leveille (R-Sophomore)

Round 1: #9 Jaivon Jones (Northern Illinois) – L, MD 10-0

Conso. Round 1: Bye

Conso. Round 2: Henry Porter (Unattached) – L, MD 12-2

149: Trey Kruse (Sophomore)

Round 1: Lukus Stricker (Harvard) – L, D 5-0

Conso. Round 1: Bye

Conso. Round 2: Christian Kanzler (Illinois) – L, D 8-2

157: #1 Kendall Coleman (R-Junior) – 6th Place

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Cael Berg (Harvard) – W, MD 16-5

Quarterfinals: Grant Zamin (Unattached) – W, D 6-2

Semifinals: #4 Elijah Cleary (Pittsburgh) – MFF

157: #9 Cooper Noehre (Sophomore)

Round 1: Grant Zamin (Unattached) – L, D 2-1

Conso. Round 1: Bye

Conso. Round 2: #7 Munktulga Zuunbayan (Northern Illinois) – W, D 7-4

Conso. Round 3: Joseph Roberts (Illinois) – W, D 7-6

Round of 12: #3 Jake Keating (Virginia) – L, D 11-4

165: #11 Stoney Buell (Freshman-Unattached)

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: #6 Phil Conigliaro (Harvard) – L, D 6-1

Conso. Round 2: Bye

Conso. Round 3: Harrison Trahan (Brown) – L, D 13-8

174: #3 Gerrit Nijenhuis (Sophomore) – 5th Place

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Michael Doggett (Harvard) – W, TF 16-1 (6:56)

Quarterfinals: Manuel Rojas (Unattached) – L, D 8-6

Round of 12: Jaden Bullock (Michigan) – W, D 7-3

Conso. Quarterfinals: #2 Nick Incontrera (Penn) – W, D 3-0

Conso. Semifinals: #9 Reece Heller (Hofstra) – L, D 5-2

5th-Place Match: Connor O’Neill (Rutgers) – W, MD 14-3

285: #9 Michael Woulfe (R-Senior) – 5th Place

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: #8 Jack Delgarbino (Princeton) – W, Fall 5:00

Quarterfinals: #1 Trent Hilger (Wisconsin) – L, MD 11-3

Round of 12: Lear Quinton (Brown) – W, Fall 1:52

Conso. Quarterfinals: #4 Boone McDermott (Rutgers) – W, D 11-6

Conso. Semifinals: #3 Luke Luffman (Illinois) – L, D 5-2

5th-Place Match #5 Jake Slinger (Pittsburgh) – W, D 8-4

285: Tristan Ruhlman (Freshman-Unattached)

Round 1: Terrese Aaron (Northern Illinois) – L, D 5-2

Conso. Round 1: Bye

Conso. Round 2: #12 Peter Christensen (Wisconsin) – L, D 4-2

All numbers represent tournament seeds

NOTES: IU Returns to Big Ten Play at Penn State


Indiana University is in its 122nd season of competition in men’s basketball and will resume Big Ten conference play when it visits Penn State on Sunday. IU is coming off a 79-61 win over Northern Kentucky. The Nittany Lions have been limited due to COVID-19 and have not played since falling at Michigan State, 80-64, on December 11. Last year, IU won the only meeting 87-85 in overtime in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. PSU won the last meeting in the Bryce Jordan Center, 64-49, on Jan. 29, 2020.


Indiana (10-2, 1-1 B1G) at Penn State (5-5, 0-2 B1G)

Sunday, January 2 • 4 p.m. ET

Bryce Jordan Center (15,261) • University Park, Pa.

TV: BTN (Jason Horowitz and Len Elmore)

Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, Joe Smith) | TuneIn App

Series History: Indiana leads 41-12

Last Meeting: IU 87, PSU 85 (OT) (Dec. 30, 2020 in Bloomington)

Rankings: KenPom (28th), NET (45th)


IU Hall of Famer, All-American, Big Ten MVP and Indiana native Mike Woodson is the first Hoosier graduate to lead the program at the start of the season since Lou Watson in 1965. Woodson brings nine years of NBA head coaching experience (Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks) back to his alma mater and worked for seven franchises as an assistant coach and won an NBA title in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons. He played 11 seasons in the NBA as a player and is the fifth all-time leading scorer in program history with 2,061 points.

Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry is in his first year with the Nittany Lions after serving as a long-time assistant at Purdue.


IU leads the Big Ten and is second nationally in defensive field goal percentage (35.0%) and is third in the B1G in scoring defense (61.7 ppg). The Hoosiers also hold opponents to 28.0% shooting from long distance (4th) and average 5.92 blocked shots (2nd).

Recent Top IU Non-Conference Records

2007-08: 12-1 

2011-12: 13-0

2012-13: 12-1

2019-20: 10-1

2021-22: 9-1


Junior/sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis is living up to his preseason accolades averaging 19.3 points (5th in B1G), 8.5 rebounds (5th), shooting 61.8% from the floor (3rd) and contributing 3.2 blocked shots per game (1st).

He had 31 points and 16 boards at Syracuse. He set a Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall record by scoring 43 points against Marshall, breaking the previous mark (42) set by Steve Alford against Michigan State. He made a career-high 18-of-24 field goal attempts. For his efforts, he was named National Player of the Week by Dick Vitale on

The leading returning scorer in the Big Ten has been named a first-team 2021-22 Preseason All-American by the Associated Press, and selected to the watch list for the Karl Malone Watch, the NABC Player of the Year, Wooden Award and Naismith Award. The Big Ten Player of the Week on Nov. 15 has posted four double-doubles this season and 26 in his career with IU posting a 20-6 record in those games.

Jackson-Davis became the 54th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point mark against St. John’s and now has scored 1,180 points as a Hoosier, rating 40th all-time in IU lore. He had 21 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots against NKU.


IU’s starting lineup of Jackson-Davis (71), Sr./Jr’s. Xavier Johnson (93), Miller Kopp (86), Parker Stewart (85) and Race Thompson (39) have combined for 369 career Division I starts. Off the bench, Sr./Jr’s. Michael Durr (85) and Rob Phinisee (69) have started 154 games.

Stewart leads the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 49.1%.

Thompson is 10th in the Big Ten in rebounding at 7.8 per game. He is averaging 12.3 points and shot 76.2% from the floor in the last three games and has scored in double figures in six-straight games.

Johnson is seventh in the Big Ten in assists at 4.3 per game. Durr has averaged 5.5 points in his last two home games, including a season-high six points against NKU.

So./Fr. Anthony Leal made his first career start against the Norse.


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Head coach Link Jarrett is excited to announce the 2022 Notre Dame Baseball schedule Thursday afternoon. The Irish are coming off an ACC Regular Season Championship and a Super Regional appearance last season and have a challenging slate ahead of them in 2022.

“It will be exciting and a great experience for our program to play in some very unique venues in cities all over the country,” said Jarrett. “Obviously we have a challenging schedule against quality programs from day one to the finish line. Fan involvement and energy will be back to normal we all hope. That will add to the excitement of our 2022 slate.”

The Irish open the 2022 schedule on Feb. 18 in DeLand, Florida as they take part in the Hatter Classic. Notre Dame will face off with Manhattan, Stetson and Delaware at Melching Field at Conrad Park over the course of the opening weekend.

The next weekend, the Irish will take on Marist and Monmouth in Greenville, South Carolina. The Irish will face both teams twice over the weekend and will play at Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox Single-A affiliate.

The spring break trip begins on March 4 when the Irish head north to Minneapolis to play in the Cambria College Classic. Notre Dame will face three B1G schools in Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota at USBank Field, home of the Minnesota Vikings.

After a midweek matchup against Elon on March 8, the ACC slate begins with a three-game series against NC State in Raleigh on March 11. NC State was one of two ACC schools to make it to Omaha in 2021.

The 2022 home schedule begins on March 15 with a midweek matchup against Valparaiso before the Irish go back on the road. Notre Dame will make the quick trip south to take on Louisville for an ACC series on March 18-20.

Notre Dame returns home for a five-game homestand that includes midweek matchups with Northwestern (March 22) and Northern Illinois (March 29) and an ACC weekend series against Virginia Tech (March 25-27).

The third ACC road weekend of the season takes the Irish to Tallahassee to take on Florida State on April 1-3. The Irish return to campus for another five-game homestand that includes midweeks against Butler (April 5) and Michigan (April 12) and an ACC series against Clemson (April 8-10).

