The St. Louis Cardinals are close to locking up their most indispensable player to a new contract.
The Cardinals and stalwart catcher Yadier Molina are reportedly finalizing a new three-year contract extension. The deal will pay him more than $55 million. The team has not yet confirmed the deal.
Molina was set to become a free agent following the 2017 season. He reportedly set a deadline of Opening Day for contract talks, though the Cardinals made it clear they were willing to pay him well .
Even at age 34, the age when many catchers turn into pumpkins, Molina turned in an excellent 2016 season, hitting .307/.360/.427 (110 OPS+) with eight home runs in 147 games. He also played his typically excellent defense. Molina’s combination of production and durability would be impossible to replace.
The new extension comes with an $18.33 million average annual value if it’s for $55 million on the nose, which would be the third highest in history for a catcher.
The 2017 season is the final one on the five-year, $75 million contract Molina signed back in March 2012. He has never been a free agent in his career. The Cardinals made sure to lock him up whenever his contract was due to expire.
Nikola Mirotic tied season highs with 28 points and six 3-pointers, Jimmy Butler scored 25, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-93 on a night when LeBron James moved into seventh place on the NBA's career scoring list.
James moved past Shaquille O'Neal, finishing with 26 points and giving him 28,599 for his career - three more than O'Neal. But the big night by the four-time MVP couldn't prevent the Cavaliers from matching a season high with their third straight loss.
That dropped them a half-game behind Boston for the Eastern Conference lead and left them with a 6-10 record in March.
Rajon Rondo added 15 assists, Robin Lopez had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and the ninth-place Bulls moved within a game of Miami and Indiana in the Eastern Conference standings.
They also finished 4-0 against Cleveland to complete their first sweep of the Cavaliers since they took all three games during the 2011-12 season.
The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled forward Vinnie Hinostroza from Rockford of the American Hockey League.
Hinostroza, who is from nearby Bartlett, Illinois, has six goals and eight assists in 48 games with Chicago this season. He was sent down when the Blackhawks acquired forward Tomas Jurco in a trade with Detroit on Feb. 24.
Hinostroza, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft, turns 23 on Monday.
It clearly pained Rickie Fowler to miss the WGC-Dell Match Play last week, but he did it in the name of preparing properly for the 2017 Masters. It looks right now like that was a wise decision.
Fowler got off to a blazing start on Thursday at the Shell Houston Open with an 8-under 64 that included a near-ace at his final hole. Fowler started on the back nine at the Houston Open and made four birdies in his first five holes.
Then the back nine highlight was this shot on the ninth hole.
Fowler putted well enough to be in the top 10 of the field, but he really made hay off the tee and with his approach shots. He was top five in the field in those categories and produced a clean, bogey-free scorecard.
Now Fowler, who shot a personal best by four strokes in 21 total rounds at the Houston Open, will try to back up his Honda Classic win from earlier in the season with another one before heading to Augusta National for the 81st Masters.
It really is all about next week for Fowler and other stars. This week is a tune-up for the main event. A win would be nice, of course, but it would merely be a bonus for him as he looks for his first major championship at Augusta National.
Gonzaga, often cast as the gutty underdog, finally finished the climb to its first Final Four, doing so as a No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs' reward: playing a gutty underdog.
South Carolina, which advanced to the Final Four as a seventh seed in the East, is hardly a Cinderella, coming from the Southeastern Conference. But the Gamecocks seemed more like bracket-filler than bracket-buster when they lost five of their last seven games before the NCAA Tournament.
The combination of high-scoring senior guard Sindarius Thornwell and some hellacious wear-you-down defense has been more than good enough in the past two weeks, however, as South Carolina knocked off the No. 2 (Duke), No. 3 (Baylor) and No. 4 (Florida) seeds in the East.
The Gamecocks, like Gonzaga, will be appearing in their first Final Four when the game tips off Saturday at 6:09 p.m. ET in Glendale, Ariz.
North Carolina is the best rebounding team in the country. Oregon is down a big guy.
The Tar Heels reek of old-school. They are the only blue-blood in the Final Four. They have an old-school coach in Roy Williams. They have an old-school, low-post big man in Kennedy Meeks, who dominated Kentucky in the South Regional final, grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking four shots.
Oregon (33-5) provides a contrast. It is a good rebounding team, too, although not like North Carolina. The Ducks do it more through athleticism and effort, especially after losing shot-blocking stretch-forward Chris Boucher to a torn ACL in the Pac-12 tournament.
