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Mets beat Cardinals 9-4 in Callaway's debut as manager

Yoenis Cespedes drove in three runs and newcomer Adrian Gonzalez hit a go-ahead double to lead Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets past the St. Louis Cardinals 9-4 in their opener Thursday.
 
Syndergaard (1-0) struck out 10 and walked none in six innings after missing most of last season with a torn lat muscle. Leadoff man Brandon Nimmo, subbing for injured All-Star Michael Conforto, reached safely four times and scored twice as the Mets chased a furious Carlos Martinez in the fifth inning to make Mickey Callaway a winner in his first game as a manager.
 
The 35-year-old Gonzalez also was on base four times with two hits and two walks in his New York debut. The five-time All-Star first baseman was signed for the major league minimum during the offseason after struggling with a bad back last year with the Dodgers.
 
Yadier Molina hit an early two-run homer for St. Louis that clanged off the left-field foul pole. Jose Martinez also went deep against Syndergaard and knocked in two but committed a run-scoring throwing error at first base.
 
New York got hitless relief from Robert Gsellman, newcomer Anthony Swarzak and closer Jeurys Familia to win an opener played only hours after the death of former Mets star Rusty Staub.
 
Todd Frazier, also making his Mets debut, drew a one-out walk from Martinez (0-1) in the fifth and scored from first on Gonzalez's double into the right-field corner for a 4-3 lead.
 
Syndergaard, who threw his first three pitches 99 mph, helped himself with a sacrifice bunt, and young shortstop Amed Rosario - batting ninth behind the pitcher - delivered a two-run single.
 
Jay Bruce, back after the Mets traded him to Cleveland last August, added an RBI single off Matt Bowman to cap a five-run outburst.
 
New York catcher Kevin Plawecki also had two walks and two hits, including a late RBI single.
 

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Davidson hits 3 of White Sox's 6 homers in 14-7 rout of KC

Matt Davidson became the fourth player in major league history to homer three times on opening day , while Tim Anderson had to settle for just two of Chicago's six home runs , and the White Sox pounded the Kansas City Royals 14-7 on Thursday to spoil their 50th anniversary celebration.
 
Jose Abreu also went deep for the White Sox, who picked up James Shields (1-0) in a big way after the former Royals ace surrendered four runs in the first inning. Shields wound up lasting six innings, holding Kansas City without a hit after that shaky first.
 
Yolmer Sanchez added a three-run single and Yoan Moncada drove in a pair of runs for the White Sox, who forced Royals manager Ned Yost to burn through nine pitchers.
 
Danny Duffy (0-1) breezed through three innings for Kansas City, but a trio of homers in a five-run fourth ruined his day. The left-hander survived the inning before hitting the clubhouse.
 
Longtime third baseman Mike Moustakas, who signed a one-year deal during spring training, provided an RBI single in the first before new first baseman Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer to right.
 
Abreu led off a homer binge with a two-run shot , Davidson followed with his first home run , and Anderson added his first two batters later . By the time Moncada added an RBI double off Duffy later in the fourth inning, Chicago had turned a four-run hole into a 5-4 advantage.
 
Davidson and Anderson went deep again in the fifth off Royals reliever Blaine Boyer, and Sanchez tacked on a bases-clearing single off Burch Smith with two outs in the seventh.
 
Davidson capped his big game with a three-run homer off Brian Flynn in the eighth , becoming the first White Sox player with a three-homer game since Dan Johnson in October 2012.

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Happ HR on 1st pitch of season; Rizzo, Cubs beat Marlins 8-4

Ian Happ homered on the first pitch of the major league season, and Anthony Rizzo made his emotional homecoming even more memorable with a home run, leading the Chicago Cubs past Derek Jeter's Miami Marlins 8-4 Thursday.
 
Happ, playing in his first opening day game, pulled Jose Urena's first pitch into the seats to give the Cubs the fast start they sought. They're eager to replicate the quick getaway in 2016 that helped propel them to their first World Series title in 108 years.
 
Kyle Schwarber also homered for Chicago, which overcame two errors and a rocky start by Jon Lester.
 
Doubles by Kris Bryant and Wilson Contreras in the fourth put the Cubs ahead to stay. Tommy La Stella contributed a pinch-hit, two-run double.
 
The Cubs bullpen, revamped after a dismal 2017 postseason, shut out Miami over the final 5 2-3 innings, allowing only one hit. Newcomer Steve Cishek (1-0) stranded four runners in two scoreless innings.
 
Lester, making his seventh opening day start, lasted only 3 1-3 innings and allowed four runs, three earned.
 
In the wake of Jeter's offseason payroll purge, 12 Marlins made an opening day roster for the first time. They included Brian Anderson, who singled home a run in each of his first two at-bats, and Garrett Cooper, who replaced NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in right field and singled home a run to make it 4-all in the third.
 
Another newcomer, Tayron Guerrero, struck out the first four batters he faced before allowing Schwarber's homer.
 
Urena (0-1) needed 36 pitches to get through the first inning, when the Cubs scored three times with only one hit. The right-hander walked one and hit three batters - after tying for the major league lead last year by hitting 14.
 
In his first opening day start, Urena allowed five runs in four innings.

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Heat close in on clinching, top Bulls 103-92

Josh Richardson scored 22 points, Goran Dragic added 17 and the Miami Heat trimmed their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to one by topping the Chicago Bulls 103-92 on Thursday night.
 
Justise Winslow scored 13 points and Kelly Olynyk finished with 11 for the Heat (41-35), who've won a season-best eight consecutive home games and moved within a half-game of Washington for the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
 
Bulls center Robin Lopez was ejected after picking up a pair of technicals with 8:43 remaining, ending his 13-point, six-rebound night. The Bulls dropped their seventh straight, making this the third losing streak that lasted at least that long for Chicago this season.
 
David Nwaba scored 15 points, Noah Vonleh added 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Bobby Portis ended up with 13 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago. Justin Holiday added 13 points for Chicago, which shot only 37 percent.
 
Miami led most of the way, trailing for only 14 seconds in the opening quarter. The Bulls didn't make it easy, getting within four points late in the third and cutting what was a 19-point deficit down to 12 with a 7-0 run right after Lopez got ejected.
 
But Olynyk snuffed out any doubt with six straight points down the stretch for Miami, part of a 48-point effort by the Heat bench.
 
Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned from a nine-game absence with a hip problem, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds in just under 20 minutes.
 

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Oladipo comes through late to lift Pacers past Kings 106-103

Victor Oladipo made his first five shots before scoring 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining, and the Pacers held on to beat the Sacramento Kings 106-103 on Thursday night.
 
Bojan Bogdanovic had 25 points, Thaddeus Young added 18 points and eight rebounds, and Darren Collison finished with eight points and nine assists against his former team to help the Pacers extend their winning streak to four.
 
The Pacers led 99-91 with 3 minutes left following a 12-5 run. Oladipo had eight points during the surge, including a pair of three-point plays.
 
After Buddy Hield scored seven consecutive points, Bogdanovic sank a pair two free throws for Indiana before Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic - no relation to the Pacers player - hit a 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left to pull the Kings within 104-103.
 
Oladipo, who struggled from the perimeter, then made his shots from the line.
 
Willie Cauley-Stein had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Kings. Bogdanovic scored 21 points and Hield had 20.

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Blackhawks D Seabrook plays in 1,000th NHL game

Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook has played in his 1,000th NHL regular-season game.
 
Seabrook got the start alongside Duncan Keith for Thursday night's matchup with Winnipeg. He has appeared in 77 of Chicago's 78 games this season.
 
Each of the Blackhawks warmed up in Seabrook's No. 7 jersey, and the franchise recognized the defenseman during a pregame ceremony. He was presented with a commemorative silver stick, a painting and a family vacation to Disney World.
 
Seabrook, who turns 33 on April 20, was selected by Chicago in the first round of the 2003 draft. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and also played on Canada's gold medal-winning team in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
 
He is the fifth player in franchise history to skate in 1,000 or more games for the team, joining Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Eric Nesterenko and Bob Murray.

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Illini Splits Rainy Doubleheader with Wildcats

For the first time since the 2015 season, the Illinois softball team earned a win over Northwestern as the Illini split their Big Ten Conference doubleheader with the Wildcats on a rainy Wednesday (March 28) at Eichelberger Field.
 
The Illini (22-11, 3-2 B1G) dropped the opener, 8-7, before rebounding for a 15-9 victory in game two. With the win, the Illini have now won 13 of their last 16 games.
 
The Illini last defeated the Wildcats (20-10, 3-2 B1G) on April 22, 2015 in Evanston, with the last win at Eichelberger Field coming on May 1, 2011.
 
Junior Stephanie Abello led the Illini offense with a .800 average on the day, including four hits, three runs and five RBI. Redshirt-junior Carly Thomas added a team-high seven RBI with four hits, including two home runs and a double, and three runs. Seniors Maddi Doane and Sam Acosta also totaled four hits and four runs on the day.
 
Game One: Northwestern 8, Illinois 7
The Wildcats (20-10, 3-2 B1G) scored in the first four frames of the day's opening game – including three-run innings in the first and third – to build an 8-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the fifth.
 
Needing to rally to continue the game, the Illini connected on three home runs – all coming with two outs in the inning – in the fifth, led off by a three-run bomb from Thomas, followed by two-run shots from redshirt-sophomore Veronica Ruelius and junior Alexis Carrillo.
 
The Illini would get the tying run to third base in the sixth, but that would be as close as they would get as Northwestern went on for the 8-7 win.
 
Junior Emily Oestreich (12-5) went 2.2 innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits and two walks and struck out two to take the loss. Sophomore Akilah Mouzon (2.1 IP, 4 R, 2 ER) and junior Danielle Brochu (2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 BB) also saw action in relief.
 
The Illini posted nine hits, but committed two errors, while the Wildcats totaled 10 hits and one error in the game.
 
Game Two: Northwestern 15, Illinois 9
Abello put the Illini on the board to open game two with a three-run home run – her third of the season – for a 3-0 edge in the opening frame, but NU answered back in the top of the second as a two-run double, followed by a grand slam and a solo homer gave the visitors a 7-3 advantage.
 
A Thomas three-run homer – her second of the day – in the bottom of the second then started an Illini run of nine-unanswered scores, including a four-run third inning and a two-run fourth frame on a two-RBI Ruelius double propelled UI to a 12-7 lead.
 
A two-run double from the Wildcats in the fifth closed the edge to 12-9, but an Abello RBI single combined with a two-run home run from Doane in the bottom half of the frame sealed the 15-9 victory.
 
Oestreich picked up the win in game two after giving up just two runs – only one earned – on seven hits and three walks and struck out three in 5.0 frames. Mouzon (1.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 H) started the game for the Illini, with Brochu (0.1 IP, 1 BB) seeing action in the circle as well.
 
The Illini bats smoked 15 hits to the Wildcats' 14, with both teams combining for six errors (NU 4, ILL 2) in the contest. Abello paced the offense with a 3-for-3 performance with five RBI and two runs, while Thomas added four RBI, three hits and two runs. Doane also went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBI in the win.
 
The Illini head to Minneapolis, Minn., for a three-game conference series at Minnesota on March 30-April 1 in Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. Illinois and the Gophers are set for a 3 p.m. CT first pitch on Friday, followed by a 1 p.m. start on Saturday and a 12 p.m. start on Sunday.
 
Information courtesy of fightingillini.com.

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Low expectations for Marlins as they open vs. Cubs

Opening Day is a time of hope for most teams ... except the Miami Marlins.
 
When Miami opens its season on Thursday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Park, there will be exceptionally low expectations for the home team. Rookie executive Derek Jeter executed a well-publicized offseason salary purge, leaving a roster that ranks among the worst in baseball.
 
Meanwhile, the Cubs -- who ended their 108-year World Series title drought in 2016 -- are once again among the favorites to make a deep run. And they will send left-hander Jon Lester to the mound on Thursday in the hopes of getting off to a good start.
 
Lester, halfway through his six-year, $155 million free agent contract, has been durable and effective. Last year, he had eight starts that lasted at least seven innings. No other Cubs had more than four such starts.
 
He has also made more than 30 starts in each of the past 11 years.
 
Lester went 13-8 with a 4.33 ERA last year. It was his fifth straight season with more than 10 wins. But he also allowed a career-high 26 homers, which has been attributed to a fastball that at times has decreased in velocity to 90 mph.
 
Opposing Lester on Thursday will be right-hander Jose Urena, who struggled to even make Miami's roster at the start of last season but then emerged from middle-innings reliever to front-line starter with a 14-7 record and a 3.82 ERA.
 
From May 7 to the end of last season, Urena led the National League with 28 starts. Urena has a mid-90s fastball, but he pitches to contact as his strikeout rate per nine innings (5.7) reflects.
 
Among the players backing Urena on Thursday will be second baseman Starlin Castro, a four-time All-Star who likely deserves better than his current predicament.
 
He was on the 2015 Cubs team that made the playoffs but was traded away before he could be on that 2016 World Series championship team. Then, last year, Castro was with the New York Yankees and was one win away from getting to the World Series.
 
The cruelest twist of fate happened this past offseason, when the Yankees dumped his contract on the Marlins so that they could acquire home run king Giancarlo Stanton.
 
Castro's sad story has nothing on what Marlins fans have had to endure for years. This past offseason, they saw Jeter and his group trade away a superstar in Stanton and other standouts such as Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon.
 
To make matters worse for the Marlins, they have suffered numerous injuries this spring and will be missing starting catcher JT Realmuto and starting third baseman Martin Prado. Other Marlins on the disabled list are starting pitchers Dan Straily and Wei-Yin Chen, reliever Brian Ellington and shortstop JT Riddle.
 

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Redbirds Use Big Innings to Pull Away from Leathernecks

Illinois State used three big innings to run away from the Western Illinois Leathernecks on Tuesday evening, defeating the in-state rivals 8-4 at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.
 
Owen Miller went 4-for-5 at the plate while John Rave was 2-for-3. The pair combined for five of the team's eight runs, as Derek Parola also scored twice .Rave drove in three in the game, as Noah Sadler had two RBI's in the contest.
 
Illinois State (9-11 overall) struck in the contest during the top of the third inning. Parola, Rave, and Miller each reached base – on a hit, walk, and hit – to load the bases. The next three batters proceeded to each drive in a run, Jordan Libman with an RBI single, Collin Braithwaite on a sacrifice fly, and Sadler on a fielder's choice.
 
Western Illinois (3-15 overall) answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth and two more in the bottom of the fifth to push ahead to a 4-3 lead.
 
Illinois State rallied, as Rave and Miller opened the inning with back-to-back doubles, before Sadler drove in Miller two batters later with a single up the middle, and the Redbirds reclaimed the lead at 5-4.
 
The lead was pushed out of reach an inning later when Nick Zouras reached on a single and Parola on an error, before Rave crushed a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right center field for his fourth home run of the season, providing the final insurance runs for the Redbirds in the game.
 
The final three innings were played to a scoreless draw, as ISU's four-run advantage after six innings was able to hold up in the victory.
 
Starting pitcher Matt Walker picked up the win, pitching five innings in the contest. He struck out six batters while allowing two earned runs, five hits and just one walk. Each of Illinois State's relief pitchers had at least one strikeout, as Trevor Cross had three strikeouts in two innings, Brady Huffman one strikeout in an inning of work, while Jeff Lindgren closed out the game with two strikeouts in an inning of work.
 
Illinois State returns to action on Friday, March 30, when the squad hosts Southern Illinois in each squad's Missouri Valley Conference opener.

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Tarasenko gets 2nd goal in OT to lift Blues over Sharks

Vladimir Tarasenko scored his second goal of the game in overtime to lift the St. Louis Blues over the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Tuesday night.
 
Tarasenko got a nifty backhanded pass from Vladimir Sobotka, who fought off Mikkel Boedker behind the net for the puck. Sobotka skated in front of the net, and then passed the puck to Tarasenko, who was on the left side of the goal.
 
The Blues' leading goal scorer did the rest, tipping in the winner at 2:33.
 
Tarasenko has six goals and six assists in his last 11 games against San Jose.
 
St. Louis has won a season-best six straight games. Four of those wins have come in overtime, all in the last 11 days.
 
San Jose had won eight straight before the loss.
 
Oskar Sundqvist also scored for St. Louis, and Jake Allen made 22 saves.
 
Evander Kane and Joe Pavelski scored for San Jose. Dell stopped 29 shots.
 
Kane drew first blood for the Sharks with his 29th goal. Melker Karlsson fed Kane, who put a wrist shot off Allen's glove at 6:26. Kane has nine goals and five assists in 14 games since he was acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26.
 
Brent Burns got the second assist, giving him 50. He became the first Sharks defenseman to record 50 assists in a season.
 
St. Louis tied it when Sundqvist threw the puck on net and it sneaked in at 17:43. Ivan Barbashev was parked in front of the crease and helped screen Dell, who got a piece of the puck.
 
The teams traded power-play goals in the second period.
 
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead on one by Pavelski. Standing beside the net, Pavelski got a pass from Burns and tapped it in for his 20th.
 
Tarasenko tied for St. Louis. He got a perfect leading pass from Brayden Schenn in the left circle, then snapped a quick wrist shot to tie it.
 
The Blues missed a chance to take the lead about two minutes into the third period when Barbashev skated in and had Dell beat but hit the post with his shot.

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Warriors don't have enough down stretch, lose to Pacers

The banged-up Warriors again lacked the firepower to finish off an opponent, and Victor Oladipo scored 24 points in the Indiana Pacers' 92-81 victory over the defending champions Tuesday night.
 
Nick Young scored 12 points as Golden State, playing without its four All-Stars for a second straight game, lost back-to-back contests for only the ninth time during coach Steve Kerr's four seasons.
 
Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 17 points apiece for playoff-bound Indiana, which won its third straight and fourth in five.
 
Pacers reserve forward Trevor Booker headed to the locker room with 33.5 seconds remaining in the opening quarter with a sprained right ankle and didn't return.
 
Kevon Looney grabbed a career-best 11 boards off the bench as the Warriors outrebounded Indiana 51-38, but Golden State only managed to shoot nine free throws.
 
The teams played for the first time, marking the latest the Warriors ever faced an opponent for the first time in a season - their 74th game.
 

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Rockets extend streak to 10 games with 118-86 win over Bulls

Eric Gordon scored 31 points and tied a career high with eight 3-pointers on a night James Harden sat out to rest, and the Houston Rockets got their 10th straight win with a 118-86 rout of the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.
 
Trevor Ariza added 21 points and Chris Paul had 13 points and 10 assists in his return after missing the last three games with a sore hamstring.
 
The Rockets had a 21-point lead at halftime, paced by 24 points from Gordon, and opened the third quarter with a 16-2 run to extend it to 76-41 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. Ariza had eight points, powered by two 3-pointers in that stretch.
 
Nwaba made Chicago's first basket in more than 3 1/2 minutes, but the Rockets scored the next seven points to make it a 40-point lead with just more than five minutes left in the quarter.
 
After never trailing in their blowout wins over New Orleans and Atlanta, the Rockets spent 13 seconds behind on Tuesday night after Cameron Payne put Chicago up 2-0 with a basket early in the first.
 
Gordon's first 3-pointer came next to put Houston up for good. It was the first of a 14-3 run that put the Rockets ahead 14-5 with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.
 
Markkanen had the next seven points to get Chicago within two, but an 11-2 spurt by Houston followed to extend the lead to 25-14.
 
Chicago cut the lead to eight on a 3-pointer by Denzel Valentine about nine minutes before halftime before the Rockets used a 13-2 run to extend it to 51-32 five minutes later. Nene had four points in that stretch and Gordon added five, including a 3-pointer to cap it.
 
The Rockets were up by 16 late in the second when Gordon scored all of Houston's points in an 8-4 run to wrap up the first half and make it 60-39.

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Michigan State signs DT out of Illinois

Michigan State has signed defensive tackle Dashaun Mallory to a national letter of intent.
 
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Mallory is from Bolingbrook, Illinois. Michigan State announced his addition Tuesday.
 
Coach Mark Dantonio says Mallory is "a big guy who can move and is very instinctive." He says the incoming recruit will give the Spartans depth at defensive tackle.
 
Mallory had 12 sacks in his senior season in high school.

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TUESDAY GAME AT BRADLEY CANCELLED

The No. 22/25 Illinois baseball team's game scheduled for Tuesday at Bradley has been cancelled due to wet conditions and the threat of more rain.
 
Illinois (15-5, 3-0 Big Ten) is exploring the possibility of adding a game for Wednesday of this week. Bradley is scheduled to visit Iowa on Wednesday.
 
The Illini and Bradley have not set a make-up date, although a game in Peoria this season is possible. Bradley is scheduled to visit Illinois Field on Tuesday, April 24.
 
information courtesy of fightingillini.com

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Tennessee State hires Illinois St assistant Collins as coach

Tennessee State has hired Illinois State assistant Brian "Penny" Collins as its men's basketball coach.
 
The 34-year-old Collins was formally introduced at a Monday news conference. Collins replaces Dana Ford, who left for Missouri State after going 57-65 in four seasons.
 
This marks a return to Tennessee State for Collins, who worked on the Tigers' staff as a graduate assistant in 2007-08 and a director of operations in 2009-12.
 
Collins has head coaching experience, working from 2012-15 at Columbia State, a community college in Columbia, Tennessee. Columbia State went a combined 54-11 in his final two seasons and reached the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament each of those years.
 
Collins, a former Belmont guard and team captain, was an assistant at East Tennessee State from 2015-17.

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Illinois' Finke, Lucas decide to transfer

Illinois has lost two more players after Michael Finke and Te'Jon Lucas announced their plans to leave the program.
 
The Illini went 14-18 in coach Brad Underwood's first year at the school. Finke, Lucas and Mark Smith have decided to transfer, and Leron Black is turning pro after averaging a team-high 15.3 points.
 
Finke graduated in December and will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer. The 6-foot-10 forward announced his move Monday in a post on his Twitter account.
 
Finke averaged a career-best 9.8 points last season, fourth on the team. He missed four games with a concussion.
 
Lucas averaged a career-high 5.7 points and 2.2 rebounds during his sophomore campaign. He was suspended for three games during conference play after violating an unspecified team rule, but started 19 of his 29 games.

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Sharks beat Blackhawks 4-3 in shootout for 8th straight win

Kevin Labanc scored the deciding goal in the fourth round of a shootout and the San Jose Sharks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Monday night for their eighth straight victory.
 
Labanc almost pulled to a stop in front of Chicago goalie Anton Forsberg, faked and then lifted in a nifty backhand. Logan Couture also connected in the tiebreaker for the surging Sharks, whose winning streak is their longest in seven years.
 
Chicago's Patrick Sharp tied it at 3 with 2:22 left in the third period with a shot from the slot that hit Martin Jones' blocker and then tumbled into the net. Tomas Hertl had put the Sharks ahead 3-2 just 1:57 earlier with his 21st goal.
 
San Jose's Evander Kane scored his 28th goal - his third in two games and eighth in 13 since being acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline. Marcus Sorensen also had a goal for the Sharks.
 
Rookie forward Alex DeBrincat scored his 26th goal and had an assist, and Connor Murphy scored his second for the last-place Blackhawks, who have lost six of seven.
 
Jones made 28 saves through overtime and stopped three of four Blackhawks in the shootout. Forsberg blocked 35 shots through overtime.
 
Chicago center Victor Ejdsell made his NHL debut and started the game on a line between Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. The 6-foot-5, 22-year-old Swede was acquired from Nashville on Feb. 26 in a trade that sent Ryan Hartman to the Predators.
 
Sorensen opened the scoring 9:15 in, sliding a one-timer under Forsberg's right skate from the edge of the crease after taking Jannik Hansen's centering pass.
 
DeBrincat and Murphy scored 1:18 apart late in the first to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
 
DeBrincat fired in a rebound with 4:28 left in the period - and 12 seconds after a Chicago power play had lapsed - to cap a rush. Jones blocked Vinnie Hinostroza's shot from the left circle with his shoulder, but DeBrincat jumped on the loose puck just beyond the right side of the crease.
 
Murphy then connected on a shot from the right point as San Jose defenseman Brenden Dillon screened Jones.
 
Evander Kane tied it at 2 with 3:21 left in the second, finishing a breakaway set up by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook's turnover inside the San Jose blue line.
 
Seabrook's soft shot landed on Mikkel Boedker's stick, then Boedker fed the puck to Evander Kane, who streaked in alone and beat Forsberg with a shot that trickled between the goalie's legs.
 
Jones made a point-blank save on Artem Anisimov's tip during a Chicago power play about eight minutes into the third to keep it tied. He denied Ejdsell and Hinostroza from the doorstep midway through the period.
 
After outbattling Chicago defenseman Erik Gustafsson on the right boards, Hertl sprinted to the net and beat Forsberg on the glove side to give San Jose a 3-2 lead with 4:19 left. Sharp then tied it.
 
In overtime, Jones made a diving, close-in save on Patrick Kane with 1:20 left. Forsberg made a pad save on Evander Kane on a breakaway with 22 seconds left.
 
Blackhawks: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

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Cardinals SP Wainwright To Start Season on DL

Saturday, word broke that Cardinals closer Luke Gregerson has a hamstring injury and could possibly begin the season on the disabled list. Sunday, starting pitcher Adam Wainwright joined him in the hammy club, as he'll begin the season on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. 
 
The Cardinals haven't announced a timetable here for Wainwright's return, but we do know he'll miss at least two of his scheduled starts thanks to the DL stint. The news doesn't sound like it's a severe hamstring injury, so the best guess here is Wainwright will be down for several weeks to get it fully healed, not risking re-injury. Perhaps he misses most of April and then is good to go the rest of the way. 
 
The injury moves Jack Flaherty into the rotation to start the season behind Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and Miles Mikolas. 
 
Wainwright, 36, is coming off his worst season. He pitched to a 5.11 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 96 strikeouts against 45 walks in 123 1/3 innings last season. He dealt with elbow issues through most of the season and in the offseason had surgery to remove a cartilage flap. 

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No. 24 Illinois Sweeps Northwestern

Jack Yalowitz hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning Sunday to give the No. 24 Illinois baseball team a 4-2 win at Northwestern. The Illini swept the three-game series at Miller Park and have won 14 of their last 16 games.
 
Illinois (15-5, 3-0 Big Ten) sits at the top of the Big Ten standings, tied with Michigan at 3-0, thanks to an excellent relief outing from Ryan Thompson. The right-hander threw the last three innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five, including three straight strikeouts after entering with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
 
Bren Spillane led Illinois with three hits. Spillane hit .600 (6-10) for the series with two doubles, a homer, four walks, four runs and three steals.
 
Ty Weber started and pitched 6 2/3 innings while allowing one run on three hits.
 
Illinois is back in action Tuesday at Bradley. The Illini's Big Ten home opener is Friday against Iowa.

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Packers Bring Back DB Williams

Tramon Williams is returning to the Green Bay Packers to help replenish the secondary.
 
The team signed the free agent cornerback on Friday. The 11-year veteran spent the first eight seasons of his career in Green Bay, intercepting 28 passes in 127 games including 99 starts.
 
Williams played last season with Arizona after spending two years in Cleveland. New Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was coach of the Browns in Williams' first year in Cleveland in 2015.
 
Williams, who turned 35 last week, was a respected locker room presence when he left Green Bay in 2014. He returns to help mentor a cornerback position that struggled through an injury-filled season in 2017.
 
Green Bay may still be looking for cornerback help in the draft or free agency.
 
Last year's first-round draft pick, Kevin King, showed flashes of promise but his season ended in December because of a shoulder injury. Veteran Davon House is a free agent.
 
Damarious Randall was traded to the Cleveland Browns in a deal that brought backup quarterback DeShone Kizer to Green Bay.
 

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Pacers Hold Off Heat

Victor Oladipo had 23 points and five assists, Thaddeus Young added 22 points, nine rebounds and five steals to help the Pacers beat the Miami Heat 113-107 in overtime Sunday, earning their seventh postseason berth in the last eight seasons.
 
Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers.
 
Oladipo made a 3-pointer in overtime as Indiana pulled away. Darren Collison, who finished with 12 points, made the go ahead 3-pointer to put the Pacers ahead 101-100 with 2:49 remaining in the extra period, and Indiana scored 11 straight points to build a lead. The Pacers took a 109-102 lead with Collison's 3-pointer with 55 seconds left to play.
 
Tyler Johnson made five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, James Johnson had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Bam Adebayo added 14 points for the Heat, who split the four-game season series.
 
Indiana trailed by 14 in the first half and went on a 9-1 run late in the second quarter to take a 50-46 lead on Oladipo's jumper with 2:22 remaining in the half.
 
The Heat then scored seven straight, including a dunk and two free throws by Adebayo. And James Johnson's free throw gave with under a second left gave Miami a 53-52 halftime lead.
 
The Pacers are at Golden State on Tuesday for the first of a four-game west coast trip.

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Kansas Holds Off Duke in Overtime To Advance to Final Four

Malik Newman and the top-seeded Jayhawks got past their Elite Eight road block Sunday, knocking off second-seeded Duke 85-81 in overtime to clinch the program's first trip to the Final Four since 2012.
 
Newman scored all 13 of the Jayhawks' points in OT and finished with a career-high 32 to lead Kansas (31-7).
 
Newman, a redshirt sophomore who came on late this season, drilled his fifth and final 3 from the corner to make it 81-78 with 1:49 left. Newman followed with four straight free throws, and the Jayhawks' defense stiffened enough to knock the favored Blue Devils out of the tournament.
 
Trevon Duval scored 20 points, two shy of a career high, for Duke. Freshman star and future lottery pick Marvin Bagley added 16 points and 10 rebounds in what could have been his final game for the Blue Devils (29-8), who fell shy of their first Final Four trip since winning the national title in 2015.
 
Allen had 12 points for the Blue Devils, but the senior's try at the regulation buzzer went in and then out and then off the rim before spinning away to force overtime.
 
The Jayhawks will face fellow top seed Villanova on Saturday in San Antonio - the site of KU's last title over Memphis in 2008 - after snapping a two-game losing skid in the regional finals.
 
Had Grayson Allen's bank shot to end regulation gone half an inch in a different direction, it might be Duke heading to South Texas.
 
But it didn't, and instead the Jayhawks are moving on.

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Bubba Watson Wins At WGC Match Play

Bubba Waston won the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play 7 and 6 over Kevin Kisner for the second WGC title of his career and his second win on the PGA Tour this season. After beating up on Justin Thomas in the semifinal match and keeping him from the No. 1 ranking in the world, Watson annihilated Kisner in the afternoon for the 11th win of his career.
 
Kisner did him all the favors, too. After making birdie at the first to go 1 up, Watson also took five of the next six holes, all on Kisner bogeys. Watson was 6 up after 7 and victory was not a matter of "if" but "when." That moment eventually came on the 12th hole after Watson birdied the par 5 for just his third birdie of the afternoon. It was plenty to end the match well early and for Watson to become just the fifth player with multiple majors and WGC titles (Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the others).
 
The semifinal showing from Watson might have been even more impressive than the final. Watson made four birdies and an eagle in 16 holes to keep Thomas from becoming the No. 1 player in the world with a victory. Thomas only needed to defeat Watson to become the 21st player to ever reach No. 1 in the world.
 
Following his thrilling victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, Rory McIlroy ran out of steam in his Friday match against Brian Harman, which McIlroy needed to win to advance,. Still, he finished first in strokes gained off the tee and second in strokes gained tee to green. 
 
Dustin Johnson got pummeled in all three matches he played -- 4 and 3, 4 and 3 and 3 and 1 -- and to exacerbate concerns, he finished last in the field in strokes gained from tee to green over the three days he played in Austin. He finished 63rd (of 64) in strokes gained off the tee. And that was with this 489-yard drive on Friday.
 
Thomas failed in his bid for No. 1, but there will be other opportunities. After coming in on Monday not sure he was going to compete at all because of a wisdom teeth surgery and strep throat issue, Thomas was lights out over the first four days. He faltered against Watson and Alex Noren on Sunday.
 
Jordan Spieth was all right over the first two days, but he sort of sneaked by Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel without his best stuff. Then he ran into his Ryder Cup playing partner Patrick Reed on the third day and lost.

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Monticello Blows By Decatur Eisenhower

The Monticello girls softball squad scored seven straight runs in the second inning, all with two outs, and propelled past Decatur Eisenhower 14-1 in non-conference girls softball action Friday afternoon at Monticello High School.
 
Lauren Rhoades singled to start the inning. Delaney Hilderbrandt doubled her in, and then after reaching third base, she was out at home after a passed ball was recovered by Eisenhower catcher, Maedlyn Kelm, and she tagged out Hilderbrandt at home. Then Hailey Moore struck out.
 
Following Moore's strikeout, nine straight hitters reached base with seven scoring. Miranda Fogel had a two-RBI double, Lauren Rhoades doubled in a run and Hilderbrandt doubled home two to finish off the outburst.
 
All nine Lady Sages batters scored. 
 
Taylor Wunderlich (wonder-lick) pitched three perfect innings and struck out seven. 
 
The Lady Sages are 4-2 on the season. Their scheduled game for Saturday has been canceled due to expected inclement weather. 

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Clinton Lady Maroons Fall to Maroa Forsyth

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons fell to the Maroa Forsyth Lady Trojans by a score of 10-1 on Friday evening. The Lady Maroons had one run, two hits, and two errors. Mackenzie Armstrong was named the Country Financial representative Brad James Maroons Player of the Game. Armstrong went 2 for 2 with a run scored and a walk. Olivia Sanders took the loss pitching for six innings, 10 runs, 12 hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts.

 

The Lady Trojans had 10 runs, 12 hits, and one error. Kate Beckemeyer took the win pitching seven innings with one run, two hits, walking two and striking out nine. Braylee Finck went three for four with a double and two RBIs. Kaylee Robinson was two for three with a solo homerun.

 

With the loss the Lady Maroons fall to 0-2 and Maroa improves to 5-1.

 

Tune in Tuesday, March 27, as the Maroons take on Shelbyville. You can hear the game live on the Bi 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, and on the WHOW app.

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Illinois Wrestler Killed in Highway Hit-And-Run Accident

Authorities say a member of the University of Illinois wrestling team was killed in a hit-and-run accident in central Illinois.
 
Illinois State Police say 21-year-old Francis Edelen died in the accident on Interstate 57 north of Rantoul on Wednesday night. According to reports, Trooper Tracy Lillard says Edelen was the driver of one of two vehicles involved in a crash and he left the scene on foot. Lillard says Edelen was hit and killed by an unknown vehicle just south of the first crash location. The trooper says the vehicle that hit Edelen left the scene.
 
Illinois athletics officials say Edelen was a redshirt sophomore from Oak Forest, Illinois.
 
Rantoul is about 15 miles north of Champaign.

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Monticello Rolls Past Oakwood

Jeff Willeaver drove in four runs to pace the Monticello offense past Oakwood 14-3 in non-conference boys baseball action Thursday afternoon from Oakwood.
 
Willeaver finished 2-for-5 with a double, triple, and a game high four RBIs. Asher Bradd reached base five times, drove in two and scored twice. Mitch Carr finished 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Luke Stokowski finished 2-for-3 and drove in a run. Alek Bundy reached base three times (2 BB, hit) and scored twice. Alex Marquardt scored twice for the Sages.
 