Notre Dame will travel to Durham, North Carolina to face the Blue Devils over Easter weekend (April 14-16) for the second to last ACC road series of the season.

A big home stretch awaits the Irish following Easter, as eight of their next nine games will be at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame hosts Wake Forest (April 22-24) and Boston College (April 29-May 1) in ACC series and midweek matchups with Valparaiso (April 19) and Purdue Fort Wayne (April 20). The lone road game in this stretch is against Michigan State on April 26 in Detroit. The Irish and Spartans will play at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

After the exam break, the Irish will hit the road for a three-game series against William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on May 6-7. Notre Dame comes home for its final homestand of the regular season. The Irish host Michigan State on May 10 before an ACC series against Pitt (May 13-15) closes out the home schedule.

The final road trip of the season takes the Irish to Evanston, Illinois for a midweek matchup with Northwestern on May 17. The final ACC road series of the season will take place in Coral Gables as the Irish and Hurricanes face off for the first time since 2018 on May 19-21.

The 2022 ACC Championships returns to Charlotte, North Carolina for the second-straight season. Truist Field, home of the Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox), will host the ACC Championships from May 23-28.

Lalic’s career night lifts Sycamores to win in MVC opener

DES MOINES, Iowa – Natalia Lalic scored a career-high 20 points Thursday night, including 16 in the second half, to lead Indiana State past Drake, 78-70, inside the Knapp Center in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams.

Del’Janae Williams (17), Marie Hunter (15) and Anna McKendree (10) all scored in double-figures for the Sycamores, who trailed by as many as 13 in the contest. Tonysha Curry led the Sycamores with four rebounds, while six different Indiana State players had multiple steals in the contest.

Drake led by nine in the fourth quarter before a 19-3 Sycamore run gave Indiana State a lead that it would never relinquish. Lalic hit four 3-pointers during the run, which included a 9-0 Sycamore surge in a 54-second span. Indiana State shot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half to win its third straight game and improve to 6-6 on the season.

First Half

Hunter and Lalic were the hot hands for the Sycamores in the first quarter, combining for nine of Indiana State’s 11 points. Hunter opened the scoring with a three-point play and had five points in the opening 10 minutes, while Lalic had four. Drake got off to a quick start and built an early six-point lead. Caitlin Anderson cut the Sycamore deficit down to two midway through the quarter with a midrange jumper that banked in, but Drake closed the period on a 9-2 run and took a nine-point lead, 20-11, into the second.

Williams got into the scoring act in the second quarter with a pair of early 3-pointers, but Drake continued its hot start from the field and increased its lead to as many as 12. Indiana State’s defense tightened late, though, and McKendree and Williams combined for a 5-0 run to make it a six-point deficit, 37-31, at the break.

Second Half

Lalic opened the third quarter with back-to-back baskets to quickly cut Indiana State’s deficit to two. Drake managed to increase its lead to seven before the Sycamores went on an extended 11-3 run to take the lead for the first time since the opening minutes. Williams, Hunter, McKendree and Mya Glanton all scored during the run for Indiana State. Drake managed to take a slim 50-49 lead into the fourth quarter after hitting a late 3-pointer.

The home team opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to extend its lead to nine, but it was all Sycamores after that. Indiana State outscored Drake 29-12 over the last 7:35 of the game, with Lalic going on a 3-point barrage in the quarter. The Adelaide, Australia, native connected on four straight from long range, the last of which gave the Sycamores the lead for good. Caitlin Anderson converted a three-point play, followed by a pair of baskets by Hunter to put Indiana State in front by seven, 68-61, with less than four minutes left in the game. Drake never got closer than four points after the ISU scoring run, as the Sycamores were able to close out their third straight win and second consecutive road win.

Inside the Statistics

Indiana State forced 30 Drake turnovers, marking the second time this season that the Sycamores forced 30 or more turnovers (Stephens (Mo.) – 33).

The Sycamores hit a season-high 10 3-pointers, with Lalic, Williams and McKendree all making three or more from deep.

Indiana State shot 50 percent from the field Thursday, marking the third time this season the Sycamores were 50 percent or better from the floor. ISU is 3-0 in those games.

Drake entered Thursday’s game as one of the top offenses in the nation at more than 81 points per game. The Sycamores held the Bulldogs to their second-worst percentage from beyond the arc Thursday.

News & Notes

Indiana State opened Missouri Valley Conference play with a win for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

Lalic’s career-best 20-point night also included career-highs of eight made baskets and four made 3-pointers.

Lalic is the fourth different Sycamore to score 20 or more in a game this season, joining Williams, Glanton and Adrian Folks.

Hunter and McKendree each scored in double-figures for the second straight game.

Indiana State surpassed its win total from each of the last two seasons with its sixth win of the season Thursday.

Up Next

Indiana State begins a three-game Missouri Valley Conference homestand January 7 against Illinois State.

Mastodons Fall in Back-and-Forth Contest at Cleveland State

CLEVELAND – A contest with 15 lead changes and 12 ties swung in the final minutes to Cleveland State as the Purdue Fort Wayne men’s basketball team fell to the Horizon League favorite Vikings 90-81 on Thursday (Dec. 30) evening. 

Damian Chong Qui scored 18 points, all in the second half, to lead the Mastodons. He was one of five Mastodons in double-digits. Jalon Pipkins and Deonte Billups each had 15 points while Bobby Planutis and Jarred Godfrey each added 11.

The game was a barnburner from the start. It seemed about right for these two teams as the last time they met it went three overtimes in the Horizon League Championship Quarterfinals in March.

The Mastodons led 42-38 at the break and were helped by 20 bench points in the first half. This included 13 points from Billups who drained his first three 3-pointers as the two teams combined for six 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game.

Four minutes into the second half the Vikings took the lead back. The Mastodons grabbed the lead again with 12:14 on the clock thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by Chong Qui.

The ‘Dons took their largest lead of the game at 77-70 with 4:41 left. Cleveland State then scored the game’s next 16 points to take control of the contest. The final stretch featured a 3-pointer by Cleveland State’s Torrey Patton from the logo with the shot clock winding down. It turned a four-point game into a seven-point game.

Patton finished with a game-high 21 points for Cleveland State. He helped the Vikings shoot 53.6 percent (30-of-56) from the floor. The Mastodons shot 50 percent (27-of-54) and drained 13-of-30 3-pointers.

The Mastodons fall to 5-6 (1-2 Horizon). Cleveland State improves to 7-3 (3-0 Horizon). The two teams will meet again on Wednesday in Cleveland.

Sylare Starks Scores 12, ‘Dons Fall at Youngstown State

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Fort Wayne native Sylare Starks led the Purdue Fort Wayne women’s basketball team with 12 points in the Mastodons’ 64-41 loss at Youngstown State.
The Mastodons’ defense held Youngstown State to 3-of-18 from 3-point range in the first three quarters, including just 1-of-6 in the first and 0-for-4 in the third. The Penguins take and make the most 3-pointers in the Horizon League.
Shayla Sellers opened the second half with back-to-back buckets. Sellers scored the first seven points of the third quarter for the ‘Dons. Starks finished off the quarter with a 3-pointer, then opened up the fourth with a pull up jumper to cut the lead to nine.
With both teams going without a field goal for a 3:10 stretch, the Penguins’ lead held firm around a dozen until a triple from YSU built the lead up to 14. From this point, the Penguins ballooned the lead up to as many as 25.
The Penguins were led by Lilly Ritz, who scored 22 points. Chelsea Olson flirted with a triple-double, finishing with seven points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

The ‘Dons continued their excellent free throw shooting, as they finished 7-of-8 from the line. They are now shooting 78.9 percent from the charity stripe this season, which would be second for a season-long mark in program history.
Youngstown State improves to 11-1, 5-0 Horizon League while the ‘Dons fall to 4-8, 3-2. Purdue Fort Wayne will be back in action on New Year’s Day at Robert Morris at 1 p.m.


INDIANAPOLIS – The IUPUI women’s basketball team will finish off 2021 and begin the new year with two Horizon League contests when they face conference foes Northern Kentucky and Wright State. The Jags host the NKU Norse on Friday (Dec. 31) with tip off at 2:00 p.m., then take on the Wright State Raiders on Sunday (Jan. 2) at 3:00 p.m.

