BOYS REGIONAL PAIRINGS-SATURDAY
Valparaiso [20-5] vs. South Bend Riley [18-6]
Gary West [20-4] vs. Elkhart [14-11]
Homestead [25-0] vs. Carmel [22-2]
Carroll (Fort Wayne) [18-6] vs. Lafayette Jeff [24-2]
Lawrence North [25-2] vs. Ben Davis [14-11]
Mount Vernon (Fortville) [17-6] vs. Plainfield [23-2]
Bloomington South [23-4] vs. Jeffersonville [15-6]
Center Grove [14-6] vs. Evansville Reitz [16-4]
SOUTH BEND WASHINGTON
South Bend St. Joseph [19-4] vs. Twin Lakes [21-4]
Hammond [17-1] vs. New Prairie [19-7]
NorthWood [15-8] vs. New Castle [9-15]
Mississinewa [17-8] vs. Leo [21-4]
Northview [17-7] vs. Beech Grove [18-5]
Guerin Catholic [19-3] vs. Greencastle [21-6]
Heritage Hills [19-3] vs. Silver Creek [21-4]
Connersville [17-7] vs. Sullivan [21-3]
Boone Grove [18-6] vs. Bowman Academy [11-12]
Churubusco [21-4] vs. Fort Wayne Blackhawk [24-3]
Blackford [23-4] vs. Wapahani [18-7]
Rossville [17-7] vs. Rochester [18-1]
Parke Heritage [24-3] vs. Triton Central [13-8]
Shenandoah [24-3] vs. Covenant Christian [22-4]
Paoli [16-5] vs. Southridge [15-10]
Southwestern (Hanover) [21-5] vs. Linton-Stockton [23-4]
Triton [19-5] vs. Caston [10-15]
Fremont [12-11] vs. Kouts [26-2]
Cowan [15-8] vs. Lafayette Central Catholic [8-10]
Seton Catholic [9-9] vs. Southwood [15-10]
Southwestern (Shelbyville) [13-10] vs. Bethesda Christian [18-7]
Indianapolis Tindley [16-9] vs. Shakamak [10-12]
Barr-Reeve [25-2] vs. Trinity Lutheran [12-13]
Lanesville [17-7] vs. Evansville Day [13-5]
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
#12 Oklahoma State 83 #2 Baylor 74
#3 Illinois 90 Rutgers 68
#4 Michigan 79 Maryland 66
#5 Iowa 62 Wisconsin 57
#6, Alabama 85 Mississippi State 48
#7 Arkansas 70 Missouri 64
#9 Ohio State 87 #20 Purdue 78 OT
#15 Florida State 69 North Carolina 66
#17 Creighton 59 Connecticut 56
#19 San Diego State 77 Nevada 70
#23 Colorado 72 #24 USC 70
Western Kentucky 64 Alabama Birmingham 60
Wichita State 68 S. Florida 67
Tennessee 78 Florida 66
Texas Southern 84 Jackson State 81 OT
North Texas 54 Louisiana Tech 48
Ohio 87 Toledo 80
Cincinnati 74 SMU 71
Iona 70 Niagara 64
Morgan State 82 Coppin State 61
Nicholls 88 Northwestern State 76
Georgetown 66 Seton Hall 58
Montana State 87 Utah 77 OT
Buffalo 81 Akron 74 OT
Grand Canyon 81 Seattle 47
Fairfield 52 St. Peter’s 47
Oregon State 75 Oregon 64
Abilene Christian 93 Lamar 71
Cal Santa Barbara 71 Cal Davis 55
Prairie View A&M 75 Grambling 63
LSU 76 Ole Miss 73
Eastern Washington 78 Montana 50
Memphis 70 Central Florida 62
New Mexico State 78 Utah Valley 62
UC Irvine 78 UC Riverside 61
Utah State 62 Colorado State 50
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL – SATURDAY
UMass Lowell – Hartford 11:00
Tennessee – Alabama 1:00
Ohio State – Michigan 1:00
Morgan State – Norfolk State 1:00
Cincinnati – Wichita State 3:00
LSU – Arkansas 3:30
Iowa – Illinois 3:30
Iona – Fairfield 4:00
Memphis – Houston 5:30
Texas Southern – Prairie View A&M 6:00
Utah State – San Diego State 6:00
Oklahoma State – Texas 6:00
Georgetown – Creighton 6:30
Ohio – Buffalo 7:30
Montana State – Eastern Washington 8:00
Georgia Tech – Florida State 8:30
North Texas – Western Kentucky 9:00
Abilene Christian – Nicholls 9:30
New Mexico State – Grand Canyon 10:00
Oregon State – Colorado 10:30
UC Irvine – UC Santa Barbara 11:30
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
#6 Baylor 92 TCU 55
#7 Maryland 85 Northwestern 52
#17 West Virginia 58 Kansas State 56
#21 Missouri State 70 Southern Illinois 59
#24 Florida Gulf Coast 59 Lipscomb 44
Bowling Green 80 Buffalo 67
Dayton 85 LaSalle 70
Texas 84 Iowa State 82 OT
Marist 66 Fairfield 50
Alabama State 69 Southern 60
Central Arkansas 69 Lamar 55
Howard 50 Norfolk State 44
Central Michigan 100 Ohio 92 OT
California Baptist 79 New Mexico State 54
VCU 64 Rhode Island 57 OT
Delaware 60 Hofstra 39
North Carolina A&T 69 Morgan State 54
Bradley 62 Northern Iowa 59
UC Davis 64 Hawaii 52
Sam Houston 89 Nicholls 59
Iowa 87 Michigan State 72
Massachusetts 80 Fordham 70
Stony Brook 64 Maine 60
UC Irvine 68 Cal Poly 59
Grand Canyon 57 Utah Valley 54
Drake 71, Valparaiso 60
Drexel 79 James Madison 76 OT
Jackson State 65 Grambling 49
Rice 62 Old Dominion 60
Liberty 65 N. Florida 52
Loyola Chicago 61 Illinois State 60
St. Louis 59 Richmond 58 OT
Middle Tennessee 74 UTEP 58
Oklahoma State 89 Oklahoma 80 OT
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL – SATURDAY
Central Michigan – Bowling Green 11:00
St. Peter’s – Marist 11:00
Massachusetts – St. Louis – TBA
Texas – Baylor 1:00
VCU – Dayton 1:00
Iowa – Maryland 2:00
Central Arkansas – Stephen F Austin 2:00
Bradley – Missouri state 2:00
Alabama state – Jackson State 2:30
Howard – North Carolina A&T 3:30
Oklahoma State – West Virginia 4:00
Drexel – Delaware 5:00
Loyola Chicago – Drake 5:00
Sam Houston – Southeast Louisiana 5:00
Grand Canyon – California Baptist 5:00
Rice – Middle Tennessee 6:00
UC Irvine – UC Davis 8:00
New Orleans 116 Cleveland 82
Philadelphia 127 Washington 101
Denver 103 Memphis 102….DESMOND BANE 10PTS, 4REB, 3BLKS, 1STL
Miami 101 Chicago 90
San Antonio 104 Orlando 77
Utah 114 Houston 99
LA Lakers 105 Indiana 100
NBA SCHEDULE SATURDAY
New York at Oklahoma City 2:00
Detroit at Brooklyn 7:00
Milwaukee add Washington 7:00
Toronto at Charlotte 7:00
Sacramento Atlanta 7:30
Portland at Minnesota 8:00
Dallas at Denver 10:00
Indiana at Phoenix 10:00
Vegas 5 St. Louis 4
Minnesota 4 Arizona 0
Colorado 2 Los Angeles 0
Edmonton 6 Ottawa 2
San Jose 6 Anaheim 0
NHL SCHEDULE SATURDAY
NY Rangers at Boston 1:00
Dallas at Columbus 5:00
Pittsburgh at Buffalo 7:00
NY Islanders at New Jersey 7:00
Washington at Philadelphia 7:00
Nashville Tampa Bay 7:00
Chicago at Florida 7:00
Winnipeg at Toronto 7:00
Montréal at Calgary 7:00
Vegas at St. Louis 8:00
San Jose at Anaheim 10:00
Edmonton at Vancouver 10:00
PURDUE MEN’S BASKETBALL: Boilermaker Comeback Falls Short in Overtime 87-78
INDIANAPOLIS – Trevion Williams scored 26 points with 14 rebounds and five assists, but Ohio State outscored Purdue 15-6 in overtime to defeat the Boilermakers 87-78 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Buckeyes (20-8) may need their graduate transfer Seth Towns to come up big in Saturday’s semifinal matchup against No. 4 Michigan, their longtime rival and the Big Ten regular-season champs, especially if Kyle Young is out.
Young matched his career with 18 points in the first half but most of the second half after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head.
Young tried to play but eventually came out and did not return. Ohio State also finished the game without all-conference forward E.J. Liddell, who fouled out after scoring 17 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Duane Washington Jr. led Ohio State with 20 points.
For the Buckeyes, it was another harrowing close call. Just 24 hours after Minnesota cut a 14-point lead to one in the final 3 1/2 minutes of Thursday’s tourney opener, they blew an 18-point halftime lead.
Towns rescued them.
“Seth is always under control and calm,” Liddell said, cracking a smile. “I feel like Seth is always the level-headed one and he made the big plays, the big shots.”
It was a big moment, too. Ohio State had lost both of the other games against the Boilermakers (18-9) and the victory sends them to their first semifinal appearance since 2014.
Trevion Williams finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds and five assists as Purdue’s five-game winning streak ended. Jaden Ivey added 19 points.
“It was on us,” Boilermakers forward Mason Gillis said when asked about the momentum shift in overtime. “We missed a free throw box out, they get a layup, a runner and a 3 (from Towns) and that’s it right there.”
Ohio State: One day after snapping a four-game losing streak, the Buckeyes won another game in less than impressive fashion. Yes, they need to develop a stronger knockout punch to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. What they do have, however, is grit and depth.
Purdue: One of the Big Ten’s hottest teams was doomed by a miserable first half in Indy. It’s only the second loss the Boilermakers have suffered inside Indiana this season. But now they’ll get some extra rest before resuming next week in one of the three Indiana cities hosting tourney action this sesaon.