Cam Wittig picked up the win, finishing with 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, three earend, on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Andrew Rudolph pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief with four strikeouts to zero walks and allowed two hits.
 
The Sages are 6-0 on the season.
 

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Loyola-Chicago Headed To Elite Eight

With Loyola-Chicago clinging to a one-point lead and only 6.3 seconds remaining, Marques Townes sank a 3-pointer from in front of the Ramblers' bench to continue their improbable NCAA Tournament run.
 
Townes scored 18 points, including the key 3-pointer, to lead Loyola to a 69-68 win over the Wolf Pack in Thursday night's NCAA South Regional semifinal.
 
The win leaves the No. 11th-seeded Ramblers one victory from a Final Four appearance.
 
Martin led Nevada (29-8) with 21 points. Twin brother Cody Martin had 16. Jordan Carolina had 19.The Wolf Pack finally faced a deficit too big to overcome.
 
Loyola trailed by 12 points, at 20-8, midway through the first half but stormed back to lead 28-24 at halftime. Loyola closed the half with a 20-4 run as Nevada didn't score in the final 7:55 before the break.
 
After leading a combined 4 minutes, 24 seconds of their first two NCAA Tournament wins, the Wolf Pack didn't trail in the opening 18 minutes of the first half. Even after leading 20-8 and appearing to have established command, Nevada found a way to trail at halftime for the sixth straight game.
 
Freshman Cameron Krutwig, who at 6-foot-9, 260 pounds stood out as the biggest player for either team, had eight of Loyola's first 19 points but went to the bench with two fouls with 6:26 remaining in the half. He picked up his third foul midway through the second half.
 
Loyola's relentless attack on the basket continued as it stretched its lead, one layup at a time, in the second half.
 
Following a steal by Townes, Ben Richardson's layup gave the Ramblers their first double-digit lead at 36-26 and took their biggest lead at 40-28.
 
Nevada's experience in second-half comebacks paid off. After Loyola's layup by Clayton Custer gave the Ramblers their last 10-point lead at 57-47, the Wolf Pack charged back.
 
Cody Martin's basket started a 12-2 run, and his layup tied the game at 59-all with 4:06 remaining.

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Canucks Beat Blackhawks

>>Canucks Blast Blackhawks
 
Alexander Edler scored twice, Jacob Markstrom made 39 saves and the Vancouver Canucks stopped a seven-game slide by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Thursday night.
 
Henrik Sedin and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist as Vancouver won for the first time since Brock Boeser was sidelined by a back injury, likely ending his impressive rookie season. The Canucks (26-39-9) had scored just eight goals since Boeser got hurt late in regulation of a 4-3 overtime victory against the New York Islanders on March 5.
 
Chicago (30-36-9) closed out a three-game homestand with its fifth consecutive loss. Jean-Francois Berube was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 18 shots, and Anton Forsberg finished with eight saves.
 
The Blackhawks played without captain Jonathan Toews, who is out with an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated next week. Toews got hurt during Tuesday night's 5-1 loss to Colorado, which officially eliminated Chicago from playoff contention.
 
Nick Schmaltz and Matthew Highmore scored for Chicago, which has lost seven of eight overall. The Blackhawks have allowed at least five goals in each of their last five games.
 
Schmaltz picked up his 21st of the season when he got a piece of Brent Seabrook's big slap shot from the right circle at 8:02 of the first, tying it at 1. The Canucks took over from there.
 
Sedin made it 2-1 when he jumped on a rebound and knocked it by Berube with 2:18 left in the first. It was Sedin's first goal since Nov. 14 and just his third of the season.
 
Horvat scored on a rush in the second, and Edler chased Berube when he sent a long slap shot under the goaltender's left arm 9:38 into the period. Edler, a 6-foot-3 defenseman, had just three goals this season coming into the game.
 
Brent Sutter added his eighth 3:24 into the third, making it 5-1 Vancouver. The Blackhawks got one back when Highmore scored with 3:33 left, but the Canucks were never seriously threatened.
 
The Blackhawks visit the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
 
>>Broadcaster Olczyk Says He Is Cancer Free
 
Former NHL forward and coach Eddie Olczyk says he is cancer-free after months of treatment.
 
The 51-year-old Olczyk made the announcement during the first intermission of Thursday night's Canucks-Blackhawks game. Olczyk is a color analyst for TV broadcasts for the Blackhawks and NBC Sports.
 
Olczyk was diagnosed with colon cancer last summer and had surgery. He says he was told on March 14 that his scans were clear.
 
Olczyk was selected by Chicago with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1984 draft. He played for six teams during his 16 seasons in the NHL, helping the New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 1994. He finished with 342 goals and 452 assists in 1,031 games.
 
The Chicago native also coached the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2003-04 season and part of the 2005-06 season.

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Illinois Crushes Cal State Northridge

Bren Spillane homered twice and drove in a career-high eight runs Wednesday to lead the No. 24-ranked Illinois baseball team to a 12-7 win over CSUN at Illinois Field. The Illini have won 11 of their last 13 games.
 
Illinois (12-5) trailed 5-1 in the third inning before scoring 11 of the game's final 13 runs. The Illini answered CSUN's four-spot in the third with a four-spot of their own, sparked by a two-run double from Spillane. Spillane then hit a three-run homer in the fourth to give Illinois the lead for good and homered again in the sixth, a two-run shot.
 
Spillane, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, has gone 11-for-17 with five homers, three doubles and 14 RBIs in the last four games. He is hitting .439 for the season (29-66) with eight homers, 29 RBIs and a .985 slugging percentage.
 
Illinois scored in six of its eight trips to the plate and at least once off of all six CSUN pitchers that threw. Zac Taylor had three hits, Jack Yalowitz reached five times (two hits, two HBP, one walk) and Doran Turchin reached four times (one hit, three walks).
 
Quinten Sefcik picked up his first win of the season by allowing one run on five hits over two innings in relief. Zack Jones (2.0 IP, 0 H) and Sean Leland (1.0 IP, 1 H) both had scoreless outings out of the bullpen.
 
Illinois is back in action Friday at Northwestern to start Big Ten play. 

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Big Fourth Inning Sends Mahomet-Seymour Past Clinton

The Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs scored nine runs in the fourth inning, propelling them to a 15-5 ten-run rule win over the Clinton Maroons in their home opener from Clinton High School Wednesday afternoon.
 
Austin Biehl's three-run home run highlighted the nine run outburst, he finished 2-for-4 with another double. Jordan Veldman finished 2-for-4 with a double and a triple with two runs batted in. Lukas Graham went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Tanner Kirts finished 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
 
Mac Hickman started the game for the Maroons. He threw two shutout innings with three strikeouts and allowed a pair of hits.
 
Keaton Thayer took the loss, allowing six runs, three earned, on five hits with a walk and no strikeouts.
 
The Maroons actually jumped out 5-0 in the second inning. Braden Cross' two-run home run highlight the frame. Rustin Wertz added a two RBI hit as well. 
 
The Bulldogs responded with a six-run top of the third inning and put the game away with their nine-run fourth.
 
Mahomet Seymour is 3-0 on the season while Clinton drops to 0-2.

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Blues Outlast Bruins

Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give St. Louis a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
 
The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within two points of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
 
Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.
 
Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.
 
Schwartz scored his third game-winning goal of the season with a nifty coast-to-coast march in the extra period. He took a drop pass from Colton Parayko and skated behind his own net to gain momentum.
 
Schwartz weaved through a pair of defenders and drilled a hard shot from the slot past goalie Anton Khudobin, who made 18 saves.
 
Schwartz, who got his 15th career game-winner, missed 20 games earlier in the season with a broken ankle.
 
Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.
 
Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.
 
The Blues host Vancouver on Friday night.

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Bulls, Pacers Lose Wednesday

>>Nuggets Rout Bulls
 
Nikola Jokic had 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists and the Denver Nuggets routed the Chicago Bulls 135-102 on Wednesday night.
 
Denver shot 61.4 percent (51 for 83) from the field and had seven players score in double figures. Paul Millsap had 22 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes, and Wilson Chandler made five of the Nuggets' 20 3-pointers on his way to 19 points.
 
The Nuggets (39-33) improved to 1-2 on a seven-game trip and pulled within 1 1/2 games of idle Utah for eighth in the Western Conference playoff race.
 
The 7-foot Jokic went 9 for 11 from the field and made each of his two 3-point tries.
 
Cristiano Felicio scored 16 points for the Bulls (24-47), who have dropped four of five. Bobby Portis had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Noah Vonleh finished with 14 points.
 
Chicago played without Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine due to injuries, and veteran center Robin Lopez did not dress. Dunn has a right toe sprain, Markkanen has been bothered by lower back spasms and LaVine is out with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.
 
LaVine (16.7 points per game), Markkanen (14.9) and Dunn (13.4) are the Bulls' top three scorers after Nikola Mirotic was traded to New Orleans last month.
 
The Nuggets opened a 33-23 lead on Jokic's layup with 1:15 left in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit advantage for the rest of the game. Once a fast shooting start for the Bulls wore off, it was never in doubt.
 
The lead ballooned to 20 for the first time on Chandler's layup with 5:52 left in the first half. It got up to 30 when Jokic and Will Barton hit consecutive 3-pointers, making it 74-44 with 58.2 seconds remaining in the quarter.
 
Jokic then made a slick pass to set up Jamal Murray's three-point play, helping Denver to a 77-46 halftime lead. The Nuggets shot 68.3 percent (28 for 41) from the field in their highest-scoring first half of the season.
 
The Bulls host Milwaukee on Friday night in the finale of their season series. 
 
>>Pelicans Hold Off Pacers
 
Anthony Davis pushed the advantage to six points with his gritty put-back of Jrue Holiday's missed free throw with 15 seconds left. Then the 25-year-old, five-time All-Star added two more clutch free throws with 7.6 seconds left, finishing with 28 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, and the Pelicans outlasted the Pacers 96-92 on Wednesday night.
E'Twaun Moore scored 23 for New Orleans, which had to overcome a scrappy defensive effort by Indiana to win its third straight.
 
The Pelicans, who average nearly 112 points per game, were limited to 43 percent (34 of 79) accuracy by the Pacers, who also turned 20 turnovers by New Orleans into 15 points.
 
The Pacers shot only 36.6 percent (34 of 93), but kept the game close with 15 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.
 
Neither team led by more than six, and the game was tied at 87 with 1:49 left, after Victor Oladipo's block of Jrue Holiday sent Darren Collison away for a fast-break layup as he was fouled by Moore.
 
Moore put back his own miss with 1:24 to play to put the Pelicans back in front for good.
 
Nikola Mirotic scored 15 for New Orleans, including crucial back-to-back 3s inside the final four minutes after he'd started 0 for 7 from long range.
 
Oladipo led Indiana with 21 points. Myles Turner added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
 
The Pacers host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

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Monticello Ten-Runs Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond Tuesday

The Monticello Sages scored five runs in the bottom of the fifith-inning to walk-off Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond in 11-1 in non-conference boys baseball action Tuesday afternoon at Monticello High School. 
 
On an afternoon when most games across central Illinois were canceled because of the cold weather, the Sages led 6-1 headed to the bottom of the fifth inning and sent nine hitters to the plate, and Cam Wittig's RBI double ended the game for Monticello as they won by ten-run rule 11-1.
 
Alek Bundy and Alex Marquartd each scored two runs.
 
Luke Stokowski finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. Mitch Carr finished 2-for-2 with two walks, a run and drove in a run as well.
 
Jeff Willeaver capped a three-run fourth inning with a two-run double and Asher Bradd had a pair of stolen bases for Monticello.
 
Marquardt threw three shutout innings to pick up the win for the Sages. He allowed a hit, a walk and struck out four. 
 
The Knights, who's lineup featured six freshman or sophomores, were led by Waylan Schlabach, who was 3-for-3 and Dario Ayala drove in the lone run for ALAH. 
 
The Sages are 6-0 on the season and ALAH drops to 0-2. 

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Avalanche Blow By Blackhawks

Nathan MacKinnon had two assists, extending his point streak to a career high-tying 13 games, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 on Tuesday night.
 
Alexander Kerfoot scored twice and Semyon Varlamov made 44 saves as Colorado won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 8-1-3 in their last 12. Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Barrie each had a goal and an assist, and Erik Johnson added an empty-netter.
 
The Avalanche (40-25-8) snapped a tie with Anaheim for the top spot in the Western Conference wild-card race and moved within two points of Minnesota for third place in the Central Division.
 
Chicago (30-35-9) lost for the sixth time in seven games. Defenseman Brent Seabrook scored his fifth goal of the season for the Blackhawks, and Anton Forsberg made 35 stops in his first start since he was pulled in the first period of Thursday night's 6-2 loss at Winnipeg.
 
The last-place Blackhawks were eliminated from postseason contention with the loss. They had made the playoffs in nine straight seasons, winning three Stanley Cups.
 
Seabrook's power-play goal put Chicago in front with 4:15 left in the first period, but Colorado responded with three in the second.
 
With Andreas Martinsen in the box for slashing, a wide-open Kerfoot jumped on a rebound and beat Forsberg from the slot at 2:07. Kerfoot snapped a 14-game drought with his 16th of the season.
 
The Avalanche then grabbed a 2-1 lead on their next shot. MacKinnon drew Forsberg over to one side of the net before playing it across to Rantanen for the easy one-timer at 5:01.
 
Rantanen extended his point streak to seven games. The 21-year-old forward is tied with MacKinnon for most points in the NHL in March with 20 apiece.
 
Rantanen and MacKinnon each picked up an assist when Barrie scored from the high slot on another power play, making it 3-1 at 12:40. Barrie extended his career-best point streak to 11 games, the longest run for an Avalanche defenseman since the franchise moved to Colorado.
 
Chicago had three more power-play chances in the third, but came up empty each time. Johnson scored from the other end of the ice at 18:04, and Kerfoot made it 5-1 when he beat Forsberg with 57 seconds remaining.
 
The Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.

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US Open Winner, Koepka, To Miss The Masters With Wrist Injury

Brooks Koepka finished 11th at the Masters last year, but he won't get the chance to improve his standings there this year. The U.S. Open's reigning champ will miss the Masters with a wrist injury that has kept him out since January, saying that he needs to make sure he's 100 percent before he plays again.
 
The injury is a partially torn tendon in his left wrist. Koepka didn't start putting against until this week.
 
Koepka has only gotten better at The Masters, going from 33rd in 2015 to 21st in 2016, and eventually improving to 11th last year. His last tournament was the Sentry Tournament of Champions which took place the first week of January. Koepka placed 34th at 13 over.
 
Koepka didn't miss a major cut last season, going four of four. He finished within the top 10 twice, with a win at the U.S. Open at 16 under and a sixth place finish at The Open, shooting 4 under. The No. 9 player in the world was in Palm Coast, Florida, watching his alma mater Florida State play in the Valspar Collegiate Invitational last weekend when he confirmed he would be out. The Masters begins April 5, and there are no alternates at the event.

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Bears, Packers Free Agent Notes

>>Bears Match Offer Sheet For CB Fuller
 
The Chicago Bears have matched the Green Bay Packers' offer sheet for cornerback Kyle Fuller and signed him to a four-year contract.
 
The Bears announced Tuesday they are retaining Fuller.
 
A person familiar with the situation said Friday that Fuller signed an offer sheet with the Packers. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither team had announced that move.
 
Fuller had 22 passes defensed and two interceptions last season. He emerged as a key player after struggling in 2015 and sitting out 2016 because of a knee injury.
 
General manager Ryan Pace says the Bears "could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years."
 
Chicago finished last in the NFC North at 5-11 last season.
 
>>Former Packers S Burnett To Sign With Pittsburgh
 
The two-time defending AFC North champions signed free agent safety Morgan Burnett to a three-year deal on Tuesday, part of an overhaul in the secondary that began last week when the team cut ties with veterans Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden and William Gay.
The 29-year-old Burnett has played all eight seasons of his NFL career in Green Bay, collecting 683 tackles, 44 passes defensed, nine interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. He started 102 games for the Packers and won a Super Bowl ring in 2011, when Green Bay beat Pittsburgh.
 
Burnett moved around late in his tenure with the Packers but spent the majority of the time in Green Bay at safety. It's a position where the Steelers have a serious need after deciding to part ways with Mitchell and Golden. Sean Davis has shown flashes during his two seasons and has one of the two starting spots. The other remains up in the air, though Burnett would figure to have the inside track over J.J. Wilcox.
 
Burnett's signing is the second by Pittsburgh during free agency. The Steelers signed inside linebacker Jon Bostic to a two-year deal over the weekend.

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Illini 1B Spillane Becomes Illini's Third Straight Big Ten Player of the Week

Illinois first baseman Bren Spillane was named Big Ten Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday. Spillane is Illinois' third straight honoree, joining Michael Massey (March 5) and Doran Turchin (March 12).
 
Spillane put on a show Saturday at Southern Illinois, going 8-for-10 with three homers, two doubles and six RBIs in a doubleheader. He had three homers on four hits in the series opener, becoming the 11th player in Division I to hit three in a game this season, then went 4-for-4 with two doubles in the nightcap.
 
For the week, Spillane hit .600 (9-15) with an OPS of 2.000. Spillane ranks fourth in the nation in slugging percentage (.887), 21st in doubles (9) and 32nd in homers (6) this season.
 
No. 24 Illinois (11-5) has won three Big Ten Player of the Week honors before the end of March for the first time in program history.
 
Spillane was up for consideration for Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Week award, but narrowly missed.
 
>>Illinois, Illinois State Postponed
 
The Illinois baseball team's game scheduled for Tuesday at Illinois State has been postponed due to forecasted weather. The game will be made up Wednesday, April 4 at 4:30 p.m. CT.
 