The Jaguars enter the game after a comeback win over No. 15 Iowa, 74-73. The Jags came back from an 18-point deficit and took the lead with two free throws from senior Rachel McLimore with three seconds left in the fourth quarter. The win marks the first time the women’s IUPUI basketball team has beaten a nationally ranked team in school history and marks the first win over a BIG Ten school since the Jags beat Purdue, 67-62, on Dec. 21, 2016. Graduate student Macee Williams led the Jags with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists. While McLimore, who was named #HLWBB Player of the Week for her efforts in the upset win, added 19 points and two rebounds.

Head coach Austin Parkinson’s team was voted atop the Horizon League Women’s Basketball Preseason Polls and has started the season 2-2 in conference play after having to forfeit two games due to Covid-19 issues.

The Jags with face the Norse for their last game of 2021. NKU enters the games 8-3 and 2-2 (HL) after defeating Wofford, 84-64 on Dec. 20. The Norse are on a four-game winning streak and are led by red-shirt senior Lindsey Duvall. She holds a streak of scoring in double-figures with 30 straight games.  She averages 19.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Graduate student Grayson Rose averages 9.5 rebounds per game for the Norse.

Wright State is 1-7 and 0-4 in conference play. The Raiders are coming off a 91-60 win over Lake Erie. Destyne Jackson leads the team in points per game with 14.0 and added a career-high 18 points in the game against Lake Erie. Jada Roberson leads the Raiders in steals per game with 2.5, which ranks second in the Horizon League.

Friday’s game against NKU will be aired on ESPN+ with tip off at 2 p.m. and Sunday’s game vs. Wright State will also be aired on ESPN+ at 3 p.m.

Aces Women’s Basketball to play Iowa on Sunday

EVANSVILLE – Rounding-out their altered weekend in The Hawkeye State, the University of Evansville women’s basketball team will play the 21st-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday, January 2 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Aces and Iowa will tip-off at 11 AM (CT) and the game will be broadcast live on B1G Network.

“We are excited for the opportunity to play at Iowa. They reached out after they saw our game at UNI got postponed,” said Aces head women’s basketball coach Robyn Scherr-Wells. “Both of our programs have lost a couple of games due to Covid protocols and it is a great opportunity for both programs to give our players another chance to play a game.”

After Thursday’s game against UNI was postponed, Evansville’s trip featured just one contest against Drake on New Year’s Day in Des Moines, Iowa. The contest against the Hawkeyes will be Evansville’s second in the last four seasons after facing Wisconsin in 2018-19 and Illinois in 2019-20. The game will be Evansville’s first against a ranked non-conference opponent since taking on No. 20 Kentucky during the 2017-18 campaign.

“Iowa is a perennial tournament team and I am looking forward to seeing how our team will rise to the challenge. These are the types of games our program needs to be playing to get to where we want to go”

Miller Jr. and Bingham Both Score 20+ in Win Over Edinboro

INDIANAPOLIS – The University of Indianapolis men’s basketball team came back from break in fashion, posting an 88-62 win over Edinboro to extend their win streak to three.  Cory Miller Jr. and Jesse Bingham both scored over 20 points to reach new season highs in the win.

The Fighting Scots averaged 82.9 points per game entering today but a stellar UIndy defense held them to their second lowest scoring output of the season.  The non-conference victory moves the Hounds to 7-3 on the year while they pick up their sixth win at home.


The first 15 minutes of play saw six lead changes as neither team was able to pull away.  Josiah Tynes drove in for a lay up at the 4:50 mark to put the Hounds ahead 22-20 and they never trailed from there.  UIndy closed out the final minute of the first half with a 9-0 run to take a 38-36 lead to the break.  Jesse Bingham beat the buzzer with a corner three to cap off the run.

After making only three three’s in the first half, the Hounds shot 7-of-11 from beyond the arc in the second frame en route to scoring 50 points, marking the most points they’ve scored in a single half this season.  Miller Jr. scored 14 points in the second half alone while Bingham tallied 12 on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from the floor.


– Miller Jr. finished with 23 points followed closely by Bingham with 21.  Both are season highs.

– Dee Montgomery recorded 10 points.  At least three Hounds have scored in double figures in all ten games this season.

– UIndy narrowly won the rebound battle, 39-38.  They are 6-0 when out rebounding their opponent.

– Jakobie Robinson flirted with his first double-double of the season, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring eight.


The Hounds have a quick turnaround before their next game as they host East West University tomorrow at 1 pm ET inside Nicoson Hall.

Women’s Basketball Opens MVC Play at SIU Friday

Valparaiso (2-9, 0-0 MVC)
Game #12 – December 31, 2021 – 2 p.m.
at Southern Illinois (5-5, 0-0 MVC)
Banterra Center (9,000) – Carbondale, Ill.

Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valpo women’s basketball team returns to action following the Christmas holiday with the start of Missouri Valley Conference play this weekend, opening up the conference slate Friday afternoon with a matinee at Southern Illinois. The Beacons enter conference play coming off back-to-back wins.

Previously: Valpo closed out non-conference play with a bang Dec. 21 at the ARC, as seven different Beacons combined to connect on 14 3-pointers in a 69-57 victory over Detroit Mercy. Grace White led the way, hitting four triples on her way to a game-high 19 points.

Following Valpo Basketball: Streaming Video: ESPN3
Radio/Streaming Audio: None
Links for all live coverage: Available via

Head Coach Mary Evans: Mary Evans is in her fourth year at the helm of the program in 2021-22 and owns a record of 39-58. Evans has made an immediate impact on the program in her first three years, raising the team’s level of play to be competitive in a strong Missouri Valley Conference. Evans’ preferred style of play has been a big part of the program’s turnaround, as Valpo has led the MVC in 3-pointers made per game and in steals per game in each of the last two seasons.

Series Notes: It’s a brief series between SIU and Valpo, as the two programs did not meet prior to Valpo joining the MVC in 2017-18. The Salukis claimed victories in each of the first five meetings, but Valpo has won each of the last three matchups, including 75-64 and 70-63 wins on Feb. 27-28 last season in Carbondale. The former game saw Valpo go 15-for-20 from 3-point range, led by a 6-for-6 effort from Shay Frederick, while the latter featured a comeback from an 11-point deficit to win in overtime.

…and @ValleyHoops
– Valpo has been picked to finish in sixth place in the MVC preseason poll, totaling 208 points – just one point shy of fifth place.
– Valpo is in its fifth season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2021-22.
– The Valley was ranked seventh nationally in conference NET in 2020-21 and was eighth nationally in conference RPI in 2019-20.

…looking back at last year
– Valpo posted a 12-13 overall record during the 2020-21 season and went 7-9 in Missouri Valley Conference play.
– Valpo finished the regular season in seventh place in the MVC standings.
– Included among Valpo’s 12 victories were wins at Illinois and at Purdue, the program’s first Power Five wins since 2012-13.
– Valpo closed the season with a NET of 122 – the program’s best final NET/RPI ranking since the 2003-04 campaign.
– Shay Frederick was a First Team All-MVC honoree as she led the Valley in assists and ranked sixth in scoring.
– Carie Weinman earned Honorable Mention All-MVC notice and repeated on the All-Defensive Team as she led the Valley in steals for a second straight season.

…versus Detroit Mercy
– A back and forth first half saw Valpo take the lead for good on a 4-point play from Cara VanKempen with 2:30 to go in the second quarter.
– The Beacons led 31-27 at halftime and held a slim 48-47 edge with 10 minutes to play.
– Valpo’s defense and rebounding carried the way in the fourth quarter, as it allowed just two field goals and one offensive rebound to the Titans over the first eight minutes of the period.
– Shay Frederick connected on a 3-pointer on Valpo’s first possession of the final quarter, and two trips later, Grace White converted on a 3-point play to extend the lead to seven points.
– White, Carie Weinman and Olivia Brown all knocked down 3-pointers over the next few minutes, Brown’s with 3:04 to play all but icing the game as it gave Valpo a double-digit lead it would not relinquish.
– Valpo made a season-high 14 3-pointers on Tuesday and connected at a season-best .438 clip (14-for-32) from behind the arc. Seven different players combined to knock down the 14 triples, with four players making multiple 3-pointers.
– White led the way for the Beacons, hitting on four 3-point attempts en route to a game-high 19 points. White added three steals as well.
– Weinman’s three triples accounted for her nine points. She also tallied a season-best four steals, leading the way as Valpo registered a season-high 11 thefts as a team.
– Valpo continued its strong recent effort at the foul line, going 11-for-13 (.846) from the stripe. Over the last three games, the Beacons have hit at an .884 clip from the foul line.
– After the Titans shot .529 from the field in the first three quarters, Valpo limited UDM to .267 shooting (4-for-15) over the final 10 minutes.

