UIC beats G.Washington to advance to CBI third round

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UIC got 23 points from Tai Odiase and a career high 12 assists from Tarkus Ferguson in an 80-71 victory over George Washington in the quarterfinal round of the CBI presented by FIVE FOUR at UIC Pavilion Monday evening. The Flames led by as many as 17 points, but the battle tested Colonials closed the gap to two points in the final two minutes. UIC made six of eight free throws down the stretch to advance to the CBI semifinals against Coastal Carolina.The Flames (17-18) placed five scorers in double figures. Tarkus Ferguson tied his career high with 10 rebounds and set a new career standard with 12 assists. The Flames assisted on a season high 24 of their 29 field goals and won the rebounding battle 45-31. George Washington (20-15) got 24 points from Tyler Cavanaugh and 21 from Yuta Watanabe, but no other Colonial scored more than nine.UIC will continue its postseason run with a CBI semifinal game Wednesday evening at Coastal Carolina. The tournament is re-seeded following the quarterfinal round.

ISU blows chance to host Illinois. Let 13 point lead get away

NORMAL—B.J. Taylor scored 22 points, including a pair of free throws with 1.3 seconds left and Central Florida beat Illinois State 63-62 Monday night in the second round of the NIT.No. 4 seed UCF (23-11) will play the Boise State-Illinois winner in a quarterfinal. Top-seeded Illinois State (28-7) had its 22-game home winning streak snapped.Taylor scored 17 points in the second half and finished 11 of 11 from the line. Matt Williams added 15 points and A.J. Davis 11 for the Knights.Deontae Hawkins scored 15 points to lead ISU.UCF trailed by 13 early in the second half, and took its first lead of the game when Davis converted a 3-point play for a 61-60 lead with 1:40 left.With the game still 61-60, Taylor fouled MiKyle McIntosh at the top of the arc with four seconds left. McIntosh made both free throws and the Redbirds led 62-61 with four seconds to play.Following a timeout, Taylor ran the floor and McIntosh fouled him along the baseline. Paris Lee’s desperation 3-point attempt was short to end it.

Hawks score three goals in :34 onslaught to beat Avs 6-3, clinch Playoff birth.

After a sluggish start, Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks stormed back late with a rapid-fire rally to strengthen their grip on first place in the Central Division – and the Western Conference.Toews scored twice and Richard Panik and Artemi Panarin each had a goal in a span of 3:02 in the third period to erase Colorado’s two-goal lead and send the Blackhawks past the Avalanche 6-3 on Sunday night for their fifth straight win.Patrick Kane scored his team-leading 32nd goal and Marcus Kruger added an empty-netter for the Hawks, who won for the 17th time in its last 20 games to pull seven points ahead of slumping second-place Minnesota in the Central Division. The Wild dropped their fifth straight, 5-4 to Winnipeg on Sunday.The victory, combined with Los Angeles’ 5-2 loss at Calgary on Sunday night, clinched the Blackhawks ninth straight playoff berth.

”Once we got that first (goal), things just started clicking for us,” said Toews, who scored his 19th and 20th goals to give him 20 or more in each of his 10 NHL seasons. ”I think we all collectively made that decision, that we had to play better and were looking for that first bounce, and maybe we could put some pressure on them.”

And the Blackhawks turned it up in a hurry.With the Hawks trailing 3-1, Toews tipped in a bouncing shot at 10:17 of the third period to cut it to 3-2.

”In the third period, we got one, and all of a sudden got a lot more comfortable in the scoring areas,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”Definitely changed the whole complexion when we got the first one.”

Toews’ first goal withstood a video review that showed the Hawk captain may have been offside. He was trying to exit the Colorado zone and tag up at the blue line before Panik – who was skating into the Avalanche end – caught up with a puck that had just crossed the line and was inches ahead of his stick.It was close.

”I thought it was the right call. It’s not offside, doesn’t trigger the offside until he touches the puck,” Quenneville said. ”You could say it was a tie.”

