Ramblers advance with thrilling win over Canes

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DALLAS—Donte Ingram picked the perfect spot for this game-winning shot.Ingram hit a 3-pointer from the March Madness logo just before the buzzer, lifting 11th-seeded Loyola over Miami 64-62 in a Thursday thriller at the NCAA Tournament.

”Well, it’s pretty simple to know why we call it March Madness,” said Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga, left holding his head in stunned disbelief after Ingram’s shot.

In 2006, Larranaga took 11th-seeed George Mason to the Final Four. This time, it was Loyola’s turn to celebrate after making its first tournament appearance in 33 years.The long shot from well beyond the key came with just a split-second left, and was set up by a pass from Marques Townes. It happened after Lonnie Walker IV missed a free throw with a chance to give Miami a three-point lead with 9 seconds remaining.

”I thank Marques for making that pass,” said Ingram, who was 3 of 8 from 3 and scored 13 points. ”Any one of us could have hit that shot, but I was just fortunate enough to be in the position.”

The Ramblers (29-5) matched the school record for wins from their 1963 national championship team in their first NCAA trip since losing to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the Sweet 16 in 1985. They advanced to face third-seeded Tennessee on Saturday.Loyola, with an 11-game winning streak that is its longest since winning the NCAA title, was boosted by a pregame prayer from its team chaplain, 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt.She’s held that post for more than two decades and, sitting courtside in her wheelchair, got hugs from the Ramblers when it was over.

”I just gave a big sigh of relief and said, `Thank God,”’ she told The Associated Press about Ingram’s shot.

The sixth-seeded Hurricanes (22-10) led most of the second half in their third straight trip to the tournament, but couldn’t pull away in the final minutes and lost in the first round for the second straight year.The buzzer sounded as Ingram’s shot went in, and the Ramblers celebrated wildly in front of the raucous fans wearing maroon-and-gold scarfs in the American Airlines Center sections across from their bench.But officials put 0.3 seconds back on the clock, forcing Loyola to gather on the bench and postponing the celebration until after a desperation full-court pass bounced away harmlessly.The game-winner came after coach Porter Moser initially signaled for a timeout after Walker’s missed free throw, but then motioned his players to bring the ball up the court.

”After they made that shot, I mean, it’s definitely a dagger to the heart,” said Walker, who led the Hurricanes with 12 points. ”It definitely hurts seeing a shot like that go down, but I’m proud of my team.”

Clayton Custer hit a tying 3 in the final 2 minutes and led Loyola with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from long range.Most of Moser’s key players should be back next season, giving the Ramblers a chance to keep the NCAA appearances coming after such a long drought and such a big win.The Hurricanes were back in Texas five years after winning twice in Austin to advance to the Sweet 16. They looked they’d have another shot at that until Ingram’s stunner.Trailing 62-61, Lucas Williamson gave Loyola another shot at the lead after Townes missed one of two free throws with a chance to tie. Williamson knocked the ball off Walker’s leg, but the Ramblers missed two attempts the rim, leading to Walker’s missed free throw.With Miami’s season over, Loyola advances to play third-seeded Tennessee in the second round.

Hawks fall to Darling, Hurricanes.

Sebastian Aho and the Carolina Hurricanes are more interested in the standings than the situation in the team’s front office.Aho snapped a tie with a power-play goal in the third period, and the Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night in their first game since Ron Francis was forced out as general manager.

”You’ve got to do your job no matter what,” Aho said, ”so just tried to focus on the whole game and just play the best game that you can.”

Justin Williams had a goal and an assist as Carolina stayed four points back of Columbus for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Jaccob Slavin also scored, and Scott Darling made 22 saves in his return to Chicago after he was traded to Carolina in April.The Hurricanes (30-27-11) had dropped eight of 10, and new owner Tom Dundon announced a front-office shake-up on Wednesday night. Francis was moved from GM to a new role as the team’s president of hockey operations, and Dundon said the team will begin a search for a new GM who will report directly to the owner.Tomas Jurco and Patrick Sharp scored for the last-place Hawks (29-31-8), who had won two of three. Jean-Francois Berube made 37 stops.With Sharp in the box for interference, Aho tipped Teuvo Teravainen’s shot by Berube 4:35 into the final period. It was Aho’s team-high 24th goal of the season.Carolina controlled most of the first two periods, outshooting Blackhawks 28-14, but they stayed in the game behind a pair of nice plays.Jurco redirected Brent Seabrook’s slap shot by Darling for a 1-0 lead at 6:02 of the first. After Slavin beat Berube with a slap shot through traffic, Sharp made it 2-1 when he backhanded a rebound into an open net at 15:06 before being pushed to the ice by Carolina forward Jordan Staal.Williams was sent off for hooking with 62 seconds left in the first, but he stepped out of the box early in the second, got a long stretch pass from Elias Lindholm and beat Berube high on the glove side on a breakaway at 1:06. It was Williams’ fourth goal in five games and No. 14 on the season.Carolina then had a chance to go in front, but Berube made a solid glove save on Brett Pesce’s breakaway midway through the period.