…at Morehead State
– Valpo shot 70% from the field in the first quarter, capped by a backdoor layup from Shay Frederick to give it a 20-12 lead at the end of 10 minutes.
– Morehead State got to within three with 2:40 to play in the first half, but Valpo scored four of the half’s final five points — including a Frederick layup — to take a 32-26 lead into intermission.
– Neither team could gain control in the third quarter. Valpo’s lead never exceeded the six-point margin from halftime, but the Beacons also did not allow the Eagles to close to closer than two points in the period. Valpo entered the fourth quarter with a 42-38 lead.
– Morehead State got within two points three times in the fourth quarter, but all three times, the Beacons held them off – twice thanks to 3-point plays.
– A 9-2 spurt just past the midway point of the final quarter proved to be the decisive run to secure Valpo’s win, highlighted by a triple from Olivia Brown which extended the lead to eight points with 3:29 to play.
– Valpo shot 50% from the field Sunday, its second-best effort of the season, thanks to great efforts in the opening and closing periods. The Beacons went 7-of-10 (70%) from the floor in the first quarter and 8-of-11 (72.7%) in the fourth quarter.
– Valpo also enjoyed a significant advantage from the foul line, going 17-of-20 (85%) from the stripe as compared to Morehead State’s 1-of-6 effort from the free throw line.
– Carie Weinman led Valpo on Sunday with 17 points, her seventh double-digit scoring effort of the season.
– Frederick was just behind Weinman with 15 points, while Grace White needed just four field goal attempts to score 11 points.

…looking ahead
– The Beacons continue the longest road trip of the conference schedule on Sunday as they play at Missouri State.
– Valpo then returns home to the ARC to host UNI on Friday, Jan. 7.

…on the road
– Friday marks the eighth of 16 road games in all for Valpo this season.
– Valpo has finished at or above .500 in each of the last two seasons in true road games, going 6-6 on the road last year and 9-5 in 2019-20.

– Southern Illinois enters Valley play with a 5-5 record on the year, most recently falling 70-37 at Indiana on Dec. 23.
– The Salukis earned a 66-51 victory over Illinois four days prior to their matchup with the Hoosiers.
– Abby Brockmeyer and Makenzie Silvey both average better than 15 points per game for SIU, with Brockmeyer also pulling down 10.3 rebounds per game.

From Way Downtown
– Valpo made a season-high 14 3-pointers in the win over Detroit Mercy and connected at a season-best .438 clip (14-for-32) from behind the arc.
– Seven different players combined to knock down the 14 triples, with four players making multiple 3-pointers.
– The 14 made 3-pointers are tied for eighth-most in a single game in program history.
– Valpo has more games with 14+ 3-pointers in the four-season tenure of head coach Mary Evans (10) than it did in the entire program history prior to her arrival (nine).

Entering Conference Play With Momentum
– Valpo enters MVC play coming off back-to-back victories over Morehead State and Detroit Mercy to close out non-conference action.
– It is the third time in five seasons in the Valley that Valpo has closed the non-conference with at least two straight wins.
– The 2017-18 squad carried a four-game winning streak into the MVC slate, while the 2019-20 team won its final six non-conference games.

Valpo Resumes MVC Play on Sunday

Illinois State (8-6, 1-0 MVC)
at Valparaiso (7-6, 0-1 MVC) 

Game No. 14 – Sunday, Jan. 2, 1 p.m. CT
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.

Next Up in Valpo Basketball: After 10 days without a game during the Christmas holiday and a cancellation on Dec. 28 vs. Prairie View A&M due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will return to action on Sunday by hosting Illinois State. This will mark the team’s first game of the calendar year and the resumption of Missouri Valley Conference play. Please note that masks are required at all home Valpo athletic events until further notice.

Last Time Out: Valpo knocked down a dozen 3-pointers and hit at a 54.5 percent clip from long range in an 88-66 home victory over William & Mary on Dec. 22 in the final game prior to the Christmas holiday. Kevion Taylor and Sheldon Edwards combined for seven of those triples. Edwards went 7-of-10 from the field for 17 points, while Kobe King scored a game-high 19 and Taylor (15) and Thomas Kithier (12) rounded out a quartet of Beacons in double figures. Valpo handed out 23 assists while committing just eight turnovers.

Following the Beacons: Streaming – ESPN+ – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Jamie Stangel (analyst)

Valpo Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR,, TuneIn Radio App – Zach Collins (play-by-play) and Gary Collins (analyst)

Twitter updates – @ValpoBasketball

Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at

Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (90-84) is in his ninth season overall at Valparaiso University and sixth as the head coach of the men’s basketball program in 2021-2022. The 2020-2021 season saw Valpo improve its Arch Madness seeding for the fourth straight year as the program continued to make positive strides in each season as a Missouri Valley Conference member. The team earned a first-round bye in the State Farm MVC Tournament for the first time since joining the prestigious league. Valpo upset previously-undefeated Drake, the nation’s No. 25 team, 74-57 on Feb. 7, 2021 at the ARC, the fourth win over an AP Top 25 team in program history and second under Lottich. The Bulldogs were one of three undefeated teams in the nation prior to that setback, joining Gonzaga and Baylor. Just two years removed from finishing in last place and being knocked out in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as a first-year Valley member, Lottich’s team did more than hold its own in 2019-2020, ascending into a tie for sixth in the league standings before finishing as the conference tournament runner-up. Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness to reach the title game after playing in the opening round. Lottich, hired as the 22nd head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program in April 2016, graduated from Stanford University in 2004 and New Trier High School (Illinois) in 2000.

Series Notes: Valpo holds an 11-8 advantage in the all-time series, and has gotten the better of the play during recent matchups. The Beacons have won seven straight against the Redbirds, sweeping a pair of games in Normal last season 69-60 and 70-66. The second of those games saw Ben Krikke become just the third Valpo player in the last 25 years to record a 25-point, 15-rebound effort. The string of success in the all-time series has included several dramatic matchups. Valpo erased a 17-point halftime deficit to storm back for a 65-62 victory on Feb. 15, 2020 after erasing a 10-point deficit with less than two minutes to play on Jan. 2, 2019 with a Markus Golder buzzer-beater from half court capping the comeback. The seven-game head-to-head winning streak came after a six-game head-to-head losing streak.

Beacons Heating Up

  • Valpo has won four of its last five games and owns a 6-2 record over its last eight.
  • The team’s Dec. 22 victory over William & Mary helped Valpo climb above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2019-2020 season.
  • The 88-66 victory over the Tribe was the program’s largest margin of victory against a Division-I team since beating SIUE by that same differential on Dec. 9, 2020. This marks the third straight season Valpo has beaten a D1 nonconference foe at home by 22 points (Central Michigan in 2019).
  • A win over Illinois State would mark Valpo’s first three-game winning streak since Jan. 23-28 of last season (two wins at Illinois State, one vs. Bradley).

Century Mark in Sight: Valpo head coach Matt Lottich earned his 90th career win on Dec. 22 vs. William & Mary. He needs just 10 more to become the fourth head coach in program history to reach 100 career victories, joining Homer Drew, Bryce Drew and J.M Christiansen. Lottich currently ranks fifth in program history for career head coaching victories and needs just three more to tie Gene Bartow for fourth.

Lights-Out Shooting

  • Valpo knocked down shots at a 57.6 percent clip on Dec. 22 vs. William & Mary, the team’s top field-goal percentage against a Division-I opponent since shooting 58.6 percent on Feb. 25, 2020 vs. Missouri State.
  • The Beacons knocked down 3s at a 54.5 percent rate (12-of-22) against the Tribe, tied for the seventh-highest by any Missouri Valley Conference team in a single game this season. In addition, that marked Valpo’s best 3-point shooting showing since hitting at a 57.1 percent rate vs. Indiana State on Feb. 27 of last season.
  • Valpo drained 12 3-pointers against William & Mary, tying a season high established on Nov. 24 vs. Tulane and matched on Dec. 7 vs. East-West.
  • The 3-point shooting percentage of 54.5 against William & Mary eclipsed Valpo’s previous season high of 40.0 vs. UIC by 14.5 percent.