Ohio State: Washington also had five rebounds and three assists. … The victory also gives Holtmann his eighth consecutive 20-win season. The Buckeyes have won 20 in 16 of the last 17 seasons. … Ohio State was 16 of 18 from the free throw line. … The Buckeyes lost their only other matchup against Michigan 92-87 in Columbus on Feb. 21. … Ohio State is now 3-0 all-time at Lucas Oil Stadium, which also hosts the Big Ten football title game.
Purdue: Zach Edey scored 11 points for the Boilermakers. … The Boilermakers never led in the second half and only tied the score twice, both on baskets from Williams. The first came with 46.5 seconds left and the second, with 9.4 seconds left, made it 72-all. … The Boilermakers’ streak of holding opponents to 72 or fewer points ended at 15.
Holtmann did not provide an update on Young’s status following the game because he said he hadn’t yet talked to the doctors. But when asked about why Young played four more possessions before leaving the game for good, Holtmann he’d take a second look at how it unfolded. “I’d like to look back and know the exact scenario,” he said. “I think initially he said he wanted to play and so we let him. Maybe looking back, I could have pulled him. Maybe I should have.”
Ohio State: Faces No. 4 Michigan in Saturday’s first semifinal.
Purdue: Will wait to see who they play when the NCAA Tournament bracket comes out Sunday.
Bubble could decide between Big Ten, Big 12 supremacy
(AP) The precarious situation on the NCAA Tournament bubble could be what decides whether the deep Big Ten or the brutal Big 12 get the most teams into the 68-team field come Selection Sunday.
The Big Ten headed into the semifinals Saturday with seven teams with a spot reserved: Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue and Rutgers. The league’s biggest rival likewise has seven sure things with Texas set to play Oklahoma State in its title game Saturday night: the Longhorns and Cowboys along with Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas — assuming the Jayhawks navigated a COVID-19 outbreak that bumped them from the Big 12 Tournament.
That leaves bubble-dwelling Maryland and Michigan State to potentially break the tie.
The Terps (16-13) let a chance for a statement-making win against the fourth-ranked Wolverines slip away with a 79-66 loss Friday. It had significant NCAA Tournament ramifications, even if the headlines were about Michigan coach Juwan Howard’s ejection following a few choice words with Maryland counterpart Mark Turgeon.
Still, the Terrapins coach spoke afterward as if they were certain to make the NCAA Tournament field.
“We’ve come a long ways. Nobody can deny that,” Turgeon said, “but to have Selection Sunday and our team is going to be called — I think six weeks ago, nobody would have believed that. I’m proud of this team.”
If they do make the field, it may have come at the expense of Michigan State. The Terps beat the Spartans (15-12) one day earlier in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.
If the Spartans make it, they can point to five wins in the final eight games, including three against top-5 teams Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois — the latter in back-to-back games at the Breslin Center.
“In fairness, this has been three weeks from hell,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said, “but it’s also been three of the more exhilarating weeks of my coaching career, when you can beat some of the teams we beat and you play the way you did and you earn them. We grinded it out. We did it the right way.”
The question now is whether it will be enough. For Maryland, too.
ON THE RISE
Might both teams in the Conference USA title game make the NCAA Tournament field? Western Kentucky looked poised and polished in beating a quality team in Alabama-Birmingham in the semifinals, and if the Hilltoppers fall against North Texas on Saturday they could steal an at-large bid from somebody else.
Southern Methodist hadn’t played a game since Feb. 8, when coach Tim Jankovic’s team breezed past East Carolina to improve to 11-4 on the season. But after COVID-19 forced six games to be canceled, the Mustangs headed into the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals against Cincinnati feeling shaky about their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Then the Bearcats squeaked out a 74-71 victory Friday that might have pushed SMU right off the bubble.
Another team sitting wobbly Friday was Ole Miss, which could have used a win over LSU to shore up its chances of making the field. But when the Tigers escaped with a 76-73 victory, it left the Rebels waiting anxiously for Sunday.
GAME TO WATCH
There are a few teams worth watching heading into the weekend if only because they have the chance to win a league title and swipe a potential bid from somebody else.
In the American, upstart Cincinnati will face Wichita State in the semifinals with the Shockers likely assured an NCAA Tournament bid, but the Bearcats needing two more wins.
In the Big East, the only hope Georgetown has of making the field will be to win the championship. But that’s certainly possible given the Hoyas already have beaten Marquette, Villanova and Seton Hall in consecutive days.
INDIANA PACERS BASKETBALL: Game Rewind: Pacers 100, Lakers 105
The Pacers had been playing from behind too often heading into the All-Star break, dropping five of six contests to end the first half of the season.
That wasn’t the case in their first game post-break on Friday night at Staples Center, where Indiana had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. But the Lakers (25-13) rallied to hand the Pacers (16-20) a 105-100 defeat in the first stop of a three-game Western Conference road trip.
The Pacers led for much of the night and had an 86-74 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the contest. But Kyle Kuzma scored 12 points during a subsequent 24-7 Lakers run to give the hosts a 98-93 lead with 4:38 to play.
Neither team scored over the next two-plus minutes of game time until Malcolm Brogdon’s jumper with 2:02 remaining broke the drought and made it a one possession game.
But Montrezl Harrell converted a three-point play on the other end to push the Lakers’ lead back to six. Domantas Sabonis and Dennis Schröder traded baskets on the next two possessions before Sabonis hit one of two free throws with 1:10 remaining to make it 103-98.
After a Schröder miss, Sabonis again got to the foul line, this time hitting both shots with 36.8 seconds to play. The Lakers went to the hot hand on the other end, but Myles Turner challenge Kuzma at the rim, forcing a miss. The Pacers secured the rebound and took a timeout with 9.9 seconds left to try to set up a look to force overtime.
But they couldn’t even run their set, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope intercepted Brogdon’s inbounds pass intended for Sabonis and then hit both free throws with 8.5 seconds remaining to effectively seal the win.
Brogdon finished with 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting (4-of-7 from 3-point range), seven rebounds, and six assists in the loss. Sabonis added 20 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists.
Brogdon looked refreshed to start the game, coming out on fire early in Friday’s contest. Brogdon scored 18 of Indiana’s first 24 points in the first quarter, going 7-for-10 from the field and 3-for-3 from 3-point range, as the Blue & Gold took a 28-20 lead into the second quarter.
The Lakers surged ahead early in the second quarter, however. Wesley Matthews and LeBron James each converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions. Goga Bitadze was then whistled for goaltending James’ layup attempt to tie the game at 28 and then Kuzma drained a 3-pointer to complete an 11-0 Lakers run over the first 2:01 of the frame.
Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren took a timeout and his team quickly regrouped, as Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell converted two buckets each as Indiana reeled off eight straight points out of the break to retake the lead.
Indiana’s starters returned shortly thereafter and used a 9-2 run to stretch their lead to double digits at 49-39. Brogdon added another three and a runner before the break to help the Pacers take a 54-46 lead into the intermission.
The Pacers led 57-46 following Myles Turner’s fastbreak dunk 1:18 into the third quarter before James scored six points during a 15-2 Lakers run to give the hosts a brief lead. Once again, the Pacers had an answer, promptly rolling off nine unanswered points, with old-fashioned three-point plays by Doug McDermott and Sabonis sandwiching a Justin Holiday 3-pointer.
The Blue & Gold maintained the lead for the remainder of the third quarter, taking a 79-71 lead into the final frame.
The Pacers led 86-74 following Goga Bitadze’s 3-pointer with 10:04 to play, but the Lakers charged back with a 12-2 run over the next 2:14.
That prompted another Pacers timeout, but this time it didn’t turn the tide. Kuzma’s jumper tied the game at 88 with 7:07 to play. Brogdon answered with a bucket of his own on the other end to put Indiana briefly back in front, but Kuzma knocked down back-to-back threes on the next two Laker possessions and then James added a layup.
Just like that, the Lakers were up 96-90 with 5:28 remaining, a lead they would not relinquish.
“I feel like we had the game in control,” Sabonis said after the game. “Those two, three minutes in the fourth, it felt like the game got away from us.”
McDermott finished with 13 points and four rebounds, while Aaron Holiday added 10 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting for Indiana.
Kuzma had a team-high 24 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for the Lakers. James added 18 points and 10 assists, while Schröder tallied 11 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
The Pacers will have to regroup quickly, as they play again on Sunday night in Phoenix against a Suns team that is currently ahead of the Lakers and in second place in the Western Conference standings.
Caris LeVert plans to make his debut in a Pacers uniform on Saturday. The versatile guard was acquired on Jan. 16 from Brooklyn in a four-team deal but has been unable to play after undergoing surgery to remove renal cell carcinoma on his left kidney that was discovered during a post-trade physical. LeVert returned to practice shortly before the All-Star break and confirmed to reporters on Friday that he plans to play against the Suns.
Embiid exits with apparent leg injury, 76ers beat Wizards
(AP) On pace for their best season and first conference championship in two decades, the Philadelphia 76ers are suddenly “praying” for the health of their best player.
Joel Embiid scored 23 points but departed midway through the third quarter following an apparent leg injury in the 76ers’ 127-101 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Embiid, an MVP candidate for his role on the Eastern Conference-leading Sixers, was in his first game back following a week-long absence for contract tracing. He entered Friday averaging 30.2 points and 11.6 rebounds.
He had also grabbed seven rebounds before his exit with 6:20 left in the third.
“It looked like a hyper-extension. That’s what we all hope it (is),” said fellow starter Tobias Harris. “We’re just praying that he’ll be OK and be healthy tomorrow.”
Following a dunk for his last points, Embiid landed awkwardly on his left leg, his knee joint appearing to bend slightly forward. He writhed in pain on the floor for several minutes, and a stretcher was briefly brought onto the court, but the center eventually limped off under his own power.
Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said Embiid would be examined Saturday in Philadelphia.
“We don’t do anything right now, because we don’t have any information,” Rivers said. “Listen, it’s a long season. At the end of the day, hopefully it’s not something where we lose him, obviously. But our guys will be good. We’ll be ready.”
