Ramblers jump on Redbirds to clinch NCAA Birth

Image result for ARCH MADNESS LOGO

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.

Image result for northwestern wildcats logo

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

Bulls Logo

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.

Bulls help Nets snap 8 game losing streak,

Bulls Logo

NEW YORK—Alan Crabbe scored 21 points and the Brooklyn Nets snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 104-87 win over Bulls on Monday night.Jarrett Allen and DeMarre Carroll each had 18 points for the Nets, and Joe Harris added 15.Kris Dunn led the Bulls with 23 points and Lauri Markkanen had 19.The Nets trailed 51-49 at halftime, but scored the first nine points of the second half and took the lead for good. Brooklyn increased its advantage to 80-66 on Spencer Dinwiddie’s 3-pointer with 3:08 left in the third and still led by 14 at the end of the quarter.The Bulls never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.Brooklyn increased its lead to a game-high 22 at 104-82 on Quincy Acy’s 3-pointer with 2:46 remaining.The Bulls, who have lost four straight and 13 of 16, took their first lead of the game, 14-13, on Dunn’s two free throws midway through the first quarter. But the Nets scored 11 straight points and went on to take a 28-19 lead after one.The Bulls pulled within a point on two occasions in the second before the Nets opened a 49-40 lead on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s jumper with 2:24 left.Those were the final points Brooklyn scored in the half, however, as the Bulls went on an 11-0 run to take their halftime lead.Allen and Dante Cunningham each had nine rebounds to lead the Nets.Denzel Valentine finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls. Bobby Portis scored 12.This was the first meeting of the season between the teams. The Bulls won three of four meetings last season and lead the all-time series 92-72. Brooklyn’s losing streak was its longest this season. The Nets had dropped 12 of 13 overall. … With their 20th win, the Nets matched last season’s total…..Former Nets star Drazen Petrovic, tragically killed in a car accident on June 7, 1993, was honored during a first-quarter timeout. Following a video tribute, his mother, Biserka, was presented with a commemorative basketball. Petrovic averaged 22.3 points and shot 44.9 percent from 3-point range in his final season with the then-New Jersey Nets. He is still third in NBA history in 3-point shooting (43.7 percent)

Another bad goal, does in Hawks against Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS—The Columbus Blue Jackets had to come from behind twice Saturday night to stay in the thick of the Eastern Conference wild-card race.Josh Anderson scored in the third period and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31 shots to lift the up-and-down Blue Jackets to a 3-2 win over the inconsistent Blackhawks in front of a sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena.Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who had lost four of five. Cam Atkinson also scored.David Kampf and Tomas Jurco scored for the last-place Hawks in the second leg of a back-to-back. Rookie Anton Forsberg had 26 saves against his former team.The Blackhawks had won two in a row and three of four.The Hawks jumped in front when Kampf redirected a shot from Ryan Hartman for his third goal just 1:28 into the game. But Columbus tied with 2:08 left in the period when Atkinson sent a power-play shot from the top of the right circle over the shoulder of Forsberg, who was screened by Columbus’ Alexander Wennberg.The teams exchanged goals again in the second. The Blackhawks probably should have had more, with Vinnie Hinostroza hitting the post twice and the team failing to capitalize on a pair of power plays.Jurco got his first goal of the season at 9:20 with a wrist shot from the slot.

”We were sitting in a good spot, 2-1 there in the second,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. ”Those are the games you have to find ways to least get points. It’s been kind of a season where we’ve struggled to do that.”

Columbus tied it again at 14:30 when former Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin picked off a Hawk pass in the neutral zone and carried it all the way back, delivering a perfect cross-ice pass for Dubois to shovel in.Anderson got the game-winner 11:14 into the third when he carried the puck down the left side, pulled up in the circle and slammed it past Forsberg.Bobrovsky shut down the Blackhawks from there.

