Illini pull out win over Gardner-Webb on Griffey bomb with :03 left

CHAMPAIGN—Tyler Griffey buried a long 3-pointer with 4 seconds left and Illinois survived a scare Sunday by beating Gardner-Webb 63-62.After winning the Maui Invitational, the Illini (7-0) came home and needed to rally against Gardner-Webb. Griffey’s 3 followed a banked-in 3-pointer from Tashan Newsome with 12 seconds left that gave the Runnin’ Bulldogs (4-4) a 62-60 lead.Griffey was one of four Illinois players to finish with 13 points Sunday with D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand. Bertrand added six rebounds.The Illini overcame cold shooting. They hit just 33 percent of their first-half shots and led Gardner-Webb 24-23 at halftime.Donta Harper led the Bulldogs with 16 points. Newsome finished with 11 points.

Bears get banged up, but work past Vikes 28-10. Back in first place

The Bears will be just fine IF they keep playing like this — and don’t lose any more players to injuries.Jay Cutler threw for 188 yards and a touchdown after missing a game because of a concussion, and the Bears broke it open early in a 28-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.Injuries to Devin Hester, Matt Forte and Charles Tillman, however, tempered some of the good feelings this win created.Tied with Green Bay for the NFC North lead and just a game ahead of Minnesota (6-5) coming in, the Bears (8-3) grabbed a 25-3 halftime lead with Cutler connecting on just about every pass. The defense held Adrian Peterson in check early on, although he did finish with 108 yards rushing. The Bears also came away with three more takeaways to increase its league-leading total to 30.The rather easy win came after back-to-back losses to Houston and San Francisco that left many questioning how good this team really is.But it also came with a heavy price.The Bears lost Hester early to a concussion and watched as Forte hobbled off the field midway through the third quarter with an ankle injury. Coach Lovie Smith said Tillman also hurt his ankle.Besides those three, the Bears lost both starting guards in the third quarter to knee injuries, with Lance Louis and Chris Spencer going down. Louis’ injury forced the Bears to go with Gabe Carimi after he lost the right tackle job to Jonathan Scott.As for Cutler, he sure looked sharp after missing Monday’s blowout loss at San Francisco.Back after being knocked out of the Texans game on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Tim Dobbins, he got off to a scorching start and completed 23 of 31 passes with an interception to go with that touchdown.Brandon Marshall caught 18 passes for 108 yards and became the first Bears receiver since Marty Booker in 2002 to go over 1,000 yards. On defense, Henry Melton set the tone by sacking Christian Ponder on the first play from scrimmage. Nick Roach set up the first touchdown by knocking the ball out of Peterson’s hands. Chris Conte set another TD with a 35-yard interception return, and Julius Peppers blocked a field goal.The league’s leading rusher, Peterson tied Robert Smith’s club record with a 100-yard performance for the fifth straight game even though he managed just 25 in the first half. He also lost two fumbles.Ponder wasn’t much help, going 22 of 43 with 159 yards and a touchdown along with an interception. His favorite target, Percy Harvin, sat out his second straight game with a sprained left ankle, and the Vikings lost for the third time in four games.Cutler completed 15 of 17 passes for 117 yards in the first half, and the Bears jumped out a big lead after a shaky start on offense.Forte fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, leading to a 40-yard field goal by Blair Walsh — all the scoring the Vikings did in the half.The Bears quickly turned this one around, starting with Roach’s forced fumble. They took over on the Minnesota 34, and Michael Bush ran it in from the 1.Chris Kluwe then shanked a 22-yard punt, giving the Bears possession near midfield before Robbie Gould kicked a 47-yard field goal. And the Bears stopped the Vikings again early in the second quarter when Peppers knocked down Walsh’s 30-yard field goal, the 13th block of his career.Bush, in for Forte, converted on a fourth-down run to keep a drive going and Antoine Winfield shoved Brandon Marshall to the ground as he attempted to catch a pass in the end zone. Bush then scored from the 1, and holder Adam Podlesh ran in for a 2-point conversion that made it 18-3.Ponder got picked off by Conte and he returned it 35 yards to the Minnesota 13. That led to a scoring strike from Cutler to a lunging Matt Spaeth on the next play. It might have been more had Kevin Williams not blocked Gould’s 39-yard field goal as the half expired.

Green Bay’s 38-10 loss to the Giants Sunday night,put the Bears back in front of the Packers by a game.

Irish beat USC 22-13, finish 12-0 regular season, set to advance to National Title Game.

