INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
ZIONSVILLE 11 OAK PARK – RIVER FOREST 1
ZIONSVILLE 7 SPRING HILL 1
BLACKFORD 14 COMMUNITY 0
FOREST 10 ALEXANDRIA MONROE 3
ELIZABETHTON 13 BLACKFORD 9
FISHERS 13 BRIARCREST CHRISTIAN 1
OAKLAND 4 FISHERS 2
CASCADE 9 COVENANT CHRISTIAN 8
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
HOUSTON 6 CHICAGO WHITE SOX 3
CLEVELAND 9 SEATTLE 4
MIAMI 2 NY METS 1
COLORADO 4 SAN DIEGO 1
ARIZONA 2 LA DODGERS 1
INDIANA 121 OKLAHOMA CITY 117
BROOKLYN 124 ATLANTA 107
LA LAKERS 123 MINNESOTA 111
HOUSTON 121 DETROIT 115
MEMPHIS 108 LA CLIPPERS 94
GOLDEN STATE 130 SAN ANTONIO 115
SACRAMENTO 138 PORTLAND 114
PHOENIX 100 DENVER 93
PHILADELPHIA 117 TORONTO 110
ORLANDO 116 WASHINGTON 109
CHICAGO 121 CHARLOTTE 91
BOSTON 122 UTAH 114
NEW YORK 130 CLEVELAND 116
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL – FINAL FOUR SEMI-FINALS
LSU 79 VIRGINIA TECH 72
IOWA 77 SOUTH CAROLINA 73
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
SATURDAY APRIL 1
FLORIDA ATLANTIC VS. SAN DIEGO STATE 6:09PM (CBS)
UCONN VS. MIAMI 8:49PM (CBS)
MONDAY APRIL 3 9:30PM
BUFFALO 3 NY RANGERS 2
WINNIPEG 6 DETROIT 2
CALGARY 5 VANCOUVER 4
DALLAS 5 ARIZONA 2
TOP INDIANA HEADLINES/RELEASES
INDIANA JUNIOR ALL-STARS ANNOUNCED
CORE GROUP (JUNE 4 AND JUNE 7)
JACK BENTER, BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL
FLORY BIDUNGA, KOKOMO
KANON CATCHINGS, BROWNSBURG
MICAH DAVIS, FRANKLIN
TYLER PARRISH, CHESTERTON
K.J. WINDHAM, BEN DAVIS
RED GROUP (JUNE 4 VS. KENTUCKY JUNIORS)
SABIEN CAIN, UNIVERSITY
CAMRON CASKY, PIKE
JOSIAH DUNHAM, EVANSVILLE CHRISTIAN
TARAY HOWELL, EVANSVILLE BOSSE
RON RUTLAND III, CRISPUS ATTUCKS
JUSTIN SIMS, CHESTERTON
BLUE GROUP (JUNE 7 VS. INDIANA ALL-STARS)
ISAAC ANDREWS, WAPAHANI
TREY BUCHANAN, WESTFIELD
AARON FINE, NOBLESVILLE
BRAUNTAE JOHNSON, FORT WAYNE NORTH SIDE
JAELYN JOHNSON, PORTAGE
GAME REWIND: PACERS 121, THUNDER 117
Two of the youngest, fastest teams in the NBA raced to the finish in Indianapolis on Friday night. But it was the cool, collected performance of a veteran that helped steer them there.
At the final buzzer, it was the Indiana Pacers (34-44) that came out in front of the Oklahoma City Thunder (38-40), 121-117, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
The Pacers led by just one point with three minutes left in the game, but didn’t surrender it in the waning seconds as they snapped a four-game losing streak.
“It was a great basketball game,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Very, very competitive. Oklahoma City is an edgy team. They just keep coming at you, at you, at you. Our guys just stayed the course and made some amazing plays down the stretch.”
With 6.8 seconds left, up by three points, the Pacers intentionally fouled the Thunder, who then converted both free throws, before rookie Bennedict Mathurin closed out the game by making a trio of free throws for the Pacers.
Mathurin finished with 15 points while seasoned point man T.J. McConnell, coming off the bench, had a team-high 21 points with nine rebounds and eight assists. Rookie Andrew Nembhard scored 18 points and dished out six assists and Jalen Smith totaled 12 points and 15 rebounds.
“I think it’s definitely a little bit of the shotmaking, but it’s also the players that are around me – especially Buddy (Hield) he attracts a lot of attention, runs towards the ball a lot and just creates a lot of confusion,” McConnell said of his performance. “And the other guys around me are shotmakers, so it’s easy for me to get downhill so it’s a credit to them as well.”
PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Latest Standings, Remaining Schedules, and More >>
Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers with 39 points on 11-for-20 shooting, including making all 17 of his free throw attempts, while Josh Giddey collected 21 points and seven rebounds and Luguentz Dort had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pacers finished 45-for-98 (12-for-41 3-point range) from the field while the Thunder made 42 of 88 shots, including just 4-for-30 from beyond the arc. While the Pacers limited the Thunder from deep, the visitors outscored them 72-46 in the paint.
All season long, the Pacers and Thunder have ranked among the top-three fastest teams in the NBA. Currently, they’re tied for the second fastest pace, according to NBA.com.
Going into the 2022-2023 season, the Pacers had the 10th youngest team and the Thunder were the youngest of all 30 teams.
Indiana was without its top two scorers in the game, as Myles Turner sat out for a fourth straight game, due to a sore left ankle, while Tyrese Haliburton missed a third straight game due to a right ankle sprain and sprained left elbow. Chris Duarte also missed the game due to a sore ankle, and hasn’t played in eight of the last nine games.
In the first quarter, the high-speed squads showed off their athleticism.
Indiana made 16 of 26 field goal attempts, including 4-for-11 from 3-point range, in the opening quarter to take an early 36-32 lead. OKC, however, also came out firing off the tip, shooting 70 percent (14-for-20) in the first quarter.
Gilgeous-Alexander scored 14 of the Thunder’s first 24 points, but the Pacers answered every bucket.
After trading the lead five times to start the game, the Pacers were able to get some separation after Mathurin scored back-to-back baskets to put the Pacers up 31-26 with 1:48 on the clock.
A dunk by Isaiah Jackson and a 3-pointer from Buddy Hield in the last 35 seconds gave the Pacers a four-point edge at the of 12 minutes.
OKC retook the lead early in the second quarter by starting with a mini 6-0 run, but a 3-pointer from Aaron Nesmith sparked a 10-2 Pacers streak to put the Blue & Gold up 50-42 with seven minutes left in the half.
The Pacers’ lead never swelled to more than eight points before intermission, but the Blue & Gold were able to stay ahead at 65-61.
At the break, the Pacers were shooting 51 percent overall and the Thunder were at 57.8 percent.
The Thunder retook the lead in the third quarter by going 11-for-13 from the free throw line.
OKC’s first 3-pointer of the game gave them the lead at 70-69 early in the third quarter before the teams traded the lead three times.
From 4:31 to 2:41 in the third quarter the Thunder went on a 9-0 run, on seven made free throws, to lead 91-81.
While the Pacers’ bench narrowed the gap, the Pacers trailed 94-90 going into the fourth quarter.
Indiana started the final frame on a 10-4 run, behind 3-pointers from McConnell and Hield, to lead 100-99 with 9:30 left in the game.
However, a 9-0 Thunder run then put the visitor back ahead before the Pacers again had to fight to retake the lead.
Indiana didn’t trail in the last three minutes despite OKC coming within a possession of the lead on multiple occasions down the stretch. Down by three points with the ball with 2.5 seconds left, the Thunder turned the ball over.
“This is a really good experience game for our young guys,” Carlisle said. “Oklahoma City is playing for the playoffs. They’re playing all their guys and they’re going for this. …. We (withstood) some pretty big runs.”
Indiana goes on the road to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
Inside the Numbers
Seven Pacers players finished in double-digit scoring. Indiana is 4-6 this season when at least seven or more score 10+ in a game.
McConnell finished with a team-high 21 points in the game. It’s the first time he has led the Pacers in scoring in a game this season.
Smith’s 15 rebounds are tied for the second most he has pulled down in a game.
Smith has seven double-doubles this season.
OKC finished 29-for-34 from the free throw line.
You Can Quote Me On That
“He just had the motor running, which he always does. He was pointing out loose balls, he was getting rebounds, he was pushing it, he was many times the facilitator on offense. His attitude was one of the big reasons we were able to win.” – Carlisle on McConnell
“With Jalen, it’s his character and it’s his professionalism. It’s the way that … when things got tough and he wasn’t starting anymore, instead of dropping his head and complaining and having poor body language, he kept his head high. He kept competing, he kept supporting guys – all the guys on the team, particularly the guys that were taking that position. He kept himself ready. And so when opportunities came, he was ready, and he has lifted his game to another level.” – Carlisle on Smith
“I try not to be a rah, rah guy. I just kind of try to lead by example. The thing that I just try to do is, no matter who’s out there, who’s playing, we have to give the same energy every single night. That’s kind of how I’ve played my entire career – that next-man-up mentality. … There’s young guys in this league that don’t see the floor until their third or fourth year. So these minutes are very valuable and they’re taking total advantage of it. ” – McConnell on mentoring the younger players
“T.J. plays at 110 percent. Everyone knows that.” – Smith on McConnell
“(Nembhard) hit the ground running for us and I’ve tried to sing his praises all year about how good he is. He hasn’t played like a rookie at all. His ability to defend the best player on the other team, and then run a unit when asked, be a shooting guard, and just kind of be our Swiss Army Knife. He’s done it the entire year at an incredibly high level and players like him are very rare. So we’re very lucky to have him.” – McConnell on Nembhard
“We see the type of competitor he is and it builds that fire in everybody else,” Smith on McConnell
“Pretty much just knowing my spots. Obviously, early on in the season, I started out at the four and was still learning the defensive scheme – being in the right position when the ball swings and things like that. And I feel as though that’s just something I’ve been improving on.” – Smith on his growth on the defensive end this season
“He’s always been savvy. I don’t think nobody gives him enough credit (for) how savvy (he is) and the way he plays the game the right way…T.J. can get in the paint every single time. And he does that and he finds guys. He plays basketball his way and it’s efficient and it’s effective for our team. And he guards on the defensive end, too. He makes hustle plays, too. He’s the one that we feed our energy off…we need guys like T.J.” — Hield on McConnell
“Of course, it means a lot to be back. Just to be out there and see the fans and hear the ball bounce and be a part of the team, not being home being in prison…It was fun. Like I said, I never take this game for granted. When it takes you away from it, it means a lot just to be back and celebrating with the guys. Especially in a good win and watching the young guys grow out there.” — Hield on coming back after missing two games due to illness
Stat of the Night
Oklahoma City’s four made 3-pointers are the fewest the Pacers have given up in a game against an opponent this season.
The Pacers haven’t lost a season series against the Thunder since the 2017-2018 season. This season they went 1-1.
Gabe York, who played in two games for the Blue & Gold in April 2022 and signed a two-way contract with the Pacers on Thursday, did not play on Friday.
The Pacers head to Cleveland to take on Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers on Sunday, April 2 at 8:00 PM ET.
INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS BASEBALL
FIVE-RUN FIRST NOT ENOUGH IN OPENING NIGHT LOSS
INDIANAPOLIS – Endy Rodríguez cranked the first pitch thrown to him over the right-field wall to spark a five-run first inning, but the Omaha Storm Chasers countered with four runs in the top of the ninth to defeat the Indianapolis Indians on Opening Night at Victory Field, 8-6.
Following a leadoff double by Travis Swaggerty to kick off the 2023 campaign, Rodríguez put the Indians (0-1) up by two runs early. With two outs, Cal Mitchell, Mark Mathias and Malcom Nuñez strung together consecutive singles to extend the lead. Tucupita Marcano then roped a two-run double to cap off the opening frame’s offensive outpouring.
The Storm Chasers (1-0) tightened the game slowing, scoring one run in the fifth inning, two in the seventh and one in the eighth. Indianapolis’ countered with Nuñez’s second RBI single of the night to score Chavez Young in the bottom of the penultimate inning.
After three singles loaded the bases to begin the ninth inning against Yerry De Los Santos (L, 0-1), an error and bases-loaded walk tied the game at 6-6. A two-run single by leadoff batter Samad Taylor clinched the Omaha victory with still only one out recorded. Collin Snider (W, 1-0) earned the win and Josh Staumont (S, 1) shut down the Indians with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth.
In his Pirates organization debut, Mark Mathias went 3-for-4 with a double. Rodríguez, Nuñez and Marcano each tallied a pair of RBI.
The Indians and Storm Chasers will face off in the second of a three-game weekend series tomorrow afternoon at 1:35 PM ET. In a battle of southpaws, Indy’s Caleb Smith (0-0, -.–) will take the mound against Austin Cox (0-0, -.–).
INDY FUEL HOCKEY
FUEL DEFEAT NAILERS ON FRIDAY NIGHT
INDIANAPOLIS – The Fuel hosted the Wheeling Nailers to kick off another three-in-three weekend on Friday night and ultimately took the win 3-1 over Wheeling.
After a chippy first period puck drop, Alex Wideman scored first with a tip-in on a slap shot by Kirill Chaika, to put the Fuel up 1-0 at 5:19. This makes Wideman the Fuel’s franchise single season points leader, breaking Ryan Rupert’s previous record of 64 points in the 2018-19 season which he achieved in 70 games.
Wheeling’s Brooklyn Kalmikov took the game’s first penalty for cross-checking at 6:16. Luc Brown capitalized on this with a power play goal assisted by Max Golod and Chad Yetman.
This put the Fuel up 2-0 early in the first period before Chaika took a hooking penalty at 11:41 of the first. Indy was able to kill it off and the score remained 2-0 into the first intermission, with the Fuel outshooting the Nailers 13-7.
Things got progressively chippier in the second period however there was only one penalty handed out to Wheeling’s Kenny Johnson. He got two minutes for holding at 7:49.
Matus Spodniak scored for Indy at 18:29 marking his first professional goal in his first professional game to make it 3-0 Fuel. Less than a minute later, Samuel Tremblay scored for Wheeling to make it 3-1. By the end of the second, Indy was outshooting Wheeling 32-18.
Max Golod opened the third period with a double minor penalty for high-sticking at 1:09 in the third period. The Fuel were able to kill it off despite a few good chances by the Nailers.
There were no goals or penalties recorded until 18:14 when Peter Laviolette took two minutes for tripping, giving the Fuel a power play opportunity to close out regulation.
At 19:29 however, Logan Nijhoff also took a tripping penalty. After a timeout, Wheeling pulled their goaltender in favor of the extra skater. Despite having the technical power play, the Fuel closed out the game and claimed the 3-1 win.
The Indy Fuel are back in action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Sunday, April 2 as they take on the Kalamazoo Wings for Family Fun & Kids Eat Free Day.
BOYS IN BLUE LOOK TO KEEP MOMENTUM ROLLING INTO 2023 HOME OPENER
Indy Eleven vs. Las Vegas Lights FC
Saturday, April 1, 2023 – 7:00 p.m. ET
IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.
Local TV: MyINDY-TV 23 (Indy DMA), WLMO 2 (Ft. Wayne) & WHME 46 (South Bend)
Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)
In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed
Live Opta stats: #INDvLV MatchCenter at USLChampionship.com
2023 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS
Indy Eleven: 1W-0L-1D (+1 GD), 4 pts.; T-6th in Eastern Conference
Las Vegas Lights FC: 0W-0L-2D (0 GD), 2 pts.; T-9th in Eastern Conference
COMMUNITY HEALTH NETWORK SPORTS MEDICINE INDY ELEVEN INJURY REPORT
QUESTIONABLE: DF Robby Dambrot (L foot injury)
After taking four points from two tough road challenges at Tampa Bay and Detroit to start the season, the Boys in Blue will carry significant momentum into Saturday night’s 2023 Carroll Stadium debut that marks the club’s first-ever meeting with Las Vegas Lights FC. Saturday’s home opener will set the stage for plenty of home cooking throughout April, which will see a minimum of five matches at “The Mike” – and the potential for a sixth should Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup contest go the Eleven’s way.
Controlling the ball and tempo have been key to Indy Eleven’s fast start. Indiana’s Team again ruled the day last weekend at Detroit, establishing greater than 2-to-1 advantages in possession (67%-33%) and passes (579-278), which proved vital on a day where winds gusted to over 40 MPH at Keyworth Stadium. Though it’s only been two games, early returns are showing that Head Coach Mark Lowry’s reshaping of the roster over the last year-plus are paying off with the type of high-energy and attractive style he promised would be a staple in the Circle City.
More importantly, the results are there as well – but Lowry’s expectations will be even higher when it comes to games at home, where the squad posted a 9W-6L-2D record in his first year at the helm last season. That included a stretch of five out of six wins to close out last season, and you can be certain that Lowry will continue to stress fortifying Carroll Stadium as a fortress where the energy from the home support can help carry the squad to full 90 -minute performances.
Lowry made two influential changes to his first XI last weekend, inserting versatile veteran Bryam Rebellon at left back and brand spanking new signing Douglas Martinez up top. With Rebellon playing an unexpected role as the goal scoring hero in the 1-0 win, that’s the move that may have rightfully earned the spotlight, but by no means should the contributions of Martinez to overlooked. The Honduran stepped into the lineup quickly and was a thorn in the side of DCFC all evening long, both dishing out and drawing three fouls – including one that drew a second yellow card on Yazeed Matthews that allowed Indy to finish a man up for the last quarter-hour. Both performances personified what Lowry is looking for from his veteran laden squad and also shows that what Indy’s depth may lack in sheer numbers, it more than makes up for with quality.
On the opposite side, Las Vegas enters the weekend also having earned results in two games on the road to start the season, starting with a 1-1 draw at Rio Grande Valley FC on March 12 and continuing with a 2-2 tie at Orange County last Saturday. Life on the road is something Las Vegas will have to get used to, as renovations at their Cashman Field complex will force Lights FC to play the first six games on the road through the end of April.
The good news for Las Vegas is that it has never trailed during its two contests thus far; conversely, the downside is that it has given up the lead all three times it has possessed one, resulting in the sharing of the spoils both times out. How would Isidro Sanchez’s side respond to falling behind for the first time in 2023? You can rest assured that Lowry will focus on a fast start that could put Lights FC behind the 8-ball, forcing the game to open up in a fashion that could magnify Indy’s prowess on the ball.
The Lights’ star power comes in the form of Erick “Cubo” Torres, the ex-Mexican National Teamer who logged over 100 appearances with Chivas de Guadalajara in Liga MX play and 75+ more as a Designated Player for Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. Torres started the scoring in last week’s draw at OCSC, during which ex-Detroit City striker Pato Botello Faz also tallied.