Turnover Battle

  • Valpo forced 21 William & Mary turnovers on Dec. 22, the most by a Beacon opponent this season.
  • The 21 takeaways marked the team’s most since Dec. 17, 2020 vs. Purdue Northwest (28) and most against a D1 opponent since 25 on Dec. 9, 2020 vs. SIUE.
  • Valpo garnered a season-high 12 steals, the team’s most since swiping 17 on Dec. 17, 2020 vs. Purdue Northwest and most against a D1 foe since 16 on Dec. 9, 2020 vs. SIUE.
  • On the flip side, Valpo committed just eight turnovers against the Tribe – the team’s second straight game with only eight turnovers. This marks the first time Valpo has had back-to-back games with eight turnovers or fewer since January 2015 (vs. UIC, vs. Cleveland State).
  • Valpo has finished with fewer than 10 turnovers on six occasions this season including five times in the last seven games.
  • The +13 in the turnover battle on Dec. 22 vs. William & Mary marked Valpo’s best since also going + 13 on Dec. 6, 2020. It was Valpo’s best turnover margin against a D1 opponent since owning a 13-turnover advantage in a Dec. 5, 2012 victory over IPFW.

The Season of Giving

  • Another noteworthy number from Valpo’s 88-66 victory over William & Mary on Dec. 22 was the team’s 23 assists on 34 made baskets.
  • This marked the team’s highest total against a Division-I opponent since handing out 24 helpers on Feb. 22, 2020 vs. Bradley.
  • There have been seven instances this season where a Missouri Valley Conference team has dished out 23 assists or more and Valpo has accounted for three of them (vs. William & Mary, Trinity Christian and East-West.)
  • In the game against the Tribe, five Beacons gave out three assists or more including a season-high six from Trevor Anderson.

Other Notes Wrapping Up Dec. 22: Valpo 88, William & Mary 66

  • Four Valpo players finished in double figures, led by Kobe King with 19. He was followed closely by Sheldon Edwards, who achieved 17 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting and 3-of-5 from 3. Kevion Taylor (15) and Thomas Kithier (12) also surpassed the 10-point threshold.
  • Taylor averaged 16.5 points per game over two outings during the week leading into Christmas. He canned four triples in each game while going a combined 12-of-17 (70.6%) from the floor and 8-of-13 (61.5%) from 3 in wins over Eastern Michigan and William & Mary.
  • The .700 percent shooting clip was a season high for Edwards and the second-best of his Valpo career. He matched a career high with seven made field goals, his third such performance overall and second this season (Nov. 24 vs. Tulane).
  • King’s 19 points equaled his career high, which was established on Dec. 7 vs. East-West. King has scored 17 points or more in three of his first four Valpo games.
  • Kithier collected six rebounds to pace the team on the glass for the eighth time this year. His 12 points helped him snap out of a three-game stretch where he was held to six points or fewer in each contest. In addition, the Michigan State transfer swiped a career-high three steals against William & Mary.

Taylor Triples

  • Kevion Taylor has made at least one 3-pointer in all 12 games that he’s played this season.
  • Overall, he has made a 3 in 76 consecutive contests dating all the way back to Dec. 15, 2018 while playing for Winona State in a game at Concordia St. Paul. The highest of the NCAA records (Division I, Division II or Division III) for consecutive games with a made 3 is 93 and belongs to Daniel Park of D-II Rollins from Jan. 26, 1994 to Feb. 28, 1997. However, Taylor’s streak would not be recognized in the NCAA record book should it reach that point since it is split between Division I and Division II.
  • If Taylor’s streak came in all D-I games, 76 would rank third in Division-I history. The D-I record is held by Mack Smith, who Valpo played against on Dec. 5 at Western Michigan. Smith set the record while at Eastern Illinois.
  • Taylor’s four 3s on Dec. 20 vs. Eastern Michigan all came after halftime. That represented his second game with four or more 3s this season (5 on Nov. 23 vs. Coastal Carolina).
  • The four 3s against the Eagles came en route to a season-high 18 points, surpassing his previous Beacon best of 16 on Nov. 23 vs. UIC.
  • He followed that effort with a 15-point performance on Dec. 22 vs. William & Mary behind his third game this season with four or more 3s.
  • Taylor enjoyed his seventh double-figure scoring output this year and the 88th of his collegiate career against William & Mary. The Eastern Michigan game marked the second time this season that he has led the team in scoring.
  • Taylor is the first Valpo player with four or more 3s in back-to-back games since Ryan Fazekas in February 2020.

Inside the Redbirds

  • Picked 10th of 10 in the MVC preseason poll.
  • Antonio Reeves leads the MVC and ranks 12th nationally in scoring at 20.9 points per game. Sy Chatman is averaging 14.9 ppg, also in the top 10 in the MVC.
  • Coming off an 89-85 loss at No. 24 Wisconsin on Wednesday that snapped a four-game winning streak.
  • Lone common opponent in nonconference play was Eastern Michigan. Valpo won 67-55 at home, while Illinois State lost 103-98 in double overtime on the road.
  • Went 7-18 overall and 4-14 in MVC play last season.

Greyhounds Slotted #8 in Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20

SPARKS, Md. – With the 2022 season starting in less than six weeks, USA Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/USA Lacrosse Division II Men’s Preseason Top 20 this week with the University of Indianapolis slotted eighth.

The Hounds are one of three Great Lakes Valley Conference teams in the Top 20 with Lindenwood at 13th and Rockhurst at 18th.  In addition to their GLVC foes, the Hounds will face four other opponents in the preseason rankings in No. 2 Lenoir Rhyne, No. 6 Mercyhurst, No. 7 Seton Hill and No. 19 Newberry.

The USA Lacrosse Magazine’s Division II Preseason All-Americans were announced earlier this month.  Kyle Basch, Drew Billig and Dougie Crawford represented the Greyhounds among the nation’s best.

UIndy kicks off the 2022 campaign on Saturday, February 5 at No. 2 Lenoir Rhyne in Hickory, N.C.

Hounds Hold #2 Spot in Preseason Rankings

SPARKS, Md. – The University of Indianapolis women’s lacrosse team earned the No. 2 spot in the USA Lacrosse Preseason Poll as announced on Wednesday, Dec. 29.

The Greyhounds return their entire roster from the historic 2021 season, most notably Peyton Romig – who recently was awarded with Preseason Midfielder of the Year along with Preseason All-America honors with fellow Hounds Abigail Lagos, Cassidy King, and Kara Antonucci. UIndy holds the two spot while reigning national-champ and GLVC-rival Lindenwood holds the No. 1 spot.

The Greyhounds open their season against McKendree on Feb. 18 at home at 1 p.m. ET.


FORT WAYNE, Ind.- No. 9 Indiana Wesleyan men’s basketball capped off 2021 Thursday, with a 91-71 win over the Warriors of Indiana Tech. Alex Stauffer fueled the win, shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the field in the first half for a team-best 15 points at the half. He was 3-for-3 from long range.

  • IWU rushed out to a quick 11-2 run, shooting 3-of-3 from deep to start the game.
  • Indiana Tech used a 12-2 run midway through the first half, taking their first lead of the game at the 7:05 mark.
  • Their one-point lead wouldn’t last long, as IWU would follow up Indiana Tech’s run with an 11-0 run forcing a Warrior timeout with 3:16 p.m left in the first half.
  • Indiana Wesleyan used seven deep balls in the first half, building an 11 point halftime lead. 
  • IWU remains on the road, heading to No. 7 Grace College on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. start.


BECKLEY, W.Va. – Kami McEldowney hit a pair of free throws with 1.1 on the clock as the Indiana University East women’s basketball team finished the 2021 portion of the season with a 93-89 overtime victory at River States Conference foe WVU Tech on Dec. 30.

“This was a big win for us against a great team,” IU East coach Tiffany Selhorst said. “I think we learned a lot that’s going to help us with the rest of conference.”

With four consecutive wins to end the year, IU East is now 13-3 overall and 5-1 in the conference. WVU Tech is 4-10, 3-2.

McEldowney scored the final eight points for the Red Wolves in the extra session as she finished with 19 points at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

“I’m really proud of my team,” McEldowney said. “I feel like we were relentless.”