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was left a bit confused.

”I guess I don’t fully understand it,” Bednar said. ”It’s a tag-up rule. They’re saying it wasn’t fully on (Panik’s) stick.

Bednar was more upset about what followed.

”That give them a little life,” Bednar said. ”It’s what we do after that that bothers me.That was one of the top teams in the league turning it up a notch and feeling it, and their top guys making plays and our guys making mistakes.”

Panik rifled in a loose puck from the slot 17 seconds later to tie it at 3. Panarin put the Hawks ahead 4-3 just 17 seconds after that on a shot from the right circle that deflected in off the shoulder of Colorado goalie Jeremy Smith.Toews stretched it to 5-3 with his 20th on a wrist shot from the left circle with 6:41 to go.Mikhail Grigorenko scored twice and Sven Andrighetto had a goal for the last-place Avalanche.Scott Darling stopped 22 shots to extend his winning streak to six games.The 27-year-old Smith made 28 saves in his seventh NHL appearance and sixth start. His only win was on Feb. 25 when Colorado beat Buffalo 5-3.Grigorenko, a scratch in Detroit on Saturday, ended an eight-game drought with his eighth and ninth goals. Andrighetto, acquired from Montreal at the NHL trade deadline, scored his second goal in eight games with the Avalanche.Kane opened the scoring 4:33, ripping a feed from Panarin past Smith high on the stick side to complete a 2-on-1 break.Grigorenko tied it at 1 at 8:14 when he fooled Darling from a scramble in front with a low shot to the lower right corner.The 22-year-old Grigorenko struck again with 3:24 left in the period to make it 2-1. He backed in Brent Seabrook as he moved in 1-on-1 against the veteran defenseman, then popped an off-balance shot that clanked off the right post and in.Darling made a point-blank pad stop on Mikko Rantanen with 7:05 left in the second, then a close-in glove save on Joe Colborne about two minutes later to keep the margin at one goal.But with 3:35 left the period, Andrighetto cut across the crease unchecked in front of defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brian Campbell and neatly tipped Mark Barberio’s drive over Darling’s glove to increase Colorado’s lead to 3-1.

NOTES—Artem Anisimov missed his third game and RW Marian Hossa his second with injuries. Before the game, Quenneville said Hossa was close to returning and thought he might play on Sunday. … Quenneville gave 35-year-old D Johnny Oduya the game off to ”rest.” … Grigorenko had one previous two-goal game, at Anaheim in November 2013. He was Buffalo’s first pick and 12th overall in the 2012 draft and was acquired in a multi-player deal in 2015….The Blackhawks host Vancouver on Tuesday in the second of a three-game homestand. They play six of their last eight regular-season games on the road.

NU hosed by awful (non)call, Zags advance

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SALT LAKE CITY—Chris Collins was right. It was goal-tending all the way.The Northwestern coach was also wrong. At the worst time possible.After not getting the call, Collins stomped onto the court and drew a technical foul with 4:54 left in Saturday’s game, sucking life out of a frenetic comeback that fell short in a 79-73 loss to top-seeded Gonzaga.What a strange, heartbreaking way to close out the school’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.Adding to the awkwardness: The NCAA released a statement acknowledging the call was missed, and Collins was sitting at the postgame news conference when he learned about it for the first time.

”I appreciate the apology,” Collins said, the venom practically dripping off his tongue. ”It makes me feel great.”

Nigel Williams-Goss finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists to power Gonzaga (34-1), which led by as many as 22 points in the first half, then saw the lead dwindle to five with a little more than 5 minutes left.The arena, drenched in purple, was rocking, and all the momentum was in Northwestern’s corner.The eighth-seeded Wildcats (24-12) got the ball down to Dererk Pardon for a point-blank shot that was on its way in. Gonzaga 7-footer Zach Collins reached up through the net and deflected the ball out. No whistle blew. Gonzaga got the rebound and started down court. Collins ran onto the court, charged toward the referee and gestured as if he were knocking a ball out of the hoop from the bottom.An automatic ”T.” The NCAA’s postgame statement also said Collins was hit with the technical for violating ”bench decorum” rules by stepping onto the court with the ball in play.On the other end, Williams-Goss made both free throws. Northwestern never got closer after that.Regrets? If the coach had any, they weren’t apparent in the aftermath.