No. 24 Illinois (11-5) resumes its schedule Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. CT against CSUN at Illinois Field.

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Pacers Win; Bulls Lose

>>Knicks Get By Bulls
 
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 22 points and Michael Beasley added 17 as the New York Knicks defeated the Chicago Bulls 110-92 on Monday night.
 
Enes Kanter had 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Troy Williams added 11 for the Knicks.
 
Cristiano Felicio scored a career-high 17 points for the Bulls, who were missing their top three scorers and went 3-for-30 from 3-point range. Bobby Portis and Antonio Blakeney scored 16 points apiece.
 
The Knicks used an 11-0 run to end the second quarter and take a 47-37 halftime lead.
 
Chicago's Zach LaVine (16.7 points per game), Lauri Markkanen (14.9) and Dunn (13.4) were out with injuries. 
 
Felicio scored Chicago's first 11 points of the second half and the Bulls pulled within four, 56-52, on Denzel Valentine's layup with 7:45 left.
 
That was close as they would get, as the Knicks followed with a 21-5 stretch and opened up a 77-57 lead on the second of Hardaway's consecutive 3-pointers with 2:35 left in the quarter.
 
New York led 83-67 at the end of the third, and the Bulls got within 10 points midway through the fourth. The Knicks responded with an 11-2 run that put the game away.
 
The Bulls host Denver on Wednesday.
 
>>Pacers Knock Off Lakers
 
Victory Oladipo scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half, Myles Turner added 21 points and seven rebounds and the Pacers rallied for a 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. The win ended a two-game losing streak, allowing Indiana to keep pace with Cleveland in a tight Central Division race.
Kyle Kuzma finished with 27 points and eight rebounds, and Brook Lopez had 23 points and eight rebounds for Los Angeles. They were the catalysts in the Lakers' strong start, helping build a 28-19 lead that held for most of the first half.
 
Everything changed in the second half when OIadipo took control.
 
He and Darren Collison got Indiana going with back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third quarter for a 77-70 lead. After Julius Randle put in a layup, Collison answered with a 20-footer, and when the 14-4 flurry ended, Indiana led 85-74 late in the third.
 
Backup center Domantas Sabonis missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle and will miss the Pacers next game as well.
 
The Pacers will try to earn a series split at New Orleans on Wednesday night.

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Hawa'ii Sweeps Illinois State

The Hawai'i Warriors took both ends of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader against the Illinois State Redbirds, winning the opener 7-3, before taking the evening game of the series 7-6.
 
John Rave led the Redbirds by going 4-of-8 at the plate on the day with two runs scored and two RBI's. Collin Braithwaite drove in three, as Rave and Joe Butler each scored twice on the day.
 
Hawai'I started the opening game with a bang, as a three-run double staked the hosts to a quick lead. The Warriors added to their lead with a four-run sixth inning, pushing ahead to a 7-0 lead headed to the bottom of the seventh inning.
 
Rave went 2-4 in the loss for the Redbirds, and was the only player on the squad with multiple hits. Butler drove in two runs, as three of the team's five hits were for extra bases. 
 
In the afternoon finale the Redbirds jumped on the scoreboard quickly with a two-run double off of the bat of Braithwaite that scored Rave and Owen Miller. Aeilts followed with a run scoring single that scored Braithwaite. Later in the inning, Jack Butler singled home Nick Zouras to put the Redbirds ahead 4-0.
 
The Redbirds added to their lead with a run in the fourth inning when Braithwaite hit his second double of the day, chasing home Rave, and putting the visitors on the scoreboard ahead 5-0 after four innings.
 
Hawai'i fought back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, and then took the lead in the bottom of the fifth with four runs, three on a bases-loaded RBI double off the bat of Johnny Weeks.
 
Illinois State tied the score in the top of the eighth inning when Joe Butler opened the inning with a walk, and was pushed to third on a Bryce Grimm single two batters later. Rave then followed with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Butler and tying the score at six runs apiece.
 
The Warriors took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly, giving the game its 7-6 final score.
 
The Redbirds return to action on Tuesday, March 20, when Illinois State hosts Illinois in their home opener, with a 4:30 p.m. first pitch.

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Illinois Wins Sunday, Takes Weekend Series Over Southern Illinois

Ty Weber allowed one earned run on three hits over eight innings Sunday to beat Southern Illinois 6-2 at Itchy Jones Stadium. 
 
Weber's day ended with 14 straight outs and Joey Gerber closed the game with a 1-2-3 ninth. Weber struck out a career-high eight and moved to 3-1 on the year.
 
The Illini got hits from eight of the nine starters, including two from leadoff man Zac Taylor. Taylor doubled and scored in the first, then drove in a run with a single in a four-run fifth inning.
 
Doran Turchin, Michael Michalak, Ben Troike and Jack Yalowitz also singled in the big fifth inning, one frame after Illini head coach Dan Hartleb was ejected for arguing a call.
 
Brad Harrison (3-1) took his first loss of the season. He threw 7 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits while striking out eight.
 
Illinois is off Monday before playing Tuesday at Illinois State and Wednesday at home against Cal State Northridge. Big Ten play starts next weekend with a trip to Northwestern.
 
The Illini won the series 2-1 and have won 10 of their last 12 games.

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Kansas State Ends Historic Run By UMBC To Advance To Sweet 16

UMBC's brief, but historic run ended with a 50-43 loss to ninth seeded Kansas State on Sunday night.
 
UMBC became the first 16 seed to beat a No. 1, destroying top-ranked Virginia 74-54 on Friday night. After pulling off an all-time sports stunner, the Retrievers ran out of magic against the Wildcats.
 
Barry Brown led Kansas State with 18 points and Xavier Sneed came up with some huge plays down the stretch, including a monster dunk off an offensive rebound.
 
The Wildcats (24-11) move on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010 when they lost in the Elite Eight to Butler. They will face No. 5 Kentucky on Thursday night.
 
UMBC had only had two field goals in the final six minutes and shot just 29.8 percent for the game.
 
UMBC's scrappy defense forced 18 turnovers, but managed just three points off those. They finished 6 of 22 from 3-point range two nights after lighting up Virginia. And 9 of 18 from the free throw line.

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Blues Rally Past Blackhawks in Overtime

Patrik Berglund scored 3:31 into overtime, and the Blues rallied for a big 5-4 victory over the lowly Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night.
 
Defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn each had a goal and three assists for the Blues (39-28-5), who also trailed 3-2 after two periods in Saturday night's 4-3 overtime victory against the Rangers. Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist, and Vladimir Sobotka also scored.
 
St. Louis is hoping to earn one of two wild cards in the tough Western Conference, but it trails Colorado, Anaheim and Dallas heading into the final stretch of the season.
 
The Blues were trailing 4-3 with 1:22 left in regulation when Pietrangelo drove a long slap shot past a screened Jean-Francois Berube for his 15th of the season. Berglund then got the winner when his shot from near the right circle trickled through Berube's legs in OT.
 
Alex DeBrincat scored three times for last-place Chicago (30-34-9), which has dropped five of six, including its first loss to Buffalo since December 2009 on Saturday. David Kampf also scored, and Berube made 36 saves.
 
DeBrincat gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead when the rookie completed his third career hat trick at 16:47 of the third, beating Jake Allen with a one-timer off a nice pass from Artem Anisimov.
 
But St. Louis rallied one more time while playing without star forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who leads the team with 27 goals. He is day to day with an upper-body injury after he got hurt in the first period against New York.
 
St. Louis also trailed 2-0 after one and 3-2 after a wild conclusion to the second period.
 
The Blues almost had the go-ahead goal with 1:57 left in the second when Jaden Schwartz's shot squeezed by Berube and came tantalizingly close to crossing the line before Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Oesterle knocked it back into his goaltender. The on-ice call of no goal was confirmed by a replay review.
 
Kampf then got a pass from Vinnie Hinostroza and drove to the net for his fourth of the season, making it 3-2 with just 1.4 seconds to go.
The Blackhawks held on to the advantage until Kyle Brodziak and Sobotka hooked up for the tying score 15:24 into the third. Brodziak slid the puck in front from behind the net and Berube lost track of it before Sobotka knocked it in for his 11th of the season.
 
DeBrincat scored twice in the first period, stopping a 13-game drought. But the Blues responded with two power-play goals in the second after beginning the night with one of the worst power-play units in the league.
 
Dunn was involved in each play. First, he had a big slap shot from the high slot go off Steen and past Berube at 2:02. Then he tied it at 2 with a one-timer from the right circle for his fifth goal at 5:14.
 
Allen finished with 26 saves.
 
The Blues host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night while the Blackhawks host Colorado on Tuesday night.

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Rory Storms Back For Win At Arnold Palmer Invite

Rory McIlroy took center stage down the stretch and put the accelerator down with a closing 8-under 64 and his first PGA Tour victory since the 2016 Tour Championship at the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Bay Hill.
 
McIlroy went out in 33, and the top of the leaderboard was rich with major winners. McIlroy joined Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose around the lead halfway through the day with Tiger Woods charging in the distance. With the tournament outcome hanging in the balance and Woods trying to take it by the throat, it was McIlroy who birdied five of the last six holes to get to 18 under and beat Bryson DeChambeau by three.
 
He did it every way possible, too. McIlroy chipped in, buried long putts, hit 375-yard drives and then he closed like champs close: with a hammer and a roar.
 
It had been a mildly bumpy ride for McIlroy, who didn't have a top 10 on the PGA Tour this season and came into the week outside the top 120 in strokes gained on approach shots as well as putting. He also came in off a missed cut at the Valspar Championship last week. None of that mattered with the chips down on Sunday afternoon at Bay Hill and the world watching to see what Tiger and others would do.
 
McIlroy gained 10 strokes on the field this week with his putter and finished first in that category.
 
Justin Rose (3rd) has now finished in the top 10 in 13 of his last 15 events worldwide. Even more remarkably than that, Rose was 4 over through six holes on Thursday in Round 1 here. That means he played his final 68 holes in 18 under.
 
Henrik Stenson (4th) got run over by an amped-up McIlroy. He played 2 under overall on the weekend, but McIlroy putted as well as he's ever putted in a PGA Tour event. Stenson finished with his sixth top 15 in the last seven years at Bay Hill.
 
Tiger Woods (T5) was fabulous before fading with a bogey-bogey-par finish. Every facet of the game except for the driver is in tremendous shape. He finished in the top 20 in strokes gained on approach shots, around the greens and with the putter. Even an average week with the driver could have yielded a victory. It's Woods' first back-to-back top-five finishes since the 2013 Masters and Player Championship.
 
Rickie Fowler (T14) contended for a while on Saturday before fading with a double bogey at the final hole in Round 3 and 74 on Sunday. However, he noted earlier in the week that the outcome at Bay Hill wouldn't affect how he felt about the week as a whole. Fowler served as one of the tournament hosts and took home the Philanthropy Award presented by the Arnie's Army Charitable Foundation.

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Monticello Beats Arthut-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond

In a game heard on WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com, Miranda Fogal struck out twelve batters and threw a complete game leading Monticello past Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 5-1 in non-conference girls softball action from Monticello High School Friday afternoon. 
 
Fogal allowed a single run in the top of the sixth inning on a bloop single off the bat of Taylor Powell after she walked the first two batters of the inning.
 
Prior to allowing a walk to Mackenzie Brown to start the sixth, Fogal had set down 13 straight batters, nine via strikeout.
 
The Lady Sages scored all their runs in the second inning. The Lady Knights booted four straight outs to start the inning and Delaney Hilderbrandt drilled a two-run double to left field that and then Hayley Moore brought in Hilderbrandt with an RBI single two batters later to stake the Lady Sages to a 5-0 lead.
 
Hilderbrandt finished 1-for-2 with a walk.
 
The Lady Sages improve to 2-1 overall while ALAH drops to 0-3.
 
Hear more Sages sports on 95.9 FM WEZC Tuesday afternoon, when the boys are scheduled to host ALAH at 4:30 pm. 

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Redbirds Baseball Opens Hawai'i Series With Loss

Despite a two-double outing from Illinois State's Collin Braithwaite, the Redbirds fell 6-1 in the first of a four-game in three-day series with the Hawai'i Warriors on Thursday evening.
 
Braithwaite went 2-for-3 at the plate for Illinois State, recording half of the team's four hits in the game, along with a two-hit game from John Rave with a single and a double. In all, three of ISU's four hits were doubles in the game.
 
Leading 3-1 in the eighth, the Warriors broke the game open with a three-run outburst to put the game out of reach.
 
Illinois State's Jeffrey Barton had the loss for the Redbirds.
 
The two teams meet back at Les Murkami Stadium on Friday at 11:30 p.m. CT (6:30 p.m. local time) for the second game of the series.

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Loyola-Chicago Upsets Miami

Donte Ingram hit a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer, lifting Loyola-Chicago to a thrilling 64-62 win over Miami on Thursday in its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years.
 
Ingram's shot from well above the key - from the edge of the March Madness logo that spans midcourt, in fact - came after Lonnie Walker IV missed a free throw with a chance to give the Hurricanes a three-point lead with 9 seconds remaining.
 
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.
 
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. Ingram was 3 of 8 from 3 and finished with 13.
 
Walker scored 12 points for the Hurricanes.
 
The 11th-seeded 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.

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LeRon Black To Go Pro

Leron Black, the leading scorer for Illinois last season, will not return for his final year of eligibility.
 
Black had his best season in Brad Underwood's first year as head coach. The junior had career highs in points, assists, blocks, free throw percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and overall field goal percentage. He led the Illini with 15.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
 
Black is the second player to leave since the end of the season. Mark Smith, 2017 Illinois Mr. Basketball and the Illini's top-ranked recruit for the Class of 2017, is transferring after one year.

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Bulls Win; Pacers Lose Thursday

>>Bulls Drop Grizzlies
 
Chicago rookie Antonio Blakeney converted two of the three attempts with 1.8 seconds left Thursday night, allowing the Bulls to escape with a 111-110 victory - Memphis' 19th straight loss. Blakeney got to the line after Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans fouled him near the top of the key with Memphis leading 110-109 with 1.8 seconds remaining.
 
The rookie from LSU made the first and the third free throws, providing the final margin.
 
On the game's final play, Memphis got the ball to Marc Gasol for a baseline fadeaway that was long. JaMychal Green tipped it in but after the horn, although it appeared to be basket interference anyway.
 
It was a game between two teams looking at the bottom of the standings. Both Chicago and Memphis are more interested in improving their chances of a top pick in this summer's draft than wins at this point.
 
But for Memphis, the misery is particularly frustrating. The Grizzlies have not won since defeating Phoenix on Jan. 29 and continue to hold the worst record in the NBA at 18-50.
 
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 20 points while playing only three quarters, while Bobby Portis scored 17. Denzel Valentine had 15 points, going 5 of 7 from outside the arc.
 
Evans had 25 points and nine assists for Memphis, while Gasol added 21 points and 10 rebounds. Jarell Martin scored 16 points and Green finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
 
The Bulls host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.
 
>>Raptors Top Pacers
 
Demar DeRozan scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half, Jonas Valanciunas finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds and the Raptors used a 16-4 fourth-quarter run to get past Indiana 106-99 on Thursday night for their 10th consecutive win.
The Raptors wound up with a 58-35 rebounding edge, thanks largely to Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
 
Former Pacers starter C.J. Miles made three 3-pointers in Toronto's decisive stretch after the Raptors trailed most of the game.
 
Despite getting 22 points from Darren Collison and a season-high 20 from Al Jefferson and leading most of the game, they couldn't put it away.
 
The result: Indiana's three-game winning streak is over and its small lead in the Central Division also might be gone.
 
Indiana took control late in the first quarter and never trailed again until Delon Wright made two free throws to give Toronto an 89-88 lead with 7:02 to go.
 
Back-to-back layups from DeRozan and Wright made it 100-92 with 3:01 left.
 
The Pacers couldn't get closer than three again and DeRozan sealed it when he stole an inbounds pass and scored on a breakaway dunk with 10.5 seconds remaining.
 
The Pacers visit Washington on Saturday.

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Chicago Drops Out To Host FIFA World Cup

Chicago, the home of the U.S. Soccer Federation, dropped out of the North American bid for the 2026 World Cup as 23 cities were chosen to be included in documents being submitted to FIFA on Friday.
 
Vancouver, British Columbia, said its bid was rejected because it refused to comply with FIFA requirements that include tax waivers and putting agreements under Swiss law. Seven other U.S. cities were cut: Charlotte, North Carolina; Glendale, Arizona; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; and Tampa, Florida.
 
Sixty games would be played in the U.S. under the bid plan, including all from the quarterfinals on. Three cities were included from Mexico and Canada, and each of those nations would host 10 games.
 
Morocco also is bidding, and the 208 FIFA members are scheduled to make the decision at FIFA Congress in Moscow on June 13. The 2026 World Cup will be the first with a 48-nation field. If chosen, the North American bid intends to ask FIFA to choose 16 venues for the tournament.

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Cubs Release RP Grimm

The Chicago Cubs have released veteran reliever Justin Grimm.
 
The 29-year-old right-hander was a part of teams that made three straight NL Championship Series appearances and won the World Series in 2016. But he struggled last season with a 1-2 record and 5.53 ERA in 50 appearances.
 
Grimm had a 3.82 ERA in 4 1/2 years with the Cubs. Chicago acquired him and Carl Edwards Jr. from Texas in a deal that sent Matt Garza to the Rangers in July 2013. Grimm's best season was in 2015, when he had a 1.99 ERA in 62 appearances.
 
The Cubs announced the move on Thursday.
 