Kennedy Griffin topped the Red Wolves with 20 points and seven rebounds. Bethany Mackin tossed in 14 points to go with a team-high five assists.

The Red Wolves had three more in double figures in points as Tia Tolbert had 12, Addie Brown 11 and Taylor Browning 10.

“We never took a play off, and we wanted this one bad,” McEldowney said. “The seniors have never beaten them before, and we wanted to make a statement. This is a great step in the right direction for the second half of our season. I can’t wait to be a part of what we accomplish next.”

IU East led 27-23 at the first stop thanks to a 3-pointer just beyond mid-court nailed by McEldowney at the buzzer. The Red Wolves maintained their advantage by the intermission at 43-39.

WVU Tech seemed to take control of the contest in the third quarter as the Golden Bears finished the final three minutes with an 11-2 run to build a 67-58 lead.

However, the Red Wolves were able to fight back in the fourth period as regulation time ended in an 80-80 tie.

“I was proud of the girls for keeping their heads and gutting it out after a rough third quarter,” Selhorst said. “Kami was a gamer today, and she hit some big shots all game. I think she gave us momentum in the final minutes. We are looking forward to using what we learned today for the rest of conference.”

The Red Wolves are back in action against NAIA No. 11 Indiana Wesleyan University (13-2) on New Year’s Day. Saturday’s contest on Lingle Court gets underway at 1 p.m.

Late Free Throws Send Wabash To One-Point Win At Oberlin

Wabash avenged an earlier home loss to Oberlin by scoring a 75-74 road victory Thursday afternoon in Oberlin, Ohio.

Wabash (9-3, 4-1 NCAC) used a 13-point scoring advantage at the free throw line to secure the win. The Little Giants shot 19-of-23 from the stripe. Oberlin (4-6, 2-3 NCAC) finished 6-of-13 from the line.

Thursday’s win by Wabash followed a similar script to the 87-85 home loss to the Yeomen on December 4. In the earlier home loss the Little Giants held a 17-point lead against Oberlin before the Yeomen took the lead in the second half and secured the two-point win. That loss stands as the only North Coast Athletic Conference defeat for Wabash to this point in the season.

The Thursday win by Wabash saw the Little Giants once again take a double-digit lead before Oberlin mounted a rally. After leading by three points at 35-32 at halftime, Wabash used an 8-0 run in the second half to move in front 55-43 with 12:02 remaining in the game.

Wabash held the double-digit lead with seven minutes remaining until Oberlin put together a 15-6 run to get as close as two points with four minutes left to play. Jack Davidson scored a pair of free throws as part of a 25-point effort to boost the Little Giants’ lead to four points at 70-66 with 3:47 on the game clock. Darien Knowles answered with one of the Yeomen’s six three-point baskets to make it a one-point game at 70-69.

Davidson added four more free throws in the final two minutes to push the Wabash advantage to five points with 19 seconds left to play. Anastasis Spyroglou scored on a driving layup for Oberlin to cut the lead to three points with six seconds left. The Yeomen fouled Tyler Watson to stop the clock. The senior hit one of two free throw attempts to score what would prove to be an important final point for Wabash. Knowles hit a three-point basket ahead of the buzzer to finish the game with a one-point Wabash victory.

Wabash shot 35.9 percent from the field against Oberlin, hitting 23-of-64 shots from the field. The Little Giants went 10-of-26 from three-point range for 38.5 percent. The Yeomen finished the game shooting 31-of-63 from the field (49.2 percent) but hit only 6-of-22 three-point tries (27.3 percent) including the last-second heave to cut the final score to one point. Oberlin shot 13-of-26 from three-point range in the previous meeting between the two teams to claim the win at Wabash.

The Little Giants owned a 46-34 edge in rebounding, including 13 offensive boards that led to 12 second-chance points. Oberlin was limited to four offensive rebounds for the game.

Davidson starred at both ends of the floor for Wabash. The senior recorded his second double-double of the season with 25 points and season-high 13 rebounds, scoring 20 points in the second half. He also handed out four assists. Watson scored 17 points and gave out a team-high five assists as the Little Giants finished with 15 assists as a team. Kellen Schreiber tallied 15 points and eight boards.

Dimitrije Radusoinovic led the Yeamon with 16 points coming off the bench. Wolf Moser scored 15 points and Spyroglou added 10 points.

Wabash opens the 2022 portion of its schedule on Tuesday, January 4, at 3 p.m. against conference leader Wooster. The game was moved from its originally-scheduled date of Monday, January 3.

RECAP | Grizzly Trio Records Career Scoring Outputs, Franklin Drops Heartbreaker in OT to MSOE

GREENCASTLE, Ind. – The Franklin College women’s basketball team closed out non-conference play on Thursday (Dec. 30) afternoon, taking on the Milwaukee School of Engineering in the third place game of the DePauw Amy Hasbrook Memorial Tournament.

Franklin (4-6) got career scoring outputs from sophomores CiCi Bailey and Kayla Bruner as well as freshman Georgia Hanauer, with the Bruner sinking a dramatic buzzer-beater that sent the game into overtime. In the extra session, the Raiders (4-6) found just enough offense to take the win by a 74-71 score.

How it Happened

The Raiders opened the game with an 11-2 run, but the Grizzlies started to find their offensive groove late in the quarter to cut the deficit to 15-8 after 10 minutes of play. A 10-0 Franklin run in the second quarter brought the Grizzlies within a point, and Franklin would head into the break facing a 25-23 deficit.

A triple from Bruner opened the second half and gave Franklin their first lead of the day. Neither team led by more than three points in the third quarter and two Jenna Lounden free throws late in the period tied the game up at 40 with one quarter to go. The Raiders led for the entirety of the fourth quarter, knocking down two free throws with a little over a second to play to take a three-point lead.

Coming out of a Franklin timeout, Bruner got a clean look from the top of the key and buried a deep three to send the game to extra time. The Grizzlies faced a similar scenario in the extra period, but lightning did not strike twice as Chelbie Anderson’s game-tying attempt was off the mark. 

Inside the Box Score

-Bruner led all players with 19 points, going 8-for-18 from the floor and 3-for-6 from behind the three-point line. The Bagdad, Ky.-native also matched a career-high with six rebounds.

-Bailey turned in her fourth double-double of the year, adding a personal best 17 points to go with 14 rebounds. Following the conclusion of the tournament, Bailey was named to the all-tournament team.

-Anderson added 13 points with four triples and Hanauer chipped in with a career-high 10 points. Franklin’s bench finished the game with a 46-34 scoring edge over the Raider reserves.

-Franklin shot 39.4% (22-for-66) from the field, knocking down a season-high 10 three-pointers.

Up Next

The Grizzlies resume Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) play on Saturday (Jan. 1) afternoon, heading to Richmond, Ind. for the first of two meetings with the Earlham Quakers. Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m.

Men’s Basketball Improves to 7-3 with Win at Webster

ST. LOUIS, MO. — Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology completed the 2021 calendar year with a 7-3 record in men’s basketball action after defeating Webster University on the road 73-56 Thursday night.

Max Chaplin led a balanced scoring attack with 18 points on 4-5 from 3-point range and 6-11 from the field overall.

Simon Blair added his first career double-double with career-high totals of 12 points and 13 rebounds.  Trey Wurtz added a season-high 12 points and a career-high 5 assists to go along with 7 rebounds.

Samvit Ram tied a season-high with 11 points to round out the double-figure scorers.

Miles McGowen added career-highs of 9 points and 13 rebounds to the balanced attack, and Willie Bowman scored a career-high 7 points in the victory.

Zachary Jackson added 4 points and a career-high 4 assists, and Jackson Kabrick contributed 4 assists to the effort.

Webster was led by Malcolm Logue with 13 points, Karl Moore with 10 points and 14 rebounds, and Jason Coleman with 10 points.

Rose-Hulman shot 58% from the field in the first half to build a 42-25 lead at the break.  In the second half, Webster closed to 9 points at 47-38, but a layup by Jackson and a 3-pointer by Ram put Rose-Hulman up 52-38 and the Engineers kept the lead in double figures the remainder of the game.

The Fightin’ Engineers improved to 7-3 overall and return to action on Wednesday January 5 with a trip to Franklin College.