In goal, Indy will contend against 23-year-old Leo Diaz, the River Plate youth product who gained some fame after holding his own as the 5th-choice ‘keeper against their Superclasico rival Boca Juniors while the River roster was ravaged by COVID in 2021. Despite that incredible experience, Diaz is in the midst of his first year as a starter and his first season here stateside, and with three allowances in his first two appearances the chance may be there for Indy’s high-flying attack – and the Brickyard Battalion – to put the inexperienced netminder under considerable pressure on Saturday night.
SERIES VS. LAS VEGAS:
USL Championship regular season: First meeting
Saturday will mark the first contest between Indy and Las Vegas, which, like the Eleven, is also kicking off its sixth season of play in the Championship in 2023 (with Indy obviously having a four-year head start during its 2014-17 NASL era).
Lights FC marks the first of four Western Conference opponents Indy will face for the first time this season alongside Oakland Roots SC (next Saturday, Apr. 8), Sacramento Republic FC (May 13), and Phoenix Rising FC (Sept. 20).
#INDvLV FAMILIAR FACES
Two former Boys in Blue are members of Lights FC, midfielders Justin Ingram and Andrew Carleton. The Indy-native Ingram joined the Eleven last year and started 22 of his 30 appearances during his rookie campaign and logged nearly 2,000 minutes for his hometown club. Carleton contributed a goal and three assists while making 14 appearances (8 starts) during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
In addition, fellow midfielder Jacob Bushue has ties to the Hoosier State through the Indiana Hoosiers, whom he helped to the 2012 NCAA College Cup title during his tenure in Bloomington from 2010-13.
ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: MF CAM LINDLEY
After finishing on the USL Championship’s All-Second Team with Colorado Springs last year, Lindley was brought back home in the offseason to help “stir the drink” for an Eleven squad that was expected to deliver the style of ball coach Lowry had promised upon taking the position 16 months ago. So far, so good, as the Carmel native leads the team’s field players in passes (158), long passes (26), long pass accuracy (65.4%), and key passes (2) from his central spot in the Eleven’s three-man midfield.
Lindley has supreme confidence in his ability to distribute, as evidenced by his long ball barrage last week in Detroit that saw him unafraid to play balls (successfully) into and through the whirling winds at Keyworth Stadium while pretty much everyone else was keeping it on the carpet. Now Lindley gets to show his stuff back in his hometown for the first time since 2020 – and for the first time at Carroll Stadium, where the Eleven faithful will be ready to serenade him. With winds again in the forecast for Saturday night, look to Lindley to again play a leading role in facilitating the attack from the back and doing the little things to help muck up the midfield when Vegas is on the ball.
LUCAS EARNS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA NOD FROM WALTER CAMP
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The first preseason honors have rolled out and Indiana sophomore Jaylin Lucas has earned a nod to the Walter Camp Preseason All-America team as the first-team kick return specialist.
In 2022, Lucas earned All-America accolades from six outlets, which included first-team nods from CBS Sports, Pro Football Focus, Walter Camp and USA Today. He was the Big Ten’s Rodgers–Dwight Return Specialist of the Year and a first-team All-Big Ten pick by the conference coaches & media, Phil Steele, Pro Football Focus and the Associated Press.
He was the first IU return specialist to earn All-Big Ten honors and the first true freshman to win the Rodgers–Dwight Return Specialist of the Year (both began in 2015).
The first Indiana kick returner to garner All-America status since Marcus Thigpen during the 2006 season, Lucas ranks No. 2 on both the IU single season and career charts after one season on campus. He trails Thigpen (2005-08), who returned all three of his career kickoffs for scores during the 2006 campaign.
With 591 kickoff return yards, Lucas finished No. 12 in a single season in program history and led the Big Ten in the category. His 28.1 yards per return ranked No. 4 nationally. He added 271 yards rushing and 82 yards receiving to total 994 all-purpose yards on the season to lead the team. That total is the most in a season by an IU player since Whop Philyor (1,094) in 2019.
The Houma, Louisiana, native was the first Hoosier since Tevin Coleman in 2014 with three 70-yard scoring plays in a single season. Both of his kickoff return scores covered 80-plus yards and he added a 71-yard rushing touchdown in the season finale versus Purdue as part of his first career 100-yard rushing game.
PURDUE MEN’S BASKETBALL
EDEY VOTED ASSOCIATED PRESS NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue junior center Zach Edey has been named the Associated Press (AP) National Player of the Year, continuing his quest toward unananimous National Player of the Year accolades.
Edey has now earned three major National Player of the Year accolades, previously being recognized by The Sporting News and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) as their recipient of the award. He also won the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year Award on Tuesday, in addition to being named the National Player of the Year by CBS Sports on Thursday. He has been named a first-team All-American by every outlet.
The Wooden Award, Naismith Award and Oscar Robertson Trophy (USBWA) will all be announced at a later day.
Edey was named the winner on 57-of-58 ballots.
Edey becomes the first Canadian native to win National Player of the Year honors and is the first Boilermaker since Glenn Robinson in 1994 to win National Player of the Year accolades.
Edey has also been named the recipient of the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year Award, given to the nation’s top post player. Edey is the third Boilermaker to receive this award, joining JaJuan Johnson (2011) and the late Caleb Swanigan (2017) as Purdue recipients. Purdue and Duke are the only institutions to have three Pete Newell Big Man of the Year award winners.
Edey earned AP Player of the Year honors after one of the most-dominating seasons in college basketball history. He was named a consensus first-team All-American, the second straight season that Purdue has had a consensus All-American (Jaden Ivey, 2022), after averaging 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists per game.
He became the first player in NCAA history (since blocks became an official NCAA stat) to record at least 750 points, 400 rebounds, 70 blocks and 50 assists in a season, ranking sixth nationally in scoring, second in rebounds, 19th in blocked shots and 21st in field goal percentage (.607), the only player in the NCAA database to rank in the top 25 of all four categories in the same season.
He finished the season ranking sixth on Purdue’s single-season chart for points (757), first in rebounds (438), fifth in field goals made (290), 14th in field goal percentage (.607), first in dunks (76) and second in double-doubles (27).
He has scored in double-figures in 51 straight games, the longest streak in the country, and fourth-longest streak in school history.
For his career in 99 games, he has 1,533 points, the most for a player through his junior season in school history, with 847 rebounds, 148 blocks and 106 assists.
He finished the year with eight games of at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, the most for a major-college player in the last 20 years, and his 11 games of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds are the most for a Big Ten player in the last 20 years by four games over Luka Garza (Iowa; 7). The 438 rebounds are the fourth most by a player in Big Ten history behind three seasons by Ohio State great Jerry Lucas (1960-62).
Edey became just the second player in Big Ten history to lead the league in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage and is one of just nine players (Blake Griffin, Ike Diogu, Antawn Jamison, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor, Gary Bradds) to lead a major-college conference in all three categories in NCAA history. Griffin was the last to do so in 2009.
Edey also earned Big Ten Player of the Year accolades after helping Purdue to a Big Ten regular-season title, a No. 1 national ranking for seven weeks and the Big Ten Tournament title. He has been named a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given to the nation’s top center.
Earlier this season, Edey joined an exclusive list of Boilermakers to win the Big Ten Player of the Year, joining the late Caleb Swanigan (2017), JaJuan Johnson (2011), Glenn Robinson (1994) and Steve Scheffler (1990) as winners of the league’s top honor.
Edey was also named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award and earned a spot on the Big Ten’s All-Defensive team.
6TH INNING COMEBACK LEADS TO SOFTBALL’S 3-2 VICTORY
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The Purdue softball team secured its first win of the Big Ten season with a sixth-inning come-from-behind victory to take the series opener at Rutgers, 3-2. The game was secured on a double play for the final two outs of the game.
Purdue moves to 16-18 (1-5 Big Ten) on the season while snapping a nine-game winning streak for Rutgers, as the Scarlet Knights fall to 26-11 (3-1 Big Ten).
Down by two runs, the Boilermakers took the lead in the sixth inning after a three-run effort, which saw the bases loaded, three walks and three hits. A pair of back-to-back RBI singles by Becca Edwards and Jordyn Ramos led to Khloe Banks and Kyndall Bailey scoring, respectively. Then, with the bases loaded, Jade Moy secured a walk to bring home Alivia Meeks.
Relief pitcher Madi Elish earned the win, moving to 5-1 on the season after closing out the final 2.1 innings of play. Elish entered game for freshman righty Julianna Verni, who not only recorded her first collegiate start, but registered five strikeouts during her time in the circle. Moreover, the Boilermaker allowed just one hit and one walk through the first four innings.
Purdue and Rutgers were evenly matched with five hits apiece. The Boilermakers committed one error.
Due to rain, Saturday’s Game 2 will be moved up to a 1 p.m. ET start and will be streamed on B1G+.
BUTLER SOFTBALL TAKES GAME ONE IN SERIES AT CREIGHTON
OMAHA, Neb. – The Butler softball team remained perfect in conference play with a 10-2 win over Creighton in game one of the three-game BIG EAST series. The Bulldogs (13-19, 7-0 BIG EAST) sent three out of the yard and never trailed in the seven-inning game. The BlueJays (13-20, 0-7 BIG EAST) scored their only two runs in the third inning.
How It Happened
With two outs in the second inning, Butler loaded the bases but could not put one across.
In the third, a Paige Dorsett solo home run put the Dawgs on the board first. Butler eventually loaded the bases, and three more Bulldogs scored, primarily due to a wild pitch and two Creighton errors. In the bottom half, the BlueJays strung together a single and two doubles to score two. At the end of three, Butler led, 4-2.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Monique Hoosen hit a lead-off long ball in the top of the fifth. After an Ellie Boyer (2-4, 2 R) double and a Cate Lehner (2-2, 2 SB, 2 R) single, Olivia Moxley (2-3, 3 RBI, SB) singled up the middle, allowing both Boyer and Lehner to tag home. Creighton then chose to make a pitching change. The Bulldogs were retired but led, 7-2, after five complete.
In the sixth, Teagan O’Rilley and Hoosen drew walks and advanced to second and third on a Lehner sacrifice bunt. Moxley then added to her RBI total for the game with a single that sent O’Rilley home. After Kaylee Gross walked to load the bases, Sydney Carter also saw four balls and pushed Hoosen across. The Butler lead grew to 9-2.
In the top of the seventh, Dorsett hit her second solo dinger of the game, extending the Bulldogs’ lead to 10-2.
Mackenzie Griman (7-7) started in the circle for the Bulldogs and picked up her fifth win in her last six appearances. In 7.0 innings, she allowed two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three.
Paige Dorsett’s two home runs were her fourth and fifth of the season. She now has six in her career.
Monique Hoosen’s home run was her eighth of the season and the 21st of her career.
Ellie Boyer’s double was her first of the season and the fifth of her career.
Cate Lehner’s two stolen bases were her seventh and eighth of the season.
Olivia Moxley’s stolen base was her second of the season. Her 3 RBI were a career high.
Mackenzie Griman has five wins in her most recent five complete games (since Mar. 11). Today was her 10th complete game of the season.
Butler remains in Omaha, Neb., for the BIG EAST series with Creighton. Game two is scheduled for Saturday, Apr. 1, and game three is set to be played on Sunday, Apr. 2.
SOFTBALL EARNS SERIES WIN AT GREEN BAY WITH 8-7 VICTORY
GREEN BAY, Wisc. – After a lengthy rain delay, the IUPUI softball team closed out the three-game series with an 8-7 victory, earning the series victory over Green Bay on Friday afternoon. Kasie Keyes hit her first collegiate home run in the win.
The Jaguars jumped on the board first with three runs in the first inning. Kayla Freiberg started the scoring off with an RBI single, scoring Kendal Calvert. Keyes then doubled to score Rachael Gregory and Freiberg to give IUPUI the early 3-0 lead.
IUPUI’s pitching struggled with control in the bottom of the third inning. Due to rainy conditions, the game was paused after the Jags’ pitching walked two batters across the plate bringing the score within one, 3-2. After a long rain delay, the game picked back up with the bases loaded and two outs. The next two Green Bay batters took back-to-back walks to take the lead, 4-3.
Down one, the Jaguars wasted no time and took the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Kennedy Cowan singled down the left field line to score Abbey Haas and Kennedy Warbritton. Gregory then reached safely on a fielding error by the Phoenix second baseman which allowed Jaida Speth to score, extending the IUPUI lead to 6-4.
The Phoenix retook the lead at 7-6 in the bottom half of the fourth frame with three runs all via IUPUI errors.
In the top of the fifth inning, Keyes knocked her first career homer to tie the game at 7-7. Then in the top of the sixth inning, Jordan Jenkins singled to left field to push the winning run across the plate, 8-7. IUPUI’s defense held the Phoenix scoreless in the bottom of the sixth and seventh frames to seal the win.
Alexa Holman earned the win in the circle for IUPUI, throwing four scoreless frames with three strikeouts. Keyes went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI. Jenkins also collected three hits with one RBI. Speth hit two singles while Cowan collected two RBI on one hit. Freiberg and Haas each hit a single.
IUPUI earns the series win over Green Bay and improves to 8-18 overall and 5-2 in Horizon League play. The Jags will now play a nonconference doubleheader on Tuesday, April 4 at Southern Indiana.
BALL STATE SOFTBALL
SOFTBALL TRAVELS TO OHIO; SERIES SCHEDULE ADJUSTED
» THIS WEEK IN BALL STATE SOFTBALL: After taking two of three games from Northern Illinois earlier this week, the Ball State softball team returns to the road for a three-game series at Ohio this weekend … With more unfavorable weather in the forecast for Saturday, the series with the Bobcats has been adjusted to a 3 p.m. single game Saturday and a Noon doubleheader Sunday at the Ohio Softball Field.
» A QUICK LOOK AT THE CARDINALS: Ball State enters the weekend with a 16-13 (6-2 MAC) record after sweeping picking up a pair of midweek wins over Northern Illinois … The teams split a Tuesday twinbill, with Ball State taking the opener 2-1 and NIU winning the nightcap 14-10 … BSU went on to win Wednesday single game by a score of 5-1 … Ball State currently boast two of the nations’ top 48 hitters with senior Haley Wynn ranking 31st among all NCAA Division I batters with a .443 average, while senior Amaia Daniel is 48th with her .426 mark … As a team, the Cardinals rank 48th nationally with a .302 average … In the circle, sophomore Angelina Russo leads the Ball State pitching staff with her 2.93 ERA and .213 batting average against.
» THE OVERALL RECORD: Ball State enters the weekend series at Ohio with a 1137-1129-4 (.502) overall record dating back to the 1975 season … The Cardinals have tallied 30-or-more wins in 16 seasons, most recently a 37-18 mark under current head coach Lacy Schurr in 2021 … Of the 16 seasons with 30-or-more wins, 11 have come in the past 15 seasons.
» ABOUT OHIO:
– The Bobcats enter the weekend on a six-game winning streak after sweeping Bowling Green last weekend and sweeping Akron in midweek play … Ohio is currently half a game ahead of the Cardinals in the MAC standings at 7-2
– Alexis Dawe leads the squad with a .370 batting average, while Annalia Paoli is right behind at .365 … Paoli also leads the squad with 30 RBI, nine doubles, and five home runs, while ranking third with 21 runs scored.
– Skipp Miller has pitched a team-high 88.2 innings, leading the squad with a 3.08 ERA and a .251 average against … She has 63 strikeouts and a 7-7 overall record with a pair of saves.
– Last season, Ohio took two of three games from the Cardinals in Muncie … The Bobcats swept an April 10 doubleheader by scores of 7-5 (8) and 6-4 … Ball State won the series finally on April 11 by a score of 5-4 … The teams have not played in Athens since the 2017 season, with Ball State sweeping an April 8 doubleheader, 3-2 and 3-2 (8), while Ohio closed the series with a 3-2 win April 9.
BALL STATE NEWS & NOTES:
» GONE WITH THE WYNN: Senior infielder Haley Wynn opened the year with a bang, smashing a solo home run to center field for Ball State’s first hit of the 2023 season in the team’s 5-3 victory over Samford (Feb. 17) … In addition, she has added back-to-back two home run games starting with three-run blast and solo homer in the 15-9 victory over Kent State (March 17) and followed by a pair of solo shots in last Saturday’s 8-4 victory over Central Michigan.
» MORE ON WYNN: Haley Wynn has only picked up speed after her season-opening performance, as she currently ranks second in the Mid-American Conference and 31st nationally with a .443 batting average … She has reached base safely in 27 of Ball State’s 29 games, including a career-best 12 game hitting streak … Wynn also leads the squad with 28 runs scored, with her 0.97 runs-per-game average ranking first in the MAC and 47th nationally.
» DRIVING THEM HOME: Senior shortstop Amaia Daniel enters the Ohio series with 20 RBI so far this season … With her final of four RBIs in Ball State’s 14-4 (6) victory over Bellarmine (Feb. 25), Daniel became just the 16th player in program history to reach 100 career RBI … The moment came on a bases loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to make the score 12-4 … She is currently 13th in program history with 109 career RBI and needs five more to reach 12th.
» MORE ON DANIEL: Amaia Daniel, who has reached base safely in 26 of Ball State’s 29 games this season, enters Saturday ranked seventh in program history with a .429 career on base percentage … She is also tied for 11th in career runs scored (112), tied for 11th in career doubles (38), and 16th in career home runs (16) … On defense, she has helped turn 43 career double plays, which is the second-most in program history.
» SPEAKING OF DOUBLE PLAYS: Ball State’s defense has registered 11 double plays over its first 29 games of the season and currently ranks second in the MAC and 52nd nationally with a 0.38 double plays-per-game average … Junior infielder Samantha-Jo Mata has had a hand in nine double plays, while Amaia Daniel at shortstop has factored in eight.
» ON THE BASE PATHS: Ball State picked up right where it left off last season, stealing a total of 34 bases over the first 29 games of the season … The Cardinals currently rank third in the MAC and 106th nationally with a 1.17 steals-per-game average … Junior outfielder Remington Ross leads the way, going a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen base attempts … With the mark, Ross remains first in program history with a .970 (32-for-33) stolen base percentage … In addition, her 32 career stolen bases are 18th in program history.
» NEAR PERFECTION: Sophomore pitcher Angelina Russo, who threw the first perfect game in program history last season, added to her lore in the 10-1 (5) victory over Lindenwood (Feb. 19), collecting just the 18th recorded no-hitter in program history dating back to the 1980 season … The 2022 MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year and a MAC All-Freshman Team selection, Russo retired 15 of the 17 batters she faced against the Lions with a walk and an error being the lone blemishes … She also struck out three batters on her way to her second win of the weekend … Russo enters the Ohio series with a team-low 2.96 ERA, including a 1.91 ERA in league play … She has allowed just one earned run in her last three outings.