”If I see a guy from another team put his hand through the rim and block a shot, I’m going to react to it if the play isn’t called,” Collins said. ”I think all of you would. Of course. That cuts it to three. We’re all emotional. We’re coming back from 20 down.”

What a comeback it was. Bryant McIntosh scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half and Vic Law had 15 of his 18, as Northwestern finally found an answer for Gonzaga’s quick guards and smooth-as-can-be ball movement.Law dunked an offensive rebound to cut the deficit to 63-58, and on the other end, Scottie Lindsey swatted Williams-Goss down low to give Northwestern the ball with a chance to draw within a 3-pointer.Pardon took a pass from McIntosh and went up strong against Zach Collins for what should have been two points. After the game, the Gonzaga center was still unclear about what, exactly, happened.

”I thought I blocked the shot and they thought it was a foul,” he said. ”We weren’t really worried about (that). I honestly can’t really remember.”

Zags coach Mark Few wasn’t pinning Gonzaga’s win on that single turn of events. But he more than understood the emotion of the moment.

”You guys feel it and see it when it comes to these games,” he said. ”You lose, your season’s over. You win, in Northwestern’s case, it’s probably the best thing they’ve done in the history of the school. You react spontaneously and stuff happens.”

Gonzaga is onto its third straight Sweet 16, in search of the program’s first trip to the Final Four.Painful as the late sequence was for the Wildcats, chances are it won’t be the only thing about this magical season that they remember.

”To me, the second half is who that group was,” Chris Collins said.

But losing, especially that way?

”It stinks. That’s the part of the tournament that’s really hard,” he said.

NOTES—The Wildcats had more trouble stopping 7-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski’s backup than Karnowski himself. The senior missed his first three shots and never got into much of a groove on the way to nine points. His backup, Collins, had 14 points, including back-to-back three-point plays that pushed Gonzaga’s lead back to 19 in the second half after it had briefly dropped to 12…..For the second straight game, McIntosh had a memorable second half, but it was the first half that made the difference. He shot only 3 for 9 in the first half, part of a 30 percent shooting effort by the Wildcats, who made only 1 of 11 from 3-point range over the first 20 minutes…..Adding to their coach’s frustration: The Wildcats finished the game with 26 fouls. Pardon fouled out and three players, Lindsey, Barret Benson and Gavin Skelly, finished with four each.

NU wins heart stopper from Vandy–Zags next!

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SALT LAKE CITY—At Northwestern, the party goes on.At Vanderbilt, there is only one question: What was he thinking? Northwestern’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, 68-66 over Vanderbilt, came after Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably grabbed Bryant McIntosh of the Wildcats on purpose, sending McIntosh to the free throw line for the go-ahead points with 15 seconds left.

”I actually thought we were down one,” Fisher-Davis explained after Thursday’s heartbreaker in the West region. ”Coach … pointed at him, but he was just telling me that was my matchup. I took it as (I should) foul. It was just a dumb-ass foul.”

And though Fisher-Davis scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half to help ninth-seeded Vandy (19-16) rally from 15 points down, his mistake was the main takeaway from this game – maybe not as bad as Chris Webber calling a timeout that Michigan didn’t have or Georgetown’s Fred Brown throwing the pass to James Worthy of North Carolina in the final, but certainly not one for the ”One Shining Moment” video, either.

”An honest mistake,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins called it. ”You feel bad for players. He was tremendous today. Certainly, I was surprised.”