The Ducks, playing in their first Final Four since winning the inaugural NCAA Tournament in 1939, often play with 6-foot-7 wing Dillon Brooks at power forward next to active 6-9 center Jordan Bell.
Bell had 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in a 74-60 takedown of overall No. 1 seed Kansas in an Elite Eight game in Kansas City, Mo.
North Carolina (31-7) has a national-best rebounding margin of plus-13 per game. And the Tar Heels are rebounding nearly 42 percent of their missed shots entering Saturday's game in Glendale, Ariz., tipping off at 8:49 p.m. ET.
Artemi Panarin and Richard Panik started a four-goal first period for Chicago, and the Blackhawks moved closer to locking up the Central Division title with a 5-1 victory over the short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa also scored during an explosive first period as the Blackhawks moved nine points clear of second-place Minnesota with five games left in the regular season. Tanner Nero added a breakaway goal in the third. Patrick Kane picked up two assists to move past Sidney Crosby and into second place in the NHL scoring race.
Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots for Chicago, which beat the Penguins in regulation on the road for the first time since 1997.
Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 31 saves but received little help outside of Bryan Rust's third-period goal. The defending Stanley Cup champions saw their winless streak reach four games, and their chances to catch first-place Washington atop the Metropolitan Division took another hit.
>>Blues Top Coyotes
Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Berglund and David Perron scored, Berglund added an assist and the Blues beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Wednesday night.
Berglund tied his career high with his 22nd goal, and the Blues have won 11 of 13 games and have points in 12 of those.
St. Louis' Carter Hutton stopped 22 shots and is 7-2-0 in his last nine road starts. He faced only 13 in the first two periods combined, then saved a breakaway attempt by Tobias Rieder early in the third period before Alex Goligoski scored a power-play goal at 14:37.
Perron added an empty-net goal with 19.8 seconds left, his 100th as a Blue.
The Blues moved closer to locking up a playoff spot, falling short of clinching because the Los Angeles Kings beat the Calgary Flames. St. Louis beat Arizona for the 11th straight time and the third time in 11 days.
The Blues beat the Coyotes 4-1 in St. Louis on Monday. They have won nine straight games in Arizona, and during the 11-game winning streak, have outscored the Coyotes 45-14.
Louis Domingue had 40 saves, but Arizona has lost six of seven.
Mike Conley matched his career high with seven 3-pointers on his way to 36 points, helping the Memphis Grizzlies rout the Indiana Pacers 110-97 on Wednesday night.
Vince Carter had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Zach Randolph finished with 17 points as Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak. Conley went 13 for 21 from the field.
Paul George led the Pacers with 22 points, Aaron Brooks, who provided an early spark from outside the arc, had 18 points, and Thaddeus Young finished with 16.
Indiana lost for the fourth time in five games.
>>Pacers Waive Stuckey, Add Stephenson
The Pacers waived Rodney Stuckey on Wednesday, and they are wasting no time in looking to fill the roster spot. waiving opened up. As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the team is looking to bring back an old friend: Lance Stephenson. According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, it has agreed to a three-year, $12 million deal -- the first two years are guaranteed, and there is a team option on the third season.
Stephenson’s first stint in Indiana didn’t end so well, and his career fell off a cliff once he left town, but at this point in the season, there aren’t many players as talented as Stephenson available. It’s certainly worth taking a cheap flyer on Stephenson for the rest of the season in the hopes he can rekindle the promise he showed during his first few years with the franchise. It’s somewhat of a surprise that the Pacers have invested in him beyond these next couple of weeks, but the gamble will pay off with a relatively inexpensive team option if he performs well.
Rodney Stuckey’s third season in Indiana did not go so smoothly, as the veteran guard was averaging career-lows in minutes (17.8 per game), points, (7.2 per game), and shooting percentage (37.3 percent). Due to his poor performance, along with a few other factors, the Pacers decided to waive him.
Recent Mizzou-commit Michael Porter Jr. scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the West over the East 109-107 in the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday.
Porter Jr., a 6-foot-10 forward ranked among the top prospects of his class by multiple recruiting services, announced last week he will play college basketball at Missouri. His father was recently hired by the Tigers as an assistant coach.
Porter Jr. was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Jaylen Hands, a UCLA recruit, added 14 points for the West.