» WELCOME BACK MCKAYLA: After missing the last 18 games of the 2022 season due to injury, minus a pair of pinch running appearances in the Akron series, redshirt sophomore catcher/infielder McKayla Timmons has reached base safely in 20 of the 27 games she has played for the Cardinals this season … In fact, she ranks third on the team with a .356 batting average and leads the squad with 27 RBI … She has also smashed six two-run home runs this season, including her walk-off blast to cap the CMU series last Sunday … Timmons, who smashed four home runs in her debut season in 2022, enters the weekend ranked fourth among active Ball State players with 10 career home runs.
» WELCOME TO THE #BALLSTATESB BOMB SQUAD: Redshirt freshman utility player McKenna Mulholland made sure her first collegiate hit was a memorable one, as she blasted a solo home run in her first collegiate at bat to open the bottom of the second inning in the 10-1 (5) win over Lindenwood (Feb. 19) … Sophomore infielder Kaitlyn Gibson added her first collegiate round tripper in the 14-8 setback at No. 16 Georgia (March 3) … Overall, nine active Cardinals have at least one career home run heading into the Ohio series.
» TRIPLE THREAT: After collecting three more triples in the NIU series, Ball State enters the weekend ranked 32nd nationally with a 0.31 triples-per-game average … McKenna Mulholland and Haley Wynn lead the team with three triples apiece, while McKayla Timmons, Kaitlyn Mathews, and Remington Ross each have one … Overall, the Cardinals rank third in the MAC with nine triples, trailing only Northern Illinois (14) and Ohio (11).
» DOUBLING UP: The Cardinals are even better when it comes to doubles, ranking first in the MAC and 17th nationally with a 1.62 doubles-per-game average … Senior catcher/infielder Jazmyne Armendariz is tied for the league lead with nine doubles, while Amaia Daniel and Haley Wynn are tied for eighth with seven apiece … BSU has 47 doubles on the year, with at least one double in 23 games, including a season-high six versus Sacred Heart (March 10).
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL
IRISH FALL TO UNC IN SERIES OPENER
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-10) fell in a tough 10-8 loss to North Carolina (19-7) at Frank Eck Stadium on Friday, March 31. The Irish are now 4-6 in conference play as they head into the next two games of the series against UNC.
How it Happened
Blake Hely started on the mound for Notre Dame, recording six strikeouts across 5.0 innings pitched. The Tar Heels posted an early 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second, but the Irish’s strong offensive frame would allow them to close the gap. While Carter Putz opened up the bottom of the inning with a walk, the Irish recorded their first hit of the day as Vinny Martinez singled to center field. With runners on first and second, Estevan Moreno sent it deep to center field for his third home run of the year as the Irish brought it within one at 4-3 heading into the third.
Notre Dame would hold the Tar Heels scoreless in the third frame, going three up, three down as Hely recorded his third and fourth strikeouts of the day.
In the bottom of the third, Martinez was back up to the plate with Brooks Coetzee on first and Putz on third. He launched it out to deep right for a three-run home run, his second homer of the year, as the Irish took a 6-4 lead.
The Irish continued the scoring theme and recorded their seventh run of the game on another home run as Prajzner homered to center field. The Irish led 7-4 after four. After scoreless frames in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, Notre Dame would record their fourth home run of the day as TJ Williams homered over the left field fence. His second homer of the season extended the Irish lead to 8-4 heading into the top of the ninth.
UNC would record six runs on six hits, including a home run and grand slam in the final frame as the Irish fell 10-8 in game one against the Tar Heels.
The Irish finish out the series against the Tar Heels this weekend at Frank Eck and will host Northwestern at home on Tuesday, April 4. Conference play resumes as the Irish head to Pitt for a three-game series starting April 6 in Pittsburgh.
NOTRE DAME SOFTBALL
IRISH FALL TO PITTSBURGH, 8-5
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team dropped the opening game of the series with the Pittsburgh Panthers, 8-5 Friday evening. The Fighting Irish’s defense gifted Pittsburgh a rally early as the offense couldn’t find the big hits it needed. Notre Dame falls to 19-9-1 on the season, and 4-5-1 in ACC action. Pittsburgh improves to 15-14 on the season.
Payton Tidd started in the circle. The graduate student worked 3.2 innings, allowing eight hits, six runs, three earned and struck out three. Shannon Becker was on in relief, throwing 3.1 innings, scattering three hits, two earned runs and struck out four.
The offense was led by a pair of two-hit efforts from Joley Mitchell and Tidd. Each hit a home run in the contest, and Mitchell added a run scored in the fourth inning. Carlli Kloss and Anna Holloway recorded the other hits for the Irish offense.
How It Happened
The Irish took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Kloss led off with a single through the right side and stole second base. A ground ball and a sacrifice fly brought her in for the Irish to take a 1-0 lead.
Pittsburgh took advantage of a pair of Irish errors in the second. Along with four hits, the Panthers struck for three runs to take the lead a 3-1.
Notre Dame hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the second to tie the game. Mitchell led off the frame with a solo homer to center, followed by Tidd who also left the yard to center field.
Sarah Seamnas put Pittsburgh up by a run, hitting a solo home run of her own in the top of the third to give the lead back to the Panthers.
Pittsburgh again rallied in the fourth, scoring twice. A hit batter and a double put runners in scoring position. A two-out single brought the runners in the extend the lead to 6-3.
The Irish rallied in the fourth, as a walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly brought in one and put runners on the corners. Tidd stole second, and the Panthers’ attempt to get her hit the Irish batter in the batter’s box, allowing Mitchell to score and cut the lead to 6-5.
After two scoreless innings, Pitt added some insurance runs with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh.
The Irish and Panthers are back in action on Sunday for a doubleheader. Saturday’s game has been moved due to potential inclement weather in the forecast for Saturday. Start time of the doubleheader is still to be determined. Be sure to check und.com or Irish softball social media for start time updates.
INDIANA STATE BASEBALL
SYCAMORE RALLY FALLS SHORT IN SERIES OPENER AT UIC; TEAMS WILL NOW PLAY DOUBLEHEADER ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON
CHICAGO, Ill. – Indiana State’s late-inning rally came up short as the Sycamores fell in Friday’s series opener at UIC, 10-7.
SCHEDULE UPDATE: Saturday’s scheduled contest between ISU and UIC has been postponed due to threat of inclement weather in the Chicago area. The teams will now play a doubleheader at Curtis Granderson Field on Sunday, April 2. First pitch in game one is set for 1 p.m. ET/Noon CT.
Trailing 5-3 in the top of the seventh, the Sycamores (12-12, 3-1 MVC) had new life as Grant Magill connected on a two-run home run over the ISU bullpen in left centerfield. The redshirt junior’s blast scored Miguel Rivera and tied the game up heading into the seventh inning stretch.
UIC (10-11, 1-3 MVC) responded with a five-run inning in the bottom of the frame sparked by Ryan Nagelbach’s go-ahead one-out solo home run to pull back ahead. Cole Conn added a wind-aided two-run double to right centerfield adding to the lead, while Charlie Szykowny’s second two-run shot of the game capped the rally and give the Flames a 10-5 lead.
The Sycamores mounted rallies in both the eighth and ninth innings in nearly pulling off the comeback.
Josue Urdaneta followed a leadoff walk issued to Keegan Watson in the eighth with a two-run home run to right field pulling ISU back to within 10-7. Following Simon Gregersen’s scoreless eighth on the mound, the Sycamores put two runners in scoring position and the tying run at the plate in the ninth. However, UIC reliever Tyler Ingram (S, 1) was able to close out the game getting the final Sycamore to fly out to left field to complete the Flames win.
Magill, Urdaneta, and Randal Diaz all homered for Indiana State as the Sycamores connected on nine hits in the loss. Keegan Watson added two doubles, while Luis Hernandez had a pair of hits in the contest.
Matt Jachec went 2.2 innings in the start as the Sycamore right-hander surrendered six hits and five runs while striking out four in a no-decision. Brennyn Cutts (0-3) took the loss in the contest, while Zach Davidson, Jacob Pruitt, Cam Edmonson, Jared Spencer, and Gregersen all saw time on the mound.
Charlie Szykowny homered twice and drove in a game-high four RBI, while Cole Conn went 4-for-5 from the plate as the Flames picked up their first win in MVC program history. UIC joined the Missouri Valley in the 2022-23 athletic year from the Horizon League.
Brandon Bak went six strong innings in the start for the Flames allowing six hits and four runs while striking out six. Zak Gould (3-1) picked up the win in relief, while Ingram went the final two innings to record his first save.
How They Scored
Randal Diaz put the Sycamores ahead early in the top of the first as the sophomore connected on a 1-2 offering and drove the ball over the wall in left centerfield scoring Seth Gergely to give ISU the 2-0 lead.
UIC responded with a three-run bottom of the first to take the 3-2 lead highlighted by a Charlie Szykowny two-run home run to left center.
The Sycamores tied the game in the top of the second as Keegan Watson scored on Miguel Rivera’s RBI groundout to knot the game up at 3-3.
AJ Henkle’s one-out, two-run single in the bottom of the second put the Flames back in the lead as UIC took advantage of an ISU error to go ahead 5-3.
Grant Magill tied the game up in the top of the seventh as the Sycamore catcher connected on his second home run of 2023 scoring Miguel Rivera to knot the game up at 5-5.
UIC answered in the bottom of the seventh with a five-run frame as Ryan Nagelbach (solo) and Charlie Szykowny (two-run) both homered, while Cole Conn added a wind-aided two-run double to highlight the inning.
Josue Urdaneta connected on his first home run of the 2023 season in the top of the eighth inning with a two-run shot to right field scoring Keegan Watson to narrow the UIC lead down to 10-7.
News & Notes
Keegan Watson posted Indiana State’s sixth two-double game of the 2023 season after doubling to lead off both the second and fourth innings on Friday afternoon.
Josue Urdaneta became the 12th Sycamore to homer in the 2023 season as the redshirt junior second baseman connected on a two-run shot in the top of the eighth inning. Urdaneta’s home run marked his first since May 10, 2022, at Vanderbilt.
Randal Diaz added his fourth home run of the season after the sophomore shortstop connected on a two-run shot in the first inning.
Grant Magill’s two-run shot marked his second home run of the season and first since his grand slam on March 10 at Memphis.
Nine of Indiana State’s 27 home runs have come in Missouri Valley play following the three homers on Friday afternoon.
Mike Sears extended his career best on-base streak to 20 consecutive games following his seventh inning walk.
Sears’ 20-game streak marks the longest on-base streak by an active Sycamore and longest by an ISU player since Jordan Schaffer reached base 27 consecutive games spanning the end of the 2021 season (12 games) and the start of 2022 (15 games).
Luis Hernandez extended his on-base streak to 18 games following his 2-for-4 day at the plate.
Hernandez’s two-hit game marked his team-leading eighth multi-hit game of the season.
Keegan Watson ran his on-base streak to 12 consecutive games following his 2-for-3 day at the plate.
Seth Gergely and Watson both extended their team-leading hitting streaks to eight games on Friday afternoon.
Indiana State and UIC will continue the weekend series with a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon following the announcement of Saturday’s postponement. First pitch in game one at Curtis Granderson Stadium is set for 1 p.m. ET/Noon CT. Both games will be streamed live via ESPN+ and 105.5 The Legend.
PURDUE FT. WAYNE BASEBALL
BEN HIGGINS HITS THREE HOME RUNS IN 12-9 VICTORY
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ben Higgins became the first Mastodon to hit three home runs in a game since 2016 in Purdue Fort Wayne’s 12-9 victory at Youngstown State on Friday (March 31).
Higgins hit a two-run home run in the first, a solo shot in the second and a two-run dinger in the fifth inning.
When he came to the plate in the seventh he impacted the game with his bat on his shoulder. Youngstown State elected to walk him with one out and the bases empty. It proved costly. Grant Thoroman hit a three-run home run to score Jarrett Bickel and Higgins later in the inning. It gave the ‘Dons an 11-7 lead.
The last Mastodon to hit three home runs in a game was Greg Kaiser at Western Illinois on April 15, 2016.
Justin Miller tossed two perfect innings for his second save of the season. He fanned three Penguins.
The ‘Dons jumped out to a 5-1 lead and while the Penguins tied it at five in the fourth inning, the ‘Dons never trailed in the game.
Purdue Fort Wayne put together 15 hits with Cade Nelis notching four hits. Bickel, Thoroman and Tyler Nelson each had two hits.
JD Deany earned the win in relief. He is 3-2. Travis Perry earned the loss for YSU. He is 3-2.
Youngstown State falls to 5-19 (2-4 Horizon League). The ‘Dons improve to 7-19 (4-3 Horizon League). The two teams will continue the league series on Saturday.
PURDUE FT. WAYNE SOFTBALL
‘DONS STEAL SEVEN BAGS IN 5-2 WIN OVER TITANS
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Purdue Fort Wayne led wire-to-wire in a 5-2 Horizon League softball victory over Detroit Mercy on Friday (March 31). The Mastodons stole seven bases in the game, tying a school record. The ‘Dons last stole seven bases on April 11, 2012 against Toledo.
The top of the lineup did major damage for the Mastodons. Leadoff batter Taryn Jenkins had three hits including a double and a walk while scoring twice and knocking in a run. The second spot in the lineup was Taylor Warne, she scored twice thanks to a double, single and a walk. Grace Hollopeter drove in a run and Epiphany Hang knocked in a pair to round out the top four.
The ‘Dons went up in the first with two runs. Hang and Alanah Jones singled in runs. Jenkins doubled in Bailey Manos in the second. The Mastodons added two more in the sixth. Hollopeter knocked in Jenkins and Hang drove in Warne.
The ‘Dons stole six bases in the first three innings with the final swipe coming in the sixth by Hollopeter. For the game, Jenkins finished with two steals while Warne, Sonia Solis, Brayden Lickey and Manos each had one. Jones went the distance for the ‘Dons in the circle. She didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning and struck out a career-high 12 batters.
Detroit Mercy brought the tying run to the plate seventh, but Jones worked out of it to get her first league win. She is now 5-8. Detroit Mercy’s Olivia Warrington is 2-10.
Purdue Fort Wayne is now 8-18 (1-2 Horizon League). Detroit Mercy is 3-18 (2-4 Horizon League).
The ‘Dons and Titans have adjusted the schedule of their series due to weather. They will now conclude the three-game set with a doubleheader on Sunday (April 2) at noon.
ACES WELCOME BELMONT FOR 3-GAME SERIES
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Another home Missouri Valley Conference series is on the docket for the University of Evansville softball team this weekend when the Purple Aces welcome Belmont to Tri-State Orthopaedics Field at James and Dorothy Cooper Stadium.
UE looks to put an end to a 7-game skid with four of those defeats coming by just a single run. The Aces put forth a strong effort in last weekend’s road series at Missouri State, dropping the three games by a total of five runs.
Leading the way for the Purple Aces offense in the weekend trip to Missouri State was Hannah Hood. The senior registered four hits in nine at-bats, translating to a .444 batting average. She scored two runs while recording a double, steal and a sacrifice. Saturday’s series opener saw Hood go 0-1 but pick up a sacrifice. Her top performance came in the second game of the weekend as she went 3-5 with two runs and a steal. She completed the weekend with a 1-for-3 showing on Sunday.
The outstanding pitching by Sydney Weatherford continued last weekend. Over the course of 9 2/3 innings, Weatherford recorded a 1.45 ERA while allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits. Weatherford made the start in the opener on Saturday, tossing 6 1/3 frames. She allowed one run on four hits. Over that time, she struck out three batters while walking just one. In 3 1/3 innings of relief on Sunday, she allowed two runs, one being earned, while striking out two batters.
Over the last nine games, the starting pitching for the Purple Aces has been outstanding. As a whole, the starters have tossed a total of 33 innings while allowing just eight earned runs over that time. That translates to a 1.70 ERA. No starting pitcher over that span has allowed more than three earned runs to score.
Belmont enters the series with an overall record of 17-12 while splitting their first six MVC games. Kristen Green leads the Bruins with a .350 batting average while adding three home runs and 14 RBI.
UE, BELMONT MEET FOR FIRST TIME AS VALLEY BASEBALL FOES THIS WEEKEND
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Two of the hottest teams in the Missouri Valley Conference will square off this weekend trying to bounce back from their first loss in a while, as the University of Evansville Purple Aces will host the Belmont Bruins in a three-game Valley series at German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium in Evansville.
Both Evansville and Belmont will be looking to bounce back from a loss in their last trip to the diamond, as both teams saw long winning streaks snapped last time out. Evansville will bring a 16-8 overall record and 3-0 MVC mark into Saturday’s opener after seeing its nine-game winning streak broken on Wednesday against Southeast Missouri State. Belmont, meanwhile, will enter the weekend set at 14-12 overall and 2-1 in the Valley after seeing a seven-game winning streak snapped in its last game against Illinois State last weekend.
Evansville will enter the weekend series leading the Valley in scoring, with 175 runs in 24 contests. Fifth-year outfielder Eric Roberts is the current MVC Player of the Week, and he will enter this weekend’s action as the only player in NCAA Division I baseball to lead his league in home runs, RBI and stolen bases. Roberts hit his league-leading 10th home run of the year and collected his MVC-best 33rd RBI on Wednesday night against Southeast Missouri State. Roberts also leads the Valley with 10 stolen bases, and he is one of just two Division I players currently with double-digit totals in both home runs and stolen bases (North Carolina’s Mac Horvath is the other).
Belmont will counter UE’s offense with a pitching staff which currently leads the MVC with a 4.66 ERA. Saturday’s starter, Andy Bean, is the current MVC Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game shutout in the Bruins’ 2-0 series-opening win over Illinois State. Bean will bring a 2-3 overall record and 3.26 ERA into Saturday’s contest, and he has not allowed a run in his last two starts. The Bruins’ pitching staff is led by former UE pitching coach A.J. Gaura, who is in his second season in Nashville.
This weekend will mark the first-ever Valley series between UE and Belmont. The two teams first met in 2010, and have met every year outside of two (2011 and 2021) since. The Bruins lead the all-time series, 15-4, and won a pair of mid-week games over Evansville last year by scores of 7-4 and 8-2. Saturday’s opener will be just the seventh all-time meeting in Evansville, however, as 13 of the previous 19 meetings have taken place in Nashville.
Evansville will send senior LHP Tyler Denu to the mound in Saturday’s opener. Denu is 2-0 with a 3.37 ERA and is coming off a career-best outing in which he struck out a career-high 10 men in a collegiate-best 7.0 innings of work in UE’s 7-3 victory at Missouri State last Saturday.
SOUTHERN INDIANA BASEBALL
EAGLES GROUNDED BY LIONS’ LATE RALLY
ST. CHARLES, Mo. – University of Southern Indiana Baseball allowed three runs in the bottom of the eighth and lost the series opener at Lindenwood University, 6-3, Friday afternoon in St. Charles, Missouri. USI, which continues to search for the first win in the conference play, watched its record go to 7-19, 0-4 in the OVC, while Ball State goes to 4-22, 1-3 OVC.