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Blackhawks, Blues Lose Thursday

>>Jets Blast Blackhawks
 
Kyle Connor scored twice to reach 25 goals this season and the Winnipeg Jets rebounded from a quick deficit for a 6-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
 
Bryan Little and Jack Roslovic each had a goal and an assist as all four Winnipeg lines produced goals. Joel Armia and Paul Stastny also scored.
 
Connor Hellebuyck turned away 25 shots in his 36th win, increasing his franchise record for goaltenders.
 
Patrick Laine extended his club-record point streak to 14 games with an assist on Stastny's goal. The 19-year-old star has 16 goals and eight assists during that span - most of which came during the Jets' recent road trip - helping the 2016 second overall draft pick earn NHL First Star honors for a second time this season.
 
Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago.
 
Saad opened the scoring just 11 seconds into the game. Following a much-longer-than-usual video review stemming from a coach's challenge for a possible offside, the goal stood.
 
The Jets took over from there with three goals over the next 9:15, chasing Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg as he allowed three goals on six shots. J.F. Berube made 30 saves in 2½ periods of relief.
 
Winnipeg had been outscored 7-2 in losing its previous two games against Central Division rival Chicago this season.
 
The Blackhawks complete a two-game road trip in Buffalo on Saturday.
 
>>Avalanche Down Blues
 
Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and an assist, Semyon Varlamov stopped 44 shots and the Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Thursday night.
Mikko Rantanen also scored twice and Gabriel Landeskog had three assists to help the Avalanche win their third straight to move into the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, one point ahead of idle Dallas - and five ahead of St. Louis. The Avalanche, who won 10 in a row from Dec. 29-Jan. 22, are 6-0-3 in their last nine games.
 
Joel Edmundson scored for St. Louis, and Jake Allen finished with 19 saves. The Blues were coming off road wins at Los Angeles and Anaheim, but couldn't keep the momentum going at home where they fell to 20-15-0.
 
MacKinnon scored twice in a span of 2:53 in the first period to give Colorado a 2-0 lead with just under seven minutes remaining. He has 11 goals and 13 assists in 13 games since returning from a shoulder injury on Feb. 18.
 
MacKinnon, who leads the team with 35 goals, had his 24 multipoint game, the most by a Colorado player since Joe Sakic posted 28 in the 2006-07 season.
 
Edmundson pulled the Blues within one at 9:15 of the second with his seventh.
 
Rantanen slipped a backhander past Allen with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the middle period, and added an empty-netter with 41 seconds to go in the third.
 
The Blues host the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
 

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Tiger Starts Round 1 of Arnold Palmer Invite With 68

WIth six birdies and one blemish -- a double-bogey six on the third hole -- Tiger Woods entered the clubhouse with a stunning 4-under 68 on Thursday in Round 1 of the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Woods did not lead at the time he finished, but he was one back of Jimmy Walker, who shot a 5-under 67. Still, Woods is right where he needs to be at a course he has crushed so many times over the years.
 
He started out brilliantly with three birdies on the back nine of the course (Woods' front nine of the day as he started his round on the 10th tee). After a pair of pars at Nos. 1 and 2, he badly pushed his drive out to the right where it went out of bounds. He had to walk all the way back to the tee and ended up making double bogey. 
 
Tiger birdied Nos. 4, 6 and 7 and on the final of those birdies, a 71-foot putt to get to 4 under.
 
Henrik Stenson is the day one leader at eight-under. Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau are among a group at five-under and tied for third.
 
Zach Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose highlight a group at three-under. Bubba Watson and Hideki Matsuyama highlight the two-under group 
 
Jason Day, a part of the Tiger three-some Thursday and Friday, played even par Thursday. 

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Raiders Sign Ex-Packers WR Nelson

As soon as Jordy Nelson was released by the Green Bay Packers, the Oakland Raiders put on a full-court press to acquire the former Pro Bowler.
 
His former position coach and coordinator in Green Bay, Edgar Bennett, and new Raiders coach Jon Gruden immediately called to bring him out for a free-agent visit. Quarterback Derek Carr picked him up at the airport and gave him a tour of the Bay Area.
 
Then the Raiders offered a two-year deal worth a reported $15 million that persuaded him to cancel his other scheduled visits and sign with Oakland.
 
The Raiders wasted little time Thursday attempting to rebuild under their first-year coach, releasing receiver Michael Crabtree to make room for Nelson; signing safety Marcus Gilchrist, linebacker Tahir Whitehead, running back Doug Martin and fullback Keith Smith; and finalizing deals with blocking tight ends Derek Carrier and Lee Smith that had been agreed to earlier in the week.

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Loyola-Chicago Meets Up With Miami In First Round of NCAA Tournament

Loyola-Chicago won the Missouri Valley tournament for its first NCAA berth since 1985. The Ramblers, who won the 1963 national championship, take a 10-game winning streak into the first meeting with Miami in the Austin, TX Regional with a tip time today of 2:10 pm CT.
 
Miami is making its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and is back in Texas for the first time since winning twice in Austin to make the Sweet 16 in 2013. Coach Jim Larranaga has six 20-win seasons in seven years with the Hurricanes. 
 
The Hurricanes don't have a player in the top 25 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring, but all five starters have scoring averages within three points of each other. 
 
Missouri Valley player of the year Clayton Custer drives the Ramblers as their leader in scoring average (13.4), assists and steals. He's also shooting 44 percent from 3.
 
Larranaga was Loyola-Chicago athletic director Steve Watson's coach at Bowling Green for two seasons from 1989-91. 

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Bears Re-Up With Acho, Amakumara

The Chicago Bears have agreed to contracts with linebacker Sam Acho and cornerback Prince Amukamara.
 
A seven-year pro, Acho had three sacks last season. Amukamara had seven pass breakups and 48 tackles after signing a one-year contract.
 
Quarterback Mike Glennon, receiver Marcus Wheaton and defensive back Marcus Cooper were released on Wednesday.
 
Quarterback Chase Daniel indicated on Twitter that he is headed to Chicago. He posted the team's logo with emojis of a bear and an arrow pointing down - as in "bear down." Daniel played for Kansas City when Bears coach Matt Nagy was a Chiefs assistant and has spent time with New Orleans and Philadelphia.

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Schwarber, Cubs Agree To 2018 Contract

Kyle Schwarber has a $604,500 salary in the major leagues as part of the one-year contract the Chicago Cubs announced last weekend.
 
The outfielder's salary would drop to $271,150 while in the minor leagues as part of the split contract. It represents a slight raise from last year, when his contract was for $565,500 in the majors and $261,000 in the minors. Schwarber is on track to be eligible for salary arbitration next winter.
 
He missed most of the 2016 season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament during an outfield collision with teammate Dexter Fowler. Schwarber returned for the World Series and helped the Cubs win their first title since 1908.
 
Schwarber slumped to a .211 average with 30 homers and 59 RBIs last year and was demoted to the minors for 11 games in late June and early July. He earned $542,205.

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Woods, Day, Matsuyama Paired At Arnold Palmer Invitational

Following a week in which he was grouped with Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson at the Valspar Championship, Tiger Woods will get another major champion in Jason Day for the first two rounds of the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods, who has played with almost every young star on the PGA Tour so far this season, will go with Day and Hideki Matsuyama at 8:23 a.m. ET in Round 1 on Thursday and 1:08 p.m. ET in Round 2 on Friday.
 
Matsuyama and Day have both had long layoffs despite successful seasons. Matsuyama bowed out of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the beginning of February with a wrist injury, and Day has taken some time off to spend with his family since finishing T2 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am the week after that. Matsuyama is No. 3 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained this year, while Day is No. 6. Woods, who has finished in the top 12 in each of his last two events, is No. 11.
 
Woods and Day make up three of the last six winners of this tournament (Day in 2016, Woods in 2012 and 2013).
 
Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Marc Leishman -- 1:08 p.m. | 8:23 a.m.
Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed -- 8:11 a.m. | 12:56 p.m.

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Pacers Win; Bulls Lose Tuesday

>>Clippers Top Bulls
 
DeAndre Jordan dominated with 29 points and 18 rebounds, Lou Williams scored 26 and the Clippers beat the Chicago Bulls 112-106 on Tuesday night.
 
Tobias Harris added 18 points, and the Clippers started to take control late in the third quarter on the way to their fifth win in six games.
 
Bobby Portis led Chicago with 19 points and nine rebounds. Kris Dunn added 18 points and six assists. But with Lauri Markkanen sidelined by lower back spasms, the Bulls lost for the eighth time in 11 games.
 
It was four-point game with about five minutes left in the third when Los Angeles went on a 14-4 run that bumped the lead to 14 early in the fourth.
 
Austin Rivers started it with a 19-footer, and Williams broke for a layup off a missed 3 by Chicago's Noah Vonleh. Montrezl Harrell drove for a layup just under a minute into the fourth, making it 92-78, and Los Angeles maintained the lead the rest of the way.
 
The Bulls were up by two in the closing minute of the first half when Zach LaVine and coach Fred Hoiberg got called for technicals, upset there was no foul called against Sindarius Thornwell as he blocked a dunk. Williams hit the technical free throws and two more foul shots to send Los Angeles to the locker room with a 62-60 lead.
 
LaVine had a rough night, with 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting.  
 
The Bulls visit Memphis on Thursday.
 
>>Pacers Beat Sixers
 
Myles Turner scored 25 points, including two clutch free throws with 21.5 seconds remaining, and Indiana beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-98 on Tuesday night in a possible Eastern Conference playoff preview.
Thaddeus Young added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the surprising Pacers (40-28), who overcame an off shooting night by Victor Oladipo to win their third straight and improve to a season-high 12 games over .500. They were coming off a 99-97 victory at Boston on Sunday night.
 
Joel Embiid had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Ben Simmons finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the 76ers (36-30), who had won 13 straight home games.
 
The Pacers and upstart 76ers could meet in the first round of the playoffs - and the game had some intensity reminiscent of a postseason matchup. Indiana began the day in third in the East, two games in front of sixth-place Philadelphia. The 76ers are aiming for their first postseason berth since 2012.
 
The Pacers looked poised to close it out when they had the ball with a three-point lead in the final seconds, but Oladipo committed an offensive foul in Indiana's backcourt. Embiid then had a tying 3-point attempt go off the front of the rim.
 
Oladipo, who was averaging 23.8 points coming into the night, finished with 11 points on 4-for-21 shooting, including 1 for 4 from 3-point range.
 
The Pacers host Toronto on Thursday night.

 

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NFL Free Agency Notes

>>Packers Cut WR Nelson
 
Aaron Rodgers is losing his most prolific receiver but might be getting an upgrade at tight end.
 
The Green Bay Packers released veteran Jordy Nelson, the third-leading receiver in franchise history and one of Rodgers' top targets.
 
The Packers announced the move Tuesday, a day before teams can begin to sign free agents.
 
Nelson had 550 receptions and 69 touchdown catches in 10 seasons in Green Bay. But his production declined last season with Rodgers sidelined much of the year by a collarbone injury.
 
Asked if the Packers offered Nelson the opportunity to come back in 2018 at a reduced salary, GM Brian Gutekunst said, "There were a lot of discussions that went on. In fairness to him, we won't get into those kind of discussions."
 
Nelson, who turns 33 in May, was scheduled to earn $10.25 million this season and carry a salary-cap number of $12.52 million.
 
Nelson had 53 catches for 482 yards and six scores in 2017, a year after winning Comeback Player of the Year honors. He had 97 catches on 1,257 yards and a league-best 14 touchdowns in 2016, rebounding from a knee injury that sidelined him the previous season.
 
Nelson's release figures to foreshadow more moves for the Packers, who could use an upgrade at tight end. Jimmy Graham is one of the top free agents available on the market.
 
The Packers have Lance Kendricks at tight end, but Richard Rodgers is due to become a free agent.
 
>>TE Trey Burton Signing With Bears
 
Tight end Trey Burton, who threw a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles in Philadelphia's victory over New England in the Super Bowl, has agreed to a $32 million, four-year contract with the Chicago Bears, according to two people familiar with the deal.
 
The Eagles also lost another tight end, releasing veteran Brent Celek to save $4 million under the salary cap. Celek was the longest-tenured player on the team, missing only one game in 11 seasons.
 
Burton threw out the first pitch before the Philadelphia Phillies played the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. He re-enacted his TD pass to Foles.
 
>>WR Amendola To Sign With Dolphins
 
Danny Amendola has almost always been the epitome of the "Patriot way" by taking substantial pay cuts to remain in New England while then proceeding to make huge plays come playoff time. That's what makes it so shocking to see him leave the Patriots for one of their rivals in the AFC East.
 
According to NFL Network's Dan Hellie, the Dolphins are expected to sign Amendola away from the Patriots. Peter Schrager ?of Fox Sports and NFL Network reported that Amendola is signing a two-year deal worth $8.25 million guaranteed and $12 million with incentives.

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Illinois State Takes Series Finale Over Washington

Illinois State (8-5) beat Washington (7-8) 5-4 late Monday night at Husky Ballpark, giving the Redbirds a 3-1 series victory over the Huskies, their first over a Pac-12 opponent in school history.
 
Matt Walker (2-0) was stellar through five innings, allowing just two runs on two hits while striking out a career-high eight batters for the Redbirds.
 
A one-out, first inning double by Owen Miller got things started. After moving to third on a balk, Miller scored on a sacrifice fly by Collin Braithwaite for the first run of the game. Back to back doubles by Nick Zouras and Joe Aeilts staked ISU to a 2-0 third inning lead. 
 
Illinois State would add two more runs in the top of the fourth, on a two-run double by John Rave that plated Derek Parola and Jordan Libman to make it 4-1
 
Washington tacked on runs in the fifth, eighth and ninth innings.
 
Miller paced the Redbirds offense finishing 2-for-5 with a run. Zouras and Parola each finished 2-for-4 with a run and Rave drove in two. 
 
The spring break trip will continue Thursday, when the Redbirds travel to Hawaii to begin a four-game set.

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Illinois Baseball Notes

>>Illini's Turchin Big Ten Player of the Week
 
Illinois junior outfielder Doran Turchin was named the Big Ten Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday. Turchin follows last week's winner Michael Massey to give Illinois two straight player of the week honors.
 
Turchin reached base in 12 of 15 plate appearances during last weekend's three games in Greenville, S.C. He led Illinois with a .625 batting average (5-8) and added seven walks for an .800 on-base percentage. Turchin also slugged a team-best 1.250 with three extra-base hits, including a home run against Furman.
 
>>Illini No. 24 in Baseball America Poll
 
The Illinois baseball team appeared Monday in the Baseball America top-25 poll for the first time this season, ranking No. 24 in the nation.
 
Illinois has won seven of its last eight games, including wins over No. 16 UCLA and previously ranked Coastal Carolina. After a weekend sweep of the DQ Classic/Pac-12-Big Ten Challenge two weekends ago, the Illini won two of three in Greenville, S.C. last weekend while putting up 33 runs in three games.
 
Illinois has been productive in all three facets of the game so far in 2018. The Illini have slashed .261/.360/.438 as a team, own a team ERA under 4.00 and are fifth in the nation in fielding percentage at .985.
 
The home schedule begins Wednesday with Milwaukee visiting Illinois Field. A trip to Carbondale, Illinois, for a three-game series against Southern Illinois follows this weekend.
 
No. 18 Indiana is the only other Big Ten team ranked by Baseball America. The Hoosiers are No. 14 according to D1Baseball.com, while the Illini are unranked.

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WR Robinson Plans To Join Bears

Allen Robinson will be one of the top free agents on the market when the new league year kicks off Wednesday. And it looks like he won't wait long to sign on the dotted line.
 
Robinson intends to sign with the Chicago Bears on Wednesday when free agency opens, barring any last-minute issues, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
 
Robinson, who was a second-round draft pick by the Jaguars in 2014, exploded in his second season, catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards with a league-high 14 touchdowns. He saw the same number of targets (151) the following year but saw his overall numbers decline (73 catches, 883 yards, six TDs). Robinson made just one catch in 2017 before suffering a torn ACL in the season opener.
 
The Bears, who haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2014, struggled to find a go-to option in the passing game with former cornerstone Alshon Jeffery leaving in free agency and 2016 leading receiver Cameron Meredith tearing his ACL before the start of the season. Kendall Wright led the team in receiving last season with just 614 yards on 59 catches, and no other player managed more than Tarik Cohen's 353 receiving yards.

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Blues Double Up Ducks

After losing nine of 10 and fading in the playoff race, the Blues won their second consecutive game against a team they're pursuing in the Western Conference, beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on Monday night.
 
St. Louis got goals from four players, two days after seven Blues scored in a 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
 
Robert Bortuzzo, Ivan Barbashev, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund scored for the Blues, who are uncertain what got them going.
 
Corey Perry and Derek Grant scored for the Ducks, who lost their third straight. John Gibson stopped 18 shots.
 
Anaheim had won seven of nine before hitting its current skid.
 
Bortuzzo scored his second goal in two games and third of the season. Barbashev scored on a rebound and added an assist.
 
Sobotka's goal put St. Louis up 3-1, and after Chris Kelly's shot deflected off Grant to pull Anaheim back within one, the Ducks turned it over and Berglund answered to put it away.
 
Jake Allen stopped 20 shots for the Blues.
 
The Blues return home to play Colorado on Thursday.

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Sages Blank LeRoy in Baseball Season Opener

The Monticello Sages used two pitchers to combine for a 12-0 two-hit shutout over LeRoy in their season opener at Monticello High School Monday afternoon.
 
Cam Wittig threw two shutout innings and Brock Wade closed the door with three shut out frames. Each allowed a hit. Wittig struck out four and Wade struck out six.
 
Monticello put up crooked numbers in the first and second innings. They scored five runs in the first, capped by a one-out double by Jeffery Willeaver, who's fly ball carried and one-hopped the right-center field fence.
 