Notre Dame RB Theo Riddick rumbles for 146 yards and a touchdown for the title game-bound Irish. (US Presswire)

Notre Dame RB Theo Riddick rumbles for 146 yards and a touchdown for the title game-bound Irish. (US Presswire)

LOS ANGELES—The Fighting Irish punched their ticket to Miami.Theo Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and No. 1 Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship game with a 22-13 victory over Southern California on Saturday night.Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to south Florida on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program’s first national title in 24 years.Although they did little with flash on an electric night at the Coliseum, the Irish woke up more echoes of past Notre Dame greats with a grinding effort in this dynamic intersectional rivalry with USC (7-5), which has lost four of five.Notre Dame’s hard-nosed defense appropriately made the decisive stand in the final minutes, keeping USC out of the end zone on four plays from the Irish 1 with 2:33 to play.After spending more than a decade looking up at the Trojans, the Irish are back on top of this rivalry with two straight wins in Los Angeles. The school of Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen and Paul Hornung has new heroes now, from inspirational linebacker Manti Te’o to coach Brian Kelly, who took the Irish from unranked to start the season to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 19 years.Te’o, the Heisman Trophy hopeful, had a key interception against USC and became the second Irish defender with three 100-tackle seasons.The grind-it-out win highlighted an unforgettable season for the Irish, who began the year with questions about their relevancy and survived some uninspiring performances and nail-biting finishes with their unbeaten record intact.Notre Dame is likely to face an SEC opponent in Miami, but won’t know for another week.With the Irish offense repeatedly stalling in the red zone against the Trojans, Brindza went five for six on field goals, even hitting a 52-yarder at the halftime gun. After Brindza’s school record-tying fifth field goal put the Irish up by nine points with 5:58 left, Marqise Lee caught a 53-yard pass from USC freshman Max Wittek at the Notre Dame 2.But after USC failed on three straight runs at a defense that has allowed just 11 rushing TDs in 30 games, Wittek threw incomplete to fullback Soma Vainuku, setting off a leaping, chest-bumping celebration on the Notre Dame sideline and in the Irish sections of the sold-out Coliseum.Lee caught just five passes for 75 yards, yet still broke the Pac-12 single-season receptions record established last year by teammate Robert Woods, who had seven catches for 92 yards.Wittek passed for 186 yards with two interceptions in his first career start for the Trojans, who completed their tumble from the preseason No. 1 ranking with four losses in five games in an enormously disappointing season. Wittek filled in capably for injured Matt Barkley, but USC is headed to a lower-tier bowl in the first year after its NCAA-mandated two-year postseason ban ended.Barkley watched from the sideline in a grey hoodie with a sling on his right arm after spraining his shoulder in last week’s loss at UCLA. The senior and Pac-12 career passing leader won twice in South Bend during his career, but never got to face the Irish at the Coliseum, sidelined by injuries for both visits.Barkley still ran down the Coliseum tunnel with the rest of the USC seniors for their final home game. He participated in the coin toss, but could only watch while the Irish opened the game with three clock-consuming drives resulting in 13 points.USC’s much-criticized defensive caution under assistant head coach Monte Kiffin was exploited by the Irish, with Golson patiently finding the sags in the Trojans’ pass coverage for 181 yards passing in the first half. Riddick went 9 yards for a TD in the first quarter, but USC also stiffened to hold Notre Dame to field goals twice in the red zone.Notre Dame held its 12th straight opponent without a first-quarter touchdown, but Wittek found Woods for a 9-yard score on the first play of the second quarter – just the ninth touchdown allowed by Notre Dame all season long. The Irish took a 16-10 lead to halftime when Brindza hit the second-longest field goal in Notre Dame history.Te’o made the seventh interception of his phenomenal season when Wittek threw directly to him on USC’s second play of the second half. Both teams struggled to move the ball in the third quarter, and USC settled for a field goal with 9:20 to play just a few moments after USC coach Lane Kiffin called a timeout right before a play that ended with Lee catching a pass on the goal line.

NU beats ISU in OT for South Padre Island Tourney Title


SOUTH PADRE ISLAND—Drew Crawford had 20 points and nine rebounds for Northwestern, leading the Wildcats to a thrilling 72-69 overtime victory Saturday night over Illinois State at the South Padre Island Invitational Tournament.After Crawford hit a bucket with 25 seconds left and give Northwestern (6-0) a 3-point lead at 55-52, Tyler Brown came through in the clutch for the Redbirds, nailing a 3-pointer to make it 55-all with 10 seconds to go.In overtime, Brown brought Illinois State (5-1) closer once again, sinking a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to cut the Wildcats lead to a bucket, 71-69. Crawford hit a free throw after Brown fouled him to make it 72-69 and time expired after Brown turned it over on the ensuing possession.Brown scored 36 points, making 12-of-20 shot attempts including seven 3-point baskets.Jackie Carmichael had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the loss for ISU.The last Holiday Tournament won by NU was the Chicagoland Invitational Challange two years ago.