Even with Embiid’s exit and Ben Simmons also out for contact tracing after both players were exposed to the same barber who tested positive for COVID-19, the 76ers cruised to a second straight comfortable win following the All-Star break.
Shake Milton scored 18 points off the bench for Philadelphia, which led by 17 after the first quarter, 10 at halftime and 18 after the third.
Furkan Korkmaz added 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Sixers completed a three-game season sweep of the Wizards. Philadelphia outrebounded Washington 49-32, and had a 56-38 advantage in bench points.
No. 12 Oklahoma St beats No. 2 Baylor 83-74 in Big 12 semis
(AP) Confidence has never been a problem for Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham.
That came in handy Friday night.
With the No. 12 Cowboys trying to rally from a second-half hole against second-ranked Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament, Cunningham calmly responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to give his team the lead. Then, he stepped to the foul line and calmly made a series of free throws down the stretch that clinched an 83-74 victory in the semifinal round.
“I’m a confident player. I feel like every shot I shoot is supposed to go in,” said Cunningham, the projected No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. “I try to shoot them with confidence and make plays that my teammates need.”
His teammates didn’t let him carry the load alone.
Avery Anderson III added 20 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with just over two minutes to go, and Rondel Walker had 11 as the No. 5 seed Cowboys (20-7) advanced to play No. 13 Texas for the title Saturday night.
The third-seeded Longhorns advanced earlier Friday when their semifinal against No. 11 Kansas was canceled because of a positive COVID-19 test that forced the Jayhawks to withdraw from the tournament. While the Cowboys have two Big 12 tourney titles to their credit, Texas has never won the event in six appearances in the finals.
The Bears have never won a conference tournament title, either – and won’t this year. They’ll remain 0-3 in the Big 12 title game for at least another year after winning their first regular-season league championship since 1950.
MaCio Teague scored 17 points and Jared Butler had 16 for the Bears (22-2), who had won 10 of their last 11 against the Cowboys after sweeping them in the regular season. Davion Mitchell also had 13 points for coach Scott Drew’s team.
“You have to give Oklahoma State a lot of credit,” Drew said. “They made a lot of big-time plays.”
Positive COVID-19 tests derail Kansas, Virginia tourney runs
(AP) For the second time in as many days, major conferences have called off tournament games due to COVID-19 concerns – this time involving No. 11 Kansas and No. 16 Virginia.
The Jayhawks withdrew from the Big 12 Tournament on Friday after a positive COVID-19 test within the program, which led to the cancellation of their semifinal matchup with No. 13 Texas.
And earlier Friday, the Atlantic Coast Conference canceled the league’s semifinal game between the top-seeded Cavaliers and Georgia Tech due to a positive test, quarantining and contact tracing within the Cavaliers program. The announcement came less than 12 hours before the Yellow Jackets and Cavaliers were set to play the first of two semifinal games.
It is unclear what the COVID-19 issues mean for the Virginia and Kansas going forward, though the Jayhawks released a statement that they would continue preparing for the NCAA Tournament.
What is clear is that Georgia Tech will advance to Saturday’s championship game to face the winner of the North Carolina-Florida State matchup. And in the Big 12, the Longhorns moved on to the title game to face the Oklahoma State-Baylor winner.
Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett described the outcome of the tests as a “gut punch.”
“I’m hurting for our players, especially our seniors,” Bennett said in a statement. “I told our young men they have every reason to be disappointed, but it is still very important how they choose to respond. We are exhausting all options to participate in the NCAA Tournament.”
Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said in the statement the school was “in communication with the appropriate officials regarding our participation” in the NCAA Tournament, which starts Thursday.
The cancellations came a day after Duke withdrew from the ACC Tournament and ended its season amid its own positive test before facing the 15th-ranked Seminoles in the quarterfinals.
Howard tossed, No. 4 Michigan tops Terps, Big Ten semis next
(AP) All Michigan coach Juwan Howard intended to do, he said, when he started walking toward the baseline during the second half of Friday’s Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals was question a call.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, meanwhile, had already seen enough. He didn’t like what he’d heard during the teams’ previous two games and didn’t appreciate the conference’s response when he reported his concerns.
Moments after Turgeon told Howard not to speak to him, a shouting match broke out. A tense situation quickly escalated, tempers flared and both teams gathered near midcourt, with officials rushing in to hold back each side.
The 6-foot-9 Howard had to be restrained, drew two technical fouls and was ejected with 10:44 left to play. Minus their coach, No. 4 Michigan pulled away for a testy 79-66 victory.
After the game, Howard apologized for his actions – and also placed blame on the other bench.
“That’s not how you handle things under adverse conditions,” he said before explaining his version of what happened.
“He said, `Juwan, I’m not going to let you talk to me. Don’t talk to me ever again,’ Then he charged at me. I don’t know how you were raised but the way I was raised is when someone charges you, you defend yourself.”
Turgeon was called for a technical foul but not ejected.
“This has been going on for three games,” he said. “I ‘ve been doing this for 34 years and I’ve called the conference office, I’ve called the commissioner and I said `I won’t take it the third game.’ So I stood up for myself and my team. All I said is, `Don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me.'”
Maryland scored five points after the fracas to cut the deficit in half.
“Coach is a really competitive guy the game got competitive, we knew we had to have his back,” Michigan guard Mike Smith said.
Smith helped steady the Wolverines (20-8) by scoring a season-high 18 points while dishing out a tournament-record 15 assists.
No. 15 Florida State holds off North Carolina 69-66 in ACCs
(AP) For the second time in less than two weeks, Florida State had squandered a double-digit lead and found itself down in the second half against North Carolina.
This time, the 15th-ranked Seminoles pushed their way back in front, this time to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game.
Anthony Polite hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:06 left, and the Seminoles held off the Tar Heels 69-66 in Friday night’s semifinals and earn a matchup with Georgia Tech.
Balsa Koprivica had career highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds for his second career double-double to lead the second-seeded Seminoles (16-5), who blew a 13-point lead, then rallied from five down midway through the second half to grind out a tough win that came down to the final seconds.
It was nearly two weeks earlier that the Tar Heels rallied from 16 down to beat the Seminoles, with FSU faltering with a cold-shooting and mistake-filled performance after halftime. But the Seminoles clamped down defensively late Friday, holding the Tar Heels to one field goal over the final 4 minutes.
“I would just say we knew we knew we needed to make big key stops, and we’re all just motivated and committed to just making those stops as a team,” said freshman Scottie Barnes, who had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“We knew what happened last time, so we just knew we just couldn’t give that up and this opportunity we have this time.”
The sixth-seeded Tar Heels (18-10) had a chance for a desperation play to tie it with 1 second left, but Anthony Harris couldn’t catch Leaky Black’s half-court pass to get up a tying 3-pointer.
That set up Florida State’s matchup with Georgia Tech, which advanced when its semifinal game against No. 16 Virginia was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test, quarantining and contact tracing within the Cavaliers program.
Caleb Love scored 13 points to lead the Tar Heels, who shot 34% for the game and made just 1 of 8 shots as this one slipped away. Fellow freshman Kerwin Walton scored all 11 of his points after halftime.
UNC led 64-62 on three free throws by RJ Davis with 3:14 left, but didn’t score again until trailing by four in the final 5 seconds.
“Bottom line is their defense late in the game was much stronger than our offense was,” UNC coach Roy Williams said, adding: “We never got another good shot after (Davis’ free throws) the whole time.”
Sources: Caris LeVert to make Indiana Pacers debut Saturday after overcoming cancer
Caris LeVert will make his long-awaited Indiana Pacers debut on Saturday, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The guard underwent surgery to remove a small cancerous mass on his left kidney in late January. The issue was discovered during a physical exam conducted after he was traded by the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team deal centered around James Harden.
LeVert has been ramping up in recent practices for his return with the Pacers. Indiana will play the Phoenix Suns on Saturday in the second game of a three-game road trip that begins Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
After a strong start to the season, the Pacers have struggled since trading Victor Oladipo to Houston in the same four-team trade that netted LeVert. Indiana is in desperate need of a third creator behind Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis.
“[LeVert] looks good. To me, he looks ready to play,” Brogdon told The Indianapolis Star on Thursday. “A complete game-changer. He changes the scouting report. Having another dynamic scorer on the floor can really help this team.”
The 26-year-old LeVert averaged 18.5 points and six assists in 12 games for Brooklyn prior to the trade.
Golden State Warriors’ James Wiseman benched for missing COVID-19 tests
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr benched rookie center James Wiseman for the first half of Thursday’s 130-104 loss to the LA Clippers after Wiseman missed the first two COVID-19 tests he was scheduled for during the All-Star break.
The missed tests caused Wiseman, 19, to miss Wednesday’s practice in Los Angeles.
“I’m not going to go into detail, but this is all part of development as a young player,” Kerr said during a videoconference with reporters after the game. “You got to take care of your business. Everything matters. This was just a reaction to him missing the test and not being able to practice last night. That hurt us. And so that was the reason he did not play in the first half. I’m not going to go into any more detail than that because that’s private team business, but that was the reason.”
Kerr on Wednesday acknowledged being disappointed that Wiseman had missed the early tests, but he said Wiseman was cleared to play before Thursday’s game following some uncertainty about his status.
For his part, Wiseman took responsibility for the missed tests and said he had spoken to veterans Stephen Curry and Draymond Green about the episode.
“I make mistakes,” Wiseman said. “I’m human and I completely forgot about the first two days of COVID testing. I tested the last two days. … I made a huge mistake, but I most definitely will not do that again because I just got to make sure that I just be disciplined in terms of that. … I made sure that I apologized to Coach and told him that I’m not going to do that again and make sure that I pay attention to little stuff like that, just get that done.”
Lakers’ Anthony Davis out at least 2 more weeks with injury
(AP) Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis will be out for at least two more weeks with the leg injuries that have kept him sidelined since Feb. 14.
The defending NBA champions announced Friday night that Davis is making progress and has been cleared to enter the next phase of his rehabilitation after an examination by team doctors. He will be re-evaluated in late March.
Davis missed his 10th consecutive game Friday when the Lakers hosted the Indiana Pacers in their first game back from the All-Star break.