The sequence was set up after Riley LaChance made a layup with 18 seconds remaining to put the Commodores up by one.But seconds after the in-bounds pass, Fisher-Davis reached out and grabbed McIntosh around the waist while the Northwestern guard was dribbling up the backcourt. That put eighth-seeded Northwestern in the double bonus, and McIntosh went to the line and calmly swished the free throws with 15 seconds left for a 67-66 lead.

”When he grabbed me, I had thought we were down one, and I’m thinking maybe I made a mistake,” he said. ”I had to put my mind on making the free throws at the end.”

Northwestern forced LaChance to miss a 3 on the next possession and the Wildcats sank (24-11) another free throw.Fisher-Davis heaved a desperation shot at the buzzer, but it missed, and he sunk his head and reached down to his shoes in despair before heading to the sideline where his teammates hugged him.While the Wildcats doused Collins with water to celebrate a win that extends the program’s first trip to March Madness by at least one more game, there were red eyes in the Vanderbilt locker room. But Fisher-Davis’ teammates had his back.

”He’s the type of person (who’s going to) feel some blame,” forward Luke Kornet said. ”But in the second half, we have no chance if he doesn’t make the shots that he made. We’re with him no matter what.”

Coach Bryce Drew, who enjoyed a much different moment decades ago as a player , said certainly he and his star guard would talk more in the near future. His message in the aftermath was simple: ”From Day 1, we teach our guys that we’re a team and one play at the end … doesn’t win or lose the game.” …..Fisher-Davis, a junior who led the SEC in 3-point shooting last season, tried to keep it in perspective.

”We all love each other like brothers,” he said. ”They know I didn’t do that on purpose, obviously. We had a great season. Nothing to be ashamed of.”

NOTES—McIntosh said he, like most players, has always dreamed about scoring the winning points in March Madness. Just not quite that way. ”You don’t imagine yourself down 1 and being fouled. You envision yourself hitting the game-winner. But to be able to do that at the free throw line was relaxing.” The junior led the Wildcats with 25 points…..Fisher-Davis hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 12-0 run that kept Vanderbilt in it after falling behind by 15 with 13 minutes left. He also had back-to-back buckets and made all three free throws after being fouled on a 3 to pull Vandy within 59-58 at the 2:40 mark…..Collins called the pro-Wildcats crowd one of the best he’s seen at the tournament. He played at Duke. ”When you dream about these games, you don’t dream about losing them. You don’t dream about playing scared. You don’t dream about being timid. You dream about playing with confidence, and you dream about winning,” he said……NU will play top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round of the West region Saturday.

ND escapes with close win over Princeton.

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BUFFALO—Bonzie Colson scored 18 points and Notre Dame survived a first-round NCAA Tournament scare by pulling out a 60-58 win over Princeton.The West Region’s 12th-seeded Tigers had a chance to pull ahead on their final possession, but Devin Cannady missed an open 3-pointer just before the final horn. Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia pulled down the rebound and was fouled.The Fighting Irish (26-9) nearly squandered an 11-point second half lead. Guard Matt Farrell scored 16 points, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with Notre Dame up 59-58.Spencer Weisz led the Tigers with 15 points. The Ivy League champion Tigers (23-7) had a 19-game winning streak going into the NCAA Tournament.

UIC win CBI First Round game against Stoneybrook

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UIC picked up the program’s second postseason win Thursday night by defeating the Stony Brook Seawolves, 71-69, at the UIC Pavilion in the First Round of the 2017 CBI.The Flames (16-18) led by three at the half and extended their advantage to as many as 19 points in the second half. Stony Brook (18-14) mounted a furious comeback and pulled to within one possession on multiple occasions in the final minute, but UIC hung on for its first-ever triumph in the College Basketball Invitational.Dominique Matthews scored a game-high 21 points with a career-high six 3-pointers. In total, five Flames scored at least eight points. Clint Robinson tallied 11 to go along with six rebounds off the bench, while Tarkus Ferguson flirted with a triple-double as he registered eight points, seven rebounds and a game-high 10 assists.With the win, the Flames advance to the quarterfinals, where they will host George Washington (20-14) at the Pavilion on Monday, March 20 at 7 p.m.The Flames will host George Washington in the quarterfinals of the 2017 CBI on Monday, March 20 at the UIC Pavilion. The game will tip at 7 p.m. George Washington is 20-14 on the season as they picked up win No. 20 in the first round of the CBI on Wednesday when it beat Toledo, 73-69. UIC is 2-1 all-time against the Colonials, however all three of those meetings were prior to the Division I era.