”We got the lead there but it was a fortunate couple of plays,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”We didn’t play very well. Puck management is something we talk about a lot, and that second period was tough.”

NOTES—The 23-year-old Teravainen leads the Hurricanes with career highs of 34 assists and 53 points. He was traded by the Hawks to Carolina in June 2016. … The Blackhawks announced another contract extension for one of their young defensemen, agreeing to a one-year deal with Jan Rutta that runs through next season. The 27-year-old Rutta has six goals and 13 assists in 44 games in his first NHL season. D Erik Gustafsson, who turns 26 on Wednesday, agreed to a two-year extension on Tuesday. … Quenneville coached his 1,607th regular-season game, matching Al Arbour for second-most in NHL history. … Lindholm had two assists. ”I thought he was the best player in the game,” coach Bill Peters said. Blackhawks: Visit Boston on Saturday afternoon.

Irish no match for Duke in ACC Tourney

BROOKLYN—Marvin Bagley III and No. 5 Duke jumped right over Notre Dame into the Atlantic Coast Conference semifinals.The freshman phenom had 33 points and 17 rebounds, Grayson Allen made his first five 3-pointers and Duke rolled to an 88-70 victory in the tournament quarterfinals Thursday night.

”Bagley was just … the first pick in the draft,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ”He’s a can’t-miss star.”

Allen finished with 23 points and the second-seeded Blue Devils (26-6) advanced to play archrival North Carolina in the second semifinal Friday night. The 12th-ranked and sixth-seeded Tar Heels eliminated No. 3 seed Miami, 82-65.Duke, the defending champion after beating Notre Dame in the title game last year, earned its 100th ACC Tournament victory.

”We’re on a roll,” Bagley said. ”I definitely think we’re getting better.”

Bonzie Colson had 18 points and nine rebounds for the 10th-seeded Fighting Irish (20-14), unable to score the marquee victory over a top team that would have been a huge boost to their NCAA Tournament resume.Injuries to Colson and senior guard Matt Farrell derailed Notre Dame in the middle of the season, and now the Irish have to hope the selection committee focuses on how good they can be when healthy.

”I’m definitely going to go to church on Sunday morning,” Farrell said.

The undersized Fighting Irish had no answer for Bagley’s athleticism and rare leaping ability in the lane at 6-foot-11. The ACC Player of the Year shot 15 for 23 and came within one point of his career high set against Texas in late November. It was his fourth game with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds.

Nova flexes muscle against Marquette

NEW YORK—Jay Wright was raised on 1980s Big East basketball. He loves the big games that always made this time of the year special at Madison Square Garden with powerhouses like Georgetown, Syracuse and St. John’s leading the charge.Wright knows greed and defections means those days are long gone.But here’s what Wright understands, as well: this reinvented Big East is pretty good at making its own memorable March memories.Wright became the winningest coach in Villanova history with 414, and the No. 2 Wildcats opened defense of their Big East Tournament championship in a 94-70 win over Marquette on Thursday night.Wright improved to 414-165 since he took the job in 2001 and has led the Wildcats to the 2009 Final Four and 2016 national championship. He was tied with Al Severance, who went 413-201 from 1936-1961.He’s alone atop the record book – and should put the total far out of reach.

”I’m mostly proud to be the coach of Villanova, honestly,” Wright said. ”The wins and everything don’t matter. I know I’ll look back on it later.”

Take a look at what’s happening now – the Wildcats (28-4) took control in the second half and showed why their third tournament title in four years is within reach. Mikal Bridges hit four 3s and scored 25 points and Big East player of the year Jalen Brunson scored 21. The Wildcats made 15 of 29 3s – a stunning 11 of 17 in the second half.Villanova is the No. 2 team in the AP Top 25 – and the tournament. Xavier won the Big East and earned the top seed even though it lost twice this season to the Wildcats.They seem poised to make it a trilogy in Saturday’s final.

”This is pretty cool,” Wright said. ”I’m excited where this league is right now.”

Fresh off a blowout loss, even Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski had to admit the fact that Xavier and Villanova could both earn No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament was a boon for the league.

”Both teams have a great chance to win the national championship,” he said.