The All-NBA big man has Achilles tendinosis and a calf strain, and the eight-time All-Star selection was forced to drop out of last weekend’s game in Atlanta.
Davis missed five games earlier this season due to various injuries before aggravating his leg woes in a game in Denver on Valentine’s Day. He is averaging 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 blocked shots in his 23 appearances this season.
The Lakers have eight games in the next two weeks, and Davis is likely to miss all of them. Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel has said the team will be deliberately cautious with its superstar big man, hoping to get him healthy heading into the postseason.
Los Angeles lost seven of its 10 games between Davis’ injury and the All-Star break, but remained in third place in the Western Conference.
Brady signs extension, frees salary cap space for Buccaneers
(AP) Tom Brady has agreed to a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that provides the Super Bowl champions with much-needed salary cap relief and will help the seven-time NFL champion reach a goal of playing until he’s at least 45.
Brady posted a picture of himself on Twitter, signing the extension Friday with the message: “In pursuit of 8 … LFG(at) Buccaneers we’re keeping the band together.”
The extension confirmed by the team frees about $19 million in salary cap space, a move that improves Tampa Bay’s chances of returning as much of its championship roster as possible for 2021.
Seven starters from the Super Bowl were among two dozen Buccaneers eligible to become free agents next week.
“When we acquired Tom a year ago, we were extremely excited about the leadership, poise and winning track record that he would bring to our locker room. Since that time, he has proven himself to be the ultimate competitor and delivered in every way we had imagined, helping us capture the Lombardi Trophy,” general manager Jason Licht said.
“Year after year,” the GM added, “Tom proves that he remains one of the elite quarterbacks in this game and we couldn’t be happier to keep him in Tampa Bay as we continue to pursue our goals together.”
Brady’s extension adds an extra season on the two-year, $50 million contract he signed in free agency last March following a 20-year run with the New England Patriots.
The five-time Super Bowl MVP capped his first season with the Bucs by leading Tampa Bay to its first championship in 18 years.
In preparation for the start of free agency next week, Licht placed the franchise tag on receiver Chris Godwin and signed linebacker Lavonte David to a two-year, $25 million contract that was announced Friday.
David’s contract, of which $20 million is guaranteed, includes voidable years that make it salary cap friendly.
Report: Chiefs restructuring Mahomes’ deal to save $17M in cap space
The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to restructure the contract of star quarterback Patrick Mahomes in order to save $17 million against the cap, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Mahomes’ $21.7-million roster bonus reportedly will be converted into a signing bonus.
The Chiefs are currently around $4.4 million over the NFL’s $182.5-million salary cap after releasing starting offensive tackle Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz on Thursday, per Over The Cap.
The move should allow the reigning AFC champions to make some free-agent additions as they look to bounce back from their Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mahomes signed a league-record 10-year, $450-million contract in July.
The former NFL MVP is coming off another All-Pro season in which he threw for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns against six interceptions en route to the second Super Bowl appearance of his career.
AP source: Patriots completing 1-year deal to re-sign Newton
(AP) The New England Patriots are completing an agreement to re-sign free-agent quarterback Cam Newton, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The one-year deal is worth close to $14 million, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because new signings can’t be announced until the league year begins Wednesday. The deal was first reported by The Boston Globe.
With the new pact, the Patriots bring back the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player after an up-and-down 2020 season. He missed time after contracting COVID-19 and struggled to lead the offense as he tried to fill the void created by Tom Brady’s departure to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Patriots finished 7-9, missing the postseason for the first time since 2008 when Brady sustained a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
New England could still pursue a long-term option at quarterback through the draft, but this move for now sets Newton up to be the front-runner to start again in 2021.
Newton signed with Patriots last June after drawing little interest from teams following his release from the Carolina Panthers after nine seasons.
Despite his final two seasons in Carolina truncated by shoulder and foot injuries, he appeared in 15 games for the Patriots in 2020. He ran for 12 touchdowns and broke Steve Grogan’s 42-year-old single-season franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 592.
But he passed for just eight touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. His 2,657 passing yards were also the second-worst of his career, better than only the 572 he passed for in 2019 in two games.
Bills, Daryl Williams agree to 3-year deal
(AP) The Buffalo Bills agreed to sign offensive lineman Daryl Williams to a three-year contract on Friday, days before the starter was eligible to become a free agent.
Williams is a sixth-year player, who started all 16 games during his first season in Buffalo. He signed a one-year deal with the Bills a year ago after spending his first five seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
Williams took over at right tackle with the Bills, in a move that allowed Cody Ford to switch to right guard.
Williams was part of a Josh Allen-led offense that set numerous yards passing and scoring records en route to a 13-3 finish. Buffalo clinched its first AFC East title in 25 years and also made its deepest playoff run since the 1993 season. The Bills’ season ended with a loss to Kansas City in the AFC championship game.
Williams’ new deal was reached a day after the Bills re-signed linebacker Matt Milano to a four-year contract. Buffalo began the week with little room under the salary cap before freeing up more than $14.4 million in space by releasing receiver John Brown and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson.
The two re-signings have the potential of limiting the Bills from affording to retain pending free agents, offensive lineman Jon Feliciano and receiver Isaiah McKenzie.
5 NFL teams that should spend big in 2021 free agency
(PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS)
Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of the spending free-for-all that is NFL free agency. I think the best business is typically done in the second wave when the marquee names are gone and teams move in on more bargain-basement signings that have a far greater impact on a team’s fortunes relative to the cost outlay.
That said, free agency is where teams address roster needs. It allows organizations to enter the NFL draft with the starting lineup set so that they can maximize value by selecting the best players available.
Given the varying degrees of salary-cap space and the differing stages of the team-building process, there are sides out there that should be actively looking to spend — and even overspend — in free agency. While these teams will know that they likely won’t be getting the best value for money, they will also understand that the alternative is an even greater problem and should be willing to trade some of that value for assurance.
Let’s take a look at the best candidates for that particular strategy.
The biggest issue facing the Colts this offseason was the same one from a year ago — who would their starting quarterback be? Philip Rivers provided the answer last season, but his retirement created the same issue. They elected to take a swing at fixing Carson Wentz, acquiring him in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Colts still have holes on the roster. They have a lot of money to spend for the second season in a row, but this year they have an even bigger motivation to spend it, even with upcoming contract extensions looming for players already on the roster.
Given the investment in Wentz, the Colts can’t risk starting a liability at left tackle, which is always a possibility even with a first-round tackle from the draft.
They have the kind of resources that could tempt Trent Williams into signing, which would provide a massive boost to the Colts’ line. Williams was the best left tackle in the league in 2020, and the side could easily absorb a market-leading contract for him over the next three years. Williams allowed just 19 total pressures last year and was the best run-blocker in the league at his position. He would form the best double-team in football alongside Quenton Nelson and, more importantly, guarantee high-level play on Wentz’s blindside. It would also reserve that first-round pick for a receiver, a position with a superb strike rate in recent seasons and where you already have some built-in contingency.
The assumption from everybody is that the Jaguars will make Trevor Lawrence the first draft pick of the Urban Meyer era and the presumptive franchise savior at quarterback.
Lawrence has been widely viewed as the best prospect to come into the league in years — though that particular timeframe is up for debate — and could completely transform a franchise that has been nosediving since its AFC championship appearance of 2017.
Most teams keep their powder dry until they are sure they have a quarterback capable of high-level play, and then they deploy their resources to quickly build around that player. Lawrence is viewed as such a sure thing that Jacksonville could look to bypass the wait-and-see phase of that plan and put a team around him now, potentially overspending to lure players to a team that would not be an attractive free agency destination otherwise.
The decision to use the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson, a player who has led the league in total pressures surrendered since the start of 2019, hints at this approach. The Jaguars evidently didn’t want to be left out in the cold without a left tackle in free agency and were prepared to overpay for a player who hasn’t justified that kind of contract to ensure that didn’t happen.
Robinson was a start, but Jacksonville should be a major player in the wide receiver market, especially now that Kenny Golladay is available after avoiding Detroit’s franchise tag. A season ago, 10 of Golladay’s 20 receptions were of the contested variety — he would provide Lawrence with a reliable, high-level receiver right out of the gate.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
I know what you’re thinking — this is not the “New England Way.”
The only trouble with that is it turns out that the “New England Way” might just be a 43-year-old quarterback who currently resides in Tampa Bay. The Patriots survived for two decades as the best team in football by owning the middle class of free agency and attracting a wealth of talented players to play, knowing that they were going to go chasing a ring. They didn’t need to attack superstar players or high-priced free agents most of the time because they had a draw that few other teams could match.
That luster is gone now. The main attraction is now in a different state, leaving the Patriots facing a major offseason in which they need to show they can piece this thing back together and still contend without Brady working the controls.
The Patriots still don’t have an answer at quarterback, but even if they did, they still don’t have anybody for him to throw to. At this point, they need to start adding weaponry at all costs and trust whatever process they have in mind for solving the quarterback problem.
The very best receivers in the league generate more than 3.0 yards per route run, but only Jakobi Meyers was able to clear 2.0 in 2020. At tight end, no player saw more than 19 targets all season, so a dynamic playmaker like Jonnu Smith would be a huge upgrade. Smith has been trapped in a run-first offense in Tennessee and could easily have his best football in front of him. The organization should prioritize a combination of Smith and some wide receiver help in free agency while it tries to find a solution at quarterback.
The Bengals have identified their franchise quarterback and now need to quickly build around him before they ruin him. They are already well on their way to the latter, as the devastating knee injury was the inevitable conclusion of Joe Burrow’s rookie year, given the offensive line that was put in front of him.
Five different Bengals linemen played 200 or more snaps and earned a PFF pass-blocking grade in the 40s or below. The Bengals’ best lineman was Jonah Williams, who was effectively playing his rookie season, having lost his real rookie year to injury.
The Bengals are not known for spending big in free agency, and they will likely address the offensive line in the draft. Still, they have so much repair work to do up front that they need to spend some of the cap space they have — $50.0 million at the time of writing — to guarantee some upgrades.
Joe Thuney is the prize at guard that many people expect the Bengals to pursue. He is from the area and has allowed just three sacks in three years, earning PFF pass-blocking grades above 85.0 in two of those three seasons.