Mitch Carr's two-run triple to center field highlighted a seven run second inning for Monticello, who racked up 11 hits in their first action of the season.
 
Alex Marquardt and Luke Stokowski each finished 3-for-3. Marquardt drove in three and Stokowski scored two runs and had an RBI.
 
Alek Bundy and Asher Bradd each scored two runs.
 
Monticello is scheduled to travel to Arcola Wednesday afternoon.
 
Hear more Sages sports on 95.9 FM WEZC on Friday afternoon, when the softball team plays Arthur at home at 4:30 pm.

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Illinois Baseball Takes Two of Three Over Weekend

The Illinois baseball team split a doubleheader Saturday at Fluor Field, beating Furman 14-5 before falling to Michigan State 4-2. The Illini's winning streak was stopped at seven games in the nightcap.
 
Doran Turchin led the offense with an .800 on-base percentage for the weekend. He had five hits and seven walks in 15 plate appearances. Bren Spillane added two homers, as the Illini hit .296 as a team with 18 extra-base hits.
 
Ben Troike hit .545 (6-11) for the weekend with two doubles, a triple and a homer.
 
Illinois (8-3) scored in seven of nine innings, including four in the eighth and four in the ninth in their 14-5 romp of Furman. 
 
Ben Troike, Spillane and Turchin all hit solo home runs in the rout. Troike, who finished a double away from the cycle, hit his first career homer.
 
Six Illini had multiple hits, led by Troike and Turchin with three apiece. Spillane, Zac Taylor, Jack Yalowitz and Michael Massey all added two hits.
 
Andy Fisher (1-0) went 5 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run to pick up his first win as an Illini.
 
Michigan State's Mason Erla limited Illinois to one hit over 6 1/3 innings to move to 2-0 on the season.
 
Turchin, Zac Taylor and David Craan had the hits for Illinois. Craan's hit, a double, crashed off the wall and almost exited the ballpark.
 
Ty Weber (2-1) took the loss by allowing three runs, two earned, in 4 2/3 innings. Ryan Thompson (2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R) and Joey Gerber (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 SO) finished the game on the hill for Illinois.
 
Illinois is scheduled to be back in action Wednesday for the home opener at Illinois Field against Milwaukee.

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Illinois State Takes Two of Three From Washington

The Illinois State Redbirds (7-5) used four home runs to power their way past the Washington Huskies (7-7) by a score of 13-6 at Husky Ballpark Sunday afternoon.
 
ISU starter Colton Johnson allowed five runs on five hits in 4.1 innings of work, and Jeff Lindgren (1-0) picked up his first win of the season in relief after allowing a run on three hits in an inning of work.
 
Collin Braithwaite hit a first inning three-run home run.
 
Leading 8-6 going to the ninth, Noah Sadler led off the inning with a single before Joe Aeilts hit the third home run of the day for the Redbirds to make the score 10-6. Joe Butler followed and went deep as well, going back-to-back for the Redbirds and extending the lead to 11-6. A RBI double by John Rave later in the inning plated Derek Parola for the twelfth run of the contest and the scoring was capped off when Rave scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Owen Miller to make secure the 13-6 victory for the Redbirds. 
 
Aeilts paced the Redbird offense, finishing the day 3-for-5 with a run scored and four driven in and Rave also added three hits for ISU. Braithwaite added two hits with the three RBI and Nick Zouras drive in a pair on two hits, as Illinois State scored in double digits for the seventh time this season.
 
The four game series wraps up at 8 p.m. on Monday. 

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Bulls, Pacers Win Sunday

>>Bulls Get Past Hawks
 
Zach LaVine scored 21 points, including four free throws in the final 17 seconds to stop Atlanta's comeback, and the Chicago Bulls beat the injury-depleted Hawks 129-122 on Sunday.
 
Bobby Portis also had 21 points for Chicago.
 
The Hawks, already playing without injured point guard Dennis Schroder, lost Kent Bazemore to a right knee sprain and Jaylen Morris to a left ankle injury in the second quarter.
 
Taurean Prince, who led Atlanta with a career-high 38 points, sank a 3-pointer in traffic with 1:26 remaining to cut Chicago's lead to 118-115.
 
Prince added a four-point play with 18.3 seconds remaining, again cutting the Bulls' lead to three points at 125-122 before LaVine's free throws padded the lead.
 
Mike Muscala also set a career high with 19 points for Atlanta.
 
Lauri Markkanen scored 19 points and Antonio Blakeney had 14 for Chicago.
 
Bazemore hopped off the court straight into the tunnel, headed toward the team's locker room, after landing awkwardly and hurting his knee with 5:24 remaining in the first half. Minutes later, the team announced Bazemore would not return.
 
Morris needed help leaving the court following his injury earlier in the second period. He also didn't return.
 
Schroder hurt his left elbow in Friday night's loss at Indiana. The injury is not thought to be serious. Backup Malcolm Delaney (left ankle sprain) also did not play, leaving Isaiah Taylor, who had seven points and eight assists, to make his first career start.
 
Prince scored 10 of Atlanta's first 19 points, including two early 3-pointers. The Hawks led 24-8, forcing Bulls coach Fred Holberg to call two early timeouts.
 
Chicago outscored Atlanta 33-16 in the second period to lead 53-50 at halftime.
 
>>Pacers Edge Celtics
 
Victor Oladipo scored 27 points, then committed a dead-ball offensive foul that gave Boston a shot to win the game at the buzzer. But the Pacers forced Terry Rozier into an off-balance shot and held on to beat the depleted Celtics 99-97.
Myles Turner scored 19 points, including the game-winning basket with 21 seconds to play, and added 10 rebounds for Indiana, who survived the crazy ending to win for the fifth time in six games. When the teams met in Indianapolis on Dec. 18, the Pacers blew a four-point lead in the final 19 seconds, capped by Rozier's steal and dunk - also with 1.5 seconds left.
 
Boston led by 10 at halftime before point guard Kyrie Irving left the game with a sore left knee, joining absent big man Al Horford, who was home sick, and Jaylen Brown, who is in the concussion protocol. Indiana went ahead by as many as nine, and had a 93-76 lead with 2:13 to play before Boston rallied to tie 95-all with 37 seconds left.
 
Marcus Smart scored 20 with eight assists and Jason Tatum scored 19 for the Celtics, who had won six of their last seven.
 
The Pacers visit Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

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NFL Players Union Selects Leadership

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Eric Winston has been unanimously re-elected as president of the NFL players union, earning his third straight three-year term.
 
Winston, who is scheduled to become a free agent, ran unopposed for the position. The NFLPA Board of Player Representatives announced the result Sunday at the NFLPA's annual meetings.
 
New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich was elected as the union's treasurer.
 
Sam Acho (Bears), Thomas Morstead (Saints), Russell Okung (Chargers) and Michael Thomas (Saints) were voted to the executive committee, and they join returning members Lorenzo Alexander (Bills), Zak DeOssie (Giants), Richard Sherman (49ers), Adam Vinatieri (Colts) and Benjamin Watson (Ravens).

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Blackhawks Get By Bruins

Patrick Kane scored a tie-breaking power-play goal with 3:16 left in the third period and had an assist, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-1 on Sunday afternoon.
 
Kane scored on a screened shot from just inside the left point to put Chicago ahead 2-1 with Boston's Zdeno Chara off for high-sticking Brandon Saad, getting a double-minor for drawing blood. Brent Seabrook added a goal from the right circle on a screened shot with 1:05 remaining as the Blackhawks ended Boston's six-game winning streak and their own two-game slide.
 
Chicago's Artem Anisimov scored his 20th goal, reaching that mark for the third straight season since the Blackhawks acquired him from Columbus. Anton Forsberg made 31 saves, and Jonathan Toews had three assists.
 
Chara scored his seventh goal, tying the game 1-1 midway through the third period. Boston back-up Anton Khudobin stopped 36 shots.
 
The Bruins played without leading scorer Brad Marchand, who sat out with an upper-body injury.Parked at the edge of the crease, Anisimov tipped in Jonathan Toews' drive from the right circle for the only goal of the first period.
 
Chara tied it midway in the third period on the Bruins' 28th shot. The big defenseman fired from the slot after taking David Krejci's centering pass and beat Forsberg on the glove side.

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Casey Edges Out Reed, Tiger, Garcia, Rose For Valspar Championship

Paul Casey won the 2018 Valspar Championship with a 6-under 65 in the final round to finish at 10 under on the week. He narrowly beat Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed by one stroke each despite Woods' crazy 44-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole on Sunday that put him in contention for his first PGA Tour victory since 2013.
 
Woods, who shot 1-under 70 missed a 38-foot birdie on the 72nd hole, and Casey took the trophy after finishing up an hour before Woods. 
 
Woods who shot his two best scores of the season and easily had his best finish.
 
Woods finished 52nd in the field in proximity to the hole on Sunday and gave himself just two looks at birdie under 15 feet.
 
Garcia shot a round-of-the-week 65 on Sunday and looked like he was going to legitimately backdoor his way into a playoff or better for much of the day. Garcia finished first in the field in strokes gained tee to green and 71st in putting, of the 78 players who made the cut. 
 
Rory McIlroy missed the cut again this week and has now played 13 rounds on the PGA Tour this year, and only three of those have been in the 60s. He shot 74-73 this week, which marks his fifth and sixth consecutive rounds over par on the year. 
 
Things weren't much better for Jordan Spieth, who missed the 19th cut of his career (two more than Tiger Woods, by the way).

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Arrieta Headed To Philadelphia

The Phillies have reportedly agreed to terms with right-hander Jake Arrieta on a multiyear contract. Bob Nightengale pegs the deal at $75 million over three years. 
 
Arrieta, who recently turned 32, has declined a bit since his Cy Young season of 2015, but he has still been an excellent starting pitcher. Over the past two seasons, Arrieta has made 61 starts and pitched to a 3.30 ERA (129 ERA+) while striking out roughly a batter per inning. As well, he hasn't been on the disabled list since early in the 2014 season. 
 
Last season, the Phillies ranked 10th in the 15-team NL in rotation ERA and 12th in rotation WAR. So Arrieta, as you would expect, will be substantial upgrade over the status quo. 
 
The Phillies earlier this offseason added Carlos Santana to the fold.
 
Arrieta's deal, assuming it gets finalized, keeps him in Philadelphia through at least the 2020 season. 

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Clinton YMCA Otters Competing at State

The Clinton YMCA Otters swim program is sending more athletes to the state competition at St. John, Indiana this weekend.
 
Jessica Anderson – 4 relay events
 
Sarah Anderson – 2 relay events
 
Charlie Ball – 1 relay event
 
Ozzie Goar – 1 individual event
 
Ella Korneman – 4 relay events
 
Hensley Rosenberg – 2 individual events
 
Payne Turney – 4 relay events
 
Jessica West – 1 relay event
 
Lincoln Adams – 1 individual event and 2 relay events
 
Brady Ball – 2 relay events
 
Kiefer Bass – 2 individual events and 1 relay event
 
Brody Beck – 4 individual events and 1 relay event
 
Jaxon Duncan-Savage – 2 relay events
 
Andrew Ellison – 2 relay events
 
Garin Gibson – 5 individual events and 2 relay events
 
Oliver Goar – 4 individual events and 2 relay events
 

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Former Packers CB Shields Headed To Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have made another addition to their defense, bringing in former Packers starting cornerback Sam Shields.
 
Shields made 23 interceptions, including the playoffs, from 2010-2015. He also won a Super Bowl with the Packers. But his 2016 season was cut short after one game after he suffered a concussion and he didn't play at all in 2017.
 
Shields' signing Thursday was only the latest defensive move by the Rams. Los Angeles on Wednesday agreed to trade linebacker Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants for two draft picks.
 
The Rams also agreed last month to acquire cornerback Marcus Peters in a trade with Kansas City, and Los Angeles also used its franchise tag on safety Lamarcus Joyner. Those moves likely mean top cornerback Trumaine Johnson will leave as a free agent.

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Support Growing For Illinois Hockey Team

A new feasibility study shows growing enthusiasm for a Division I hockey team at the University of Illinois.
 
The National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players Association and College Hockey Inc. commissioned the study in June 2017. College Hockey Inc. executive director Mike Smee says the consensus found that "NCAA men's hockey will flourish" at Illinois.
 
The study recommended building a new arena in downtown Champaign for hockey, volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling.
 
The athletics department says in a news release accompanying the study released Thursday that it's not yet prepared to make a decision about adding hockey as a varsity sport. The school said it would happen only if it could "successfully fund the program and receive needed support" from the campus and community.
 
The Big Ten started its own men's hockey league after Penn State added a program in 2012, giving the conference the minimum six teams needed to qualify for an automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

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Blackhawks, Blues Lose Thursday

>>Hurricanes Down Blackhawks
 
Sebastian Aho snapped a tie with a power-play goal in the third period, and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night in their first game since Ron Francis was forced out as general manager.
 
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. Scott Darling made 22 saves in his return to Chicago after he was traded to Carolina in April, and Elias Lindholm added two assists.
 
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 last-place Chicago (29-31-8), which 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 Chicago 28-14, but the Blackhawks 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.
 
The Blackhawks visit Boston on Saturday afternoon.
 
>>Sharks Blank Blues
 
Mikkel Boedker scored San Jose's first power-play goal in a month, helping lift the Sharks past the St. Louis Blues 2-0 on Thursday night.
Tomas Hertl added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds, and Martin Jones made 16 saves for the Sharks, who have won three of four. San Jose has also won five of six at home.
 
Jake Allen recorded 34 saves and was the only healthy goalie with NHL experience available to the Blues. Carter Hutton was a late scratch and Ville Husso, who the Blues recalled from the AHL, will join the team in Los Angeles.
 
The Blues, losers of eight of their past nine, have had trouble getting the puck into the net lately, with 15 goals over their past nine games, including back-to-back shutouts. Carl Gunnarsson, Dmitri Jaskin, Vince Dunn, Tage Thompson and Vladimir Sobotka all have goalless streaks of at least 10 games.
 
Boedker ended a streak of 39 consecutive even-strength goals with 7:48 left to play. He took a pass in front of the net from Joonas Donskoi and fired at Allen, who blocked the shot but the puck skipped off his pads and knuckled off the right post and into the net.
 
Blues C Brayden Schenn appeared in his 500th NHL game.
 
The Blues are at Los Angeles on Saturday.

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Oregon Holds Off Utah

Elijah Brown led Oregon's second-half comeback and Kenny ooten finished it off with his second straight game-ending blocked shot, lifting the Ducks to a 68-66 win over Utah in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals on Thursday night.
 
Utah (19-11) was in control well into the second half of a foul-filled game behind its shooting. The Utes shot 51 percent from the field, made 8 of 17 from the 3-point arc and led by 11 early in the second half.
 
They just had a hard time shaking the Ducks (22-11).
 
Oregon chipped the lead down to two with three minutes left and MiKyle McIntosh put the Ducks ahead up 68-66 on a 3-point play with 62 seconds left.
 
The teams traded missed shots, giving Utah the ball with 9.7 seconds left. Barefield drove the length of the court, swooped under the basket for a reverse layup, the chance to tie the game at his fingertips.
 
Wooten crushed the Utes' hopes, flying in to swat the ball away at the buzzer. He had a similar effect in Oregon's first-round game against Washington State, blocking two shots in the final 13 seconds.
 
Brown scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and hit seven 3-pointers, one shy of the tournament record. McIntosh finished with 18 points.
 
Oregon overcame it shaky shooting by grabbing 12 offensive rebounds to extend possessions and made 19 of 25 free throws.
 
Justin Bibbins led Utah with 20 points and David Collette had 16 before fouling out.
 
Now the Ducks are head to the semifinals, Friday night against USC.

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Tiger Shoots 70, Three Off Lead At Valspar Championship

In his first ever round at the Valspar Championship, Tiger Woods shot a 1-under 70 and sits just three strokes behind leader Corey Conners after 18 holes. It was a wild, up-and-down day for Woods, who made just nine pars en route to his 70.
 
There were near hole-outs, near aces and a near snapped wrist on a tree for Woods. It wasn't the smoothest ride, but in his fourth tournament of 2018, he's in contention after the first 18 holes. 
 
Sergio Garcia found some success with a 1-under 70, but Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy both struggled in Round 1. McIlroy shot a 3-over 74, and Spieth struggled to a 5-over 76. Given how strong most of the rest of the top players are showing out right now, it's a little disconcerting to see these two struggle in this way just a month before the Masters. 
 
Spieth struggled everywhere, most notably around the greens and with the putter. He was outside the top 120 in strokes gained in both of those categories (he made just 52 feet of putts on Thursday). Spieth made just one birdie to six bogeys playing alongside Woods and Stenson, and he'll have a lot of work to do on Friday to make the cut and get to the weekend.
 
Corey Conners sits atop the leaderboard at four-under. Whee Kim, Kelly Kraft and Nick Whatney sit at three-under while Jimmy Walker, Russell Knox, and Keegan Bradley are two-under. 

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Oregon Holds Off Utah

Elijah Brown led Oregon's second-half comeback and Kenny ooten finished it off with his second straight game-ending blocked shot, lifting the Ducks to a 68-66 win over Utah in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals on Thursday night.
 
Utah (19-11) was in control well into the second half of a foul-filled game behind its shooting. The Utes shot 51 percent from the field, made 8 of 17 from the 3-point arc and led by 11 early in the second half.
 
They just had a hard time shaking the Ducks (22-11).
 
Oregon chipped the lead down to two with three minutes left and MiKyle McIntosh put the Ducks ahead up 68-66 on a 3-point play with 62 seconds left.
 
The teams traded missed shots, giving Utah the ball with 9.7 seconds left. Barefield drove the length of the court, swooped under the basket for a reverse layup, the chance to tie the game at his fingertips.
 