USI had the early momentum with a pair of first inning runs to take a 2-0. Junior designated hitter Tucker Ebest (Austin, Texas) knocked in the first run with a ground out, while freshman third baseman Caleb Niehaus (Newburgh, Indiana) pushed the second tally across with a single up the middle.
After Lindenwood knotted the game at 2-2 with a two-run third, the Eagles took the lead for a second time with a tally in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk drawn by senior catcher Lucas McNew (Floyds Knobs, Indiana). The Lions, however, bounced back in the bottom half of the frame to re-tie the game, 3-3.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the eighth when the Lions took the lead for the first time scoring three times for the eventual final score of 6-3.
On the mound for USI, junior right-hander Carter Stamm (Jasper, Indiana) took the loss for the Eagles in relief. Stamm (1-1) allowed three runs, loading the bases in the eighth on a walk and two hit batters which would come in on a pair of hits allowed by junior right-hander Cory Anderson (Linton, Indiana).
Sophomore right-hander Tyler Hutson (Villa Hills, Kentucky) started ad go the no decision. Hutson went 3-2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out three.
USI, once again, got great middle relief from junior left-hander Blake Ciuffetelli (Newburgh, Indiana). Ciuffetelli blanked the Lions for 3.1 innings, allowing two hits and two walks, while striking out five batters.
The Eagles have lost 10-straight games, the longest streak since 2006.
Up Next for the Eagles:
The Eagles and the Lions resume OVC three-game series Saturday at 1 p.m. The series finale is Sunday at 1 p.m.
SOUTHERN INDIANA SOFTBALL
USI SEEKING TO GET BACK ON TRACK AT HOME THIS WEEKEND
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Softball returns home this weekend, April 1-2, looking to get back on track in Ohio Valley Conference play with three games against the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The series begins Saturday with a single game starting at 3 p.m., and Sunday will be a doubleheader scheduled for a 12 p.m. first pitch. Admission to all 2023 USI Softball home spring games is free, courtesy of The Women’s Hospital Deaconess.
Southern Indiana enters the series with a 10-14 record and a 4-4 mark in conference play. UT Martin is 11-14 overall and is also 4-4 in the OVC. The two sides sit in a tie for fifth in the conference standings.
The series against UT Martin will be the Screaming Eagles’ second home series of the season. On March 19, USI swept a Sunday doubleheader against Lindenwood, winning 8-0 in game 1 and 7-4 in game 2. USI’s game 1 victory marked the fourth straight home-opening win for the Screaming Eagles.
Last weekend, USI dropped a road series at Southeast Missouri State University, getting swept by the Redhawks. USI fell in the first game, 8-5, after the Screaming Eagles made a late push to cut into an early deficit but ran out of innings. SEMO won the second game, 11-0, in five innings before walking off in the series finale, 5-4, after scoring three runs in the seventh inning against USI.
Southern Indiana’s offense hit four home runs in the weekend series against SEMO. Seniors Allie Goodin (Evansville, Indiana) and Rachel Martinez (Chicago, Illinois) each went deep for the second time this season, while sophomores Hailey Gotshall (Lucerne, Indiana) and Olivia Howard (Fishers, Indiana) hit their first home runs of 2023.
Goodin led the USI offense, continuing her strong stretch at the plate. In the series, Goodin went 6-for-10 with a double, a home run, and four RBIs. Her hitting streak reached 11 games in the series opener before having it snapped in Sunday’s first game. She concluded the weekend with a 4-for-4 game and two RBIs.
Overall, Goodin paces the Screaming Eagles with a .446 batting average, 11 doubles, and 16 RBIs. Junior Lexi Fair (Greenwood, Indiana) leads the team with four home runs and is second in RBIs with 13. Junior Mackenzie Bedrick (Brownsburg, Indiana) is hitting .311 and leads the team with 16 runs scored. In the pitching circle, sophomore Josie Newman (Indianapolis, Indiana) leads the rotation with an 8-6 record, 2.84 ERA, 88 strikeouts, and eight complete games. She has earned OVC Pitcher of the Week twice this season.
The UT Martin Skyhawks are coming off a home series win against Tennessee State University, taking two of three games last weekend. In OVC action, UT Martin also has a pair of wins against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, which came after UTM was swept by Eastern Illinois University in the opening weekend of the conference season in early March.
As a team, UT Martin is batting .294 with 34 doubles and 25 home runs. The pitching staff has a 3.35 ERA and 120 strikeouts, holding opposing hitters to a .227 batting average. The Skyhawks are led offensively by junior outfielder Kaci Fuller, who is batting .494 with six home runs and 25 RBIs. In the pitching circle, junior Brooklynn Linneman is 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA and 48 strikeouts. Junior Katie Dreiling is 6-3 with a 3.50 ERA and 26 strikeouts. Dreiling is the reigning OVC Pitcher of the Week.
The Screaming Eagles are looking for their first-ever win against UT Martin, as the Skyhawks are 4-0 all-time against USI. All four games in the limited series history date back to the 1991-92 seasons. In the last meeting in 1992, UT Martin claimed both games in the series, winning the last all-time meeting by a score of 5-4 in 1992.
All three games can be seen with a subscription to ESPN+ and heard on The Spin 95.7 FM. Additional coverage links are on the USI Softball schedule page on usiscreamingeagles.com.
BEACONS DROP SERIES OPENER TO MISSOURI STATE
The Valpo softball team returned home to the Valpo Softball Complex on Friday, falling in its MVC series opener to visiting Missouri State, 9-0.
How It Happened
Valpo starting pitcher Caitlin Kowalski (Temperance, Mich./Notre Dame Academy) retired the Bears in order in the top of the first.
Missouri State connected on a two-run homer in the second and then scored an unearned run in the third to pull ahead, 3-0.
The Beacons got their first runner in scoring position in the bottom of the third as sophomore Kaiah Fenters (Speedway, Ind./Speedway) led off the frame with an infield single and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt. She was stranded on second, however.
The Bears broke the game open in the fourth with a four-run inning.
Junior Emily Crompton (Salem, Ill./Christ Our Rock Lutheran) led off the fifth with a walk and advanced to second on a groundout. Much like Fenters in the third, though, Crompton was unable to advance past second.
Missouri State closed the scoring with a pair of runs in the sixth.
Inside the Game
The Beacon offense had a baserunner in each of the six innings (three hits, two walks, one hit by pitch), but was unable to get any of them to third base.
After missing the first 25 games of the season due to injury, freshman Kaia Garnica (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield Central) made her collegiate debut on Friday, starting at designated player. Garnica reached base for the first time when she was hit by a pitch in the sixth.
Freshman Kim Rodas (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon) saw her seven-game on-base streak come to an end Friday.
Valpo (3-23, 0-7 MVC) will close out the three-game series against Missouri State with a doubleheader on Sunday. First pitch of game one is slated for noon.
VALPO FOOTBALL ANNOUNCES COORDINATORS, ADDS TO COACHING STAFF
The Valparaiso University football program and head coach Landon Fox have announced additions to the team’s coaching staff, including offensive and defensive coordinators.
Matthew Symmes has been tabbed the team’s offensive coordinator, while David Marquis will serve as the defensive coordinator. In addition, the team has announced that Nate Van Asperen has joined the staff as tight ends coach and Joe Sengel as running backs coach.
Fox has also elevated RJ Ghilarducci to co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. Ghilarducci will coach the team’s linebackers, Symmes will serve as quarterbacks coach, Marquis will instruct the defensive backs, Jackson Smith will take over defensive line responsibilities and Andrew Prevost will serve as assistant head coach and run game coordinator in addition to his role as offensive line coach. The staff also includes Damien Ross (wide receivers), Vernell Price (defensive tackles coach), Yoni Offit (nickelbacks coach), Trevor McConnell (offensive quality control) and Owen Chandler (defensive quality control).
In addition, Associate Director of Sports Performance Gabe Miller has announced that Ryan Nocero has joined the Valpo Athletics staff as a sports performance assistant.
Symmes comes to Valpo with an impressive resume featuring Power-5 FBS and NFL coaching experience. Prior to his most recent assignment as senior defensive analyst/assistant linebackers coach at East Carolina University, he was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff from 2018-2020, serving as quarterbacks coach and offensive assistant. Symmes, the NFL’s youngest QB coach in 2019, helped the Steelers to the 2020 AFC North championship. He was also on staff at ECU when the team went to the 2021 Military Bowl and won the 2022 Birmingham Bowl.
“Matt brings a ton of experience including at the NFL level,” Fox said. “He’s a highly-intelligent person and as a Duke grad, he understands the education piece for our student-athletes. He has a wide range of experience from a number of different programs. He has an ability to relate to players and put them in good positions to be successful.”
Symmes previously served as an offensive graduate assistant working with quarterbacks at the University of South Carolina from 2016 to 2017. During that time, the Gamecocks participated in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl and were 2017 Outback Bowl champions. He was on staff at Indiana University in 2015 as assistant quarterbacks coach and offensive graduate assistant, helping the Hoosiers reach the Pinstripe Bowl. In 2014, he contributed to the University of Florida reaching the Birmingham Bowl while serving as offensive graduate assistant for quarterbacks.
Symmes’ impressive resume began at Duke University, where he served as an offensive intern for quarterbacks, special teams quality control and an offensive graduate assistant for quarterbacks during his time on staff, which spanned the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He helped the Blue Devils win the 2013 ACC Coastal Division championship and reach bowl games in both 2012 (Belk Bowl) and 2013 (Chick-Fil-A Bowl). Symmes graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2013 before completing his master’s in sports and entertainment management from the University of South Carolina in 2018.
“Valparaiso was an exciting opportunity for Anna and me because it combined the things about college football that we have most enjoyed during my coaching career: the opportunity to work with young men who love football and seek a strong degree, and the chance to be a part of restoring a historically successful program to its standard of excellence,” Symmes said. “I am excited to work with Coach Fox in achieving that team success.”
Marquis arrives at Valpo after serving as the defensive coordinator at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio since April 2019. That marked his second stint leading the Wittenberg defense after he also did so from March 2015 to April 2017. Those two tenures were sandwiched around his time as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Dayton from May 2017 to March 2019, when he worked under Fox, who served as Dayton’s defensive coordinator at that time. Marquis had a previous stint at Dayton as defensive line coach from July 2011 to December 2012.
“Dave comes from a Wittenberg program that has had a lot of success both as a team and defensively,” Fox said. “He’s someone who I’ve had the opportunity to work with in the past. He has an understanding of what we’re trying to do schematically. He understands the combination of academics and football here at Valpo. He’s seen multiple levels of college football and understands what it takes to be successful at this institution.”
Marquis’ prior experience also includes time at Randolph-Macon College (January 2013-May 2015, linebackers coach/special teams coordinator; July 2006-May 2008, tight ends coach) and Kent State University (June 2008-May 2011, defensive graduate assistant). He earned both his bachelor’s in education (May 2006) and his master’s in sports and recreation management (May 2010) from Kent State.
“I chose to come to Valpo for the opportunity to work with Coach Fox and be a part of a quality program with a great staff that is aligned toward the goal of winning a championship and developing our players to be the best they can be,” Marquis said. “Having worked with Coach Fox before, I understand his approach and the culture he has created within this program. I am eager to work with and recruit student-athletes who want to play football at a high level and also seek a quality education.”
Sengel, who has never been part of a losing season in his career, arrives at Valpo after spending the 2022 season at the University of Sioux Falls, where he coached an All-American running back while serving as running backs coach. He was the wide receivers coach and coordinated a top-25 kickoff return team during his time at Waldorf University, which spanned from 2020-2022. He began his career by coaching at Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill. from 2015-2020 after serving as an offensive and defensive student coach at Southern Illinois University in 2011.
“Joe is a neat story; he’s a Chicagoland guy,” Fox said. “He coached high school football at Benet Academy for five years and always wanted the opportunity to be in college coaching. Now, he has the opportunity to coach with us at the FCS level. He’s done a great job at each stop in his career and created opportunities for himself. He understands the type of young men we want to recruit who can be successful academically and athletically.”
Sengel earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science from Southern Illinois in 2011 before completing his master’s in organizational leadership and sports management from Waldorf in 2022.
“I have been a fan of Valpo since the late 1990s when the men’s basketball team made it to the Sweet Sixteen during March Madness,” Sengel said. “Chicago loves Valparaiso University, and that is when I found out. It means the world to me to coach at Valpo because I am extremely proud to be born in Chicago and coach at such a prestigious university. I spent so much of my life nearby, and coaching football at Valpo feels like home. I want to help get as many Valpo flags flying across the city of Chicago as I can. I could not be more excited for this upcoming season and working for Coach Fox.”
Van Asperen previously worked with Valpo offensive line coach Andrew Prevost at the University of South Dakota this past season, serving as the assistant offensive line coach and a graduate assistant. He has also worked at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. as offensive line coach and run game coordinator (2021) and at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn. as tight ends coach, running backs coach and assistant offensive line coach (2019-2020).
“When you bring in someone who has a connection to someone who is already on staff, you know what you’re getting,” Fox said. “Nate has had success at the Division-II level and at the FCS level as a graduate assistant, and now he gets an opportunity to be at the FCS level as a position coach. He is detail-oriented and organized and I’m very impressed by his follow through. He does all of the things that you need to do to be a great assistant coach.”
Van Asperen earned his associate’s degree in social studies from Sacramento College in December 2016, his bachelor’s in political science from Southwest Minnesota State in May 2019 and his master’s in education with an emphasis on sports leadership from Southwest Minnesota State in December 2021. As a player, he was a two-year starter at Sacramento City College before going on to serve as a two-year starter and team captain at Southwest Minnesota State.
“I am very fortunate for the opportunity given to me by Coach Fox,” Van Asperen said. “Valparaiso is a great community filled with genuine people who work hard and care. Coach Fox has done a great job of establishing an identity and culture within our team. I am very excited to work alongside great coaches who work hard at their craft and take pride in what they do.”
Ghilarducci joined the Valpo football coaching staff for the Spring 2021 season after spending the previous three years at the University of San Diego. After one season as nickelbacks coach, he was promoted to a full-time role and has served as the defensive line coach for the last two seasons prior to his recent elevation to co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
“RJ has been a loyal member of our staff since joining the program,” Fox said. “He has provided value in a lot of areas in terms of recruiting, defense and player relationships. The ability to elevate RJ into another role is not only exciting for him, but it’s exciting for our program. This shows that if you do a good job, regardless of whether you’re a player or coach, we want to continue to create opportunities for you. He has made himself incredibly valuable to Valpo football.”
Nocero will serve as the strength & conditioning coach for women’s golf while assisting with football and women’s soccer.
“We are very excited to add Coach Ryan Nocero to our strength and conditioning staff,” Miller said. “It was a no-brainer to surround our student-athletes with someone like Ryan who has a proven work ethic and outstanding passion for helping bring the best out of everyone around him. He really has hit the ground running and has already made a huge impact elevating our student-athlete experience here at Valparaiso University.”
Nocero comes to Valpo after serving as the strength & conditioning intern at the University of Findlay, a position he began in June 2021. He also works as a private consultant for Clyde-Green Springs Schools. He graduated from Findlay with a bachelor’s degree in strength and conditioning and is set to earn his master’s in education from Findlay in May 2023. He was a five-year member of the Findlay football program, playing offensive line.
“I came to Valparaiso because it gave me a great opportunity to work with great athletes and open my mind to a whole new style of athletic development,” Nocero said.
What They’re Saying About Matthew Symmes
Kurt Roper, NC State Quarterbacks Coach: “Matt is the most cutting-edge coach I have been around in my career. He will bring an exciting, wide open offense that will be fun to watch each week.”
Kevin Johns, Duke Offensive Coordinator: “Matt Symmes is one of the hardest-working and most talented young coaches I’ve ever been around. His football knowledge is through the roof. He understands how to expose weaknesses in a defense and keep his offense on the attack for four quarters.”
What They’re Saying About David Marquis
Jim Collins, Wittenberg Head Coach: “Coach Marquis is an outstanding coach and a true professional. He is an expert when it comes to defensive football and his ability to teach the game at a high level. I really enjoyed the short time I had with him and I know he will do a great job at Valpo.”
Pedro Arruza, Randolph-Macon Head Coach: “Dave had two stints on our staff. He was an excellent teacher, related well to our players and always brought great ideas to our staff meetings. Even now, we talk on a regular basis and share ideas about strategy, recruiting, coaching and a number of other things. He will be a tremendous addition to the Valpo football program.”
Rick Chamberlin, Former Dayton Head Coach: “Dave has a high football IQ when it comes to defense. Because of his coaching ability, both Dayton and Wittenberg enjoyed successful seasons and did very well on defense. I believe Valparaiso’s opponents will have a tough time moving the ball against Valpo next year.”
Matt Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders Pass Rush Specialist: “I have great respect for Dave as a football coach, but more importantly as a person. He is an extremely hard worker and excellent teacher. I believe that Dave does an excellent job caring about his players and putting them in position to be successful.”
What They’re Saying About Joe Sengel
Jon Anderson, Old Dominion Defensive Analyst: “I’m excited for Coach Sengel’s opportunity to make an impact at Valpo. He builds lasting relationships with his players and is a good recruiter and evaluator of talent. I wish Coach Sengel all the best in his new position.”
Will Finley, Lindenwood Assistant Head Coach: “Coach Sengel will bring work ethic and a wealth of knowledge to the staff. He connects with players and will be a relentless recruiter.”
Luke Olson, Minnesota Duluth Recruiting Coordinator: “Joe is a hardworking and enthusiastic coach who did a great job when we worked together at the University of Sioux Falls. He has a passion for developing players and recruiting quality individuals that makes any program he is a part of better for it. This is a great hire by Valpo.”
What They’re Saying About Nate Van Asperen
Shay McClure, Southern Utah Linebackers/Special Teams: “Nate is a great young coach who is dedicated to the profession. He always has the players’ best interest in mind.”
Brian Frana, Former Western Illinois Offensive Line Coach: “Nate is an unbelievable relationship builder who will get the most out of his players on and off the field. I’m excited to watch him keep building on Valparaiso University’s success.”
Cody Sauter, Former Southwest Minnesota State Head Coach: “Nate is one of the most genuine and caring people you will meet. After his collegiate playing career at Southwest Minnesota State, he made an immediate impact on our coaching staff. With a blue-collar mindset, relentless recruiting ability and a positive attitude, Coach VA always represented our program with class and professionalism. Valparaiso has definitely added a tremendous person to their staff.”
Andrew Prevost, Valpo Offensive Line Coach: “Nate is a fantastic teacher and cares about his players as people. He will not only develop great athletes, but he will also develop great men. Nate is detail-oriented and one of the hardest workers I’ve come across. We are very fortunate to have him at Valpo.”
SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC SITES:
INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/
EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/
WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/
FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/
ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/
ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index
TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index
BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/
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HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/
MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/
HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/
OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx
ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index
IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/
IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/
IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/
PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/
INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx
GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/
GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/
HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php
TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/
VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index
TOP NATIONAL HEADLINES
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
MULKEY, LSU WOMEN RALLY IN FINAL FOUR, REACH 1ST TITLE GAME
DALLAS (AP) Kim Mulkey is back in another national championship game, this time taking the flagship university from her home state there for the first time.
It took LSU only two seasons to get there with the feisty and flamboyantly dressed coach, and a big comeback in the national semifinal game that was quite an undercard Friday night.
Alexis Morris scored 27 points and had two of her misses in the fourth quarter turned into putback baskets by Angel Reese in a big run as LSU rallied to beat top-seeded Virginia Tech 79-72 in the first semifinal game.
“I’m never satisfied. I’m super-excited that we won, but I’m hungry,” said Morris, who jumped on a courtside table and fired up LSU fans after the game. “Like, I’m greedy. I want to win it all so I can complete the story.”
Reese finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds for LSU (33-2), which will play in the national title game Sunday against fellow AP All-American Caitlin Clark and Iowa (31-6), which beat previously undefeated South Carolina 77-73 in their highly anticipated matchup and prevented an all-Southeastern Conference final.
“It’s like a dream. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m at the Final Four,” said Reese, the transfer from Maryland who carries the nickname, ”Bayou Barbie.” “I’m just not even believing this right now. It’s crazy how much my life has changed in one year.”
Mulkey – in a carnation pink top this time – won three national titles in four Final Four appearances over her 21 seasons at Baylor. She is only the second coach to take two different teams to the national championship game. The other is C. Vivian Stringer, who did it with Cheyney in the inaugural 1982 women’s tournament and Rutgers in 2007.
“I came home for lots of reasons,” Mulkey said. “One, to some day hang a championship banner in the PMAC (Pete Maravich Assembly Center). Never, ever do you think you’re going to do something like this in two years.”
LSU made five national semifinal games in a row from 2004-08 – the only times the Tigers had made it this far. They lost each of those years.
The Tigers had to dig deep for this one, with neither team backing down.
Trailing 59-50 after three quarters, LSU went ahead with a 15-0 run over a five-minute span. The Tigers led for the first time since late in the first half when Falu’jae Johnson had a steal and drove for a layup to make it 64-62.
Reese had six points in that game-turning spurt, including a basket after Morris’ attempted 3-pointer clanked off the front rim. Reese had a second-effort follow of her own miss after rebounding another shot by Morris.
Elizabeth Kitley, the 6-foot-6 senior, had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia Tech (31-5), the Atlantic Coast Conference champion that was in the Final Four for the first time. Georgia Amoore and Kayana Traylor each had 17 points, while Cayla King had 14.
Amoore set a record for the most 3-pointers in a single NCAA Tournament with 24, though she had a tough night shooting – 4 of 17 overall, including 4 of 15 from beyond the arc. She passed Kia Nurse’s record 22 set in the 2017 tourney for UConn, which lost in the national semifinals on the same court. Arizona’s Aari McDonald had 22 in six NCAA tourney games two years ago.
The big run for LSU came right after Amoore made her last 3-pointer with 7:52 left for a 62-57 lead. The Hokies didn’t make another basket until King’s 3 with 1:19 left.
“I think we had a few crucial turnovers as well as missed box-outs where they scored on second-chance opportunities,” Traylor said. “I think that’s just what it came down to really.”
Morris had opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer for LSU, then had a driving layup before Reese had a layup after a steal by Johnson. That quick 7-0 run prompted a timeout by Hokies coach Kenny Brooks.
“They hit a couple of shots, gave them a little bit of momentum. They hit a 3 right off the bat … kind of changed the momentum,” Brooks said. “They were aggressive in the passing lanes. But they also were a little bit more aggressive down low.”
Virginia Tech had ended the first half with its own 11-0 run to lead for the first time, at 34-32 on Traylor’s driving layup with 53 seconds left.
But it was the Tigers who led for 17:55 of the first half with the Hokies getting off to a slow start shooting – they missed eight of their first nine shots – that an LSU cheerleader had an assist even before they officially had a shot.
King was charged with a turnover on a ball that hit the rim and bounced over the top of the backboard and got stuck there. With encouragement from officials and others at that end, a male cheerleader lifted up a female cheerleader, who knocked the ball down.
CLARK, IOWA END PERFECT SOUTH CAROLINA SEASON IN FINAL FOUR
DALLAS (AP) Caitlin Clark tossed the ball high in the air as the clock ticked down, gave a huge shout-out to her adoring fans and then took off on a gleeful gallop around the court.
In the biggest matchup of her life, the dazzling point guard from Iowa had done it all — poured in 41 points to set a record for the highest-scoring NCAA Tournament semifinal, ended the perfect season of South Carolina and, most importantly, put her Hawkeyes into the championship game.
Clark overwhelmed the reigning champions with another sensational show from start to finish, helping Iowa stop the Gamecocks’ 42-game winning streak 77-73 on Friday night in the Final Four.
“We had nothing to lose. I have all the confidence in the world in this group, and they believe right back in me, and that’s all you need,” Clark said. ”All we do is believe in one another and we love each other to death, and that’s what a true team is. If you want an example of a team, that’s what this is.”
The spectacular junior became the first women’s player to post back-to-back 40-point performances in the NCAA Tournament. She now has the Hawkeyes in a spot they’ve never been in before – one victory away from a national championship.
They’ll have to beat another SEC team to do that as Iowa (31-6) will face LSU in the title game on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers beat Virginia Tech in the other national semifinal.
It’s the Tigers’ first appearance in the title game as Kim Mulkey became the second coach to take two different teams to the championship game.
“I love me some Caitlin Clark,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We’ve been talking about being mission-focused a lot this year, and we had a game plan and these guys executed so well. That is South Carolina we just beat, folks. Amazing.”
Thanks to the riveting play of Clark and the historic year by South Carolina, this was one of the most talked about and highly anticipated matchups in women’s Final Four history,
The game lived up to the hype surrounding it- the best player vs. the best team – much to the delight of the sellout crowd of over 19,000 fans.
“Tonight showed how fun women’s basketball is,” Clark said. “I’m sure some people wished this was a series of seven games.”
Coach Dawn Staley and South Carolina (36-1) had kept on winning since taking last year’s title.
“I don’t think we felt pressure to win the game, we just didn’t perform,” Staley said. “And that hasn’t been us all season long.”
“I don’t think our players felt pressure, any other pressures besides wanting to win another basketball game,” he said.
This was Iowa’s first appearance in the Final Four in 30 years. The last time the Hawkeyes advanced this far was 1993 and C. Vivian Stringer was the coach of that team that lost to Ohio State in overtime.
Clark wowed the crowd that included Harper Stribe, a young fan of the team who has been battling cancer. She was featured in a surprise video that informed the Hawkeyes’ star that she was the AP Player of the Year.
Clark has created quite a stir since going to college in her home state. She led the nation in scoring twice and last weekend had a game for the ages, recording the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history to lead the Hawkeyes to the Final Four.
Now she has them on the doorstep of more history.
Trailing 59-55 entering the fourth quarter, South Carolina scored the first five points to take the lead. Clark answered right back with two deep 3-pointers and an assist to Monika Czinano to give the Hawkeyes a 67-62 lead.
South Carolina got within 69-68 on Raven Johnson’s 3-pointer before Clark got a steal for a layup with 3:32 left. Neither team scored again until star Aliyah Boston was fouled with 1:37 left. She made the second of two free throws.
Clark then scored another layup on the other end out of a timeout to make it a four-point game. After a layup by Zia Cooke with 58 seconds left, the Hawkeyes ran the clock down with McKenna Warnock grabbing a huge offensive rebound off a Clark miss with 18 seconds remaining.
Clark hit two free throws after South Carolina fouled her with 13.5 seconds left. They were her 38th and 39th point, moving her past Nneka Ogwumike for the most in a Final Four semifinal game.
After a putback by Johnson with 9.9 seconds left got the Gamecocks within 75-73, Clark sealed the game with two more free throws.
The loss ended a tremendous season for the defending champion Gamecocks, who were trying to become the 10th team to go through a season unbeaten.
“It was physical. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Clark said. “They’re a tremendous team, they’ve had a tremendous year, obviously so well-coached.”
Cooke led the Gamecocks with 24 points. Slowed by foul trouble, Boston had just eight points and 10 rebounds as the Hawkeyes packed the paint, brazenly daring South Carolina to shoot from the outside. The defense seemed to bamboozle the Gamecocks, who finished 4 for 20 from behind the 3-point line. They couldn’t take advantage of their 49-25 rebounding edge that included 26 offensive boards.
Clark became the sixth player to score over 1,000 points in a season. She joined former Hawkeyes star Megan Gustafson, breaking her school mark of 1,001. Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist also did reached that milestone this season. Kelsey Plum, Jackie Stiles and Odyssey Sims were the others to do it.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
MARQUETTE’S SHAKA SMART VOTED MEN’S AP COACH OF THE YEAR
Shaka Smart has packed an entire career’s worth of experiences into 14 years as a college head coach. He led VCU to an improbable Final Four as a 30-something wunderkind in 2011, guided mighty Texas to a Big 12 Tournament title during six otherwise tepid years in Austin, and now has turned Marquette into a Big East beast.
It’s sometimes easy to forget he’s still just 45 years old.
Yet his work with the Golden Eagles this season might have been his best: Picked ninth in the 11-team league by its coaches, they won the regular-season title going away, then beat Xavier to win their first Big East Tournament championship.
That earned Smart the AP coach of the year award Friday. He garnered 24 of 58 votes from a national media panel to edge Kansas State’s Jerome Tang, who received 13 votes before guiding the Wildcats to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, and Houston’s Kelvin Sampson, who earned 10 before taking the Cougars to the Sweet 16.
Voting opened after the regular season and closed at the start of the NCAA Tournament, where the No. 2 seed Golden Eagles were knocked out in the second round by Michigan State and Smart’s longtime mentor, Tom Izzo.
“I’m very grateful to win this award,” said Smart, the second Marquette coach to take it home after Hall of Famer Al McGuire in 1971, “but obviously it always comes back to the guys you have on your team.
“Early on,” Smart said, “we had a real sense the guys had genuine care and concern for one another, and we had a very good foundation for relationships that we could continue to build on. And over the course of seasons, you go through so many different experiences as a team. And those experiences either bring you closer together or further apart. Our guys did a great job, even through adverse experiences, even through challenges, becoming closer together.”
It’s hardly surprising such cohesion is what Smart would choose to remember most from a most memorable season.
The native of Madison, Wisconsin, who holds a master’s degree in social science from California University of Pennsylvania, long ago earned a reputation for building close bonds with players and a tight-knit camaraderie within his teams.
No matter how high or low the Golden Eagles were this season, those traits carried them through.
“Everything that we go through, whether it be the retreat that we went on before the season, all the workouts in the summer, he’s preaching his culture,” said Tyler Kolek, a third-team All-American. “And he’s showing his leadership every single day, and just trying to impart that on us, and kind of put it in our DNA. Because it’s definitely in his DNA.”
That’s reflected in the way Smart, who accepted the Marquette job two years ago after an often bumpy tenure at Texas, has rebuilt the Golden Eagles program after it had begun to languish under Steve Wojciechowski.
Sure, Smart landed his share of transfers – Kolek among them – in an era in which the portal has become so prevalent. But he largely built a team that finished 29-7 this season around high school recruits, eschewing a quick fix in the hopes of long-term stability. Among those prospects were Kam Jones, their leading scorer, and do-everything forward David Joplin.
“He teaches us lots of things about the importance of each other,” Joplin said. “He lets us know, time and time again, that we can’t do anything without each other, but together we can do anything.”
That sounds like a decidedly old-school approach to building a college basketball program.
One embraced by a still-youthful head coach.
“I think being a head coach has never been more complicated, never been more nuanced, and never more all-encompassing,” Smart told the AP in a wide-ranging interview last week. “Does that mean it’s harder? You could say that.
“What makes your job less hard,” Smart said, “is having a captive audience in your players, and guys that truly understand and own what goes into winning, and that’s what we had this past year. But those things just don’t happen. There are a lot of steps that have to occur on the part of a lot of people, not just the coach, to get to where you have a winning environment.”
MICHIGAN CENTER HUNTER DICKINSON ENTERS THE TRANSFER PORTAL
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Michigan center Hunter Dickinson has entered the transfer portal.
“Today is bittersweet,” Wolverines coach Juwan Howard said Friday. “While Hunter Dickinson’s departure is unfortunate, there are so many reasons to be thankful for and celebrate. This young man has accomplished so much in his three seasons.”
The 7-foot-1, 260-pound Dickinson led the Wolverines with 18.5 points and nine rebounds per game last season as a junior.
He entered the NBA draft and withdrew his name two years ago after being named the Big Ten freshman of the year and a second-team All-American in 2021. Dickinson earned spots on the first-team, All-Big Ten team twice and second-team, all-conference team one time. He is one of eight players in team history with 1,500-plus points and more than 750 rebounds.
“Statistics aside, Hunter helped us to a Big Ten title, back-to-back Sweet 16s, as well as a memorable Elite Eight run,” Howard said. “These are memories that will last a lifetime. What I love most is he was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, twice. That says so much about his character and maturity.
“As much as I tried to instill in him, he was a guide and inspiration for me. We wish Hunter and his family all the best in the future.”
HARDEN, EMBIID LEAD 76ERS TO 117-110 WIN OVER RAPTORS
PHILADELPHIA (AP) James Harden sat at his locker inside the 76ers’ new locker room – complete with oversized team logo in the center – and got his left ankle taped.
The condition of The Beard’s Achilles is the No. 1 worry these days for the Sixers as they chase a championship. And if Harden hurt after another double-double, he wasn’t letting on.
“I feel good,” Harden said.
Asked how he managed the ups and downs of the often-painful injury, Harden simply said again, “I feel good.”
Good might be good enough for the Sixers.
Joel Embiid had 25 points and 12 rebounds, Harden had 23 points and 11 assists and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Toronto Raptors 117-110 on Friday night.
The Sixers made 30 of 39 shots (77%) in the first half and raced to a 24-point lead that nearly evaporated. Fred VanVleet, who scored 16 points, buried a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that pulled the Raptors to 103-101 and silenced the sellout crowd.
Embiid, though, steadied the 76ers with a jumper and PJ Tucker buried a 3 that gave them some breathing room. Harden drove to the hoop for a bucket and a 110-101 edge that forced the Raptors to call timeout.
The Raptors didn’t have another run in them. Scottie Barnes scored 29 points and OG Anunoby had 19.
Harden and Embiid combined to make 12 of 16 shots and Harden made all three 3-pointers in the first half. Embiid and Harden showed no ill effects of injuries that hampered them of late.
Embiid is playing through a nagging right calf injury that cost him a game – and maybe some MVP votes – Monday at Denver. He said the injury is “good enough” and is trying to survive the remaining games without incident. With Embiid, though, there’s always a small scare for the 76ers. The NBA scoring leader stepped on Anunoby’s foot in the first half and was briefly on his back. He gingerly got up and missed a free throw.
“He looked normal tonight,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He didn’t look like he had any problems and let’s just hope that continues.”
Harden has been dealing with a sore left Achilles for the last few months. The 33-year-old Harden said the pain has spiked at times during games. Rivers said Harden’s injury has “been managed but it’s always a concern.”
The Sixers hit the 50-win mark this season in the fewest amount of games since 2001. The 76ers reached the NBA Finals that season and improbably haven’t gone past the second round since. They’ve lost in the second round each of the last two seasons but remain contenders to at least win the Eastern Conference. That is, if Embiid and Harden are healthy.
“They’re playing more solid,” coach Nick Nurse said. “I think they know what really each one of them is going to do. They just kind of have a very similar output. It just didn’t seem that solidified last year. But it does now.”
Philadelphia’s best shot at a deep postseason run since Embiid was drafted in 2014 came in 2019 when they lost the East semis in seven games to the Raptors. Under Nurse, the Raptors won the NBA championship that season. Now, Nurse admits he’ll need time in the offseason to “ reflect ” on his coaching future, even if it’s not in Toronto.
The Raptors play hard under Nurse and whittled the first-half deficit to three in the fourth quarter. But they fell to 38-39 and are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They would need to get to sixth place over the final six games to avoid the play-in tournament.
Raptors: Missed 12 of 14 3s in the first half. … Barnes appeared to hurt his left wrist late in the third quarter but stayed in the game.
76ers: Tobias Harris sat out with a non-COVID illness. De’Anthony Melton got the start. … Embiid and Rivers both picked up technical fouls in the first half.
Raptors: Play a back-to-back set Sunday and Tuesday at Charlotte.
76ers: Play Sunday at Milwaukee.
MAGIC RALLY IN FINAL QUARTER TO BEAT WIZARDS 116-109
WASHINGTON (AP) Paolo Banchero had 30 points and 12 rebounds, Markelle Fultz added 25 points and the Orlando Magic overcame a 16-point second half deficit to beat the Washington Wizards 116-109 on Friday night.
The Wizards managed only 13 points in the final quarter and fell to three games behind Chicago for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining. Orlando remained four games behind the Bulls, who routed Charlotte 121-91.
Washington was without its top three players – Bradley Beal (left knee), Kristaps Porzingis (illness) and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle).
Corey Kispert scored a career-high 27 points for Washington but did not manage a shot attempt in the fourth until the final minute. He made nine of the Wizards’ 17 3-pointers.
Washington scored the first 13 points of the third quarter and led 76-60. The Magic cut the lead to three later in the quarter but the Wizards were up 96-85 entering the fourth.
In that final period, however, Orlando shut Washington down. The Wizards went 1 of 11 from long distance in the fourth and 5 of 23 from the field.
The Magic finally took a 105-103 lead on a 3-pointer by Cole Anthony. That was part of a 13-2 run that put Orlando up by eight.
Anthony scored seven of his 16 points in the fourth.
Magic: Kevon Harris (left elbow) did not play. … Fultz went 11 of 15 from the field. … Franz Wagner had 20 points.
Wizards: Kispert’s previous career high was 26 points. … Delon Wright had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Daniel Gafford contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Magic: Host Detroit on Sunday night.
Wizards: At New York on Sunday night.
LAVINE, DEROZAN EACH SCORE 23 POINTS; BULLS ROUT HORNETS
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan each scored 23 points and the Chicago Bulls routed the injury-plagued Charlotte Hornets 121-91 on Friday night to take a big step toward reaching the NBA’s play-in tournament.
Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, who entered the game having lost three of their previous five games and clinging to the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. However, Chicago’s win combined with the Orlando Magic’s 116-109 victory over Washington on Friday night leaves the Bulls three games head of the Wizards for the 10th spot in the East with five games remaining.