Men’s Basketball Wraps Up Non-Conference Slate with 88-56 Triumph over Concordia Chicago

ANGOLA, Ind. – The Trine University men’s basketball team secured their largest margin of victory in the 2021-22 season thus far over Concordia University Chicago on Thursday evening with a 32-point win, 88-56 inside MTI Center. The Thunder will enter Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) action next week with a 7-4 record.

Trine netted 88 points on 63.5% (33-for-52) shooting, season-highs in both categories. The Thunder forced 18 Cougar turnovers en route to sending Concordia Chicago home with a 3-6 record.

Aiden Warzecha [Milford, Mich. / Milford] stuffed the stat sheet with a team-high in points (16) and rebounds (8) on 6-of-7 shooting with three assists and three steals.

On the first two possessions of the game, Trine scored with a three-point basket from Hayden Jones [Kendallville, Ind. / East Noble] and a dunk by Brent Cox [Kendallville, Ind. / East Noble] after Bryce Williams [Archbold, Ohio / Archbold] found the junior on a cut.

The Cougars fought early and took a slight lead at 8-7, but Nick Bowman [Angola, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern] knocked down a pair at the free throw line and Concordia Chicago only held the lead for 29 seconds on the game clock. The freebies sparked a 15-0 run that widened the gap for the home team.

The defense held the Cougars scoreless for nearly six minutes during the scoring stretch and forced five turnovers and four misses. A steal and dunk by Bowman made it 24-10 at the halfway point in the first period.

Trine took their largest first half lead with 6:21 remaining in the half at 37-12 following a Brent Cox lay-up. Cox and Warzecha scored 10 apiece to pace the Thunder in a 47-25 first half. Trine was able to score 19 points on 13 Cougar turnovers, while having only two miscues on the offensive end in the opening stanza.

“We knew coming into this game we needed to limit turnovers, we did a great job of that in the first half,” Warzecha commented postgame. “You can’t let a team that builds off of steals and turnovers to go the other way for points. We were able to keep our turnovers low and created some on the other end.”

Warzecha, Grant Pahl [Sylvania, Ohio / Southview] and Williams all connected on shots from long range early in the second half. Williams found Emmanuel Megnanglo [Cotonou, Benin / Amelia Academy] inside for a rim-rattling dunk to give Trine a 60-31 advantage just over five minutes into the second half.

Megnanglo would strike once again with a dunk off a feed from Bowman halfway through the second. The largest lead of the game came a few moments later with a Williams three-point field goal to make it 71-39 with 9:44 left.

Rilye Cox [Plymouth, Ind. / La Ville] put his name in the scoring column with a putback lay-up at the five-minute mark and finished with four points and four rebounds. “He (Cox) has a tremendous attitude and is one of the best teammates,” Head Coach Brooks Miller stated of the freshman. “It raises the level of the group. He comes with a smile on his face every day and I think you saw that in his play tonight.”

Ryan Preston [Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll] was another entrant into the game for the Thunder that scored on his only field goal attempt and dished out assists to Aidan Smylie [Franklin, Tenn. / Franklin] for his first career points and a steal and full court pass to Rilye Cox for a dunk to seal the 88-56 victory.

Along with Warzecha’s 16, Bowman (15), Megnanglo (12) and Brent Cox (12) all were in double figures scoring. Pahl played 19 minutes off the bench, the most of any non-starter, and held a 13 plus-minus. Trine outrebounded their opposition 34-28, with Brent Cox pulling down seven total and three on the offensive end. Bowman dished out a team-high five assists.

The Thunder begin conference play on the road at Hope College on Wednesday, January 5. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 pm.

Tigers Fall to Lions in Overtime in Hasbrook Title Game

Greencastle, Ind. – DePauw battled back from a 9-point deficit in the third period to take a 4-point lead late in the fourth, but Piedmont forced overtime with a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds left in regulation and hit the game-winning basket with 5.6 seconds remaining in overtime to claim a 75-74 win over the Tigers in the Amy Hasbrook Memorial Tournament championship game.

DePauw, ranked ninth by and 10th in the latest coaches’ poll, dropped to 11-2, while the Lions improved to 8-3.

Piedmont led, 15-8, at the end of the first quarter and extended the advantage to as many as eight points in the second before the Tigers ended the opening half on a 7-2 run to even the count at 30-30 at the intermission.

The Tigers gained their first lead of the game early in the third, but a 10-0 Piedmont run gave the guests a 42-33 lead with 5:33 left in the third. DePauw chipped away at its largest deficit of the contest with a 9-2 stretch to close the third and trail 44-43. Isabella Ogliore’s putback bucket and Maura Fitzgerald’s 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 48-44 lead with 7:31 remaining in regulation.

Piedmont responded with a 10-2 run to grab a 54-50 advantage, but Campbell Montgomery hit a free throw and Ainsley Boras knocked in a three to even the count at 54-54. Maeve Summerville’s 3-pointer with 2:03 remaining put the Tigers ahead, 62-58 before Nakiyah Washington’s bucket at the 1:37 mark cut the DePauw lead to two. Neither team scored over their next two possessions and a DePauw turnover with seven seconds left gave the ball back to the Lions. Washington was fouled with 1.4 seconds left and drained both free throws. Summerville’s layup at the horn was off the mark and the teams headed to overtime.

The extra session went back-and-forth with four ties and nine lead changes. Summerville’s basket with 29 seconds left gave DePauw a 72-71 lead before Livia Skinner countered with a layup just two seconds later following a Piedmont timeout.

Kinsey’s layup with 10.2 seconds left put the Tigers back in front, 74-73, before Karla Cantrell scored the game-winner with 5.6 seconds remaining. Summerville’s jumper at the horn was off the mark.

Kinsey posted her first collegiate double-double with career highs of 18 points and 10 assists and earned a spot on the all-tournament team. Boras recorded career bests of 12 points and eight rebounds with Maddie Howe adding 11 points and Montgomery 10.

Skinner, the tournament’s most valuable player, led all scorers with 20 including nine in overtime. She added seven assists in the win, while Washington scored 18 and Varney contributed 13 points and five steals. Varney and Avery McAllister each grabbed five rebounds.

DePauw shot 46.4 percent from the floor to Piedmont’s 40.0 and DePauw held a 44-26 edge on the boards. The Lions committed just nine turnovers, while the Tigers had a season-high 21. Piedmont held a 27-4 advantage in points off of turnovers.

Milwaukee School of Engineering finished third in the tournament following a 74-71 overtime win over Franklin in the day’s first game. Emily Runey led MSOE with 15 points, while Cici Bailey paced the Grizzlies with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Each earned spots on the all-tournament team.

DePauw returns to action on Saturday, January 8, when it travels to Allegheny for a 1 p.m. contest.

Second Half Defensive Turnaround Leads Mighty Oaks to Victory Over Trinity International

Oakland City, IN – In what proved to be a tale of two halves, the Oakland City University men’s basketball team hosted the Trojans of Trinity International University, out of Deerfield, Illinois, in the final game of the Dunn Hospitality Classic. At the end of the first period, OCU trailed the Trojans 52-46, but the Oaks were able to adjust defensively, making key free throws down the stretch, to secure a 93-88 win, improving to 3-12 on the season, while TIU fell to 8-9.

Tyquez Priester led six OCU players in double figures, scoring 19 points off the bench, on 7-10 shooting from the field, while going 5-6 from the foul line. Allen Sims added 15 counters, on 7-11 shooting, followed by 12 each by DJ Redding, JaMarcus Clark, and Nathaniel Schmittler, while Tanner Toopes chipped in with 10. Redding and Schmittler each nabbed a game high six rebounds in the contest, while Redding dished out a game best five assists.

Brandon McQueen led all scorers in the contest, notching 29 points for the Trojans, on 12-16 shooting, going 3-6 from three point range, and making his only two free throw attempts. Sterling Brown tallied 16, while Kyonte Thomas added 16. Leon Williams, TIU’s post player, battled foul trouble throughout the game, finishing with just three points, while grabbing a team best five rebounds, tied with Nabil Kone. Thomas handed out five assists, while McQueen and Jack Kahoun each picked up three steals.

As a team, OCU scored on 35-62 (56.5%) of their shot attempts, including 6-10 (60.0%) from three point range. TIU made 34-69 (49.3%) from the field, despite scoring on just 15-39 (38.5%) in the second period. The Trojans made 8-23 (34.8%) from behind the arc, going 2-10 (20.0%) in the second period. The Oaks made a total of 17-23 (73.9%) from the foul line, compared to 12-16 (75.0%) for the visiting Trojans.