The Wildcats blew this game open early in the second half against the seventh-seeded Golden Eagles (19-13). Brunson hit a 3 to open a 10-point lead and Booth nailed one to make it a 15-point game.Then the Wildcats just got 3-point silly: Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, Omari Spellman, Brunson, Spellman again and Bridges all hit 3s on six straight scores to turn this into a rout and break out the ”Let’s Go Nova!” chants.Markus Howard scored 23 points and Andrew Rowsey had 22 for Marquette. Rowsey had tears running down his cheeks as he sat on the bench in the final minutes.

Tough season for CSU ended by N.Mexico State.

LAS VEGAS—Zach Lofton put up 21 points and Jemerrio Jones pulled down 15 rebounds and top-seeded New Mexico State cruised past Chicago State 97-70 in a first-round game in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday night.The Aggies advance to a semifinal contest Friday.New Mexico State (26-5) took a 45-26 lead at intermission and shot a crisp 51.4 percent from the field (36 of 70), including 53.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc (14 of 26).Chicago State (3-29) was held to 22 of 58 from the field (37.9 percent), including 3 of 17 from distance.Jones, the WAC Player of the Year who came into the game averaging a double-double with 10.9 points and 12.7 boards, came up a field goal shy of that feat in the opener. Kevon Jones had 18 points and Johnathon Wilkins added 10.Deionte Simmons and Glen Burns scored 14 points apiece and Fred Sims Jr. and Jelani Pruitt each contributed 13 for the Cougars.

Ramblers jump on Redbirds to clinch NCAA Birth

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ST. LOUIS—The Loyola Ramblers earned their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years with a 65-49 win over Ilinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game on Sunday.Donte Ingram scored 18 points and Cameron Krutwig added 11 points and nine rebounds for Loyola (28-5), which reached the Sweet 16 in its last NCAA tourney appearance, in 1985.Mailk Yarbrough and Phil Fayne led Illinois State (18-15) with 12 points each. Fayne added 12 rebounds.Loyola, which has won 10 in a row, had been an afterthought in Chicago-area basketball circles the past few years.

”It feels awesome,” Krutwig said. ”It means everything to me right now. Obviously, we’re going to celebrate.”

Ingram, who earned tournament MVP honors, hit five of 11 shots including 4 of 9 from 3-point range. His four-point play with 6:21 left in the first half capped a 7-2 run that put the Ramblers up 27-18.

”It really changed the outcome of the game,” Ingram said. ”That was one of those momentum swings. When I get my shot I’m confident and I’m going to take it.”

Loyola scored eight of the first 11 points in the second half to take a 43-30 lead.The Ramblers were appearing in their first conference title game since 2002, when they were members of the Horizon League.Loyola never trailed and raced out to a 9-2 lead after a 3-pointer from Ben Richardson.

”I’m just so happy for these kids. They’re doing it the right way,” Loyola coach Porter Moser said. ”This will connect them for the rest of their lives.”

The Ramblers’ 10-game winning streak is the longest in Moser’s seven years at the helm.ISU, which missed 14 of its first 17 shots, lost in the title game for the third time in the last four years.

”We missed some shots right around the rim,” Illinois State coach Dan Muller said. ”I think it might have been nerves or a little fatigue.”
Moser became the second coach in MVC history to win a title as a player and coach. He played for the Creighton title team in 1988-89. Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois also achieved the feat.
”I’m going to be honest, it was probably more fun as a player,” Moser said. ”That’s why I’m so happy for these guys.”
The Redbirds are hoping to receive a berth in the National Invitational Tournament. It would be their 15th NIT appearance overall and second in a row. The Redbirds began play on Sunday with a 78 RPI.
”I’m very, very hopeful for the NIT,” Muller said. ”We’re the eighth-best league in the country.”