Bulls snap three game skid, continue to dominate Bucks

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above headCarlos Boozer nets 22 points as the Bulls tally their ninth consecutive win over the Bucks, fifth straight in Milwaukee.  (Getty Images) Carlos Boozer nets 22 points as the Bulls tally their ninth consecutive win over the Bucks, fifth straight in Milwaukee. (Getty Images)

MILWAUKEE—Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton scored 22 points apiece to lead the Bulls to a 93-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night, breaking a three-game losing streak.The win by the Bulls was the ninth straight over the Bucks and the fifth straight at the Bradley Center. The last time Milwaukee beat the Bucks was on April 10, 2010, in the United Center.Boozer also grabbed 19 rebounds for the Bulls, who outrebounded the Bucks 54-40.Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 23 points and Monta Ellis added 17 points.Down six midway through the fourth quarter, the Bucks fought back and Ellis hit 16-foot jumper with 5:22 remaining to tie it at 81.Nate Robinson and Boozer scored to give the Bulls a 85-81 lead with 4:07 remaining in the fourth quarter. Larry Sanders dunked to cut the lead to two with 3:46 remaining.Luol Deng tipped in a missed shot, but Mike Dunleavy scored on a layup to cut the score to 87-85 with 1:56 remaining.Ellis missed an 11-foot jumper with 52 seconds remaining. But Boozer grabbed a missed layup by Joakim Noah and dunked the ball to give the Bulls an 89-85 lead with 29 seconds remaining.Jennings then lost the ball as he drove to the basket and it was grabbed by Noah. Jennings hurt his ankle on the play and did not return to the game. The Bulls hit four free throws down the stretch to close out the game.The Bucks have lost three straight after opening the season by winning six of their first eight games.

NOTES—Bucks coach Scott Skiles inserted center Joel Przybilla into the starting lineup for the first time this season. Przybilla, who had not played in seven of the Bucks’ first 10 games this season, replaced Samuel Dalembert.. Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, who played for Marquette University, received a nice ovation when he entered the game in the second quarter.. The Bucks and Bulls will play again Monday in the United Center.

Loyola’s big second half leads them past NIU 63-46

DEKALB—Ben Averkamp scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and Loyola pulled away in the second half for a 53-46 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday.Averkamp added 10 rebounds, as did Joe Crisman, for the Ramblers (4-2), and Cully Payne scored 10 points.Akeem Springs led the Huskies (1-3) with 15 points but was just 6 of 16 from the field, part of a 30 percent overall effort for NIU.After a tepid first half in which the teams combined for 11 field goals, Loyola came alive, shooting 56 percent from the floor after halftime. An 18-4 run, capped by a Jeff White layup with 7:19 to play, turned a tie game into a 43-29 Ramblers lead. Payne and White made five free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.The victory moved Loyola ahead of NIU 17-16 in the all-time series, which dates to 1926.

UIC wins 4th, 56-45 over SEMO

Josh Crittle scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds for UIC which survived a horrid shooting performance to get by Southeast Missouri State 56-45 on Saturday afternoon.The Flames (4-1) shot 28.8 percent from the field, or 19 of 66, but hit six 3-pointers and were 12 of 18 from the free-throw line while turning the ball over only five times. UIC out-rebounded the Redhawks 50-40.Gary Talton had 14 points and nine rebounds and Daniel Barnes scored 10 to give UIC three players in double figures scoring.Corey Wilford led Southeast Missouri State (3-4) with 15 points and six rebounds, Tyler Stone had 14 points and six rebounds and Nino Johnson chipped in with six points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.Wilford hit a 3-pointer to put the Redhawks up 16-9 with 12:59 remaining in the first half but UIC went on a 19-9 run before halftime and didn’t look back.

NU routs Illinois 50-14 to end regular season.

EVANSTON—Northwestern ended Illinois’s two year control of this State rivalry by breaking things open in the third quarter and went on to a 50-14 win to take the Land of Lincoln Trophy in it’s third year after the Sweet Souix Tomahawk was retired after the 2009 NU win in Champaign.The Illini started pretty well,but with both teams having tackling problems, it was penalties that would play a big part in separating the two clubs.Illinois(2-10, 0-8) drew eight flags for 88 yards,and Northwestern(9-3, 5-3) just two for 20yds.