Wooten crushed the Utes' hopes, flying in to swat the ball away at the buzzer. He had a similar effect in Oregon's first-round game against Washington State, blocking two shots in the final 13 seconds.
 
Brown scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and hit seven 3-pointers, one shy of the tournament record. McIntosh finished with 18 points.
 
Oregon overcame it shaky shooting by grabbing 12 offensive rebounds to extend possessions and made 19 of 25 free throws.
 
Justin Bibbins led Utah with 20 points and David Collette had 16 before fouling out.
 
Now the Ducks are head to the semifinals, Friday night against USC.

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CHS Basketball Star Signs National Letter of Intent

Clinton High School senior Austin Rauch signed his national letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to attend Knox College in Galesburg and play basketball.
 
Rauch says he's worked really hard to get to this point and credits his coaches and teammates for pushing him.
 
 
Knox College offers Rauch a chance to pursue a career in the medical field. He recognizes pursuing a pre-med degree and playing college sports will be a challenge.
 
 
Rauch feels the Knox College system is going to fit him well although he is not sure what to expect once he's there.
 
 
Rauch points to the Maroons Regional loss to Decatur Eisenhower as the highlight of his career. He calls it a tough one but felt the team fought hard even though they fell short. 

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Bulls Topple Grizzlies

Lauri Markkanen scored 22 points, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn added 21 apiece, and the Chicago Bulls hung on to hand the Memphis Grizzlies their 15th straight loss, 119-110 on Wednesday night.
 
The Bulls had a 21-point lead whittle to one but came away with their fourth win in 18 games.
 
Dunn scored 11 in the fourth quarter and made four free throws in the final 33.7 seconds to help Chicago come out on top.
 
Justin Holiday added 14 points - going 5 for 5 from the field and nailing four 3-pointers - after the NBA prodded the Bulls to start playing him and Robin Lopez again.
 
Memphis' Dillon Brooks scored 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. Marc Gasol and Ben McLemore added 17 apiece, but the Grizzlies couldn't snap the NBA's longest skid this season.
 
The Bulls led by 21 early in the third quarter and were up by 15 going into the fourth before the Grizzlies went on a run.
 
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Brooks cut it to 94-93. He then nailed a fadeaway jumper after Bobby Portis drove for a layup, making it 96-95 with 6:46 remaining.
 
The Bulls answered with a 10-2 run. Brooks hit a floater and two 3-pointers to pull the Grizzlies back within one with just under three minutes left, but the Bulls hung on.
 
David Nwaba grabbed the rebound after Memphis' Xavier Rathan-Mayes missed a potential tying 3, and Dunn drove for a layup to bump the lead to 113-108 with 1:31 to play.
 
While Lopez sat out his seventh straight game, Holiday made an immediate impact after being held out of five of the previous six. He scored nine points in the game's first 8 1/2 minutes, making all three 3-pointers before Denzel Valentine replaced him.
 
The Bulls visit Detroit on Friday.
 
>>Bulls To Adhere To NBA's Warning
 
Bulls executive vice president John Paxson says the team will no longer rest Robin Lopez or Justin Holliday after receiving a reminder from the league office about player rest and tanking.
 
Paxson says the league communicated with the team after the All-Star break about those two players and their diminishing roles. Lopez has missed the last six games and Holliday five of the last six.
 
Paxson said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune that "after healthy dialogue, the league determined that their situations fall into the 'player rest' policy. We respect the communication and cooperative dialogue with the league and will adhere to their recommendations."
 
The Bulls have the eighth-worst record in the NBA at 21-42. There are five teams tied with 20 wins right behind them, and Chicago would clearly increase their chances of getting a better draft pick in the NBA lottery if they are able to lose a few games.

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Woods, Spieth Paired At Valspar Championship

Tiger Woods showed a lot of positive signs two weeks ago at PGA National as he finished 12th at the Honda Classic. 
 
That performance included a 69 in the third round for Woods, which was the first sub-70 round for him since 2015. After missing out on the WGC-Mexico Championship last week, Woods returns to the course this week for the Valspar Championship as he continues his preparation for The Masters next month. 
 
And to begin the tournament this week, Woods will be paired with another big name in the sport, creating a pretty fun environment for the first two days of action. 
 
Thursday and Friday at the Valspar Championship in Florida, Woods will be paired with Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson. Spieth, who won this tournament in 2015, is one of the perfect golfers to put alongside Woods to create early competition that everyone wants to see whenever he takes to the course. 
 
Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland -- 7:45 a.m. | 12:35 p.m.
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar -- 7:56 a.m. | 12:46 p.m.
 
Spieth: 17-2
McIlroy: 14-1
Garcia: 16-1
Rose: 18-1
Henrik Stenson: 20-1
Paul Casey: 25-1
Woods: 25-1

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Oregon Holds Off Washington State in Overtime

Payton Pritchard scored on a runner late in overtime and Wooten had a pair of blocked shots in the final 13 seconds, lifting Oregon to a 64-62 victory over Washington State in the opening round of the of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday night.
 
Washington State (12-19) led by three, but Troy Brown scored on a hard drive and Pritchard put Oregon (21-11) up 63-62 on his runner. After Wooten blocked Malachi Flynn's drive, Pritchard missed two free throws and Brown was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound.
 
Brown made 1 of 2 to give the Ducks a final chance, but Wooten swooped in to erase Milan Acquaah's drive just before the buzzer sounded.
 
Pritchard and MiKyle McIntosh had 18 points each to help Oregon rally from a dismal first half.
 
Flynn had 22 points and Robert Franks added 16 for Washington State, which led until the final minute of regulation.
 
The Ducks missed their first six shots and didn't score in the opening 5:15.
 
Oregon continued to clang - 4 for 15 - and Washington State started to find the range after a slow start, building a 10-point lead.
 
The Cougars lost the range after that, going scoreless over the final 4:16 to allow the Ducks to keep within 24-17 at halftime despite shooting 7 of 24.
 
Oregon's struggles carried into the second half. The Ducks opened 2 for 11 from the floor and trailed by 11 in the early going.
 
Oregon kept the Cougars within reach behind its defense - more than 4 scoreless minutes - and pulled within 34-33 after going on a 12-2 run.
 
Oregon moves on to play No. 3 seed Utah in Thursday's quarterfinals.

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Blackhawks End Skid, Beat Avalanche

Jonathan Toews scored nine seconds into overtime and had an assist in regulation to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Colorado Avalanche, 2-1 on Tuesday night.
 
The game-winner was generated directly from the faceoff at center ice. Toews pulled the draw to Duncan Keith, who fed Patrick Kane on the right side. Kane fed Toews on a 2-on-1 and the Chicago captain chipped his 18th goal past Semyon Varlamov from the low edge the right circle.
 
Chicago's Jean-Francois Berube stopped 33 shots and Erik Gustafsson connected in the first, as the fading Blachawks won for the second time in five games.
 
Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to six games with his team-leading 32nd goal in the second period. MacKinnon has seven goals and six assists during the run, and eight goals and nine assists in his last eight games.
 
Varlamov stopped 25 shots as the Avalanche lost their second straight but pulled even with the idle Los Angeles Kings, who are in the second Western Conference wild-card spot.
 
Gustafsson was credited with opening the scoring 5:08 into the game.
 
The defenseman whipped a crisp pass from the top of the left circle toward Kane at the right side of the crease. Kane was covered by Colorado's Patrik Nemeth, but the puck deflected off Nemeth's left skate and into the net.
 
MacKinnon's power-play goal with 3:42 left in the second tied it. After taking a cross-ice feed from Tyson Barrie, MacKinnon fired in a high shot from the left circle, beating Berube on the stick side as the goalie slid across the crease.
 
An apparent goal by Chicago's Brandon Saad with 1:17 left in the period was disallowed after a video review determined Saad kicked the puck into the net with his right skate.
 
Capping a spinning move, Kane fed the puck across the crease to Saad on the left side of the net. The puck struck Saad and a replay showed him sweeping it just over the goal line.
 
Varlamov stopped Chicago rookie Alex DeBrincat on a point-blank deflection 2 minutes into the scoreless third. He made a close-in glove save on Toews minutes later.
 
Colorado's J.T. Compher fired a rebound wide of a partly open net with 5:40 left in regulation.
 
The Blackhawks host Carolina on Thursday night.

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Bears Transition Tag DB Fuller

The Chicago Bears have placed the transition tag on veteran defensive back Kyle Fuller, giving them a chance to match any offer he might receive in free agency.
 
The 26-year-old Fuller is considered a key player for Chicago's defense. The tag, announced Tuesday, guarantees Fuller $12.9 million next season.
 
Fuller can sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Bears get a chance to match it and they are expected to seek a multiyear deal. The team gets no compensation if they choose not to match.
 
Chicago hasn't used a transition tag since 2001, when it was used on defensive lineman Bryan Robinson.

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Bulls Get Tanking Warning

The Bulls have reportedly received an odd warning from the NBA. According to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, they've been told by the NBA they've been resting healthy players too much. In other words, Chicago has been tanking too blatantly and the NBA wants the Bulls to cut that out. This means playing Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday more often.
 
The NBA has said in the past that if it felt teams were not trying to win, or resting players unnecessarily, then they would be willing to fine them. This wasn't a fine, but if the warning isn't heeded then a fine is likely coming the Bulls' way.
 
This is the NBA's latest attempt to reduce tanking, or at least make it less obvious when it occurs. The NBA wants teams to put their best players on the floor at all times. 
 
NBA commissioner Adam Silver's no-nonsense stance on tanking will only continue from here. The league recently fined Mark Cuban $600,000 for saying on a podcast that the best thing for the Mavericks this season was to lose games. 

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Illinois Jumping Into College Baseball Polls

The Illinois baseball team debuted at No. 25 in Monday's Collegiate Baseball Newspaper top 25, the program's first ranking since 2015. The Illini have won five straight games, including beating three of the last six NCAA Champions (Coastal Carolina, UCLA and Arizona).
 
Illinois (6-3) was crowned Big Ten-Pac-12 Challenge champions last weekend by sweeping Pac-12 opponents UCLA, Arizona and Washington. The Illini own wins over consensus top-25 teams UCLA and Coastal Carolina and are 2-1 against the top 25 (loss vs. Coastal).
 
Defense has led Illinois through the first nine games of the season. The Illini rank second in the nation in field percentage (.994), behind only Southern California (.997).
 
Illinois did not appear in rankings done by D1Baseball.com or Baseball America.

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Cardinals, SS DeJong Agree on Extension

The St. Louis Cardinals and shortstop Paul DeJong agreed to a six-year extension worth $26 million on Monday, shattering the previous record for the highest guarantee made to a player with less than a full year of service time, per MLB Trade Rumors. The deal includes two options that could push its overall value north of $50 million.
 
The 24-year-old DeJong finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 by hitting .285/.325/.532 with 25 home runs across 443 plate appearances. Those marks are even more impressive when one considers they came after just a 48-game stint in Triple-A.
 
DeJong was a walk on at Illinois State and was drafted 131st overall byt the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2015 baseball draft.
 
He'll turn 25 in August. 

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Celtics Pound Bulls; Pacers Hold Off Bucks

>>Celtics Pound Bulls
 
Jaylen Brown scored 21 points, and the Boston Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-89 on Monday night even though Kyrie Irving sat out because of a sore left knee.
 
Even without their All-Star guard, the Celtics took control right from the start and led by as many as 37 en route to their fifth win in six games.
 
Jayson Tatum added 14 points, while Al Horford and Terry Rozier scored 13 apiece for Boston.
 
The Bulls lost for the 14th time in 17 games. Denzel Valentine scored 20 points and nailed four 3-pointers for Chicago, but that was about the only positive for the Bulls.
 
It didn't matter that the Celtics held out Irving. He was still sore after aggravating his knee in Saturday's loss at Houston, but his absence didn't stop Boston from burying the Bulls right from the start.
 
They had no trouble driving to the rim against a weak defense and dominated in the paint 46-26.
 
This one got out of hand almost as soon as the opening tip went up.
 
After losing to the NBA-leading Rockets on Saturday by three points, Boston led 55-29 at halftime. Brown had 10 points as the Celtics raced out to a 26-5 lead. He nailed a 3 and threw down a one-handed jam before Horford's steal and dunk made it a 21-point game with 4:21 left in the first quarter.
 
The Bulls host Memphis on Wednesday.
 
>>Pacers Hold Off Bucks
 
Bojan Bogdanovic tied his career high with 29 points and grabbed a key jump ball late to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Milwaukee Bucks 92-89 on Monday night.
 
Bogdanovic made 9 of 13 from the floor and 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
After Bogdanovic's free throws, Milwaukee had a chance to tie it, but Giannis Antetokounmpo's 3-pointer from the wing hit the front of the rim as time expired.
 
Thaddeus Young finished with 10 and seven rebounds, and Victor Oladipo had 14 points, five assists, five rebounds and 10 turnovers.
 
Despite Bogdanovic's hot hand, the Pacers and Bucks got off to a slow, sloppy start. Indiana led 20-17 at the end of the first quarter. Both teams were playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
 
Milwaukee took a 46-44 lead into halftime, and then both teams came alive in the second half. The Pacers opened up the third with a 19-5 run that gave them a 65-50 lead. The 15-point edge was Indiana's largest of the game.
 
The Bucks put together a 19-5 scoring run to pull within four points at the end of the third quarter, setting up a back-and-forth ending.
 
Antetokounmpo finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Eric Bledsoe led the Bucks with 26 points.
 
Indiana will host Utah on Wednesday night.

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Virginia Unanimous No. 1

Virginia (28-2) sits atop the final Associated Press Top 25 poll ahead of Selection Sunday, marking the fourth consecutive week the Cavaliers have held on the No. 1 overall spot. They garnered 17 more first-place votes than last week -- 65 in total, making them a unanimous No. 1 -- after going 2-0 this week, despite both wins coming by a combined six points.
 
Landing at a distant second behind the Cavaliers is Villanova. The Wildcats moved up two spots this week and traded places with Michigan State, which fell from No. 2 to 4 after exiting stage left early in the Big Ten Conference tournament this weekend. Xavier and Duke, meanwhile, maintained their respective spots at No. 3 and 5 this week.
 
Virginia is the unanimous No. 1 team in the coaches poll followed by No. 2 Xavier and No. 3 Villanova, both the benefactors of Duke and Michigan State losing in the previous week. Michigan broke into the top 10 at No. 7 after beating both the Spartans and Purdue (now No. 10) in the Big Ten tournament. 
 
The Wolverines, Tennessee, Arizona and Houston all made significant jumps within the rankings, but most dramatic change from last week's polling was an improved opinion on both Florida and Miami. The Gators appearance at No. 23 was up eight spots from last week and Miami, at No. 25, made a 12-spot jump. The sole team to fall more than a couple spots in the rankings was Rhode Island, down eight spots from a week ago and hanging on at No. 24. 

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Illini Sweep At Big Ten- Pac 12 Challenge

The Illinois baseball team jumped to a 6-0 lead on Washington and cruised to a 7-1 win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Illini's fifth straight victory. Illinois was the only team to go 3-0 at the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge and clinched the nine-game, six-team event for the Big Ten Conference.
 
Zac Taylor scorched a double on the first pitch of the game to spark a four-run first inning. Washington made an error to plate the first run, then Michael Massey ripped an RBI single and Jeff Korte roped a two-RBI double down the right field line.
 
Two more scored in the fifth when Bren Spillane doubled off the wall in right for an RBI and Massey drove him in two pitches later with a single.
 
Illinois (6-3) starter Ty Weber (2-0) blanked Washington (6-4) for the first seven innings and pitched into the eighth. He allowed one run, scattered eight hits, struck out one and walked just one while throwing 59 strikes on 89 pitches.
 
Ryan Schmitt picked up the save by getting the last six outs in five batters. He entered with the tying run on deck in the eighth, as Washington had loaded the bases with no outs off of Weber and Jimmy Burnette, who walked one batter.
 
Washington starter Jordan Jones struck out a career-high nine, but Illinois tagged him for six runs in 4 2/3 innings. The Illini fanned 14 times in the game.
 
Illinois beat No. 11 UCLA Friday 5-3 to start the weekend, then beat Arizona 4-3 Saturday afternoon.
 
Spillane and Massey led Illinois with two hits apiece. Massey hit .500 (6-12) for the tournament with a .750 slugging percentage and .538 on-base percentage.
 
Illinois is back in action next Saturday in Greenville, S.C. The Illini play Furman and Michigan State in a doubleheader before meeting the Spartans again Sunday.

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Redbirds Fall To Loyola-Chicago In Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Title Game

Donte Ingram scored 18 points, Cameron Krutwig added 11 points and nine rebounds and Loyola-Chicago earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years with a 65-49 victory over Illinois State in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game on Sunday.
 
The Ramblers (28-5) have won 10 in a row and will return to the NCAAs for the first time since 1985, when they reached the Sweet 16.
 
Mailk Yarbrough and Phil Fayne led Illinois State (18-15) with 12 points each. Fayne added 12 rebounds.
 
Ingram hit on 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.
 
Loyola-Chicago scored eight of the first 11 points in the second half to take a 43-30 lead. Krutwig led the outburst with back-to-back baskets in a span of 54 seconds.
 
The Ramblers were appearing in their first conference title game since 2002, when they were members of the Horizon League.
 
The Ramblers' 10-game winning streak is the longest in coach Porter Moser's seven years at the helm.
 
Illinois State, which missed 14 of its first 17 shots, lost in the title game for the third time in the last four years.
 
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.

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Blackhawks Fall To Ducks

Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg each scored twice and the Ducks earned points at home for the eighth game in a row, beating the Chicago 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.
 
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 Chicago 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.
 