The Bengals shouldn’t stop there. They could also target less spectacular upgrades in players such as Austin Reiter at center or Matt Feiler, who has guard and tackle flexibility. Cincinnati needs to throw a lot of bodies at their offensive line to ensure that Burrow has better protection in Year 2 than he did as a rookie.
The talk in the Pacific Northwest is about trading away Russell Wilson, who has apparently become so disillusioned with how things are going that he was prepared to speak out publicly. The crux of Wilson’s dissatisfaction seems to be that he is being hit too much, and leaving aside for a moment that he probably controls the biggest percentage of that dynamic, it seems like a straightforward fix.
The Seahawks have been reluctant to dedicate resources to the offensive line during Wilson’s career — at least in terms of positional spending — and whether that was an accident or a conscious strategy, it likely needs to change.
They have typically ranked between 26th and 30th in terms of dollars allocated to the offensive line during Wilson’s career. It wouldn’t take much to push that spending up into the middle of the pack, signing a free agent or two who would move the needle in terms of pass blocking and make Wilson’s life a little easier and his disposition towards the team a little rosier.
Seattle’s centers in 2020 — primarily Ethan Pocic — combined to surrender 23 total pressures. Meanwhile, free-agent center Corey Linsley allowed just four total pressures across 13 games. Linsley would be a very substantive and symbolic indication that the team has heard Wilson’s concerns and wants to improve the situation rather than just throw away the best quarterback in the franchise’s history because tensions have started to mount.
Oklahoma AD says Sooners still intend to play football game against Nebraska, despite reports
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione on Friday reiterated that the Sooners intend to face Nebraska in the 2021 football season, despite reports that Nebraska is trying to get out of the Sept. 18 game in Norman.
Castiglione, responding to media inquiries, tweeted that the Nebraska-Oklahoma game is set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century,” when top-ranked Nebraska beat No. 2 Oklahoma 35-31 in Norman. Stadium reported Friday that Nebraska is trying to get out of the matchup and is contacting potential opponents about playing a game in Lincoln that day. Sources told the Lincoln Journal Star that Nebraska is looking into “the feasibility of the move.”
“We’ve been looking forward to celebrating these two storied programs and have collaborated on various aspects of what promises to be a special weekend,” Castiglione wrote in his tweet. “We fully intend and expect to play the game as it is scheduled.”
Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos did not immediately return a text message from ESPN.
In 2012, Nebraska and Oklahoma agreed to play a home-and-home series in 2021 and 2022, renewing their rivalry from the Big Eight/Big 12. The teams in 2016 added another home-and-home series for 2029 (Norman) and 2030 (Lincoln).
Oklahoma and Nebraska last played in the 2010 Big 12 championship game. The Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten the following year.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series 45-38-3; the teams met annually from 1928 to 1997. After beating Oklahoma in 1971, Nebraska went on to win its second consecutive national championship.
Miami Hurricanes QB D’Eriq King ‘smashing’ ACL rehab; CB Al Blades Jr. cleared for activity
Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz said Friday that quarterback D’Eriq King is “smashing every benchmark” in his rehab from a torn ACL in his right knee.
Speaking to reporters on Zoom to preview the start of spring practice next week, Diaz gave an update on the Hurricanes’ starting quarterback, injured in the Cheez-It Bowl against Oklahoma State this past December.
Although King won’t participate this spring, Diaz expects him to be ready to go for fall camp. Miami opens the season against Alabama on Sept. 4 in Atlanta.
“He’s smashing every benchmark and every goal they put in front of him, to the point we almost have to slow him down,” Diaz said. “The other day, I’m in the weight room and he’s on an exercise bike and there’s almost steam coming off the wheels because he’s riding the thing so hard. We’re still only 2 months and change from the surgery, so it’s that point where you start to feel good and you have to slow down, you have to be more careful now than you were in the first eight weeks.”
The week before the bowl game, King announced he would return to Miami for one more season. In 2020, King threw for 2,686 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions, also rushing for 538 yards and four touchdowns.
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said he expects King to be able to throw to receivers and do 7-on-7 work as early as May.
“When it happened, I almost in a joking way was like, ‘What’s the record for the fastest guy coming back from an ACL, because whatever that is, he’s going to beat it,'” Lashlee said. “We don’t have to rush that process, and we’re not going to. I feel really good he’s going to have plenty of time to get ready going into fall camp.”
Diaz also said cornerback Al Blades Jr., who announced in December that he had been diagnosed with myocarditis after going through COVID-19 protocols, has been cleared to resume physical activity. Diaz added that the team is being cautious with Blades and that there is no timetable for when he will return to practice.
Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, has been linked to COVID-19.
Nick Markakis retires after 15 years with Braves, Oriloes
(AP) Outfielder Nick Markakis has retired after 15-year career with the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles.
The 37-year-old Markakis, who was a free agent, told The Athletic in a story published Friday that he was done playing after accumulating 2,388 hits, earning his lone All-Star selection in 2018 and coming within one win of reaching the World Series in his final season.
Braves manager Brian Snitker called Markakis “the consummate pro in everything he did.”
Even though he no longer fit into the team’s plans, Snitker said Markakis’ presence was missed in the Braves clubhouse. The manager talked with him on Thursday about his retirement plans before he made them official.
“It’s a big hole in there without him,” Snitker said. “We all miss him. Just his stability and the calming influence he had on everybody. It was just a great career. … I felt honored to manage him for the last few years of his career.”
Both of teams that Markakis played for congratulated him on his career.
“We wish you all the best in your retirement, Nick!” the Braves wrote on their Twitter account.
“Congrats to Nick Markakis on his retirement from baseball after an incredible 15-year career,” said the Orioles, who were Markakis’ team for his first nine seasons. “Thank you for the memories, the hustle, and your countless contributions to this organization. Best of luck in your next chapter, Nick!”
Markakis joined the Orioles in 2006 and played at least 104 games every season until his last, finishing with a career average of .288. He initially opted out of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, only to change his mind and return to the Braves in a part-time role.
INDIANA WOMEN’S SOCCER: Indiana Begins Three-Game Homestand with Illinois on Saturday
Indiana Women’s Soccer will begin their three-game homestand with Illinois on Saturday, March 13 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET with the match set to air on Big Ten Network+.
SCOUTING THE FIGHTING ILLINI
The Fighting Illini improved to 2-2-1 on the season after a 0-0 draw with Minnesota on Thursday, March 6. Illinois’ goalkeeper Sami Sample recorded nine saves against the Gophers in 110 minutes played. Junior Makena Silber had the only shot on goal for the Illini in the second minute of the game. Illinois is under the direction of Janet Rayfield who is in her 19th season as head coach. In 2019, she led the Illini to a 9-8-1 record, winning seven out of their first eight games. Rayfield has guided Illinois to the NCAA tournament 10 times and has over 200 overall wins. The Fighting Illini lead the series 13-7-1 against the Hoosiers. However, Indiana took the last meeting in Champaign, Ill., 1-0, on Oct. 3, 2019.
LAST TIME OUT
On Sunday, March 7 a brace by freshman Jen Blitchok led No. 24 Indiana women’s soccer past Maryland at Ludwig Field in College Park, Md., 3-2. Blitchok first found the net in the 13th minute after she stole the ball 15-yards out from the Terps goalkeeper. Maryland responded in the 20th minute to tie the game, 1-1. Sophomore Alaina Kalin netted a goal in the 56th minute on what looked like a cross that was tipped by the goalkeeper and sent it soaring into the far-right post to gain a 2-1 lead. Maryland found the net again off a cross to the middle of the box. However, IU responded quickly as they earned a corner kick in the 83rd minute where Blitchok headed it in. Oliwia Wos earned her second assist after her cross found the head of Blitchok who sent it flying into the near post for the gamewinner.
NEW HOOSIERS HAVE IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Indiana women’s soccer welcomed six new freshmen to Hoosier Nation. Four freshmen have earned starts in the first five games of the season – Anna Aehling, Anna Bennett, Gabi Rennie and Jen Blitchok. Sofia Black and Zoe Tiger have also provided great minutes off the bench for the Hoosiers. Bennett and Aehling are the only two freshmen who have started in all five of IU’s games this season. Bennett, Aehling earned their first career point after dishing out assists.
Freshman forward Jen Blitchok recorded her first points after netting a brace in Indiana’s 3-2 victory over Maryland on March 7. She is the second Hoosier to earn a brace this season. Senior Melanie Forbes also scored a pair of goals against Iowa on Feb. 28.
INDIANA SOFTBALL: Indiana Softball Drops Series Finale Against Northwestern In A Pitcher’s Duel
LEESBURG, Fla. – It was a battle of the pitchers on Friday afternoon as Indiana Softball (4-5, 4-5 Big Ten) dropped the series finale to Northwestern (9-0, 9-0 Big Ten) by a score of 1-0.
• Grayson Radcliffe and Gabbi Jenkins led off the contest with a pair of walks in the first. Bella Norton singled to center field to load the bases early. Radcliffe tried to steal home but was caught and two quick outs left the Hoosiers scoreless.
• Emily Goodin got in a jam in the bottom of the first with a pair of singles with two outs on the board. A throw by Taylor Lambert that was caught by Norton at home plate saved the runner from scoring and ended the threat from the Wildcats.
• Katie Lacefield was hit by a pitch to start the second for Indiana. With Tete Hart pinch running for Lacefield, Brooke Benson hit into a double play that retired the side.
• For the next three innings, it was a pitching battle between Goodin and Northwestern’s Williams as they sent the batters down in order for the next three innings.
• Jenkins drew a walk to get the first batter on in three innings in the sixth with two outs, but a pop up ended the inning.
• At the bottom of the fame, Northwestern started the inning with a walk followed by the next batter reaching on a fielder’s choice. A double to center field brought the base runner home to put the Wildcats up 1-0 heading into the final three outs for Indiana.
• Annika Baez reached on a single to the shortstop that hopped over the second base bag to put a runner on. Pinch running for Baez, Aaliyah Andrews was able to steal second to get in scoring position with two outs. Down to one out Brittany Ford came in to pinch hit but couldn’t get anything going as Indiana took the 1-0 loss.