DeRozan said it’s vital the Bulls use this closing stretch to elevate their play if they want to make a postseason run.
“We’ve got to, just for that confidence, that feel, that rhythm and understanding how we need to play,” DeRozan said. “We needed to take these last five games and make sure we are playing great basketball.”
James Bouknight had 22 points behind six 3-pointers to lead the Hornets. They had their three-game winning snapped and lost yet another key player to injury.
Charlotte’s P.J. Washington, who scored a career-high 43 points Tuesday night in a 137-134 win over Oklahoma City, left in the second quarter with a sprained foot and did not return.
“I thought he was off to a good start again,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “It’s part of it. It’s part of the game.”
It’s unclear if Washington will miss the remainder of the season, but there’s no logical reason for the Hornets to rush him back given they’ve already been eliminated from playoff contention.
It’s the latest in a long line of injuries for the Hornets, who played without LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr., Cody Martin and Dennis Smith Jr. Washington was the only opening day starter who suited up for the Hornets against the Bulls.
The Hornets were so thin at one point they had a lineup on the floor that included five players who’ve spent time with their G League club, the Greensboro Swarm.
Chicago jumped out to a 19-5 lead midway through the first quarter, with six Hornets turnovers leading to 10 points. The Bulls, who never trailed, pushed the lead to 16 at the half behind a series of LaVine drives and DeRozan mid-range jumpers.
Chicago increased its lead to 28 with about five minutes remaining when four passes led to an open 3 from LaVine. A short while later Billy Donovan emptied his bench.
The Bulls had 25 assists.
“When we are moving the ball and making good decisions and sharing it and collectively all covering and helping each other defensively it is when we are at our best,” Donovan said.
Andre Drummond returned to action after missing the last game due to personal reasons and had six points and 11 rebounds.
“For him to come back and be able to do what he did and try to block whatever it is he’s dealing with out and focus on basketball, maybe in some way it was a relief for him just to get on the floor,” Donovan said. “I think it speaks to his commitment to the team and to the guys that he wanted to be out there.”
Bulls: Scored 29 points off 22 Charlotte turnovers.
Hornets: Svi Mykhailiuk was the only Hornets starter to finish in double figures, scoring 16 points. … Theo Maledon got the start at point guard and had nine points and nine assists.
Bulls: Host Memphis on Sunday.
Hornets: Host Toronto on Sunday.
TATUM’S 39 LIFTS CELTICS OVER SHORT-HANDED JAZZ 122-114
BOSTON (AP) The collective sentiment among the Celtics following their 41-point win at Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee was it would be meaningless if they lost Friday’s follow-up at home against Utah.
Despite some unexpected hiccups just getting home, Boston successfully avoided a letdown.
Jayson Tatum had 39 points and 11 assists and the Celtics pushed past the Jazz 122-114 to continue to gain ground in the race for the East’s top playoff seed.
Boston had its normal travel routine altered following Thursday’s win at Milwaukee when an issue pushed its return flight back from postgame to early Friday afternoon. The Celtics landed six hours before the game.
“We kind of looked at it as a challenge,” Tatum said. “It was fun figuring it out regardless of how the last 24 hours was. It was rewarding. … It kind of brought us closer together.” Malcolm Brogdon added 19 points and Derrick White finished with 17. Boston had 17 3-pointers, including five by Tatum.
The Celtics (54-24) are 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee (55-22) and were coming off a 41-point win over the Bucks. Milwaukee is off until Sunday, when it hosts the 76ers. The Celtics have four games remaining.
“I trusted our guys,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “I knew we were going to be really competitive. I knew we were going to put ourselves in position to win the game. I could just sense it from our guys.”
Talen Horton-Tucker led Utah with 28 points and eight assists. Walker Kessler added 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Jazz (36-41) came in holding the 12th spot in the West and trailing 10th-place Oklahoma City by 1 1/2 games and 11th place Dallas by a half-game. The Mavericks were idle, but the Thunder lost at Indiana.
The Celtics took control in the second and third quarters, outscoring the Jazz 66-49.
Boston also took advantage of a huge free throw discrepancy for most of the night. The Celtics connected on 21 of 22 attempts, compared to 13 of 14 for the Jazz. But 12 of Utah’s attempts were in the fourth quarter.
It was Boston’s players who took issue with the officiating with just over four minutes to play when Blake Griffin and Tatum were whistled for technical fouls 10 seconds apart.
A minute after that, Griffin and Kris Dunn got tangled up after a foul by Dunn, leading to a technical on Dunn. Tatum made the subsequent free throw, but Dunn had words for the officials, was assessed a second technical and ejected.
“I’m all for the fight, I’m not for fighting,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Both teams were a little bit chippy. Nobody was dirty in any way.”
The exchange ultimately put the Celtics in front 117-101 with just over three minutes left.
With Al Horford (back stiffness) and Robert Williams (left knee) both out, the Celtics went small for the second straight game against the Jazz starting Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Griffin, White and Smart.
Horford and Williams also missed the first meeting between the teams earlier this month along with Smart – a win by Utah.
This time, it was the Jazz missing several contributors, with three of their top four scorers – Lauri Markkanen (bruised left hand), Jordan Clarkson (sprained finger) and Collin Sexton (strained left hamstring) – all out.
Jazz: Outscored the Celtics 68-46 in the paint. … Didn’t take their first free throw until the 5:40 mark of the third quarter. Boston had attempted 16 to that point. … Utah had six turnovers in the first quarter.
Celtics: Scored 19 points off 18 Jazz turnovers. … Former Red Sox star David Ortiz, current manager Alex Cora both sat courtside, as did rapper Jack Harlow and actor Casey Affleck.
NOT SHUT DOWN
Hardy disputed a recent report that Clarkson and Sexton will be essentially shut down for the rest of the season.
“I watched Jordan and Collin do a rehab 3-on-3 this morning in hopes of getting back to playing. So, I have not shut them down for the season,” Hardy said. “They’re still preparing as if they’re coming back.”
Clarkson has been sidelined since March 7 (12 games). Sexton has been out since Feb. 23 (17 games).
Jazz: At Nets on Sunday.
Celtics: At 76ers on Tuesday.
BRUNSON SCORES 48, KNICKS DOWN CAVS 130-116 WITHOUT RANDLE
CLEVELAND (AP) With All-Star Julius Randle back in New York, the Knicks needed someone to step up.
Jalen Brunson did that, and more.
New York’s point guard scored a career-high 48 points and the Knicks moved closer to a playoff berth while waiting for Randle to get healthy, outrunning the Cleveland Cavaliers 130-116 on Friday night.
“There is nothing that Jalen does that surprises you,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s so mentally tough. He’s nicked up a little bit, but he’s a machine. He just keeps going.”
Brunson credited his teammates and coaches for his big night, which included seven 3-pointers and nine assists. He finished 18 of 32 from the floor.
“They had confidence in me and the ball just went through the hole,” said Brunson, who scored 44 in a loss to Milwaukee on Jan. 9. “I just kept shooting with confidence and that’s just how it went.”
The Knicks reduced their magic number to one in their first game without Randle, who sprained his left ankle Wednesday and will miss the rest of the regular season. New York hopes he’ll be back for the postseason and a potential first-round matchup against the Cavs.
New York won the season series 3-1 and denied Cleveland a chance to lock up home-court advantage in the first round.
“This loss hurts,” said Donovan Mitchell, who led Cleveland with 42 points. “We need to feel it and be ready to use it when the time comes. Obviously, we control our destiny and we’ll probably see these guys in two weeks.
“There is a lot of film to go through. But if we let this affect us, we have no chance in the playoffs.”
Leading by three, the Knicks outscored the Cavs 14-2 to open the fourth and get some breathing room in a game played at a frenetic pace. The teams combined for 89 points in the first quarter and 151 in the first half.
The Cavs got within 123-116 before Brunson put the Cavs away with a layup following a timeout and then a 3-pointer. He missed a floater in the final seconds that would have given him 50 points.
Did he want 50?
“Who wouldn’t?” he said. “I was going to hold the ball out, but they doubled and I guess that means keep playing. No disrespect to them. They played to the buzzer. I have the most respect in the world for that coaching staff. You got to keep playing.”
Brunson, who averages 23.6 points, scored 33 in a wild first half without much defense.
The teams combined for 89 points in the first quarter, tying the third most in the first 12 minutes of a game in NBA history. The record of 91 is shared by Utah and Denver (1982), and Miami and Washington (2021).
Also, Cleveland’s 47 points in the first quarter were the most in the franchise’s 53-year history.
The Cavs were without two of their top defenders, center Jarrett Allen (groin) and Isaac Okoro (knee).
The Knicks had a moment of drama.
During a timeout in the third quarter, New York starters RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin got into a shouting match and had to be separated.
Thibodeau downplayed the conflict.
“The cameras are everywhere and it probably happens more than people realize,” Thibodeau said. “It was the heat of the moment. Sometimes, there is a difference of opinion, but those guys are fine with each other. These things happen.”
Later, in the locker, Toppin had his arm around a smiling Barrett.
“This is my brother,” Toppin said. “We’re good.”
The Knicks will re-evaluate Randle in two weeks, ahead of the playoffs, which start on April 15 or 16.
Thibodeau said the 30-year-old forward, who started the Knicks’ first 77 games, is in good spirits and working toward his return.
“He’s done all he can to prepare himself to play in every game, which is a credit to him. He doesn’t miss practice. He doesn’t miss games. I’m actually surprised it doesn’t happen more than it does,” Thibodeau said.
Knicks: New York is one of five East teams – and four in the Atlantic Division – with a winning road record. … G Derrick Rose (illness) was unavailable for the third consecutive game. The 14th-year veteran fell out of the rotation in December and has only played 141 seconds in 2023.
Cavaliers: Mitchell has 11 games of at least 40 points, breaking the previous team record for one season held by LeBron James (2005-6). … Allen, who averages 9.9 rebounds, missed his second straight game. He recently sat out four games with a bruised right eye. … Cleveland remains two shy of its first 50-win season since 2018.
Knicks: Host Washington on Sunday.
Cavaliers: Host Indiana on Sunday.
BRIDGES HAS 42, NETS ROUT HAWKS TO BOOST LEAD FOR NO. 6 SEED
NEW YORK (AP) Mikal Bridges remembers when he couldn’t even score 30 points in a game.
These days he surpasses 40, giving the Nets the scoring that seemed lost when they traded Kevin Durant in the deal that brought Bridges to Brooklyn.
“I think it’s just, I’m really trying to win,” Bridges said, “so every shot I take I’m being aggressive and trying to make every shot I shoot.”
Bridges scored 42 points and the Nets increased their lead for the final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the Atlanta Hawks 124-107 on Friday night.
Dorrian Finney-Smith added 19 points in his best game with the Nets, who led by only four at halftime before outscoring the Hawks 42-24 in the third quarter to open a 101-79 lead. Brooklyn moved two games ahead of idle Miami for the No. 6 spot with five games to play.
Bridges surpassed 40 points for the second time in three games and the third time since coming to the Nets in February. He finished March with 461 points, the second-highest total by a Nets player in their NBA franchise history in a month behind the 471 scored by Durant last November.
Cam Johnson, also part of the Durant trade, had 16 points. The Nets won for the third time in four games following a five-game skid that had dropped them behind the Heat into seventh place. The teams who finish between 7-10 have to go through the play-in tournament to reach the postseason.
“Even though we were losing, we felt like we were coming together as a team,” Finney-Smith said. “We haven’t been in that many battles together, but we’re still learning each and other and we’re figuring it out.”
The Hawks remained tied for the No. 8 spot with Toronto. Atlanta could have pulled within a game of Miami.
But the Hawks never gave themselves a chance after going just 8 for 37 from 3-point range and getting outscored 76-46 in the middle two quarters after leading by eight after one.
Dejounte Murray scored 21 points for the Hawks, who had a tough time with New York traffic and perhaps left their legs on the bus. Trae Young had 10 points and six assists, going 3 for 12 and missing all five 3-pointers.
Bridges’ three-point play with 8:45 left in the third quarter gave Brooklyn a 69-58 lead, the first double-digit advantage by either team. The Nets had doubled that lead about 4 1/2 minutes later when another basket by Bridges made it 91-71.
Bridges finished off the quarter by scoring the final seven points as the lead ballooned by 22. He finished 16 for 24 from the field, 5 for 8 on 3-pointers.
“He’s been efficient forever. He’s made those 3s, he’s just more aggressive right now because he has to be and it’s a credit to him,” said Hawks coach Quin Snyder, who went against Bridges often when he coached Utah.
The Hawks led 33-25 after one, then missed all nine 3-point attempts and shot 29% overall in the second quarter. The Nets outscored them 34-22 to take a 59-55 edge to the break.
Hawks: De’Andre Hunter missed the game with soreness in his left knee. … Jalen Johnson had six points after missing the previous five games with a strained left hamstring.
Nets: Brooklyn improved to 11-2 on Fridays, the NBA’s best record this season on that day. … Nic Claxton had 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
BIG DAY FOR THE MINOR LEAGUERS
Shortly after Ronnie Burrell was announced as the NBA G League Coach of the Year early Friday, his Long Island Nets beat the Cleveland Charge 111-107 to reach the Eastern Conference finals. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said he called Burrell, who was on the Brooklyn staff in 2018-19, after the game to congratulate him.
“I was here when Ronnie was with us previously and to see his growth, him lead that team, to see how well our guys are playing and how they’ve developed, you give him a lot of credit for that,” Vaughn said. “And good thing they won today, too.”
Hawks: Host Dallas on Sunday night.
Nets: Host Utah on Sunday.
ROCKETS SNAP 7-GAME SKID BY BEATING PISTONS 121-115
HOUSTON (AP) Kevin Porter Jr. scored 33 points and Jalen Green added 32 to help the Houston Rockets end their seven-game losing streak with a 121-115 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
Porter shot 12 of 20 from the field and made seven 3-pointers, the last of which put Houston up by six with less than a minute to play. It marked the first time this season Porter scored 30 or more points in consecutive games. Meanwhile, Green was 10 of 18 on field goals.
“We wanted this one bad, definitely,” Porter said. “The last couple of games, we felt like we should’ve closed some out. So we knew Detroit was our first home game back and we definitely wanted this one to start off our home stretch.”
Marvin Bagley III scored 21 points and Jaden Ivey added 18 points and nine assists for Detroit, which lost its eighth in a row and 19th in the last 20 games.
“You don’t want to get used to losing,” Bagley said. “I don’t care what the record is, where we’re at and just staying home (for the playoffs). We don’t care about any of that. We just want to win.”
In a game that featured 14 ties and 23 lead changes, the Rockets took the lead for good when Porter knocked down a free throw to break a 104-104 tie after Pistons coach Dwane Casey was called for a technical foul with 4:59 to play.
Alperen Sengun had 15 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists for the Rockets. Jabari Smith Jr. finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season. LeBron James and Dwight Howard are the only players in NBA history 19 or younger with more than 16 double-doubles.
Houston shot 55% on the way to taking a 31-28 lead after a quarter, but Jared Rhoden sparked a 15-4 run by the Pistons midway through the second that was capped off by Killian Hayes’ 3-pointer.
Detroit took a one-point lead into the fourth, but both teams struggled to make shots. Houston was able to overcome its poor shooting by going 14 of 20 from the foul line in the quarter. The Rockets had 45 free throw attempts overall, compared to 27 for the Pistons.
Rockets: K.J. Martin’s consecutive games streak reached 125 despite the Rockets listing him as questionable to play with a hip flexor strain. … Frank Kaminsky is the only player on either team to have played in a Final Four, which will be played in Houston on Saturday.
Pistons: James Wiseman failed to score in double figures for the first time since being acquired in a trade from Golden State. … Leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic missed his 14th consecutive game due to left Achilles tendinopathy. He hasn’t been ruled out the remainder of the season, but Casey said the team will remain cautious.
Rockets: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Pistons: Visit Orlando on Sunday.
LAKERS OVERTAKE TIMBERWOLVES IN STANDINGS WITH 123-111 WIN
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Anthony Davis scored 17 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and had 17 rebounds to lift the Los Angeles Lakers past Minnesota 123-111 and leapfrog the Timberwolves on Friday night in the crowded Western Conference playoff race.
“You’ve got to have that one pivotal force that’s leading the charge, and in our case with this particular team here in the moment it’s AD,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “When he comes out and he’s aggressive and we’re feeding him and he’s not settling and he’s putting pressure on the paint, putting pressure on the rim, we find ourselves having a lot of success.”
LeBron James added 18 points and 10 rebounds and D’Angelo Russell had 12 points and 10 assists against his former team as the Lakers (39-38) won for the fifth time in six games to move into seventh place. They’re even with New Orleans, owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pelicans.
“We’ve made some huge climbs, but we’re not finished,” said Davis, who had 38 points Wednesday in tthe win at Chicago. “We’re hungry to not only make the playoffs but make some noise.”
The Lakers improved to 9-4 since losing at home to the Wolves on March 3.
“We jumped on AD’s back, and he brought us home,” James said.
Mike Conley had 25 points on 7-for-11 shooting with seven assists before fouling out, and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 23 points for the Timberwolves (39-39), who tumbled into ninth place. They entered the evening one game behind Golden State and the cut to avoid the play-in tournament, with the Warriors tipping off later at home against San Antonio.
Davis scored 12 straight points for the Lakers over a 3:52 span late in the fourth quarter to seal the steely comeback from a deficit that hit 13 points shortly after halftime. He made five baskets in a row with Wolves center Rudy Gobert on the bench, dominating on the glass, in the post and at the rim.
“He’s playing at a super high level right now,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said.
The Lakers took charge earlier with a 24-2 spurt over a 6:49 stretch of the third quarter with their defense on lockdown mode. Conley’s turn to rest on the bench during that run was ill-timed. Davis rolled his left ankle around the start of the Lakers surge, a breath-holding sequence that only seemed to energize the visitors.
“We started to turn the ball over, and the ball started to stick much more,” Gobert said. “We kind of lost our flow offensively, and it really affected our defense.”
The Wolves, whose bench was shortened without center Naz Reid and his broken wrist, went 2 for 14 from 3-point range in the third quarter and were outscored 35-18 in a discouraging stretch for a fired-up crowd that included local sports superstars Justin Jefferson and Kirill Kaprizov in floor seats.
James has been rebuilding his stamina from the month-long absence to a torn tendon in his right foot, and the second time with this new starting lineup with Davis, Russell, Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt produced a second win to start this five-game road trip.
“I’ll be in the lineup on Sunday, so that’s the best response I can have,” James said.
Davis, for his part, said he finished the game on adrenaline and would be fine to play on Sunday, too.
Gobert ($25,000) and Finch ($15,000) were fined by the NBA for criticizing the officiating Wednesday after their loss at Phoenix when the Suns had 27 free-throw attempts and the Wolves had 12. This time, they went to the line 19 times – making 16 – and the Lakers had 30 tries.