Hawks drubbed by Ducks 6-3 for split in S.Calif

ANAHEIM—Corey Perry has been around the NHL long enough to know how to attack the end of the regular season, and the same is true for the Anaheim Ducks.After some early struggles, Perry and the Ducks look to be finding their groove.Perry and Jakob Silfverberg each scored twice and the Ducks earned points at home for the eighth game in a row, beating the Blackhawks 6-3 on Sunday.Rickard Rakell scored for the third straight game, Marcus Pettersson had his first career goal, and John Gibson made 37 saves. The Ducks moved into third place in the Pacific Division, a point ahead of Los Angeles. They improved to 6-0-2 in their last eight games at home and 6-1-1 in their last eight overall. Ryan Getzlaf had three assists.Nick Schmaltz had two goals, and Tomas Jurco scored for the Blackhawks. They are 1-7-1 in their last eight road games. Anton Forsberg gave up four goals on 21 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period, and Jean-Francois Berube made eight saves in relief.The Ducks needed just 2:23 to take the lead on Rakell’s fifth goal in three games. With Anaheim on the power play after a frustrated Anthony Duclair slashed Cam Fowler in the offensive zone, Rakell skated through three Blackhawks to get to the front of the net and score off Getzlaf’s centering pass.Rakell is on his third goals streak of at least three games this season. He had goals in a career-high six-game run Dec. 21-Jan. 2 and another three straight Feb. 3-6.Perry made it 2-0 at 6:14, whirling around and firing a powerful wrist shot into the top netting from close range.Pettersson, appearing in his eighth NHL game, put the Ducks up 3-0 at 2:09 of the second with a long wobbly shot through traffic. The 21-year-old Swede was caught by surprise when he was credited with the goal after assuming it struck teammate Derek Grant going in.Silfverberg made it 4-0 at 6:39.After rallying from a 3-1 deficit with four goals in the third period to beat the Kings on Saturday, the Blackhawks could not mount another comeback. Jurco got the Hawks on the board at 14:59 of the second, and Schmaltz trimmed the deficit to 4-2 1:07 into the third before Silfverberg restored breathing room at 5-2 with his second goal with 13 minutes to play.

”We played the way we needed to for half the game and probably felt like we could have had a better result if we would have started with that same emphasis,” Jonathan Toews said.

Perry picked up his second with 5:19 remaining for a 6-2 lead.Schmaltz had his third multi-goal game of the season at 17:32.

Short handed NU battles, but falls to Penn State to end season.

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NEW YORK—With the game on the line and quite possibly a trip to the NCAA Tournament, Tony Carr didn’t hesitate to put Penn State on his back.Carr scored 25 points and hit two 3-pointers and set up another in the final minutes as the seventh-seeded Nittany Lions made a late rush to hold off Northwestern 65-57 in the second round of the Big Ten Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

”He was huge down the stretch of the game,” fellow guard Shep Garner. ”Big play after big play after big play. And that’s what he does for this team. He makes big plays on the offensive end. We’re kind of used to it at this point. We don’t take it for granted, but we’re kind of used to it at this point.”

Penn State (20-12) broke its school record for a Big Ten Tournament game by hitting 13 three-pointers in snapping a three-game losing streak and setting up a quarterfinal game on Friday against No. 13 and second-seeded Ohio State at Madison Square Garden.The Nittany Lions, who posted their first 20-win season since 2008-09, beat the Buckeyes twice in the regular season.Beating banged up Northwestern (15-17) wasn’t easy. The Wildcats hung tough most of the game and didn’t falter until the end when Penn State scored 13 straight points.Carr hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:06 to play to give Penn State a 55-54 lead and ignite the game deciding run. He later set up a 3-pointer by Josh Reaves that expanded the lead to 58-54 with 3:03 to go and he followed with his sixth 3-pointer a minute later for a seven-point lead.

”They went to some of their favorite action and just got him in ball screens,” Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh said of Carr. ”And he obviously knew it was winning time, and he stepped up and got aggressive offensively and was just looking to make plays. To his credit, he did.”

Reaves finished with 15 points and Garner had 12.Dererk Pardon has 14 points and eight rebounds for Northwestern, which finished its season on a seven-game losing streak. It was a major disappointment for the Wildcats who went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time last season and had high hopes coming into this season.

”Although I’m disappointed to lose the game, I’m more disappointed I won’t get a chance to coach these guys anymore,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said.

Scottie Lindsey added 12 points for Northwestern before fouling out with 3:15 to play on an offensive foul.Neither team led by more than four points in the final 15 minutes until Penn State took control late.McIntosh gave NU its last lead at 54-52 with 4:33 to go with an off-balance jumper from the left baseline.Carr, who scored 15 points in the first half and was blanked for the opening 13 minutes of the second half, then gave Penn State the lead with one of his high-arcing shots.The first half ended in a 30-all tie but the most interesting play was a flagrant foul called against Lindsey with 4:47 left in the half and Northwestern ahead 25-19. Carr seemingly had a shot blocked on the offensive end and Lindsey had his shot blocked on the other end.Carr then came to the bench with his mouth bleeding. The officials reviewed the videotape of his blocked shot and assessed the flagrant.

Hawks bad as ever in 7-2 embarrassing loss to Sharks

SAN JOSE—Like most players on contending teams, Joe Pavelski enjoys this time of the year. Somehow he rises to the occasion.Pavelski scored twice and the San Jose Sharks reached a season high in goals in a 7-2 victory over the free falling Blackhawks on Thursday night.