• Bella Norton and Annika Baez both recorded hits for Indiana on Friday afternoon.
• Emily Goodin pitched her second complete game of the 2021 season. She went all six innings with one run on three hits and had three strikeouts.
Indiana returns the diamond on Saturday Mar. 13 to play two against Rutgers. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 4:15 p.m. The second game will immediate follow the first.
PURDUE TRACK: Moore Advances to 60 Final, Martin 10th at NCAA Championships
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Purdue track & field sophomore Marcellus Moore advanced to the 60-meter dash final and junior Isaiah Martin earned a top-10 finish on Friday on the second day of the 2021 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Moore is one of eight competitors to qualify for tomorrow’s 60-meter final, and he did it in 6.65 seconds to tie the third-fastest time in school history. Additionally, junior Isaiah Martin finished 10th overall in the heptathlon while seniors Brian Faust and Alexis Zatta were 12th in the 400 and 15th in the high jump, respectively.
“I want to commend Alexis, Brian, Marcellus and Isaiah for really good efforts in competing today,” Purdue coach Norbert Elliott said. “I’m really proud of every single one of them for the way that they competed hard and represented Purdue at the biggest stage in college athletics. They’re in a field of the 16 best athletes in their events, so they’re competing alongside the best and really showed that they belonged. All four of them competed hard and didn’t show any nervous energy. They earned competitive marks that are not to be disappointed with.”
Seeded No. 15 in the 60, Moore finished in 6.65 seconds to place eighth overall in the semifinals to earn the last spot in Saturday’s final. His time also is tied for No. 3 all-time in the Purdue record books. Moore was third in the second heat.
“What can I say about Marcellus?,” Elliott said. “Qualifying to NCAAs for the first time, seeded No. 15 and then making the finals. I always say it doesn’t matter where you are seeded, everyone starts at zero when they get to the line. You have to dig, scrape and crawl to get to finals, and that’s exactly what he did. He’ll finish in the top eight, and I’m really proud of a great effort today.”
Martin finished 10th in the heptathlon with 5,501 points. After four events on Thursday, he began the day in 14th place overall, but moved up four spots thanks to a strong final three events on Friday.
Already the school record-holder in the event, Martin eclipsed 5,500 points for the third time in his career and remains the only Boilermaker in program history to reach that mark. Additionally, he was second among four Big Ten competitors.
His day began with a fourth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles in 8.16 seconds. It was the third-fastest time in Martin’s collegiate career, which helped him rise to No. 10 in the standings, a spot he would not relinquish.
Next was the pole vault, where Martin cleared 4.26 meters and was 12th. Martin concluded the heptathlon in the 1,000, where he finished fifth in 2:45.98.
“It was a really good effort to move up quite a bit from 14th at the start of the day,” Elliott said. “That shows his competitiveness to keep getting better as each event went along. He was really happy and pleased with his performance, and that’s good. That’s what you want to see at the end of the day, to have a smile on your face and be happy with your performance.”
Faust raced in the 400, where he was 12th overall in 46.56. The senior, who owns the school record in the event, beat out the 13th-place finisher by 0.01 seconds.
Purdue’s day concluded with the high jump, where Zatta was 15th and cleared 1.76 meters.
Faust, Martin, Moore and Zatta are joined by senior Tamar Greene at the national championship meet. Greene will make is NCAA Indoor Championships debut tomorrow in the triple jump.
The NCAA Championships concludes today with Greene in the triple jump at 2 p.m. ET and Moore in the 60-meter final at 3:30 p.m.
BALL STATE BASEBALL: ODU Finds Timely Hits, Holds Off Cardinals
NORFOLK, Virginia – Adam Tellier led the Ball State baseball team with a big day at the plate but host Old Dominion found hits at the right times to beat BSU 6-3 on Friday afternoon.
“We had our chances but couldn’t get the big hit,” head coach Rich Maloney said.
Tellier, getting the start at DH in the leadoff slot, went 4-for-5 with and was a homer short of the cycle. He scored two of BSU’s three runs in what was the best individual offensive game for a Cardinal on the young season. Tellier led off the game with a single on the game’s second pitch and later doubled to lead off the top of the 3rd inning. Moments later, he scored on a double by Noah Navarro.
With ODU leading 6-2, Tellier started the 9th with a triple in the right-center gap and then scored on a sac fly from Navarro.
ODU (9-3) scored one run each in four of the first five innings of the game. Two of those runs came with two outs. A late 2-run homer also came with two outs.
CARDINALS PITCHING: Starter Chayce McDermott and went 4.2 innings and did not walk a batter. Tyler Schweitzer got outs for the Cards in relief, working 3.2 innings with six strikeouts and allowing just two hits.
“Hats off to Adam Tellier and Tyler Schweitzer,” Maloney said. “Both had solid games.”
BIG BLAST: The pivotal moment came in the bottom of the 7th with Old Dominion leading 4-2. An 11-pitch at bat with two outs for ODU’s Andy Garriola ended in a 2-run home run to put the home team ahead 6-2. Garriola, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, fouled off six pitches before connecting on the longball.
“Old Dominion’s hitters did a great job fouling off pitches until they got a pitch they could hit hard. You have to tip your hat to them,” Maloney said.
UP NEXT: Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 1 p.m. BSU will send John Baker to the hill against ODU starter Nick Pantos, who has allowed just one earned run over 16 innings this season. Fans can follow @ballstatebb on Twitter for updates, the live stats or watch on CUSA.TV for $6.95.
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL: NO. 25 IRISH POWER PAST NO. 21 VIRGINIA, 10-5
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The 25th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team used the long ball to win the series opener 10-5 over No. 21 Virginia Friday afternoon at Disharoon Park. The Irish (5-2, 5-2 ACC) hit three home runs and tallied 14 hits to take the early lead in the series.
“Some big moments throughout the course of the game,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “Three home runs and the base-running helped ignite our offense which has not been as consistent as we would like. Sheridan pitched really sharp and controlled five innings of relief including seven strikeouts.”
Jared Miller, Niko Kavadas and Brooks Coetzee all went yard for the Irish as the offense carried the way on Friday. Graduate student Joe Sheridan came on in relief of Liam Simon and shut the Cavaliers (7-6, 2-5 ACC) down at the plate. Sheridan tossed five innings of scoreless relief and allowed just one hit.
“The 6-4-3 double play was a great turn by Prajzner and Miller and a key moment upon Sheridan entering the game,” said Jarrett. “Coetzee’s three-run home run was a huge lift for us in the eighth. Says a lot about our guys….we got in the hotel about midnight, rolled out to win a grinding game against a great team and talented starting pitcher.”
Simon earned his third win of the season while Sheridan picked up his first save as the Irish won their third game in a row.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After going down quietly through the order the first time, the Irish bats made some noise the next time through.
The top of the third was set to be over as Carter Putz struck out but the ball got past the catcher and Putz was able to make it to first base. The very next batter made the Cavaliers pay as Miller crushed a 3-0 fastball to deep left field for his second home run of the season. Miller’s second hit of the ballgame gave the Irish an early 2-0 lead.
The 2-0 lead did not last long as the Cavaliers answered with four runs of their own to take a 4-2 lead after the first three innings.
Just as the Cavaliers did in the third, the Irish responded in the fourth to regain the lead. A clever slide by Coetzee on a double steal beat the tag at second and got two runners into scoring position. Jack Zyska came home on the sacrifice fly from Zack Prajzner and the very next batter tied the game for the Irish. Jack Brannigan singled up the middle and Coetzee scored to tie the game. Putz regained the lead for the Irish after his single up the middle scored Brannigan to give Notre Dame a 5-4 advantage.
Notre Dame continued to keep hitting into the fifth inning courtesy of Kavadas. He got around on a 3-1 fastball and crushed it over the wall in right center for the solo home run. It is his fourth home run in just seven games this season and he doubled the Irish lead to 6-4.
With the lead cut to just 6-5 going into the eighth inning, Coetzee provided the Irish with some breathing room. LaManna got it going with a full count walk and Ryan Cole followed it up with a single. Coetzee took a pitch the other way and it cleared the wall in right for his first home run of the season and the second of his career. The three-run homer increased the Irish lead to 9-5 after eight innings.
With another run added in the ninth after an RBI-double from Kavadas, Sheridan went back out to close the game out. He punched out the final batter of the game for his seventh strikeout and clinched the win for the Irish. His five innings of relief earned him his first save in an Irish uniform.
STATS OF THE GAME
Niko Kavadas tallied his fourth home run in just seven games so far this season. He leads the Irish in home runs and RBI (11).
Jared Miller got the Irish on the board first with his second home run of the season in the third.
The Irish tagged Andrew Abbott for nine hits in 4.1 innings. Coming into the game, Abbott had allowed only 10 hits in 18 innings.
Brooks Coetzee put the exclamation point on the game with his first home run of the season and second of his career in the eighth inning.
Notre Dame hit three home runs in a game for the first time since February 15, 2020 against UAB.
The Irish will look to clinch the series Saturday afternoon when the two teams met for the second game of the weekend. LHP John Michael Bertrand will be on the mound for the Irish as the game is set for a 1 p.m. ET start and will be aired on the ACC Network Extra.
NOTRE DAME MEN’S SOCCER: IRISH BLANK BLUE DEVILS IN 2-0 ROAD WIN
DURHAM, N.C. — Notre Dame went on the road to Koskinen Stadium and claimed an impressive 2-0 ACC win over Duke to improve to 7-5 on the season.
The Irish struck twice in the first half, as Aiden McFadden and Jack Lynn each scored goals in the winning effort. Not only did the Irish record a clean sheet but the defense didn’t allow a single shot on target over the 90 minutes of play.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Irish started out on the front foot and took advantage of their early chances, scoring the opener in the seventh minute to go on top 1-0. Lynn beat his defender to the endline and cut back a pass to McFadden, who put a shot on frame. The Duke keeper managed to make the initial save and then after a number of deflections McFadden poked the ball into the back of the net for the opener.
Notre Dame put its second goal on the board in the 33rd minute, courtesy of a score from the spot by Lynn. The Irish sent a ball into the box and it struck the hand of a Blue Devil defender to set up the penalty. Lynn calmly placed the ball in the bottom right of the net, sending the keeper the wrong way to double the Irish advantage to 2-0.