Darling sharp, Panik scores game winner in 2-1 victory over Sens

OTTAWA—Scott Darling and Ottawa netminder Mike Condon had to put their friendship on hold Thursday night.Darling made 33 saves and Richard Panik scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lift the Blackhawks over Condon and the Senators 2-1.Panik beat Condon on the power play at 16:59 of the third, finding the back of the net on a one-timer off a feed from Patrick Kane, who was behind the net.

”It’s fun. We’ve been friends for 10 or 12 years, and it’s the fifth time we’ve played each other in pro and we love it. Second NHL game, but we’ve played each other twice in the (American Hockey League) and once in the (ECHL),” Darling said. ”We’re great friends and we both want to win. I’m happy he played well but I’m happy I won.”

Duncan Keith had the other goal for the Blackhawks, who got their second straight win.Condon made 26 saves for the Senators, who failed to jump into first place in the Atlantic Division. Kyle Turris scored the lone goal.Keith opened the scoring 8:04 into the third period. Condon made the initial save on the shot but the rebound bounced off a collection of bodies in front of the net before crossing the goal line.

”I thought the rebound was going far right so I tried to extend, then it hit a skate and went the other way,” Condon said. ”I tried to lay back and cover it up, but the guy tapped it in.”

Turris tied the game at 11:23 on the power play with a one-timer from the right side that beat a screened Darling over the shoulder with Bobby Ryan on top of the crease.

”It was good to take advantage of an opportunity there. I was just trying to get the puck through because we’ve been struggling on the (power play),” Turris said. ”It’s a frustrating result. I thought we played a pretty solid, structured game, it just got away at the end there.”

Neither team was able to score despite firing 43 combined shots on goal through two periods.The Senators had 21 shots on Darling through the first two periods but another 23 were blocked by Blackhawks skaters. Condon made 22 saves while his teammates blocked 10 additional shots.Condon’s best save was a glove grab against Artemi Panarin in the second after Senators forward Derick Brassard tried to clear the puck behind the goal but it bounced off the side of the net right to Panarin in the slot.

”There wasn’t much of back and forth and it was kind of a weird game. It seemed slow and boring in a lot of ways,” Keith said.

The Senators had back-to-back power plays late in the second as Marian Hossa was called for holding just eight seconds after Marcus Kruger finished serving his interference penalty.Ottawa had two shots on each of those power plays with no luck. Cody Ceci had no luck either as he was staring at a wide-open net from the face-off circle but the puck jumped over his stick.

NOTES—Jyrki Jokipakka, Christopher DiDomenico, Mark Stone, Mark Borowiecki and Craig Anderson were scratches for the Senators. … Michal Kempny, Tomas Jurco, Artem Anisimov, Michal Rozsival and Dennis Rasmussen sat out for the Blackhawks. … Hossa played his 1,300th game…..The Blackhawks are at Toronto on Saturday night.

D-Wade breaks ankle-out for rest of Regular Season.