The Oaks held a 41-28 rebounding lead, including a 27-16 lead in the second half, leading 12-9 on the offensive glass. OCU had 16 turnovers, three more than the visitors, while leading in blocked shots 7-1. Steal totals were 11-5 in favor of the Trojans, while Oakland City handed out six more assists in the game, leading 18-12.

Oakland City University will return to action on Monday, January 3, when they travel to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, to take on the Pioneers of Campbellsville University-Harrodsburg. Tip off is scheduled for 6:00 pm.

Lady Cougars Capture Third Straight Win with Dominant Fourth Quarter

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – On Thursday afternoon, the University of Saint Francis Lady Cougars (8-5; 2-2 Crossroads) played host to the Oakland City University Mighty Oaks (6-7) at Hutzell Athletic Center and dominated in the second half to win 92-63.

After 10 days off, the Lady Cougars were anxious to get back to action, and after falling behind 5-0 to start the game, picked right back where they left off. A made three-pointer by junior guard Reganne Pate got the scoring started, and the Lady Cougars spent the remainder of the frame dominating on offense.

Saint Francis went on to score eight unanswered points to build a five-point lead and extended it to eight points after the first 10 minutes, leading the Mighty Oaks 25-17.

In the second quarter, the Lady Cougars dominated this time on defense as they allowed the Mighty Oaks just seven points in the entire frame. Meanwhile, while their offense wasn’t as dominant as the first quarter, Saint Francis did score 14 more points to extend their lead to 15 points as the game went to halftime with the Lady Cougars ahead 39-24.

Heading into the second half, the Mighty Oaks came out fighting. A made three-pointer less than 10 seconds into the third quarter set the tone for a strong offensive frame for Oakland City.

The Mighty Oaks clawed their way back to close the deficit to seven points on a couple occasions, but Chole McKnight nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to regain a double-digit lead for the Lady Cougars.

Then in the fourth quarter, the Lady Cougars put it away. Their lead grew to as much as 30 points during the final frame, and Saint Francis pulled out the win after outscoring Oakland City 32-14 in the fourth quarter.

“I’ve coached for a long time and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team have a more difficult game or week than this,” Head Coach Jason Ridge said on his teammates rallying behind TiAuna White, who suffered a death in the family earlier in the week. “We all love TiAuna and wanted to do everything we could do to be there for her. We talked a lot about being together and staying connected and the game was an extension of everything we have been talking about.”

Throughout the game, the Lady Cougars shot 52 percent from the floor, 46 percent from beyond the three-point line, and 62 percent from the free throw line. Junior forward Cassidy Crawford led the team in scoring with 23 points and seven assists, while freshman guard Emily Parrett and Chloe McKnight each chipped in with 16 & 15 points respectively.

The Lady Cougars resume play on Wednesday evening when they resume Crossroads League play against the Huntington University Lady Foresters (2-12; 0-4 Crossroads) beginning at 7:00 pm.

Grace grabs 2OT win over Cornerstone

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s men’s basketball team earned a gritty double overtime win over Cornerstone on Thursday.

The NAIA No. 7-ranked Lancers improved to 14-1 thanks to the 91-83 victory. Jakob Gibbs erupted for 27 points while making his season debut.

The Lancers survived a subpar shooting night, making 42 percent from the floor, 29 percent on 3-pointers and 63 percent on free throws.

But the Lancers turned the ball over just eight times and outscored Cornerstone 12-4 in the double overtime session.

The Golden Eagles, who had already beaten three Crossroads League opponents, could not hold onto their lead, which they held for much of regulation.

Grace started the game sluggishly, particularly on offense. The Lancers did not make their first field goal until nearly five minutes had expired when Brycen Graber scored in the paint.

Cornerstone grabbed a 9-1 lead as a result, and the Golden Eagles led for the rest of the half.

Grace cut the lead to one possession on multiple occasions, but the Lancers were unable to regain the lead.

Gibbs made his first appearance of the season and made an immediate impact. He scored a team-high nine points in the first half, tying Jake Wadding for team scoring honors.

Grace went into halftime with a 44-39 deficit. The Lancers made just 1 of 7 from beyond the arc (14 percent) compared to 6 of 14 (43 percent) for Cornerstone.

The Golden Eagles pushed the lead up to eight in the early minutes of the second half, but Grace calmly responded with seven straight points.

The Lancers took their first lead of the game at 55-53 with 11:30 remaining thanks to a layup from Frankie Davidson.

The game remained deadlocked for the final 13 minutes of regulation. Gibbs tied the score at 69-69 with 1:34 remaining, which proved to be the final points of regulation.

Both teams had chances to win the game in the final minute, but the game was destined for extra periods.

The sides traded points in the first OT. A pair of free throws from Gibbs put Grace ahead 77-75 with 31 seconds remaining. Cornerstone tied the score on its next possession, but Gibbs scored on a hard drive to the paint with four seconds remaining, giving Grace a two-point edge.

But Cornerstone was not prepared to yield. The Golden Eagles drew a foul with 0.5 seconds remaining, and two clutch foul shots tied the score 79-79 to send the game to double overtime.

After an even start to the second OT, Grace found a rhythm at an opportune time. The Lancers ended the game on a 9-0 surge.

Gibbs hit a 3-point dagger at the top of the key with less than a minute remaining to put Grace ahead by five. The Lancers’ defense forced Cornerstone into five empty possessions to close out the game.

Gibbs had 27 points by shooting 7 of 14 overall, 3 of 6 on 3-pointers and 10 of 14 from the foul line.

Elijah Malone tallied 20 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Davidson had 13 points, 6 assists and 5 boards, and Wadding added 12 points, 11 boards and 2 steals.

Graber had nine points and three assists, Cade Gibbs added 6 points, 8 boards and 2 steals, and Ian Scott amassed 4 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist.

The Lancers hit the road tomorrow for a New Year’s Eve game at Great Lakes Christian at 3 p.m.

Lady Lancers cruise to win over Warriors

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Grace’s women’s basketball team rolled to a 77-54 win over Webber International in the Keiser New Year’s Classic on Thursday.

Maddie Ryman was near flawless with 28 points on 13 of 18 shooting, which propelled Grace to the easy win.

The Lady Lancers blitzed the Warriors from the opening tip and had grabbed an 8-0 lead before surrendering their first basket.

After the Webber bucket, Grace would go on another run to extend the lead to 16-2. Ryman was the catalyst for Grace pouring in 10 of the Lady Lancers’ 16 points.

The Warriors slowly chipped away at the deficit, but baskets from Kiersten Poor and Ryman put Grace up 21-10 at the quarter break.

The second quarter saw more of the same as Grace continued to roll. Peyton Murphy hit an early three, and Kensie Ryman and Maddie Ryman combined for 11 straight points.

Kenzie McMahon had a hand in three straight scoring possessions, assisting on two Feldman layups and scoring on her own to push Grace’s lead 39-15.

Poor put an exclamation mark on the first half with a late triple, sending the game to intermission with the Lady Lancers in front 48-20.

Maddie Ryman had 18 points on 8 for 10 shooting in the first half. Feldman nearly double-doubled with 10 points and seven rebounds.

As a team Grace shot 65 percent from the field and 66 percent from beyond the arc. They held Webber to 9 of 36 from the field and outscored the Warriors 24-12 in the paint.

In the third quarter, Grace kept rolling as Kaylee Patton scored on the Lady Lancers’ first possession of the second half.

Maddie Ryman continued to fuel Grace’s offense. Her bucket midway through the third quarter gave Grace its largest lead of the game at 62-27.

The Lady Lancers closed out the quarter with a 70-38 advantage. Grace began to sub liberally in the fourth quarter.

Taylor Cooney hit a 3-point shot in the final frame as Grace closed out the game for a 77-54 win.

Maddie Ryman led all players with 28 points. She also added seven rebounds and five assists.

Feldman double-doubled with 12 points 12 rebounds and 6 blocks. Poor added 14 points.

McMahon filled the stat sheet with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks.

Grace shot 47 percent from the field and outrebounded Webber 52-40.

Grace returns to action tomorrow to close out the New Year’s Classic against Keiser at 2 p.m.




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