Lakers: Vanderbilt had 12 points. … Another former Wolves player, Malik Beasley, had three first-quarter 3-pointers.
Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards had 11 points on just 4-for-16 shooting. … Gobert had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Lakers: At Houston on Sunday night.
Timberwolves: Host Portland on Sunday.
BANE, KENNARD HELP GRIZZLIES RALLY TO BEAT CLIPPERS 108-94
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Desmond Bane scored 22 points and Luke Kennard had 17 as the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a 20-point first-half deficit and beat the Los Angeles Clippers 108-94 on Friday night.
Kennard keyed a second-quarter rally with four 3-pointers and finished the game with five against his former team. Kennard was traded to Memphis on Feb. 9 as part of a three-team deal.
The Grizzlies eventually built a 22-point lead early in the fourth quarter following Bane’s steal under the Clippers’ basket and a driving layup.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said the key to the team’s comeback was the ability to make a 7-0 run during the final minutes of the opening quarter.
“We got a little spark there,” Jenkins said. “I just started telling the guys we’re starting to feel the pace (better) and the physicality and urgency that we need … if we hadn’t had that spark at the end of the first quarter to cut it to 13, it may have been a difference outcome.”
Norman Powell scored 16 points to lead the Clippers, Ivica Zubac had 15 points and 15 rebounds, and Eric Gordon finished with 13 points.
“We knew they were going to make a run, we just didn’t know it was going to be that fast,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We put ourselves in good position (to win), we just didn’t do a good job finishing the game, taking care of the basketball, taking good shots and getting defensive stops.”
Memphis and Los Angeles were playing for the second time in three days in Memphis. The Clippers won 141-132 on Wednesday to snap the Grizzlies’ 12-game home win streak. Russell Westbrook had 36 points in the Clippers’ victory but was held to just four points and a game-high 11 assists in this one.
In Wednesday’s loss, the Grizzlies played without starters Jaren Jackson Jr. and Bane, along with key reserves Tyus Jones and John Konchar. All were out with various ailments.
Kawhi Leonard missed Wednesday’s game for the Clippers and returned Friday to play 18 minutes. He scored 12 points.
After taking their first lead midway through the second quarter on Jones’ floater to go up 40-38, the Grizzlies never trailed again.
The Grizzles started slowly and fell behind 34-14 late in the first quarter. Memphis was hampered by eight first-quarter turnovers.
However, the Grizzlies recovered behind Kennard’s 3-point shooting in the second quarter during a 24-4 run to tie the score at 38-all. Memphis eventually built a 52-45 lead late in the quarter and led 55-51 at the half.
“We just chipped away a little at a time with the group that came in (during) the second quarter,” Kennard said. “We really locked in, played really good defense, started moving the ball really well and got out in transition, which was a big key for us.” Kennard had 14 first-half points for the Grizzlies, who followed a sloppy first quarter by committing only one turnover in the second.
Ja Morant struggled in the first half and had only 3 points at the break. He finished with 10 points in 26 minutes.
“Our bench came in and stepped up big-time for us,” Morant said. “It was something we needed after a loss (to the Clippers on Wednesday “We have all the confidence in the world (Kennard) can knock down his shots. He could shoot (with the Clippers) and he can shoot now. But now he’s on our side.”
Clippers: The Clippers were held to fewer than 100 points for only the third time in their past 38 games. … Since Jan. 6, the Clippers are sixth in the NBA in offensive rating (118.6) and first in 3-point percentage (39.8).
Grizzlies: Kenneth Lofton Jr. was named NBA G-League Rookie of the Year on Friday. He averaged 20.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 17 appearances for Memphis. … Jackson broke his single-season franchise record of 177 blocks Friday with a third-quarter block of Norman Powell. Jackson entered the game averaging 3.05 blocks per game, which leads the NBA.
Clippers: Host New Orleans on Saturday.
Grizzlies: Host Chicago on Sunday.
CURRY, POOLE, THOMPSON SHOOT WARRIORS PAST SPURS 130-115
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole combined for 20 3-pointers with Curry scoring 33 points, Thompson 31 and Poole 27 to send the Golden State Warriors past the San Antonio Spurs 130-115 on Friday night.
Poole’s first of six 3s gave Golden State three players with 200 or more 3-pointers this season – only the second team to do so. Just one other 3 was made by the rest of Golden State’s players all night.
Curry shot 11 for 21 and 7 of 11 from deep, and Thompson also hit seven 3s as the defending champions stayed put in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. They have an identical 41-37 record to the fifth-place Clippers, who hold the tiebreaker based on divisional record.
This might have marked the final time Gregg Popovich faced off against dear friend, pupil and former assistant and player Steve Kerr. They shared a hug and some words after the final buzzer.
Golden State reserve Anthony Lamb delivered a timely left-handed block with 5:04 remaining on Malaki Branham’s driving layup attempt.
Keldon Johnson scored 22 points off the bench, Branham had 19 points and seven rebounds and Sandro Mamukelashvili added 13 points and 11 rebounds in San Antonio’s sixth straight loss overall and sixth in a row on the road.
Thompson pushed his NBA-leading 3-point shot total to 285 while helping the Warriors to a 43-point fourth quarter after trailing 88-87 heading into the final 12 minutes. They beat the Spurs for the fourth straight time and swept all three games of the season series.
Jonathan Kuminga drove through paint for a two-handed slam early in the fourth, then Curry hit from deep the next time down for a 95-90 lead before Poole’s 3 from 29 feet.
Draymond Green dished out 11 of the Warriors’ 37 assists.
The Warriors are the first team to have three players reach 200 3s in the same season since Houston in 2016-17 – by James Harden, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.
Poole missed his initial three from deep.
Kerr has imagined any game might be his last with pal Popovich on the opposite bench. He cherishes each meeting.
“I mean the last couple of years, I’ve wondered. I think we faced the Spurs in San Antonio last year when it was their last home game and I thought that might have been it and I think it’s just going to be strange whenever he does decide to hang it up,” Kerr said before the game. “It’ll be strange not seeing him on the sidelines. We’ve all sort of taken it for granted for a long time now but what he’s meant to the league and to so many of us, it will definitely be a sad day when he retires.”
Spurs: Popovich heard former C LaMarcus Aldridge announced his retirement and plans a wine-themed gift. … The Spurs have dropped six of the last eight matchups with the Warriors.
Warriors: Kerr had no update on Andrew Wiggins and when the star forward might return. He missed his 21st straight game dealing with a family matter. … Kevon Looney grabbed nine rebounds and two more offensive boards to give him 255 on that end.
Spurs: At playoff-bound Sacramento on Sunday having dropped five straight in the series. It will be Sacramento’s first home game since ending an NBA-record 16-year playoff drought – the franchise’s first berth since 2006.
Warriors: At Denver on Sunday having lost the last two to the Nuggets and five of six.
FOX HAS 20 POINTS, PLAYOFF-BOUND KINGS BEAT BLAZERS 138-114
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) De’Aaron Fox had 20 points and 11 assists and the playoff-bound Sacramento Kings won their second consecutive game against Portland Trail Blazers 138-114 on Friday night.
Malik Monk had 20 off the bench for the Kings, who had already secured their first postseason berth since 2006 and home-court advantage for the playoffs with a 120-80 rout of the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Domantas Sabonis added 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Shaedon Sharpe had 27 points for Portland, which has won just one of their last 12. The Blazers were officially eliminated earlier in the night when the Los Angeles Lakers beat Minnesota 123-111.
Sharpe’s layup got Portland within 110-103 in the fourth quarter, but Monk answered for the Kings with a 3-pointer and Sacramento pushed the lead to 124-105 with 4:23 left on Sabonis’ dunk.
“I feel like our offense is really flowing right now,” said Kings rookie Keegan Murray, who also finished with 20 points. “We’re getting the ball to the right guy at the right time, and every guy is making plays. So we all have 100% confidence on the floor and it’s really fun to watch.”
The win got the Kings closer to clinching the Pacific Division title for the first time since the 2002-03 season, but they were thwarted from clinching it Friday night when the Suns beat the Nuggets 100-93 in the later game.
While some teams rest players once the postseason is secured, Sacramento coach Mike Brown said his team had loftier goals. Currently the team is the third spot in the Western Conference behind leader Denver and second-place Memphis.
“Right now, it’s too close to think about resting when there’s a chance to get to the second spot,” he said. “So we’re going to keep playing and when and if everything gets settled and a certain point, then I think we’ll revisit then.”
Harrison Barnes has also been vocal about wanting to reach the 50-win milestone. The Kings are at 47-30 with five games left.
The Blazers, meanwhile, will miss out on the playoffs for the second straight season. They hardly resemble the team that started the season.
Portland (32-45) listed its regular starters out with injuries, including Damian Lillard (right calf), Jusuf Nurkic (right knee), Anfernee Simons (right foot) and Jerami Grant (left quad).
The Blazers signed Skylar Mays and Shaq Harrison to 10-day contracts Thursday, and both played Friday. Harrison played this season with the G League South Bay Lakers and Mays, who started, played most recently with the G League’s Mexico City Capitanes. Mays finished with 14.
Portland kept up for much of the opening half, with Sacramento unable to stretch the lead to double digits until Sabonis’ basket made it 61-51 with 3:27 left. The Kings led 71-59 at the break.
Portland’s Nassir Little hurt his left ankle in the second quarter and did not return.
Coach Chauncey Billups didn’t mince words about where the Blazers are at the end of the season.
“It always sucks to lose,” he said. To get to this point in the season, I didn’t think we would be here last year, to be honest with you, but we are. These games are tough. Tough on me, tough at all levels.”
Kings: Murray, who set a rookie record for made 3-pointers against the Blazers on Wednesday, led all scorers with 10 points in the opening quarter. He had four more 3s on Friday night. … Sabonis had his 63rd double-double of the season, passing Oscar Robertson for eighth place on Sacramento’s career list.
Trail Blazers: Billups praised Brown, saying he should be a candidate for Coach of the Year. “They play fast as hell, and you know you’re going to have a hard time keeping them under 120, 125 (points) every single night, so he’s been incredible and I think he’s right up there for Coach of the Year with what he’s been able to do with their team.”
Kings: Host San Antonio on Sunday.
Trail Blazers: Visit the Timberwolves on Sunday
DURANT HAS 30 POINTS, SUNS BEAT NUGGETS FOR 4TH STRAIGHT WIN
PHOENIX (AP) The Phoenix Suns are starting to string together some wins now that Kevin Durant is healthy.
Even so, they’re far from a well-oiled machine.
Durant scored 30 points, Devin Booker added 27 and the Suns won their fourth straight game by beating the short-handed Denver Nuggets 100-93 on Friday night.
The Suns improved to 5-0 with Durant in the lineup despite nearly blowing a 27-point lead. Phoenix traded for the 13-time All-Star in a deadline deal back in February.
“I like how we played in the first half, but it was a bad second half for us,” Durant said. “We just let our foot off the gas a little and they were playing extremely hard. … We’ve just got to do a better job of sticking with it.”
The Nuggets rested a big chunk of their starting lineup, including reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, guards Jamal Murray and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and forward Michael Porter Jr. But they still showed fight after trailing 60-40 at halftime.
“I am immensely proud,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “You are down 27 points on the road, second half, second night in a row. Every reason just to roll over and play dead and get ready for Sunday at home. Guys just wouldn’t do it.”
The Suns pushed their advantage to 27 midway through the third quarter, but the Nuggets pulled to 84-74 heading into the fourth quarter. Denver cut it to 97-93 in the final minute, but Josh Okogie nailed a corner 3 to seal it for the Suns. Okogie had 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including four 3-pointers, and Chris Paul had 13 assists.
Aaron Gordon had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Nuggets. Bruce Brown scored 16 points and Reggie Jackson had 13. The overmatched but feisty Nuggets got 22 points from the bench.
“It was our energy and our effort,” backup guard Peyton Watson said. “We know we were missing guys but that doesn’t change the culture here. We always want to play hard, get stops.”
Durant shot 11 of 15 from the field in a dominant performance two days after a rough shooting night in his home debut against Minnesota. The 34-year-old star has battled knee and ankle injuries over the past few months, but appears to be getting healthy as the Suns continue to cling to the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Suns scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter on Friday, but managed to hang on for the victory.
“We’re trying to find that rhythm and trying to get wins at the same time,” Booker said.
KD ON CLARK
Part of the Suns’ postgame chatter in the locker room had nothing to do with beating the Nuggets. Instead, Durant and Paul were discussing how good Caitlin Clark’s been for Iowa in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Clark scored 41 points on Friday night to lead the Hawkeyes over top-ranked South Carolina 77-73.
“Incredible run that she’s on,” Durant said. “She’s playing phenomenal basketball, her team is rallying around her, so it’s going to be a good championship game.”
Nuggets: Ish Smith shot just 1 of 10 from the field. … DeAndre Jordan had 12 rebounds.
Suns: Hosted a 64th straight sellout crowd. … Bismack Biyombo blocked three shots.
Nuggets: Host Golden State on Sunday night.
Suns: At Oklahoma City on Sunday night.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
MLB ROUNDUP: MARLINS MANAGER SKIP SCHUMAKER GETS FIRST WIN
Jorge Soler slugged a homer and made a run-saving diving catch in right field, leading the host Miami Marlins to a 2-1 win over the New York Mets on Friday night.
It was the first Marlins win for new manager Skip Schumaker.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. hit Miami’s second solo homer of the night, and Jesus Luzardo (1-0) earned the win with 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Garrett Cooper had another big game for Miami, going 3-for-4. A.J. Puk made his Marlins debut and earned the save.
Pete Alonso led New York with a homer in the ninth. Mets starter David Peterson (0-1) took the loss, allowing just one run in five innings.
ASTROS 6, WHITE SOX 3
Yordan Alvarez delivered a go-ahead, bases-clearing double in the seventh inning and Kyle Tucker hit a two-run home run to boost host Houston to a win against Chicago.
Houston evened the season-opening series with Chicago at one game apiece after the White Sox won 3-2 on Thursday. Seth Martinez (1-0) was the winner with an inning of scoreless relief, and Rafael Montero worked around a single in the ninth to earn the save.
Yoan Moncada had three hits and an RBI for Chicago, and Eloy Jimenez had two hits and two RBIs. Tim Anderson added a pair of hits.
DIAMONDBACKS 2, DODGERS 1
Pinch hitter Kyle Lewis belted a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning as visiting Arizona rallied past Los Angeles.
Right-handers Merrill Kelly and Drey Jameson combined to give up one run over 7 2/3 innings for Arizona. Jameson (1-0) yielded the run on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts to earn the win. Andrew Chafin picked up his first save of the season.
The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts delivered the game’s first run with a seventh-inning homer. Los Angeles right-hander Dustin May went seven scoreless innings for Los Angeles, in the longest outing of his career, giving up three hits and one walk while striking out four.
GUARDIANS 9, MARINERS 4
Steven Kwan matched a career high with five RBIs as Cleveland defeated host Seattle.
Kwan had a sacrifice fly in the second inning, a tiebreaking two-run double in the fourth and a two-run single in the fifth. Five Guardians relievers combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out nine. Right-hander Nick Sandlin (1-0) got the victory.
Mariners starter Robbie Ray (0-1) lasted just 3 1/3 innings. The left-hander allowed five runs (three earned) on four hits and five walks with three strikeouts.
ROCKIES 4, PADRES 1
Charlie Blackmon and Kyle Freeland continued their domination of the Padres, leading visiting Colorado to a victory.
Left-hander Freeland shut out the Padres on three hits and a walk with one strikeout over six innings to earn the win. Blackmon hit a two-run homer and scored twice.
Ha-Seong Kim had three of the Padres’ five hits and scored the Padres’ lone run in the bottom of the eighth.
SKINNER SCORES IN OT TO LIFT SABRES PAST RANGERS 3-2
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Jeff Skinner scored at 1:50 of overtime and the Buffalo Sabres beat the New York Rangers 3-2 on Friday night.
J.J. Peterka and Jordan Greenway also scored for the Sabres, who recovered after giving up a 2-0 lead to improve to 3-0-1 in their last four games. Devon Levi made 32 saves in his NHL debut to help Buffalo pull five points behind Pittsburgh for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
“I thought our guys would work hard to support (Levi) with it being his first night,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought they did a nice job with that, allowing him to get into the game and into a feel of things. He was very good.”
Kaapo Kakko and Adam Fox scored for New York, which has lost two straight but pulled three points behind second-place New Jersey in the Metropolitan Division. Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves.
“We were fortunate to get a couple of goals, but we didn’t play well,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We had one line show up tonight and play hard every shift. That was it and we were fortunate to get a point.”
In the extra period, Skinner gathered the puck after a pass from Owen Power, skated between a pair of defenders and fired a shot past Halak. It was Skinner’s 32nd goal of the season.
“They got a little bit of a stick on (the puck), I tried to stick with it,” Skinner said. “It was kind of rolling so I just tried to get some good wood on it, and fortunately it found the hole there.”
Levi, who played at Northeastern University the past two seasons, signed a three-year entry-level contract on March 17.
“It was a dream come true, I’ve dreamt of that moment my whole life,” Levi said. “To have my family and friends here as well who have been dreaming for this moment also their whole lives with me, it’s just incredible to have that support.”
Peterka gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead with 8:40 left in the first period when he buried a no-look backhand pass from Dylan Cozens for his 11th.
Greenway made it 2-0 at 7:39 of the second when he took a pass from Casey Mittelstadt up the right side and one-handed a shot past Halak for his fourth.
Kakko got the Rangers on the scoreboard when he batted a floating puck past Levi after Filip Chytil’s shot was blocked wotj 7:43 remaining in the middle period.
Fox tied it 2-2 when he poked a loose puck during a net-mouth scrum past Levi at 9:45 of the third for his 12th.
“We kind of get into the flow of the game and then we start playing but it’s not going to work,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “That’s not a sustainable way to play hockey. It’s something we’re going to have to get better at and keep improving at.”
Rangers: At Washington on Sunday in the finale of a three-game trip.
Sabres: At Philadelphia on Saturday night to open a three-game trip.
CONNOR, SCHEIFELE, WHEELER HELP JETS BEAT RED WINGS 6-2
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler each had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 on Friday night.
Dylan DeMelo and Nikolaj Ehlers also had a goal and an assist, and Nino Niederreiter also scored as Winnipeg snapped a two-game skid. Mason Appleton and Vladislav Namestnikov each had two assists and Connor Hellebuyck finished with 23 saves.
Wheeler ended a 21-game goal-scoring drought, Scheifele scored for the first time in 10 games, and Connor had his third score in 19 games.
