Hawks win fourth straight 4-3 in shootout over Coyotes

Patrick Kane at the right side of the crease. Kane lost control of the puck, but Hossa swept in and scored. Phoenix responded with two power-play goals from faceoffs late in the second to tie it at 3.Yandle’s quick shot through traffic from the top of the slot landed in the lower right corner of the net with 8:49 remaining in the period to cut it to 3-2. Hanzal tied it with just under three minutes left in the second when he batted in a rebound from the crease.Both teams had several prime chances in the scoreless third.

NOTES—Jordan Hendry left early in the third after being hit by Shane Doan along the boards. … Seabrook has played his entire career with the Blackhawks, and was their first-round draft pick (14th overall) in 2003. … Phoenix LW Scottie Upshall returned after serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Philadelphia’s Oskars Bartulis. … Coyotes LW Ray Whitney returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury. … Aucoin returned after missing five games with a lower-body injury.

Z good, Garza not as much in Cubs Cactus opening loss to A’s

MESA—Carlos Zambrano threw free and easy in his spring training debut, working two innings in the Cubs‘ 15-7 exhibition loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.It may be a sign for the fiery right-hander of things to come in 2011 after a difficult 2010 when he was pulled from the rotation and suspended from the team in June after a scuffle with former teammate Derek Lee.Despite the difficult start — demoted to the bullpen after four starts — and being placed on the restricted list while going through anger management, Zambrano salvaged the season by finishing on a tear, going 8-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last 11 starts. It wasn’t as smooth of a debut for the big offseason acquisition as right-hander Matt Garza, who came over in a trade from Tampa Bay, struggled throwing strictly fastballs and change-ups. He allowed five earned runs on five hits in his two innings, including a grand slam to Coco Crisp on a change-up, but Garza was more concerned with his hit.Garza gave up another run after a leadoff double by right-fielder Matt Carson. He took the loss in the spring training opener for both teams after allowing six base runners in his two innings. The Cubs’ offense started well to get a 4-0 lead off Oakland starter Trevor Cahill as six of the first seven batters reached, including a two-run double by Alfonso Soriano, who had three hits. Starlin Castro and Marlon Byrd each went 2 for 3 to add to the 16-hit attack. The early lead was erased by Crisp’s grand slam and then three errors, two by right-fielder Tyler Colvin, and ineffective pitching (Oakland had 18 hits) made it a rough start to the spring schedule.

NOTES—Manager Mike Quade said that Colvin, who has been getting time at first base to become more versatile, will get a shot at in the infield at some time during the opening week of spring games, possibly Thursday against Texas. … RHP Randy Wells gets the start Monday against Milwaukee and Ryan Dempster, the Opening Day starter, gets the ball at San Francisco on Tuesday. … Several of the Cubs players attended a surprise party Saturday night for former Cubs reliever Bobby Howry, who retired after 13 seasons and pitched for five other teams, including the White Sox.

Badgers finish Kohl Center season unbeaten after win over NU

MADISON—Beyond being deliberate on offense and disciplined on defense, it’s the defining characteristic of Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin teams: They don’t lose at home. After watching No. 12 Wisconsin beat Northwestern 78-63 on Sunday to go unbeaten at home for the third time in his tenure, Ryan said the idea of maintaining home-court advantage isn’t something he emphasizes to his players — or even mentions to them.Jon Leuer scored 26 points to lead the Badgers (22-6, 12-4 Big Ten) past a hot-shooting Wildcats team that used 3-pointers to stay in the game.Wisconsin went 16-0 at the Kohl Center this season – the third time in 10 seasons under Ryan that the Badgers were untouchable on their home court.Jordan Taylor scored 16 points and Keaton Nankivil added 15 for Wisconsin, which has won seven of eight overall. The Badgers finish the regular season with a pair of road games, at Indiana on Thursday and at Ohio State on Sunday.Juice Thompson scored 19 and Davide Curletti 18 for Northwestern (16-12, 6-11), which has lost two straight and four of six.And while winning at home might be the Badgers’ calling card, Thompson said they’re a tough team to play anywhere.NU seemed to be on the verge of being blown out at several points throughout the game, but managed to keep things close with strong outside shooting. The Wildcats made 11 of 21 3-pointers, with Thompson hitting five of six and John Shurna making four of seven. Ryan said Northwestern’s outside shooting can demoralize opponents.The Wildcats know they can shoot. Now they need to get better on defense.Already leading by 13 at halftime, Wisconsin remained firmly in control to begin the second half — including a flashy play by Leuer, who snagged a sharp pass from Taylor out of the air and converted a two-handed reverse dunk to put the Badgers up 51-35 with 16:18 left.The Wildcats cut the Badgers’ lead to 54-47 on a 3-pointer by Thompson with 12:25 left, and later trimmed it to 57-52 on a 3-pointer by Drew Crawford.Northwestern finally hit a cold spell down the stretch, missing 3s on critical back-to-back possessions. Taylor then nailed a 3 on the other end, putting the Badgers up 63-55 with 5:35 left.Taylor sealed the victory with another 3 to put Wisconsin up 70-59 with 3 minutes to go.Despite a handful of runs by the Wildcats, Taylor said he wasn’t worried.Wisconsin was coming off a last-second victory at Michigan on Wednesday, when Josh Gasser banked in a last-second 3-pointer. Gasser had a triple-double in the Badgers’ 78-46 victory at Northwestern on Jan. 23 but was a little more quiet on Sunday, scoring 10 points.Northwestern was trying to rebound from a home loss to Penn State on Thursday night.The Badgers have won 19 straight at home, a streak that dates back to last season. Ryan might not preach home-court advantage, but he knows his players are aware of it.