Dunn returns, but Bulls get swept by Toronto

Bulls Logo

The Toronto Raptors rolled into the All-Star break knowing the toughest part is yet to come. They’ll take where they are at the moment – staring down at the rest of the Eastern Conference.Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 10 assists, Serge Ibaka also scored 20 points and the Raptors cruised into the break with their seventh straight victory, 122-98 over the Bulls on Wednesday night.

”We just have to keep it going,” coach Dwane Casey said. ”We haven’t done anything. … It’s even harder from here on out, and that’s why (we’re) not jumping up and down. We have a goal. We haven’t finished it yet.”

Lowry made four 3-pointers, and he and Ibaka each had seven rebounds.Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and nine rebounds to help the Raptors complete a four-game sweep against the Bulls even though they only got seven points from four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan. But Toronto dished out a season-high 38 assists and shot just over 52 percent against a weak defense, sending the Bulls to their ninth loss in 11 games.

”We’re heading in the right direction,” DeRozan said. ”But at the same time, we still understand how much we need to clean up on the defensive end and the offensive end. As long as we keep that mindset anytime we step out there, whether it’s a practice or a game. We understand we’re trying to get better. It kind of carries us.”

Bobby Portis scored 18 points, and Lauri Markkanen had 14. The Bulls were simply overmatched by the Eastern Conference leaders, even though they had point guard Kris Dunn back in the lineup. He finished with eight points and three assists in 20 minutes after missing 11 games because of a concussion.

”Poor effort,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”I talked to the guys, win or lose you got to walk in the locker room after the game and look each other in the eye and say you were the harder playing team. We were not tonight.”

The Raptors took a 61-49 lead to the locker room after outscoring the Bulls by 18 in the second quarter.DeRozan ended a quiet first half with a neat 12-footer, faking David Nwaba and Justin Holiday while leaning in for the basket as time expired.The Raptors continued to pull away in the third. Lowry converted a four-point play and answered a three-point play by Markkanen by nailing another 3 to make it 75-57 three minutes into the quarter.

”It’s one of those things that’s honestly like a dream come true. I’m pretty sure once I get around the whole atmosphere and see what it’s like, it’s going to be (special).” –

DeRozan on playing the All-Star game in his hometown, Los Angeles.Acquired with Zach LaVine and Markkanen in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves, Dunn is averaging 13.5 points and 6.3 assists.The Raptors swept the Bulls for the first time since the 2001-02 season and won their fifth straight against the Bulls. … Lowry has 16 double-doubles. … Ibaka has seven games with 20 or more points.Markkanen has scored in double figures in 21 straight games. … The Bulls were 4 of 24 on 3-pointers after making at least eight in a franchise-record 24 straight games. … Bulls reserves were outscored 56-47.

Vegas gets three quickies in third period to sweep the free falling Blackhawks.

LAS VEGAS—While the Blackhawks have struggled to play consistent hockey for a full 60 minutes, the Vegas Golden Knights counted on 20 good ones Tuesday night.Trailing 2-1 heading into the third period, Vegas scored four unanswered goals, including Reilly Smith’s go-ahead winner three minutes into the final frame, as the Golden Knights beat the Hawks 5-2.Vegas, which swept the season series 3-0, also got third-period goals from Brad Hunt, David Perron and Tomas Nosek. Ryan Carpenter also scored and Marc-Andre Fleury had 29 saves for Vegas, which snapped a two-game home losing streak.One night after Arizona ended a nine-game losing streak to the last-place Blackhawks, the Western Conference-leading Golden Knights sent the Hawks to their season-high seventh straight loss(and 11th of 13). The Blackhawks have been outscored 29-12 during their losing streak.

”It’s frustrating because through and through our lineup, we don’t have a response when we need it,” Jonathan Toews said. ”We need to find ways to bounce back and stay in those games and not get frustrated and not let that noise or the crowd or a bad call or a goal against us sink our ship. It’s pretty frustrating for us to give up a handful of goals in a row and give up the momentum the way we did again.”