”This is his time of the year,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. ”He always finds another level this time of the year.”

At 79 points, the Sharks aren’t guaranteed anything just yet. That’s why Pavekski and Co. are playing close to playoff level hockey, even against a team like the Blackhawks, who have a slightly different agenda the rest of the season.

”It’s about execution and getting your chances,” Pavelski said. ”When you can score on those it goes a long way. It was a fun night. Not all of them will be like that.”

Logan Couture, Timo Meier, Kevin LaBanc, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Barclay Goodrow also scored for the Sharks, who won their second straight at home after dropping three in a row on the road.Artem Anisimov and Nick Schmaltz scored for the Blackhawks, who lost their seventh straight road game while allowing their most goals this season, matching the seven New Jersey scored on Nov. 12.

”Not good. It was tough,” Joel Quenneville said. ”You try to do things right but I don’t think we did too much in the `right’ department all game long. We didn’t manage the puck at all.”

Martin Jones stopped 32 shots for San Jose.J-F Berube was awful, he gave up six goals on 28 shots through the second period before he was pulled. Anton Forsberg allowed a goal in the first three minutes of the third period.

”I can’t say anybody had a great night, so you can’t talk about one guy,” Quenneville said. ”We gave up too many high quality shots off the rush.”

Anisimov gave the Hawks a short lived 1-0 lead in the third minute of play, the result of crisp passing from both Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane.Pavelski tied it midway through the first period, taking a short pass from Brent Burns and burying it into the net.Couture scored four minutes later and the rout was on.Pavelski scored the fifth goal midway through the second, his 49th career multi-goal game.

”It was one of those nights the puck was going in,” Pavelski said. It’s good to see guys who do it the right way step up abd get rewarded.”

The sixth goal came with two seconds left in the second. Berube caught the puck but couldn’t hang on. Vlasic came around and fired a shot off the back of Berube’s pads and into the net.

”We haven’t scored like this all season,” DeBoer said. ”It’s nice to have a game like this, to put some pucks into the net.”

Jones blocked Anthony Duclair’s penalty shot with five minutes left to play.Schmaltz scored in the final minute.

NOTES—Couture scored his 206th goal with the Sharks, matching Owen Nolan for fourth all-time. … Matthew Highmore made his NHL debut, the fifth Blackhawks player to make his debut this season. … Pavelski has a 9-game point streak against the Blackhawks. … The Sharks have not scored on the power play over their last 11 games. … Anisimov has four goals over his past six games.

Bulls drop 5th straight, 118-103 to Hornets

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CHARLOTTE—Dwight Howard returned from a first quarter injury to lead Charlotte over the Bulls.The Hornets center was hurt after playing 10 minutes in the opening quarter of a 118-103 win over on Tuesday night.He first said it felt as if a rib ”popped out a little bit.”

”That happens a lot, it just comes out,” Howard said. ”Really nothing I can do about it.

Howard wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t a back issue. Charlotte’s coach Steve Clifford said it was ”back spasms” and the team called it a back strain.

”There’s nothing wrong with my back,” he said. ”Just want to make sure I put that out there. I wasn’t really concerned with it being my back. I haven’t had a problem with that in the last two years; I knew it wasn’t my back. I’ve taken some hard falls and some hard hits, and that’s what happens.”

He returned to start the second half, however, and his 16 third-quarter points and all-around dominant play. He finished with 24 in the game.Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 31 points to help the Hornets win a season-best fifth straight game.Zach LaVine led seven Bulls players in double-digits with 21 points as the Bulls (20-41) dropped its fifth consecutive game.The Hornets suddenly hot shooting helped them continue their push to make the playoffs as they sank 53.7 percent of their field-goal attempts, and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.Walker hit 11-of-19 attempts — including 6-of-10 of 3-pointers — while Howard missed only two shots in 12 attempts. Nicolas Batum also added 10 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds.The teams were tied 51-51 at halftime, and the young Bulls were encouraged.

”We’re playing some pretty good stretches, we’re just not sustaining it right now,” Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said.

Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez were healthy scratches Tuesday. … Cristiano Felicio equaled his season-high of 12 points by halftime. He did not score in the second half. … The Bulls already has exceeded the team’s previous record for most 3-pointers in a single season (651, set in 2015-16). The Bulls had 657 3-pointers entering Tuesday’s game.Howard earned his 13th technical foul of the season in the third quarter. . Nicolas Batum’s 12 assists were a season-high. … With his first rebound against the Bulls, Howard moved into sole possession of 17th all-time in the NBA in rebounds. . Kemba Walker tied JR Reed for 10th-most career rebounds in franchise history with two rebounds against the Bulls.