Bulls wake up in third quarter to beat Bucks and stay undefeated against Central teams

MILWAUKEE—With Joakim Noah back in the lineup, the Bulls are starting to feel pretty good about themselves.Fueled by Noah’s 17 rebounds and Luol Deng’s 19 points, the Bulls pulled away from the Milwaukee Bucks for an 83-75 win on Saturday night.The Bulls have won six of seven to improve to 15-4 since Jan. 14, putting pressure on Boston and Miami at the top of the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose added 17 points for the Bulls, who beat the Heat 93-89 on Thursday night.It was Noah’s third game back following right thumb surgery. Noah said he is starting to feel more comfortable on the court, but knows he can play better.Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 16 points and John Salmons added 14 points for the Bucks.Earl Boykins entered the game for the first time in the fourth quarter and scored Milwaukee’s first 10 points of the period. Salmons hit a 3-pointer to trim the Bulls’ lead to 78-72 with 3:56 remaining.Rose then drove the lane and hit a wide-open Kyle Korver, who drained a 3-pointer. After Andrew Bogut hit one free throw for the Bucks, Korver made another jumper with 2:21 remaining to put the game away. Carlos Boozer added 13 points for the Bulls, who shook off a slow start to take the opener of an important five-game road trip.The Bulls grabbed control midway through the third quarter. Trailing by one, they put together a 19-5 run to grab a 66-53 lead on Deng’s reverse layup with 1:27 remaining. Boozer had eight points in the surge.Milwaukee made just eight of 23 shots in the third.Bucks coach Scott Skiles was impressed with Noah’s energy and his nine offensive rebounds in the first half.

NOTES—Bucks F Ersan Ilyasova missed the game due to a concussion he suffered in a collision in practice on Friday with center Jon Brockman. He is listed as day to day…..The Bucks recalled rookie F Larry Sanders from Fort Wayne of the NBA Development League…..The Bulls improved to 12-0 against Central Division teams.

Illini beat last place Iowa to keep NCAA hopes alive

CHAMPAIGN—Mike Tisdale scored 25 points and Illinois kept its NCAA tournament hopes alive with an 81-68 win Saturday over struggling Iowa. Mike Davis added 20 points and nine rebounds. He was often the catalyst for the Illini (18-11, 8-8 Big Ten) on a night when Iowa, for a while, refused to go away.Davis’ short bucket with 12:34 to play gave Illinois a 58-43 lead that was too much for the Hawkeyes (10-18, 3-13).Illinois led 36-31 at halftime and Iowa closed to within 38-35 early on a basket by Bryce Cartwright. But two free throws by Tisdale after Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery drew a technical and Davis’ subsequent basket drained the Hawkeyes.Melsahn Basabe led Iowa with 17 points. Jarryd Cole added 15.

Centenary ends 33 game skid vs Western Illinois

SHREVEPORT—Maxx Nakwaasah tied his career-high with 24 points and added 11 rebounds as Centenary defeated Western Illinois 73-60 on Thursday night, ending Division I’s longest losing streak at 33 games. Jonathan Blount added a career-high 19 points and the Gentlemen (1-28, 1-16 Summit League) shot 62.5 percent from the field (10 of 16) in the second half for their first victory since defeating IPFW 80-78 on Feb. 6, 2010.Centenary, which was the last winless team in Division I, was within one loss of tying the Division I record losing streak, set by Sacramento State from 1997-99. Nakwaasah’s double-double was his third this season, the sixth of his career.Centenary used a 12-0, first-half run to take an 18-7 lead on Nakwaasah’s layup with 10:55 left before halftime. The Gentlemen built their advantage to 25-9 with 7:43 left, but Western Illinois (7-21, 2-15) rallied to cut the score to 32-27 on Jack Houpt’s 3-pointer with 19:44 left to play.Blount’s 3-pointer pushed Centenary’s lead back to 44-32 with 16:09 left.Houpt scored 15, Jelani Johnson had 13, Kaimarr Price scored 12 and Matt Lander added 10 for the Leathernecks, who have lost 11 straight. Centenary is dropping out of Division I after this season. Their most famous basketball Alum is Robert “The Chief” Parrish.