The Irish did a wonderful job of limiting any opportunities for Duke in the second half, as the team collectively locked down the host’s attack to keep the shutout intact and come away with the 2-0 road victory.
McFARLAND FAMILY MEN’S HEAD SOCCER COACH CHAD RILEY’S TAKE
On the performance…
“I am very proud of our group. I thought it was an excellent performance. Duke is a very talented team and our guys did a great job handling their talented players. I am proud of how we kept pushing even after going up 2-0.”
NOTRE DAME STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Irish didn’t allow a single shot on target in the victory and held the Blue Devils to just six total shots on the evening.
NOTRE DAME NOTES
The Irish improve to 9-4-1 in the all-time series against the Blue Devils and have won each of the last two matchups.
Lynn scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season, despite playing in just 11 games.
McFadden scored his second goal of the season and first of the spring.
McLaughlin recorded his fifth clean sheet of the season and eighth of his career in just 15 starts.
The Irish finally return to Alumni Stadium for their spring home opener against Calvin at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 16. The match will air on ACCNX.
PURDUE BASEBALL: Purdue Can’t Keep Pace with Michigan in Opener
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Purdue baseball was unable to cash in with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning and did not create another quality scoring opportunity against the opposing Friday ace, dropping its series opener with No. 19 Michigan 9-1 at Fluor Field.
Beginning with a towering two-run homer in the fourth inning, the Wolverines (4-1) scored eight unanswered runs to finish the game.
Purdue (1-4) sent seven men to the plate in the third inning, but Evan Albrecht’s RBI double as the second batter of the frame produced the only run. Ben Nisle followed with a single and Albrecht was able to successfully scamper back to third base safely on a subsequent comebacker. Michigan ace Steven Hajjar (1-0) regrouped and retired the Boilermakers’ 5-6-7 hitters in order. Hajjar won a nine-pitch battle with Mason Gavre on a full-count offering, induced a pop up from Zac Fascia and struck out Kyle LaPlante to end the inning.
Purdue starter Trent Johnson (0-1) needed only 40 pitches to complete the first three frames, working a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the process. Michigan enjoyed more productive swings the second and third time they got to face Johnson, beginning with cleanup hitter Griffin Mazur’s home run in the bottom of the fourth that broke the 1-1 tie.
Johnson pitched into the bottom of the sixth, but the Wolverines went on to score in three consecutive innings, punctuated by a four-run rally after chasing Johnson. Two errors plus a passed ball on a dropped strike three helped extend the big inning.
After failing to get an out on the third-inning comebacker that loaded the bases, Hajjar went on to retire 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. He faced the minimum over that stretch as Purdue’s lone base runner was erased by a double play. Previously, the Boilermakers had six men reach safely against him over a span of 10 batters.
The series continues Saturday with a doubleheader at 9 a.m. ET. Game 1 of the twinbill is scheduled to be seven innings.
• Ben Nisle made a diving catch in left field for the second out of the second inning. It was his third diving catch in the first six games. Offensively, he doubled and reached base safely three times as part of a 2-for-3 showing.
• Miles Simington singled in his first and final at-bats. He’s the lone Boilermaker to hit safely in every game early this season, giving him a six-game hit streak dating back to the finale of the abbreviated 2020 campaign.
• Skyler Hunter drew a leadoff walk in front of Evan Albrecht’s double in the third inning, extending his reached base safely streak in Big Ten play to 11 consecutive games dating back to May 2019.
• Michigan turned three double plays, two of the traditional ground-ball variety. Simington into a line shot into left field in the fifth inning that also turned into a twin killing. Nisle was doubled off at second base after the catch by Tito Flores.
MIAMI BASEBALL: Miami Dominates in Win over Memphis, 9-0
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Miami University baseball team kicked off their weekend in Memphis, Tennessee, in convincing fashion. The RedHawks (7-5) defeated the University of Memphis Tigers (4-7) in the first of a three-game series with a 9-0 victory. The RedHawks got out to an early lead, tallying six runs in the first three innings and never looked back.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The RedHawks struck first in the top of the first inning after freshman Dalton Back doubled to drive home redshirt freshman Benji Brokemond. Redshirt freshman Nate Stone followed that up with a sacrifice fly to increase the RedHawks’ lead over the Tigers to 2-0 in the top half of the first inning.
In their second chance at the plate, the RedHawks pulled away even further, adding three runs in the top of the second inning to make it 5-0. The first run of the inning came from senior Michael Morissette, who delivered an RBI single followed by another double from Back, driving in two Miami hitters.
A bases-loaded walk to sophomore Brian Zapp added another run in the top of the third inning, extending the RedHawk lead to 6-0 over the Tigers.
In the top half of the sixth inning, the RedHawks continued to extend their lead, making it 7-0 after Brokemond’s sacrifice fly brought Zapp in from third base.
Mmiami extended its lead to 8-0 in the top of the seventh inning. This time it was graduate senior Will Vogelgesang who hit a solo home run.
The RedHawks were not done, though. In the top of the ninth inning, a pinch-hit double from freshman Nick Clark scored Vogelgesang to make it a 9-0 ballgame.
Senior Grant Hartwig pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only five hits, walking three, and striking out three Tigers hitters for the win.
Graduate senior Kevin Napoleon preserved the shutout, throwing two perfect innings, striking out three opposing hitters.
At the plate, Back shined for the RedHawks, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI on the day.
Morissette was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI-single credited to his name in the victory.
Vogelgesang was 2-for-5 in the win, recording a double and a solo home run.
The RedHawks continue their three-game series with the Tigers on Saturday, March 13 at 1 p.m. (ET).
MIAMI HOCKEY: Hockey Falls in Opening Round of Playoffs to UND, 6-2
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The Miami University ice hockey team was defeated by the University of North Dakota, 6-2, on Friday evening at Ralph Engelstad Arena in the first round of the NCHC Playoffs.
The Fighting Hawks of North Dakota scored three straight in the opening frame, including a goal off the opening face-off just 14 seconds in. Miami was able to get a taste of the action, with a goal from Phil Knies, but UND kept finding chances to keep the puck in their zone. After the loss, the RedHawks end their 2021 season, while North Dakota advances to the next round of the conference tournament.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
0:14 1st (UND 1-0) | North Dakota got the scoring started early, scoring just 14 seconds into the game. Jacob Bernard-Docker made a chip pass from his zone to Jordan Kawaguchi at the offensive blue line. Kawaguchi made a pass to Collin Adams, who made a nice move to his backhand to make it a 1-0 game.
5:27 1st (UND 2-0) | UND battled for the puck in the corner, and it pops out to the bottom of the right circle, where Louis Jamernik fired one on the net that got through Ludvig Persson.
5:36 1st (UND 3-0) | UND scored again just nine seconds later after their second goal. Ethan Frisch sent a pass up the ice that Kawaguchi tips into the zone. Adams raced a Miami forward to the puck, and Adams won the race and attempted to pass it to Benden Budy. But his pass hits a RedHawk defender and goes in the net.
11:14 1st (Miami 3-1) | Miami got one back from UND on an excellent play by Casey Gilling along the end wall. The senior assistant captain got possession below the goal line and created a passing lane to send the puck to Phil Knies in the right circle. Knies, the captain for Miami, sniped it for his third goal of the season.
14:24 1st (UND 4-1) | Moments after UND’s first power play of the game expires, Kawaguchi made a terrific play to set up Riese Gaber. Kawaguchi skated the puck in the zone and passed it over to Adams. Adams then made a cross-ice pass to an open Gaber at the inside of the right circle. Rourke Russell blocks Gaber’s first attempt, but he buried in his rebound.
9:50 2nd (UND 5-1) | Jake Sanderson used his speed to skate around the zone, then left a pass for Bernard-Docker at the point. The defenseman hammered a one-timer past Persson.
17:02 2nd (Miami 5-2) | Joe Cassetti won the puck on the face-off and sent it over to Rourke Russell. Russell sent a shot from the point towards the net that Adam Scheel tried to get with his blocker, but the puck trickled in to make the score 5-2 to close out the second period.
5:10 3rd (UND 6-2) | Adams got the puck and got it over to Kawaguchi in space. Kawaguchi gave the puck back to Adams, and it hit the post. Budy followed it up on the rebound and scored.
North Dakota outshot Miami on the night by a 46-28 tally. For the RedHawks, Derek Daschke led in individual shots on goal, with four.
Ludvig Persson made 40 saves against an offensive-heavy North Dakota squad.
Even though UND scored six goals, Miami went four-for-four on the penalty kill, denying UND any chances they had on the man-advantage.
INDY FUEL: INDY ACQUIRES A PAIR OF DEFENSEMEN FROM GREENVILLE
NDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Fuel, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs announced Wednesday that they have acquired defensemen Tim Davison and Ryan Zuhlsdorf from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in exchange for forward David Broll.
Zuhlsdorf, 23, comes to the Circle City in his first professional season. The 5-foot-11, 187-pound defenseman has skated in six games this season earning one goal, two assists and four penalty minutes. A fifth-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (150th overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Zuhlsdorf played four years for the University of Minnesota where he earned four goals and 27 assists in 147 games.
Davison, 26, joins the Fuel in the middle of his third professional season. The 5-foot-10, 179-pound defenseman has played in 70 ECHL games earning four goals, 27 assists and 20 penalty minutes. Prior to joining the Swamp Rabbits this season, Davison played one season for Denmark’s Aalborg Pirates where he tallied two goals, 17 assists and 26 penalty minutes.
Various ticket options are now on sale for the Fuel’s 7th season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Lock up your seat for every second of the action at Indiana Farmers Coliseum with a Fuel Ticket Plan – grab yours by heading to IndyFuelHockey.com or by calling the Fuel front office at 317-925-FUEL. Don’t forget to follow the Fuel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (IndyFuel) for news, updates, contests and much more throughout the 2020-21 season.
MEN’S GOLF: Better with age? Westwood takes lead at Players Championship
(AP) — Lee Westwood isn’t interested in comparing himself with the player who rose to No. 1 in the world a decade ago. All he knows is he’s playing some of his best golf, and he gets another chance to see if it can hold up against the best field.