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Dwyane Wade fractured his elbow on Wednesday in an unfortunate incident that will sideline him for the remainder of the regular season. The Bulls guard told reporters Thursday that the next four weeks will be about watching Jimmy Butler “kick ass” and “rise to the challenge,” leading the team to the playoffs. That will not be easy, as the Bulls are 32-36, 10th in the East and a game behind the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat in the standings. More interesting than whether or not the Bulls can claim the eighth seed, though, is what happens after that. Wade said it was too early to say whether or not his injury would affect what he does this summer, but he has a big decision to make. The 35-year-old has a $23.8 million player option next season. We know this isn’t the be-all, end-all for Wade because he said in training camp that winning a title was “unrealistic” for this Bulls team. It’s unlikely, however, that he thought the Bulls would be under .500 and fighting for a playoff spot. He has made no secret of the fact he’s frustrated with the front office’s decision to try to develop young players and make the playoffs at the same time, and he has acknowledged that his experience in his first season in his hometown will affect what he does in the offseason. Does Wade trust management to improve the team enough to be more competitive next season? This is questionable, as the Bulls seem like it genuinely wants to get younger and rebuild now — we don’t even know if Butler will even be on the team next year.Will a better team offer him a contract he finds reasonable? This an open question because it’s unclear whether or not he would sacrifice money.Wade could join any contender he wants if he’s willing to take a minimum contract. That’s a big if, which brings us to the next variable.Wade said earlier this season that he is not “ring chasing,” but he elaborated on that comment in January.

“The reason I said that, [the media] asked me a question about going to the Cavs this summer and I said, “Well, I think they had like $2.4 million [to offer],” Wade said. “It ain’t that bad. It ain’t that bad for me now. I do got three rings … that’s what I meant. In the sense, when you’re a veteran guy, you’re older, some guys have taken those sacrifices — David West last year, he gave all his money back to go to San Antonio. It’s something that he wanted to do, he wanted to put himself in position to try to win a ring. I have three, I’ve been in five Finals, so I don’t need to do that. But it is a time where you can compete too. It’s just a fine line between what you really want. That’s not what I want.”

This is what you have to keep in mind when you start imagining him joining his friend LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wade knows he can do that, but he said fairly recently that he doesn’t think he needs to. The Cavs can’t conjure up cap space to sign him, and other top-tier teams have the same issue. When negotiations didn’t go as planned with the Heat last summer, Wade talked to the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, not just the Bulls. If the Nuggets still want to sign him — a real question given how good their young wings are — then they could offer him as much or more money than he’d make in Chicago. The Bucks couldn’t quite do that, but they could at least make a competitive offer if Greg Monroe declines his player option. You never know who else could reach out with a rich, short-term deal — how much do you think his veteran leadership would be worth to the Minnesota Timberwolves, for example? When Wade has been on the bench, the Bulls have been 3.2 points per 100 possessions better than when he has been on the court. This isn’t exactly his fault — the front office signed him after signing Rajon Rondo and went into the season desperately in need of more shooting. Chicago never addressed the issue, leading to terrible spacing and an awkward offense. Wade started the season on fire from downtown, but regressed to 31.5 percent — it is clear that he needs to be surrounded by shooters in order to be successful.Given Wade’s recent comments and the mid-January venting session with Butler , I wonder how important it is for him to be on a veteran team. I also wonder if he’s at the point in his career where he’d be willing to accept a role as a sixth man. His efficiency has steadily declined in the last three seasons — perhaps that trend could be reversed if he was leading somebody’s second unit.

ISU beats UC-Iirvine in NIT first round.

NORMAL—Deontae Hawkins made a career-high six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points to lead Illinois State to an 85-71 victory over UC Irvine in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night.Top-seeded Illinois State (28-6) bounced back from a loss to Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game, and will play No. 4 seed Central Florida (22-11) in the second round.Hawkins was 8 of 11 from the floor and made all six 3-point attempts. MiKyle McIntosh and Paris Lee added 13 points apiece for the Redbirds, who shot 52.5 percent (32 of 61) from the field and 13 of 25 (52 percent) from long range, and had a season-high 22 assists.Jaron Martin scored 24 points and Luke Nelson had 17 to lead UC Irvine (21-15).The Redbirds had a double-digit lead for most of the second half. A 12-3 run pulled UC Irvine to 61-55 but the Anteaters didn’t get closer.