Penn State beats Cats again. NCAA chances all but gone

EVANSTON—Jeff Brooks scored 20 points while Talor Battle added 13 while reaching a Big Ten milestone as Penn State claimed a 66-52 victory over Northwestern on Thursday night.Battle, a four-year starting guard, had three assists to become the first player in conference history to reach 2,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. He now has 2,079 points, 594 rebounds and 500 assists.David Jackson scored 12 points and Tim Frazier added 10 for the Nittany Lions (15-12, 8-8 Big Ten). Juice Thompson paced NU (16-11, 6-10) with 22 points while Drew Crawford added 11.

Big second half by Deng helps Bulls past Heat 93-89

Derrick Rose scored 26 points and Luol Deng added 20, including the tiebreaking 3, and the Bulls beat the Miami Heat 93-89 on Thursday night in a wild showdown between two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams. In a game that could have playoff seeding implications, the Bulls used a big third quarter to turn a nine-point halftime lead into a 71-67 advantage, then watched a nine-point lead in the fourth evaporate into a four-point deficit before pulling it out. Deng’s 3-pointer with 16 seconds left broke an 89-all tie and sent the Bulls to their 16th win in 21 games.Dwyane Wade scored 34 points and LeBron James added 29 for Miami, which lost for only the second time in 13 games.The Bulls are 2-0 against Miami this season.

Hawks stay hot, Crawford blanks Preds 3-0

NASHVILLE—Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa scored, and goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots and the Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 3-0 Thursday in coach Joel Quenneville’s return to the bench.Quenneville missed four games due to a bleeding ulcer, not that the Blackhawks missed much of a step without him in winning three of those. Now the defending champions have won three straight and four of five.The Predators were shut out for a second straight loss and have lost three straight and four of five.Crawford posted his third shutout this season. Patrick Sharp had an empty netter with 31 seconds left and an assist. The Blackhawks won their season series with the team they ousted in the first round of the playoffs last April 3-1-2.Nashville is among seven teams separated by two points fighting for position in the Western Conference, and that includes the Hawks, who tied the Predators with 70 points with this victory.The Predators opened with urgency after giving up four goals in the third period of a 4-0 loss at Columbus on Tuesday night. They took the first five shots of the game and spent much of the first period in front of Crawford.Kopecky came on as the extra attacker during a delayed penalty, and Sharp passed to him as Kopecky reached the right circle where he snapped a shot past goalie Pekka Rinne at 17:12 for the 1-0 lead and his 11th goal this season.The Hawks almost had another goal 1:25 into the second when Ryan Johnson crashed into Rinne with the puck possibly sliding past the goal line, but a review ruled no goal. Rinne had another big save, blocking Duncan Keith’s shot from right in front midway through the period.With Crawford stopping the Predators, Hossa helped seal the victory early in the third with his 14th this season. He broke up a pass, gathered the puck and scored on a breakaway with a wrister under Rinne’s right arm at 2:35.The Predators thought they had scored with 5:59 left, but officials immediately waved off the goal. David Legwand brushed past Crawford, knocking him off balance before Colin Wilson tapped the puck in. Crawford also had a nice pad save on Wilson with about 1:20 left.

NOTES—The Blackhawks improved to 22-3-6 when scoring first. … Kopecky’s goal was only the fifth Nashville has allowed in the first period over the past 15 games. … Sharp’s assist was the 300th point of his NHL career. … The Predators notched their 11th sellout of the season in their 28th home game and fifth in the past nine.

Ramblers pull away from Valpo 68-48

Loyola University Chicago   

VALPARAISO—Terrance Hill scored 20 points and Loyola easily defeated Valparaiso 68-48 Thursday night.Geoff McCammon had 16 points, Courtney Stanley scored 15 and Ben Averkamp scored 13 points for the Ramblers (16-13, 7-10), winners of their last three Horizon League games. Andy Polka had the other four points for Loyola, plus 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals.The loss cost the Crusaders (20-10, 11-6) a chance to be in a four-way tie for the Horizon lead with one game remaining. Instead, Valparaiso drops into fourth place.Cory Johnson was the only Valparaiso player in double figures, with 15 points. He scored the game’s first basket, but Loyola scored the next 12 points and never trailed again. The 20-point final margin was the Ramblers’ largest of the night.