Westwood had all the shots Friday in a bogey-free round at The Players Championship, with two birdies at the start and a nifty pitch to a troublesome pin on the par-5 ninth to close with a another birdie and a 6-under 66.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Matt Fitzpatrick (68) going into the weekend on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass, with U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau not too far behind.
Westwood, who turns 48 next month, played well enough to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week at Bay Hill except that DeChambeau was one shot better in a fascinating duel of generations on a course that favors power.
Sawgrass favors no particular style, and it produced an eclectic mix of contenders at the halfway point.
“I think to compete in any of these tournaments against the best players in the world, you can’t have any weaknesses in your game,” Westwood said. “I wouldn’t be able to say I’m doing this better or that better. There’s not a shot out there I’m afraid of. There’s not a shot out there I’ll walk up to and think, ‘I haven’t got this one.’
“I’m comfortable out there with everything.”
He was at 9-under 135 and will be part of the All-England final pairing Saturday.
Sergio Garcia was another shot back after a 72 that looked like it was a lot worse with so many putts the Spaniard missed, including a 23-inch par putt on the 15th hole that followed a 5-foot par putt he missed on the 14th.
Still, the 2008 champion showed plenty of game — and enough par putts that went in — to stay in the hunt. He drilled his approach to inches away on the par-5 11th for his third eagle of the week, which a already ties the tournament record.
And he finished in style with an approach that danced around the flag and settled 5 feet away for birdie on the 18th.
“It was a beautiful roller coaster,” Garcia said. “There were a lot of good things. Unfortunately, a lot of bad things. But more than anything there was a lot of fighting, and that’s one of the things that I’m most proud of because when things are not really happening and you miss a couple putts here and there, it’s easy to kind of let the round get away from you.”
When the second round was suspended by darkness, 16 players were within five shots of the lead.
DeChambeau was in the group three shots behind after a 69 that began with a double bogey from the trees and a muffed chip out of the rough from behind the green. He was bogey-free the rest of the way on a course that doesn’t let him swing for the fences because of water and cross bunkers and other brands of trouble.
“I’m happy with the fact that I’ve still been able to keep myself in it and score well,” DeChambeau said. “I’ve been pretty lucky, for the most part. I don’t think that’ll happen this weekend. I’ve got to make sure that my game is good off the tee, so I don’t have those issues occurring and I don’t have to rely on luck for the most part. I have to get it in the fairway.”
Kirk holed out from the first fairway for eagle and closed with back-to-back birdies for a 65. Starting with a chip-in for birdie on the 15th, he played six straight holes in 6 under.
Sungjae Im tied the tournament record with six straight birdies, a streak that ended when he missed the green to the left on the par-3 third, and even then he nearly chipped in. He had to settle for a 66 and was three shots behind.
Dustin Johnson wasted a good start and shot 70, leaving him eight shots behind. Jordan Spieth made his first double bogey in 411 holes — the longest streak of his career — and shot 74 to make the cut on the number.
The weekend is as much about who’s missing.
Rory McIlroy, who opened with a 79, wasn’t much better Friday. He made another double bogey on the 10th hole and shot 75. His 36-hole total of 154 was his highest ever in his 11 appearance at The Players Championship. He is the first defending champion to miss the cut since Rickie Fowler in 2016.
Four players from the top 10 in the world missed the cut — Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Tyrrell Hatton and Webb Simpson, whose hopes ended with one of 13 balls in the water at the island-green 17th.
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY
DAVIE, Fla.-As Dan Marino, the National Football Leagues’ most prolific passer, gave his farewell speech today after 17 years with the Miami Dolphins, he tried not to make eye contact with his wife, Claire, who sat sobbing nearby. “I kept telling Claire that I can’t cry during this thing,” Marino said after announcing his retirement at the Dolphins training facility at Nova Southeastern University. “I felt many a time like crying, but I was able to hold back. Tried to make a few jokes and keep it loose.”
Marino, whose career records include most touchdown passes (420), most passing yards (61,361) and most completions (4,967), said he decided to end his playing career at age 38 mostly because of his health. He has had six knee operations, ruptured an Achilles tendon and, last season, sustained a neck injury that sidelined him for five games. “There are physical limitations I would have had to deal with,” he said. “It kept coming back to how my legs felt during last season, going through the neck injury and not knowing whether I was going to be able to throw the football.”
After the Dolphins indicated by their long, awkward silence that their interest in Marino had waned, he was temporarily invigorated by an offer from the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Dennis Green was so interested in Marino that he offered to let him fly home after every Sunday game and not return until Wednesday. Marino said he had gone through a number of emotional swings before deciding last week to pass on Minnesota’s offer. “There were times I told Claire we were going and two hours later I’d say, “No, I don’t think I can go” he said. “It is the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with professionally in my life.”
A person close to Marino said that if the Dolphins had shown as much enthusiasm for his continuing to play as the Vikings had, he would most likely still be a Dolphin. “He probably would have gone to training camp, to see how he felt physically, and then take it from there,” the person said.
Marino came in a Dolphin, and he will leave one. That, by itself, is a remarkable achievement. When Marino is eligible for the Hall of Fame in five years, it may be the easiest decision voters ever had. Marino threw more passes for more completions for more yards and more touchdowns than anyone else. His 33,508 passing yards in the 1990ís are the most in a decade for any quarterback. “It is hard to imagine another quarterback duplicating the kind of success Dan had,” Don Shula, his former coach, said. “I know I won’t see it in my lifetime.”
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
“Help me, Lads, I’m covered with my own blood!” – WILBERT ROBINSON, reacting to the fluid dripping down from his chest before quickly realizing it’s only grapefruit juice. Dodger manager Wilbert Robinson, thinking he will catch a baseball dropped from a plane, is surprised and splattered when the sphere turns out to be a grapefruit. Although legend has it that Casey Stengel is behind the prank, the pilot, Ruth Law, a pioneer in American aviation, substituted part of her lunch when she realized she forgot to bring a baseball.
1944 It’s True, Cy Young’s middle name is not Tecumseh, as sometimes listed, but the initial T stands for True. The Hall of Fame right-hander’s middle name mixup may result from his teammates calling him ‘The Chief,’ the English word for Tecumseh.
1953 On the day that will become known as ‘Black Friday’ in Boston, Lou Perini announces he will seek permission from the National League to move his franchise to Milwaukee, home of the team’s top minor-league affiliate. The Braves owner cites low attendance as the reason for relocating the club after being in the New England city for 82 years.
1954 During an exhibition game against the Yankees, recently acquired Brave Bobby Thomson breaks his ankle in three places, sidelining him until July 14. The ’51 National League playoff hero is replaced in the Braves’ lineup by a promising prospect named Hank Aaron.
1960 Much to the chagrin of other owners and most of his players, Bill Veeck’s White Sox becomes the first team to put the players’ names on the back of the jersey, unveiling the new look on their road uniforms in an exhibition game against Cincinnati in Tampa. After the rest of the league’s clubs protest the Chicago owner’s innovation, the commissioner’s office will rule that in addition to displaying traditional numbers, each team will have the option to use monikered uniforms.
1979 The Tigers and Mets swap relievers, with Detroit sending Ed Glynn to the Big Apple in exchange for Mardie Cornejo, who, after posting a 4-2 record as a rookie last season, will never play in another major league game. The latest addition to the New York bullpen will make 84 appearances, compiling an ERA of 3.53 during the two years with his new club.
1986 Designated hitter Hal McRae, 39, and Brian, his 18 year-old second baseman son, play together in a Royals preseason game against the Phillies at Terry Field to become the first father and son combination appearing as major league teammates. Kansas City manager Dick Howser refers to the pair of teammates as a ‘Big Mac Attack.’
1997 In their first-ever minor league spring training game, the Rays defeated Philadelphia, 6-0. John Kaufman, Tom Bergan, Matt Williams, and Jamie Ybarra combine to throw a no-hitter in the exhibition contest against the major league team.
2001 Rick Ankiel makes his first appearance since last year’s playoffs, throwing 22 strikes out of 29 pitches while tossing two innings of shutout ball in his surprise start against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. The 21 year-old southpaw starter lost his control at the end of last season, throwing nine wild pitches in three postseason appearances last year.
2006 Three pitches into the top of the seventh inning, the stadium lights at Tradition Field partially fail. With fifty percent of the lighting not functioning, the exhibition game ends, after a 15-minute delay, with the Mets leading the Nationals, 10-4.
2008 Joining the ranks of Garth Brooks and Tom Selleck as celebrities who have appeared in a spring exhibition game, Billy Crystal strikes out in the first inning as the Yankees’ leadoff batter. The comedian, who signed a one-day contract with the Bronx Bombers, wears the number sixty in honor of his 60th birthday, which is tomorrow.
2008 The pitching-poor Cardinals bolster their rotation by agreeing to a preliminary one-year deal with Kyle Lohse (9-12, 4.62). The 29 year-old right-hander, who pitched for the Reds and Phillies last season, will make $4.25 million hurling for the Redbirds.
2009 Pat Burrell takes out ads in two of Philadelphia’s largest newspapers to thank Phillies fans for their support during his nine years with the team. The 32 year-old slugging outfielder signed a free-agent deal in the off-season with the Rays, the club the Phils beat in last season’s World Series.
|New York||19||19||.500||7.0||11-7||8-12||1-3||13-11||6-4||1 L|
|Oklahoma City||16||21||.432||12.0||7-11||9-10||2-6||8-16||5-5||2 W|
|LA Lakers||25||13||.658||1.0||12-8||13-5||1-4||17-8||4-6||1 W|
|LA Clippers||25||14||.641||1.5||13-6||12-8||6-2||15-7||4-6||1 W|
|Golden State||19||19||.500||7.0||12-6||7-13||3-5||9-11||4-6||4 L|
|San Antonio||19||15||.559||—||10-10||9-5||4-6||12-14||5-5||1 W|
|New Orleans||16||22||.421||5.0||11-10||5-12||4-3||8-14||4-6||1 W|
|New York Islanders||27||17||6||4||38||16||80||60||12-0-2||5-6-2||9-0-1|
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