Tommy Wingels and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks, while Jeff Glass stopped 32 shots.

”It’s the same thing that’s plagued over the past month or two, we can’t string 60 minutes together,” Wingels said. ”We felt good about ourselves going into the third, and they scored two quick ones. It’s just a theme of the whole season. It’s frustrating that’s for sure.”

Said coach Joel Quenneville: ”This is probably as tough as I’ve seen, it’s not fun. Everyday we’re trying to find a way to get the team enthused, I know it’s not easy, it’s hard to be positive. We can’t accept that this is the way it is.”

The Golden Knights wasted no time in seizing control early in the third period, with three goals in less than five minutes. First it was Hunt tying the game at 2 when he ripped a wrist shot past Glass for a power-play goal. Moments later, Smith took a pass from William Karlsson and sniped Glass for his 17th goal of the season. Then it was James Neal stealing the puck in neutral zone and setting up Perron on the break to beat Glass low on the glove side.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant credited Fleury with keeping the Golden Knights in the game, coming up with several big stops after letting the Hawks first two goals in.

”It’s just about trying to stop the next one, and keep the game close,” Fleury said. ”They’re a good team, they come fast. I always believed in our chance to come back and score some big goals. If I can keep the games close we’ll be in good shape.”

The Golden Knights, who have scored a power-play goal in 10 of their last 11 games, were 1-for-6 with a man advantage.Wingels got things going 2:10 into the game when he camped out in front of Fleury on a power play and tipped in Erik Gustafsson’s one-timer from the point.The Blackhawks rank 29th in the league on the power play but converted one of their two opportunities against a Golden Knights team that has the league’s sixth-best penalty kill at home.Vegas tied it three minutes later when Carpenter dug the puck out from behind the net and stuffed it between Glass’ left pad and the post.Shortly after Fleury stymied Patrick Sharp’s penalty shot, the Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead when he kicked DeBrincat’s rebound back to him and he scored the 21st goal of his rookie season.Nosek’s empty-netter provided the final margin.

NOTES—Artem Anisimov played in his 600th career game. … Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who has been out since late December with an upper-body injury, took some shots during a morning skate in Phoenix. The Hawks did not have a morning skate in Vegas. … With an assist on Carpenter’s goal, Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland tied a career high in points in a season with 17. … With his assist, Karlsson is one point shy of 100 in his career.

NU falls to second to last place Rutgers in OT

Image result for northwestern wildcats logo

PISCATAWAY—While Corey Sanders’ offense will be shown on the highlight reel, coach Steve Pikiell focused on his star guard’s defense in Rutgers’ 67-58 overtime victory over Northwestern on Tuesday night.With senior captain Deshawn Freeman benched, Sanders had a game-high 30 points to lead Rutgers’ effort at the RAC.Sanders, who kept the Scarlet Knights (13-15, 3-12 Big Ten) alive all game, hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 56.It went in, as part of Rutgers’ 32-13 run to end the game.Derek Pardon hit his first six shots and had 13 rebounds to go along with 12 points to lead Northwestern (15-12, 6-8). Scottie Lindsey added 19 points and Aaron Falzon – who went 3 for 3 in the first half – had eight points off the bench for the Wildcats.Pardon and Falzon started a combined 8-for-8 shooting in the first half. Northwestern finished a stretch of 5 of 6 games on the road.

”We won three of them,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ”Went 3-3 during that stretch. Had an opportunity to go 4-2 and couldn’t finish the deal.”

NU jumped out to an 8-2 lead on a Lindsey jumper assisted by Bryant McIntosh before Rutgers tied it at 10 on a Sanders layup.The Wildcats almost pulled away early. Souf Mensah’s bucket stopped Northwestern’s 12-2 run and left Rutgers trailing 23-16. Northwestern went into the break up 33-24. Losers of two in a row coming off a loss at Maryland, the Wildcats need to get back on track with a win as they try to build up a resume to make the NCAA Tournament after making it to the dance for the first time a season ago.