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.
 
The Blackhawk host Colorado on Tuesday night.

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Redbirds Fall Sunday, But Take Weekend Series At Moorehead State

Morehead State scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete a comeback as the Illinois State Redbirds (5-4) dropped a tough 6-5 decision at Allen Field.
 
The Redbirds won the weekend series after winning Friday and Saturday. 
 
The Redbirds exploded for four runs in the top of the second to take an early 4-0 lead. Successive singles from Nick Zouras, Joe Aeilts and Ryan Hutchinson loaded the bases with no outs to lead off the inning. An RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Derek Parola forced home Zouras for the first run of the game, and was directly followed by a one-out single from Jordan Libman that brought Aeilts home. The Redbirds doubled their score on a single from Collin Braithwaite that plated two additional runs, making it a 4-0 lead for ISU.
 
The Eagles tied the game at 4-4 when Connor Pauly touched home plate on an RBI single from Bryce Hensor. Directly after, the pairof Hensor and Braxton Morris scored after Eli Boggess laced an RBI double into left field, evening the game at 4-4.
 
A leadoff home run from Hunter Fain in the bottom of the eighth later gave the Eagles their first lead since the fourth inning in the opening game of the series and tacked on another later in the inning to take a 6-4 lead into the ninth inning. A RBI single by Miller drove in Libman in the top of the frame to cut the MSU lead to one at 6-5, but that would be all the offense the Redbirds could muster as they headed home with a series win after taking the first two games of the weekend.
 
The Redbirds will be back in action March 9, in the first of a four-game series at Washington.

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Michigan Beats Purdue For Big Ten Tournament Championship

Jon Teske's two-handed slam brought down the house and pretty much finished off No. 8 Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament championship game. With Zavier Simpson playing catalyst on both ends of the floor - running Michigan's efficient offense and leading its lock-down defense - and Teske scoring a surprising 14 points, the 15th-ranked Wolverines beat the Boilermakers 75-66.
 
Fifth-seeded Michigan (28-7) became the first team to repeat as Big Ten Tournament champs since Ohio State in 2010 and '11.
 
Simpson finished with 10 points, five assists and five rebounds. Moe Wagner led Michigan with 17 points and was named most outstanding player of the tournament, despite playing only 17 minutes against Purdue because of foul trouble - which plagued him all week.
 
That's where Teske stepped in. The 7-foot-1 sophomore came in averaging 3.3 points, but scored 12 in the first half and picked up the slack guarding Purdue's 7-2 center Isaac Haas.
 
Simpson and Teske put an exclamation point on Michigan's four-day Garden party with 6:02 left in the second half. Simpson drove and dished to Teske cutting to the basket. 
 
The dunk made it 66-48. 
 
Purdue (28-6) chipped away in the final minutes with Michigan missing free throws but it was way too late.
 
Haas led Purdue with 23 points, but Purdue's top-two scorers, Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards, combined for 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting. Carsen Edwards scored 53 points in the first two games here, but just 12 against Michigan, shooting 4 for 16.
 
The Wolverines will enter the NCAA Tournament on a nine-game winning streak.
 
The Boilermakers beat Michigan in the regular season twice by a total of five points. Unable to complete a three-game sweep, they probably watched any chance of grabbing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament go away.

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Pacers Hold Off Wizards

Victor Oladipo scored 33 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 as the Pacers defeated the Washington Wizards 98-95 on Sunday despite nearly giving back a 17-point lead.
 
Myles Turner added 12 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana, which finished its four-game road trip 2-2 after beginning it with two losses.
 
Cory Joseph added 16 points while also guarding Washington's leading scorer, Bradley Beal, most of the night. Beal finished with 22 points but shot just 8 of 27.
 
Beal added career-high 11 assists. But he missed three potential tying or go-ahead shots inside the final 19 seconds as the Wizards lost their third straight for the first time this season. Beal played nearly 43 minutes and admitted he was tired, but he said that was no excuse.
 
As Washington fell to 10-6 in its extended stretch without All-Star point guard John Wall (knee surgery), Beal also committed two of his five turnovers on late possessions when the Wizards could have tied or taken the lead.
 
Otto Porter Jr. added 17 points as Washington dropped a spot to fifth place, a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers, who played later Sunday.
 
Washington climbed back into the game with a 12-0 run that began late in the third quarter and stretched into the fourth. Beal scored seven in that span, and then found Jodie Meeks for a 3-pointer that cut it to 80-75 with 9:44 left.
 
The Wizards eventually got within one before Beal missed a transition layup with Oladipo and Cory Joseph contesting to keep the score 96-95 with 19 seconds left.
 
From there, Oladipo and Joseph each hit one of two free throws, and Beal missed a game-tying jumper attempt on one possession before his look at a game-tying 3 fell short near the buzzer.
 
The Pacers begin a three-game homestand Monday against Milwaukee.

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Mickelson Takes WGC Mexico For First Win Since 2013

After nearly 100 PGA Tour events and 1,700 days, Phil Mickelson is back on top once again. As is usually the case with Lefty, his first victory since 2013 did not come easy as he edged Justin Thomas in the first sudden death playoff hole at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship after a wild ride down the back nine.
 
Sunday's early narrative seemed too easy with the oldest player in the field (Mickelson, 47) going heads up with the youngest (Shubhankar Sharma, 21) in the event's final group. Then that story was upended by Thomas' theatrics on the 18th hole, where he holed out for eagle and a 64 to set the clubhouse lead at 16 under. 
 
But Mickelson, ever the producer of great drama, birdied two of his final four holes to sneak into a playoff with Thomas after a 4-foot par putt on the 72nd hole complete his 5-under 66. From there, Mickelson made par at the par-3 17th (the first playoff hole), Thomas made bogey, and Mickelson took the tournament. It almost ended earlier than that, though. Mickelson missed, by the narrowest of margins, making a long birdie which would have brought the house down.
 
The win is the 43rd of Mickelson's historic PGA Tour career, but it's his first since 2013 when he won The Open Championship at Muirfield. It's his first WGC win since 2009 and the first time he's touched a trophy in 97 PGA Tour events and 102 combined worldwide starts spanning 1,687 days. En route to the victory, all Mickelson had to do was beat the hottest player in the world head-to-head.
 
As good as Thomas was on the weekend -- a 62-64 close ties the PGA Tour record for two-round score to end an event -- Mickelson was nearly his equal. He didn't quite require the fire Thomas needed to grab the win, but he shot a righteous 65-66 to pull off the victory.
 
Mickelson hit balls out of the brush, made lengthy birdie putts and fed his famous flop shots to the masses. It was the perfect Mickelson experience both on and off the course.
 
Dustin Johnson (T7) lurked every day but never made a true move at the top of the board.
 
Sergio Garcia (T7) finished in the top five in the field in strokes gained on approach shots, even though he lost strokes to the field on Saturday and Sunday. 
 
Rickie Fowler (T37) finished No. 62 in a field of 64 with the flat stick. That's normally his bread and butter, and it let him down in Mexico. 

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Monticello Season Ends At Sectional Final

A season for the ages came to a close Friday night as the Monticello Sages lost to Bloomington Central Catholic 56-34 in a Class 2A Sectional final game at Maroa-Forsyth High School Friday night.

 

The Saints shot 53-percent from the floor while the Sages shot just 27-percent as the Saints had almost everything go right to advance to a Super-Sectional Tuesday night in Springfield.

 

BCC gradually pulled away each quarter and the Sages had no answers Friday night. The Sages could not stop the Saints and could not get shots to fall throughout the night.

 

Monticello was led by eight points from Johnny Dawson and Calvin Fisher. Luke Stokowski added seven points.

 

Jack Gilmore led all scorers with 24 points shooting 10-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-8 from beyond the arc.

 

The Saints out-rebounded Monticello 31-22 and scored 26 points in the paint, as the Sages managed just 10 points in the paint, an area they typically dominate.

 

The Saints improve to 24-6.

 

Monticello's season ends at 25-2.

 

Coach Kevin Roy expressed the pride he has in the seniors and the players for their accomplishments this year.

 

 

Coach Roy feels the seniors have helped raise the bar for the program.

 

 

Coach Roy thanked the Monticello community for their support of the players and the program.

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Monticello Meets Bloomington Central Catholic In Sectional Final Showdown

It's another top-ten battle in the postseason for the Monticello Sages who will take on Bloomington Central Catholic tonight for a Sectional title from Maroa-Forsyth High School.
 
The Saints came in at seventh in the last AP 2A poll of the season while Monticello came in fifth.
 
Last week, Monticello knocked off ninth ranked GCMS for a Regional title.
 
The Saints and Sages met on February 6 and Monticello won 56-53.
 
Tonight's game tips at 7 pm and can be heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. 
 
The winner moves on to the UIS Super-Sectional next Tuesday night.
 
Class 2A Sectional final action tonight:
 
At Farmington
 
Warsaw 7:00pm
Dee-Mack
 
At Robinson
 
Mt. Carmel 7:00pm
Teutopolis
 
Class 1A Sectional final action tonight:
 
At Danville Schlarman
 
St. Anne 7:00pm
Ridgeview
 
At Central A & M
 
Nokomis 7:00pm
Central A & M
 
Class 3A Regional final action tonight:
 
At Decatur MacArthur
 
Springfield Southeast 7:00pm
Decatur MacArthur
 
At Mahomet-Seymour
 
Mahomet-Seymour 7:00pm
Urbana
 
At Paris
 
Champaign Central 7:00pm
Effingham 
 
At Peoria Manual
 
Morton 7:00pm
Peoria Manual
 
At Rochester
 
Springfield Lanphier 7:00pm
Lincoln
 
At Washington
 
Washington 7:00pm
Metamora
 
Class 4A Regional final action tonight
 
At Rock Island
 
Normal West 7:00pm
Rock Island

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Packers Want To Extend Rodgers 'Sooner Rather Than Later'

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst says that the team would like to extend the contract of quarterback Aaron Rodgers "sooner rather than later."
 
Gutekunst was asked about the two-time NFL MVP at the combine. He says that the team realizes it's "not going to be inexpensive."
 
Rodgers is under contract through the 2019 season following a five-year extension signed in 2013 that boosted his annual average salary to $22 million, making him the highest-paid player in the league back then.
 
The 34-year old Rodgers has since been passed by other players, including the five-year deal worth a reported $137.5 million that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to with the San Francisco 49ers.
 
Gutekunst says that taking care of Rodgers is a high priority, "and I think that should take care of itself at some point."
 
Gutekunst is in his first year as the Packers GM after replacing Ted Thompson.

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Sharks Blast Blackhawks

Joe Pavelski scored twice and the San Jose Sharks reached a season high in goals in a 7-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
 
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.
 
Martin Jones stopped 32 shots for San Jose.
 
J-F Berube 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.
 
Anisimov gave Chicago a 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.
 
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.
 
The Blackhawks are at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

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Oosthuizen Atop Leader Board in Mexico

Louis Oosthuizen leads the WGC-Mexico Championship after firing a 7-under 64 in Round 1 in Mexico City on Thursday. 
 
The former Open winner leads Chris Paisley, Xander Schauffele and Shubhankar Sharma by one stroke each. He had five birdies and an eagle on the day, and his clean card was nearly one better as he burned the edge on a long birdie on No. 17. Still, the 64 was impressive and stands as the second-best round shot at this event in its recent two-year history.
 
Oosthuizen gained more than three strokes on the rest of the field with the flat stick. Oosthuizen has never won a WGC event and actually doesn't have a PGA Tour win outside of that Open victory in 2010.

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Bloomington Native, Kieta Bates-Diop AP All Big Ten

Ohio State's Keita Bates-Diop is The Associated Press player of the year in the Big Ten Conference and the Buckeyes' Chris Holtmann is its coach of the year.
 
The AP announced its Big Ten honors Wednesday, the opening day of the conference tournament in New York.
 
Bates-Diop and Purdue's Carsen Edwards were unanimous picks to the All-Big Ten team in voting by 12 journalists covering the conference.
 
Michigan State freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. was picked as newcomer of the year and defensive player of the year.
 
Joining Bates-Diop and Edwards on the all-conference first team are Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Wisconsin's Ethan Happ and Penn State's Tony Carr.
 
Bates-Diop is second in the conference in scoring (19.2 points per game) and tied for second in rebounding (8.9 per game). The 6-foot-7, 235-pound junior's 12 double-doubles are tied for second in the Big Ten.

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Iowa Ends Illinois' Season At Big Ten Tournament

The Big Ten opened a five-day run at Madison Square with Jordan Bohannon leading Iowa past Illinois 96-87 on Wednesday night in the first game of the conference tournament.
 
Bohannon scored 25 points and had six assists, including a bounce pass to Luka Garza for a jam with 34 seconds left to keep the Illini at bay.
 
The 12th-seeded Hawkeyes (14-18) got solid work inside from Tyler Cook (19 points, five rebounds) and Garza (20 and eight) to go with the accurate shooting of Bohannon. The sophomore was 5 for 7 from 3-point range. Iowa will face fifth-seeded Michigan on Thursday.
 
Kipper Nichols scored a career-best 31 points for 13th seed Illinois (14-18) to close out coach Brad Underwood's first season with two wins in its final nine games.
 
The Big Ten planted its flag in New York five years ago when Rutgers was added along with Maryland. The conference opened up an office in Manhattan and started sending a football team to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Bringing the conference hoops tournament to the Big Apple was another move by Commissioner Jim Delany to claim the biggest media market in the country as Big Ten territory.
 
The first Big Ten tournament game ever played at the "Mecca of Basketball" featured teams that were a combined 1,665 miles away from their campuses - give or take a few miles.

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Hawks Hold Off Pacers

Dennis Schroder scored seven of Atlanta's final eight points to finish with 14, and the Hawks held off a late Indiana comeback to beat the Pacers 107-102 on Wednesday night.
 
Schroder had five of Atlanta's 13 steals. The Hawks blocked 11 shots, including four by Dewayne Dedmon.
 
The Pacers committed 24 turnovers. Victor Oladipo had 22 points.
 
Bojan Bogdanovic led Indiana with 26 points while making four 3-pointers in the final period. His third 3 of the period cut the Atlanta lead to 97-91. A follow shot by Domantas Sabonis, who had 14 points, pulled the Pacers to 101-99.
 
John Collins had 16 points for the Hawks, who ended their four-game losing streak.
 
Taurean Prince had 15 points, all in the first half, and Dedmon also scored 15.
 
The Pacers visit the Bucks on Friday.

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Blues Top Red Wings

Scottie Upshall scored a second-period goal and Carter Hutton made 35 saves to help the Blues snap a seven-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory.
 
St. Louis won for the first time since beating Winnipeg 5-2 on Feb. 9.
 
Alex Pietrangelo also scored for the Blues, who were coming off an 8-3 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday night.
 
Upshall banded with Kyle Brodziak and Chris Thorburn to add some early-game energy.
 
Upshall scored for the first time since Dec. 30, beating Jimmy Howard off Colton Parayko's rebound at 1:12 of the second period.
 
Pietrangelo scored on a blast from the faceoff circle with 5:23 left in the third period.
 
The Blues were outscored 29-10 during the seven-game skid, their longest since they dropped seven in a row from Dec. 26, 2009, to Jan. 7, 2010.
 
Detroit fired 13 shots at Hutton in the third period.
 
The Blues are at Dallas on Saturday night.

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Bears To Cut QB Glennon; Former RB Forte To Retire

>>Former Bears RB Forte Announces Retirement
 
Running back Matt Forte has announced his retirement from playing after 10 NFL seasons.
 
The 32-year-old Forte had one year remaining on his contract with the Jets, but says in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday that it was time for "the workhorse to finally rest in his stable."
 
Forte, who spent his first eight seasons with Chicago, dealt with knee issues the past two seasons. He had a career-low 381 yards rushing on just 103 carries and ran for two touchdowns last season while playing with swelling in his surgically repaired right knee. He also had 37 catches for 293 yards and one TD.
 
With the Bears from 2008-15, Forte established himself as one of the game's most versatile running backs. His 9,796 yards rushing rank him 33rd on the NFL's career list. He also had 554 receptions.
 
>>Bears To Cut QB Glennon
 
Mitchell Trubisky is the future at quarterback for the Chicago Bears.
 
That's why, as Bears general manager Ryan Pace announced Wednesday, the team will bite the bullet on Mike Glennon, its big-money acquisition of the 2016 offseason. He went 1-3 as a Bears starter, throwing four touchdowns and five interceptions until he was benched for Trubisky.
 
Just one year after signing the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback to a three-year, $45-million deal that reportedly included as much as $18.5 million in guaranteed money, the Bears will release Glennon at the start of free agency on March 14. That means Chicago essentially paid something like $4.6 million for each of Glennon's four starts in 2017 -- a season in which he was quickly supplanted by Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft.
 
Glennon departing means Chicago will gain $11 million in salary cap space by jettisoning the veteran.

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PGA Tour Shifts To Mexico

The first WGC event of the calendar year takes place this week south of the United States at the WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec.
 
Dustin Johnson got the best of Ross Fisher and Tommy Fleetwood and won this event for the second time in three years (Johnson also won it in 2015 when it was at Doral). Most of the top 50 golfers in the world will be present this week for the $10 million purse, but Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama are all sitting this one out for various reasons.
 
Dustin Johnson: 6-1
Justin Thomas: 8-1
Jon Rahm: 12-1
Jordan Spieth: 12-1
Tommy Fleetwood: 16-1
Rickie Fowler: 18-1
Phil Mickelson: 18-1
Justin Rose: 20-1
 
We haven't seen Jon Rahm in a few weeks, but the Spaniard has a chance to catch D.J. for the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings. It's a slim chance given that Johnson has to finish T58 or worse and Rahm has to win. 

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