Illinois got the opening kickoff,and despite 2 penalties,NU’s defense is missing tackles like crazy. Nathan Scheelhaase is 2-0 against the Cats.and was moving his team,despite some early mistakes.Donovan Young scored on a 15 yd option pitch around left end. The Illini went for two and made it but a rare ‘illegal numbering’ penalty nullified it and they kicked the PAT instead for a 7-0 lead. Again, the NU defense looked HORRIBLE on that series.A great kickoff return by Tony Jones gave NU great field position.But they fizzled at the Illini 28 and Jeff Budzien kicked a 44 yard field goal(they could have used that against Nebraska)with 6:59 left first qtr: Illinois led 7-3. On the kickoff, Zak Pederson was clobbered, coughed the ball up into mid air. Cameron Dickerson had it pop right into his hands giving NU the ball at the UI 19. Kain Colter ran to the 2, and then scored to put the Cats ahead for good 10-7. The NU defense didn’t have to take the field, which was good for them, bad for Illinois.NU forced a punt, and on a first down,Colter fumbled,but recovered the ball for a 2 yard loss,and was dinked,but ran off the field on his own.Trevor Siemian came in and his first pass was picked off at the Illini 38 by Terry Hawthorne.But Scheelhaase then had a pass picked off by David Nwabuisi who got to the 24, and a sidline interference with an Official call against Illinois moved the ball to the 13.After 1 qtr NU led 10-7.

With Colter back at QB, on the first play of the second period, he threw a bullet to Tony Jones at the back of the end zone for a 9 yard TD and now NU was up 17-7. The Illini have shot themselves in the foot(and elsewhere)with 6 penalties for 73 yds. NU 0 penalties so far. The Illini got back in the game after starting at their 40,and with Riley O’Toole at QB, they went the needed 60 yds in 8 plays as the Wildcats defense continued to miss tons of tackles, including on O’Toole’s 12 yd TD run. It’s was hard to tell at that point which team was winless in the Big Ten and which is Bowl bound. If NU’s defense plays like this in Bowl, it won’t matter whom they play, they will stay winless in Bowls since the 1948-49 Rose Bowl(of course they did not play in another Bowl after than untill the 1995 season(since then,NU has dropped 9 straight Bowl games.NU forced a punt,and got deep into the red zone,but Budzien had to kick a 36 yard field goal with :03 left in the half.NU’s first penalty, a clip slowed that drive, but at halftime Northwestern led 27-I4.

The Wildcats turned it into rout in the third quarter. They took the opening kickoff of the second half and went 75 yds in 11 plays. Colter threw a screen pass to Tyrus Jones which resulted in a 15 yard TD and now a 34-14 NU lead. Scheelhaase threw a third down pass that Ibrahem Campbell picked off and returned 40 yds to the Illini 24.On the next play nobody guarded Paul Jorgensen,and Colter hit him in stride to make it 41-14 which it was after the 3rd qtr.

In the fourth period,NU drove to the Illini 5, then normal DL Bo Cisek(295 lbs)carried twice,and after a 1 yd loss,he fumbled and the Illini recovered.But Dami Ayoola was tackled in the end zone by Max Chapman for a safety for the final score of 50-14.


NU and ISU win at South Padre Island, meet Saturday for Tourney Title

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND— Northwestern got 15 points from Jared Swopshire and turned up the defense on Friday, rolling to a 55-31 victory over TCU in the South Padre Island Invitational.Northwestern (5-0) also got 12 points each from Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn.Devonta Abron scored 12 points to lead TCU (4-2) and everyone else combined for just 19 points.NU led by 10 at halftime and went on a 19-7 run to begin the second half and gained a firm grip on the game.The Wildcats had a 20-4 scoring advantage off turnovers.TCU shot just 25.9 percent from the floor and missed all five of its 3-point attempts.NU faces Illinois State in Saturday’s Title game in what will be a battle of unbeatens.

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND—Bryant Allen scored 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting which included six made 3-pointers and the Illinois State defense forced 27 turnovers to stay perfect on the season and prevail 77-65 over UAB on Friday night.Two others were in double figures for Illinois State (5-0) with Tyler Brown adding 15 points and six rebounds. Jackie Carmichael had 11 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots. Kaza Keane had nine points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.Allen added six steals to his game-high point total for the Redbirds.Jordan Swing recorded a double-double for UAB (3-2) with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Rod Rucker was 7 of 11 from the field for 14 points and had three rebounds and two assists. Robert Williams had seven points and nine rebounds for the Blazers.

Valpo whips Chicago State 67-46


VALPARAISO—Ryan Broekhoff scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers, to help Valparaiso cruise to a 67-46 victory over Chicago State on Friday night in a Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic matchup.Kevin Van Wijk added 12 points and Bobby Capobianco had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Crusaders (4-1), who opened the game on a 16-3 run and never trailed. Jordan Coleman scored six of his eight points during that opening run on a layup and two dunks.Jeremy Robinson led the Cougars (1-4) with 10 points and was the only Chicago State player in double figures. Both teams struggled to make baskets, with Chicago State shooting 36 percent from the floor and Valparaiso making 40 percent of its shots.Valparaiso advanced to play Bethune-Cookman, which beat Nebraska-Omaha earlier Friday, in Saturday’s final. Chicago State will face Nebraska-Omaha in the consolation game.Valparaiso also improved to 31-3 all-time against Chicago State.