“You need some breaks,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “Look at Mark (Scheifele’s) goal. All of a sudden he’s coming around the net, he knocks it in. It’s there. We haven’t had those breaks in a long time. Even that first goal, the tip (by Connor). We haven’t had that luck around the net in a long time and it was good to see.”
David Perron and Joe Veleno scored 21 seconds apart midway through the third period for Detroit, and Magnus Hellberg had 23 saves. The Red Wings snapped a two-game win streak and lost for the sixth time in nine games.
“I think we had a tough start, but I don’t think I showed up to help the team win today,” said Hellberg, who played his 17th game this season. “I take full responsibility for my performance tonight. It was clearly not good enough. I’m not happy with how I played.”
Connor gave the Jets a 1-0 lead at 6:56 of the first period as he tipped Brenden Dillon’s point shot past Hellberg’s blocker side for his 29th goal of the season.
Wheeler got his 16th with 8:03 left in the first as he got a cross-ice pass from Nikolaj Ehlers and beat Hellberg from the right side.
“That’s the best he’s skated in a while,” Bowness said. “I think the goal certainly gave him a big boost. The guys were all very happy for him. It gave the whole bench a boost.”
Scheifele made it 3-0 a little more than 90 seconds later as he picked up a loose puck on the left side and quickly put it in for his career-best and team-leading 39th.
DeMelo added to the Jets’ lead at 1:20 of the second as he fired a shot from the slot past Hellberg for his fifth, and Niederreiter got his own rebound and scored on a backhander for his 23rd with 6:18 remaining in the period.
Ehlers pushed the lead to 6-0 at 5:07 of the third with a shot from the slot that went inside the post for his 10th.
“Our first look was an east-west backdoor play that we weren’t able to finish and their first look was a deflection that went in,” Detroit head coach Derek Lalonde said. “We couldn’t build any momentum throughout the night. I do appreciate the fact that we won the third period. We kind of battled and hung in there.”
Perron got Detroit on the scoreboard during a power play at 10:41 of the third for his 20th. Veleno followed 21 seconds later with his eighth.
Jets coach Rick Bowness has been preaching offense lately and changed his top line for the game to try to spark some productive shooting. Scheifele moved from center to right wing, with Pierre-Luc Dubois in the middle and Connor on the left.
The changes all worked.
“It’s different, for sure,” Scheifele said of the switch. “I’ve played centre my whole life. It’s definitely an adjustment. But when you play with two good players like (Dubois) and (Connor) it makes it easy.”
The last time Winnipeg scored more than three goals was in a 5-4 overtime win at Florida on March 11.
Red Wings: At Toronto on Sunday in the second of a three-game trip.
Jets: Host New Jersey on Sunday in the second of a five-game homestand.
TOFFOLI SCORES 2ND GOAL IN OT, FLAMES BEAT CANUCKS 5-4
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Tyler Toffoli scored his second goal of the game 3:27 into overtime and the Calgary Flames rallied to beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 on Friday night.
Troy Stecher had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman also scored for the Flames, who faced deficits of 2-0, 3-2, and 4-3 before getting their first three-game win streak since Dec. 7. Mikael Backlund had two assists and Jacob Markstrom finished with 14 saves.
Calgary remained two points out of a playoff spot with five games left in the regular season.
Elias Pettersson, Conor Garland, Anthony Beauvillier and Aidan McDonough all scored for Vancouver, which lost its second straight in overtime to fall to 3-0-2 in its last five games. Thatcher Demko stopped 36 shots.
In the extra period, Backlund sprung Toffoli for a breakaway and the Flames forward made no mistakes, putting a shot up and over Demko to end the game.
The Flames forced overtime with a late power-play goal after Pettersson was called for high-sticking. Noah Hanifin sent a hard shot off the end boards from the point and the puck bounced to Huberdeau, who fired it past Demko from the bottom of the faceoff circle, tying the score 4-4 with 3:13 remaining in the third period.
Flames were 1 for 6 with the man advantage and the Canucks went 1 for 2.
Vancouver was outshot 11-6 in the first period, but led 1-0 going into the first intermission.
Garland picked the puck off Backlund’s stick 8:30 into the game and sprinted into Calgary territory on a breakaway, firing a shot under Markstrom’s glove to open the scoring with his 14th goal of the season.
Pettersson made it 2-0 with a power-play goal 36 seconds into the second as he blasted a rocket past Markstrom from the top of the faceoff circle for his 36th goal of the season. It extended his point streak to a career-high 14 games, with eight goals and 12 assists in the stretch.
Andrew Mangiapane sent Toffoli a pass across the slot and the former Canucks player tucked a backhanded shot in for his career-high 32nd to get the Flames on the scoreboard at 2:55 of the second.
The Flames tied it about six minutes later as Backlund’s shot ricocheted of Demko’s pad and Coleman batted the puck in from the top of the crease for his 18th. Stecher, a British Columbia native, had an assist on the play for his 100th regular-season NHL point.
The Canucks took a 3-2 lead when McDonough got his first NHL goal with 7:48 remaining in the middle period. Sheldon Dries set up the goal, taking a backhanded shot from his knees at the side of the crease that Markstrom stopped. However, the rebound popped out to McDonough, who fired a wrist shot.
Stecher tied it with 4:08 left in the period as he got a cross-ice pass from Nazem Kadri and fired a shot past Demko for his second.
The Canucks went ahead again just 14 seconds later as Nils Aman found Beauvillier at the side of the net on a 2-on-1, and Beauvillier fired a quick shot in behind Markstrom.
Vancouver led 4-3 after 40 minutes despite being outshot 26-12. Calgary had 11-2 edge in the third period.
The Canucks held their annual Pride night, featuring themed warm-up jerseys, special entertainment before and during the game, and video messages from people in the LGBTQ community.
Vancouver forward Andrei Kuzmenko skipped warm-ups in order to avoid wearing the special uniforms, designed by a local artist. He’s the latest NHL player to refuse to wear a Pride jersey this season.
Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said defenseman Filip Hronek is likely done for the season as he works his way back from a shoulder injury.
“There’s really no reason for him to come back,” Tocchet said. “If this were a playoff game, he’d be in the game. But it’s not a playoff game. … He’s going to have a long time to get his shoulder perfect.”
The 25-year-old has one assist in four games for Vancouver since being acquired by the Canucks ahead of the NHL trade deadline in March. He didn’t play for his new team until March 28 because of the shoulder injury.
Flames: Host Anaheim on Sunday in the opener of a two-game homestand.
Canucks: Host Los Angeles on Sunday in the second of a five-game homestand.
ROBERTSON HAS GOAL AND 3 ASSISTS, STARS BEAT COYOTES 5-2
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Jason Robertson had a goal and three assists, with his goal breaking a tie with 22 seconds remaining in the second period in the Dallas Stars’ 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night.
Robertson has 42 goals, tied with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for seventh in the NHL.
Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz and Jamie Benn also scored for Dallas, which swept the four-game season series while outscoring the Coyotes 19-6. Benn scored his 32nd on a power play five minutes into the third period for a 4-2 lead, and Max Domi scored into an open net with 1:01 remaining.
Dallas (41-20-14) moved a point behind Minnesota and two points ahead of Colorado for the Central Division lead. The Stars play the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche in Denver on Saturday. Colorado has a game in hand on both.
Jake Oettinger had 15 saves for the Stars.
Jusso Valimaki and Connor Mackey scored for Arizona and Karel Vejmelka had 26 saves. The Coyotes have lost six straight.
Pavelski scored his 23rd goal 1:23 into the game. Esa Lindell’s pass from the let circle caromed in off Pavelski as he was being checked in front of the net.
Clayton Keller assisted on Valimaki’s goal to extend his points streak to 14 games, the longest since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg in 1996. Keller is tied with Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson for the longest active points streak in the NHL.
Valimaki scored on a power play five minutes into the first period and Mackey scored after a Dallas turnover late to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead after the first period.
Hintz scored his 34th goal of the season 53 seconds into the second period, when he roofed a quick wrist shot from the right circle to tie it at 2-2.
KELLER MAKES HISTORY
Keller finished March with 24 points, the most in a calendar month in Coyotes’ history. Teemu Selanne holds the franchise record with 27 points in a month, in January and March of 1993, when the franchise was located in Winnipeg.
NOTES: The Stars loaned G Scott Wedgewood to Texas of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment Friday. Wedgewood, who has a 2.92 goals-against average in 18 games, was acquired from the Coyotes last March for a 2023 third-round draft pick. … Vejmelka played in his 100th NHL game. … Coyotes F Laurent Dauphin (upper body) missed his fourth straight game but is expected to return Saturday. … Coyotes D Victor Soderstrom received a double-minor high sticking penalty when he hit Hintz into the boads with 7:47 remaining. Hintz was prone on the ice several moments before skating off. He did not return.
Stars: At Colorado on Saturday night.
Coyotes: Host San Jose on Saturday night. —
RODGERS MOVES INTO 3-SHOT LEAD AT VALERO TEXAS OPEN
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Patrick Rodgers took a step toward his first PGA Tour victory – and his first Masters appearance – on Friday, shooting a 5-under 67 to take a three-stroke lead midway through the second round of the weather-delayed Valero Texas Open.
Rodgers, who finished his opening-round 66 on Friday morning, birdied four of the final five holes in his second round at TPC San Antonio to post a 36-hole total of 11-under 133.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamt of,” said Rodgers, who’s making his 235th start on tour. “I’m excited for the chance. It’s going to be a really fun next couple of days.”
Corey Conners, the 2019 winner in San Antonio, was 8 under after a 72. Michael Thompson shot 68 and was another shot behind.
With the tournament in catch-up mode because of hours-long fog delays on Thursday morning, the afternoon half of the draw had no chance of finishing on Friday. Among the players on the course when darkness halted play, Roberto Diaz was 8 under with eight holes to play and Brendon Todd was 7 under with three holes left.
Rodgers’ tee shot on the 198-yard 16th stopped inside 8 feet, and he had another birdie inside 10 feet at 17. He reached the 593-yard, par-5 18th in two for his closing birdie.
“I love to make the rounds feel pretty seamless and easy,” Rodgers said.
The 30-year-old Rodgers starred in college at Stanford but is winless since joining the PGA Tour in 2015.
Conners fell out of the lead with mistakes in the middle of his round. He four-putted his seventh hole, the par-3 16th, including three attempts within 4 feet. His tee shot on the 17th hooked into the brush, and he took an unplayable lie, leading to bogey.
“A little mindless,” Conners said. “That was an unfortunate blemish on the scorecard. Certainly would like to have that over. But that’s how it goes.”
Conners, winless since his Texas Open triumph four years ago, rebounded by shooting 2 under on his second nine, with birdies on both of the par 5s.
Conners is already in the field at Augusta National next week, but the final spot at the Masters awaits the winner in San Antonio if he’s not already eligible.
RUONING YIN, HYO JOO KIM SHARE LPGA LEAD AT PALOS VERDES
PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. (AP) Ruoning Yin had the low round of her LPGA Tour career, a 7-under 64 on Friday to share the 36-hole lead with Hyo Joo Kim at the DIO Implant LA Open.
Yin, a 20-year-old from China in her second year on the LPGA Tour, turned in 3-under 32 and made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on her second nine at Palos Verdes to post a two-round total of 10-under 132.
Yin’s best LPGA result was a tie for fourth in last year’s Dana Open, her only top-10 finish. She had just 24 putts on Friday but said ball-striking has been the key to her success.
“Last year I only play fade with every shot. This offseason I was working on maybe can hit a little draw, and I think that works,” Yin said. “Yeah, I think I’m playing pretty good. Maybe can win one or two tournaments this year.”
Kim, whose five career wins include a major at the Evian Championship in 2014, shot her second straight 5-under 66. She has made only one bogey through two rounds.
“My short game today was really good and I think that led to a bogey-free round. There were a couple situations actually where I could have carded a bogey, but in those instances my putter worked well,” Kim said.
Defending champion Nasa Hataoka (66), who won at Wilshire Country Club last year, was one shot back. Maude-Aimee Leblanc (67) was two behind, and Americans Lilia Vu and Megan Khang were three shots off the lead.
Monday qualifier Mi Hyang Lee, the first-round leader, struggled to a 3-over 74 and was seven shots back.
Bailey Tardy, an LPGA rookie, aced the par-3 17th hole, using an 8-iron from 149 yards. She finished one shot outside the cut at 3 over.
|New York||45||33||.577||9.0||22-17||23-16||8-8||30-19||6-4||3 W|
|Oklahoma City||38||40||.487||13.5||23-16||15-24||8-7||23-25||5-5||1 L|
|LA Clippers||41||37||.526||6.5||21-18||20-19||7-7||24-24||6-4||1 L|
|Golden State||41||37||.526||6.5||32-8||9-29||6-9||27-21||6-4||2 W|
|LA Lakers||39||38||.506||8.0||21-18||18-20||5-9||23-24||6-4||2 W|
|New Orleans||39||38||.506||10.0||24-13||15-25||10-5||27-21||7-3||1 W|
|San Antonio||19||58||.247||30.0||13-26||6-32||2-13||7-40||2-8||6 L|
X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Conference
|Baltimore||1||0||1.000||–||0 – 0||1 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|NY Yankees||1||0||1.000||–||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Tampa Bay||1||0||1.000||–||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Toronto||1||0||1.000||–||0 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Boston||0||1||.000||1||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|Minnesota||1||0||1.000||–||0 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Chi White Sox||1||1||.500||0.5||0 – 0||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||1 – 1||L 1|
|Cleveland||1||1||.500||0.5||0 – 0||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||1 – 1||W 1|
|Detroit||0||1||.000||1||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|Kansas City||0||1||.000||1||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|Oakland||1||0||1.000||–||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Texas||1||0||1.000||–||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Houston||1||1||.500||0.5||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||0 – 0||1 – 1||W 1|
|Seattle||1||1||.500||0.5||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||0 – 0||1 – 1||L 1|
|LA Angels||0||1||.000||1||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 1||L 1|
|Atlanta||1||0||1.000||–||0 – 0||1 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Miami||1||1||.500||0.5||1 – 1||0 – 0||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||W 1|
|NY Mets||1||1||.500||0.5||0 – 0||1 – 1||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||L 1|
|Philadelphia||0||1||.000||1||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|Washington||0||1||.000||1||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|Chi Cubs||1||0||1.000||–||1 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Pittsburgh||1||0||1.000||–||0 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 0||W 1|
|Cincinnati||0||1||.000||1||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|Milwaukee||0||1||.000||1||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|St. Louis||0||1||.000||1||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|Colorado||2||0||1.000||–||0 – 0||2 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||2 – 0||2 – 0||W 2|
|Arizona||1||1||.500||1||0 – 0||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||1 – 1||W 1|
|LA Dodgers||1||1||.500||1||1 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||1 – 1||1 – 1||L 1|
|San Francisco||0||1||.000||1.5||0 – 0||0 – 1||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 1||L 1|
|San Diego||0||2||.000||2||0 – 2||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 0||0 – 2||0 – 2||L 2|
|1 xyz-Boston Bruins||75||58||12||5||121||55||278||160||31-4-3||27-8-2||8-2-0|
|2 x-Carolina Hurricanes||74||47||18||9||103||43||243||195||25-10-3||22-8-6||4-5-1|
|3 x-New Jersey Devils||75||47||20||8||102||45||259||207||21-13-4||26-7-4||4-4-2|
|4 x-New York Rangers||76||44||21||11||99||40||256||205||22-12-4||22-9-7||7-2-1|
|5 x-Toronto Maple Leafs||74||44||20||10||98||43||253||206||25-7-6||19-13-4||5-3-2|
|6 Tampa Bay Lightning||76||44||26||6||94||41||262||231||26-7-5||18-19-1||5-5-0|
|7 New York Islanders||76||39||28||9||87||38||226||207||22-13-3||17-15-6||6-3-1|
|8 Pittsburgh Penguins||75||37||28||10||84||36||241||243||21-11-5||16-17-5||4-6-0|
|9 Florida Panthers||76||38||31||7||83||36||265||260||21-12-4||17-19-3||5-4-1|
|10 Buffalo Sabres||74||36||31||7||79||35||264||273||15-20-4||21-11-3||4-3-3|
|11 Ottawa Senators||75||37||33||5||79||35||241||244||22-13-3||15-20-2||4-5-1|
|12 Washington Capitals||76||34||33||9||77||32||238||238||17-14-6||17-19-3||3-5-2|
|13 Detroit Red Wings||75||33||33||9||75||30||221||250||19-15-4||14-18-5||4-6-0|
|14 Philadelphia Flyers||74||29||32||13||71||27||202||243||17-16-5||12-16-8||5-3-2|
|15 Montreal Canadiens||76||30||40||6||66||25||219||281||16-18-3||14-22-3||4-6-0|
|16 Columbus Blue Jackets||74||23||43||8||54||22||199||293||14-20-2||9-23-6||3-6-1|
|1 x-Vegas Golden Knights||75||46||22||7||99||42||249||216||22-15-1||24-7-6||7-2-1|
|2 Minnesota Wild||75||44||22||9||97||37||228||201||24-11-3||20-11-6||7-1-2|
|3 Edmonton Oilers||76||44||23||9||97||44||300||254||21-12-6||23-11-3||8-1-1|
|4 Dallas Stars||75||41||20||14||96||38||260||207||18-10-9||23-10-5||6-3-1|
|5 Los Angeles Kings||75||43||22||10||96||37||259||240||25-9-4||18-13-6||6-2-2|
|6 Colorado Avalanche||74||44||24||6||94||38||247||205||20-13-5||24-11-1||8-2-0|
|7 Seattle Kraken||74||41||25||8||90||41||258||237||17-15-4||24-10-4||4-4-2|
|8 Winnipeg Jets||76||42||31||3||87||41||227||214||23-12-2||19-19-1||5-5-0|
|9 Calgary Flames||76||35||26||15||85||33||242||236||18-15-4||17-11-11||6-2-2|
|10 Nashville Predators||74||37||29||8||82||32||206||219||18-14-4||19-15-4||4-5-1|
|11 St. Louis Blues||75||35||34||6||76||32||247||276||16-16-5||19-18-1||6-3-1|
|12 Vancouver Canucks||75||34||34||7||75||29||259||278||17-18-2||17-16-5||6-2-2|
|13 Arizona Coyotes||76||27||36||13||67||24||213||267||20-13-4||7-23-9||4-4-2|
|14 San Jose Sharks||75||21||39||15||57||20||216||289||8-20-10||13-19-5||2-5-3|
|15 Anaheim Ducks||75||23||42||10||56||20||191||306||12-22-3||11-20-7||2-7-1|
|16 Chicago Blackhawks||75||24||45||6||54||22||183||271||14-21-3||10-24-3||2-8-0|
Eight teams in each conference qualify for the divisional playoff format. The top three teams from each division make up the first six spots. The two remaining teams with the highest points, regardless of division, qualify for the final two wild card spots. X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Conference