The East was led by Mohamed Bamba, who scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Bamba is undecided on a college.
Major League Baseball has suspended Mets closer Jeurys Familia for 15 games under the league’s domestic violence policy.
Commissioner Rob Manfred released the following statement on Wednesday regarding the discipline:
“My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Jeurys Familia’s arrest on October 31, 2016. Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB’s Department of Investigations.
"The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016. Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline."
Familia was arrested at his Fort Lee, New Jersey, home on Oct. 31 and charged with simple assault after police found reason “to believe that domestic violence had occurred.” The victim, Familia’s wife Bianca Rivas, asked for the charge to be dropped last month because she does not fear for her safety. The case against Familia was later dismissed by a judge . Under baseball’s policy, however, Manfred has the power to discipline players regardless of legal-system outcomes.
Familia and the Major League Baseball Players Association have the right to appeal Manfred’s ruling through arbitration, but the pitcher’s statement suggests that will not happen.
Shelbyville's Payton Howell threw one hit ball over 6.2 shutout innings, outdueling Clinton's Mac HIckman in a 1-0 win at Shelbyville High School in Central Illinois Conference boys baseball action Tuesday.
Howell finished with seven strikeouts and four walks.
Hickman went the distance for the Maroons, with six innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits with 11 strikeouts and a walk.
Each squad committed an error.
Logan Petersen was 1-for-2 for the Maroons.
Clinton drops to 3-2 and 0-1 in the Central Illinois Conference.
Clinton High School basketball standout Peyton McCubbin and State qaulifier Monticello High School basketball star Isiah Florey are among the stars that will compete at tonight's Heart of Illinois Classic All-Star game from Warrensburg-Latham High School.
Florey and McCubbin will compete together on the North Squad with Hart-Em's Brady Wolpert, Cameron Williams from Heyworth, Lincoln's Bryson Kirby, Lukas Aylesworth from Mt. Pulaski, D-I recruit Charles Payton and Luke Litwiller from Olympia will compete.
Williamsville Head Coach Nick Beard will lead the North squad.
Led by Central A&M head coach Rob Smith, the South squad will include JaColby Boston from Argenta-Oreana. Central A&M's Keaton Garner, Decatur Eisenhower will be represented by Stefon Jarrett and Stephon Bobbitt, Randy Thaxton from Decatur MacArthur, Maroa-Forsyth's Jaxson Nelson, Layne Kircher from Meridian, Charles Kuhle and Kevin Cox from Mount Zion, and Andrew Butts from Warrensburg-Latham.
In each of the past four years, there is been at least one unanimous All-America pick. This year, it’s Kansas guard Frank Mason III.
Mason was the only unanimous selection to the 2016-17 Associated Press All-America team, released Tuesday. He was joined on the first team by Josh Hart (Villanova), Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Justin Jackson (North Carolina). Kansas has produced handfuls of All-Americans through its history, but Mason is the first since Thomas Robinson in 2012.
Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 48.7 percent from 3-point range and has been the one consistent candidate in the Player of the Year discussion, joined at times by fellow first-teamers Hart, a preseason All-America selection, and Swanigan.
Pac-12 freshmen Lauri Markkanen and Markelle Fultz get third-team nods here, while Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, Iowa State’s Monte Morris and even South Carolina’s Sindarious Thornwell are noticeably absent.
In a game heard on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, Monticello’s Mitch Carr outdueled Blue Ridge’s Alec Lyle Tuesday afternoon and the Sages came away with a 4-0 non-conference victory in boys baseball action.
Carr threw 5.1 shutout innings, allowing four hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Konner Bundy finished the final inning and a third for the save.
Lyle was terrific, working around spotty defense to allow three runs, two of which were earned, without walking a batter and striking out two. Jacob Mozinga finished out the final two-thirds of an inning, allowing a run.
Bundy finished 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Jeffery Wileaver finished 1-for-3 with the only Sages RBI single. Alex Marquardt was 1-for-3. Logan Hislope drew a walk and scored a run.
Lyle and Houser each finished 1-for-2 with a walk. Mozinga and David Wells each finished 1-for-3.
The Knights committed five errors, three in the first when the Sages scored two, then two more in then two more in the fourth inning, but courtesy runner Alek Bundy was cut down on a groundball to Knights first basemen Houser, who fired a strike to Wells who tagged out Bundy.
The Knights had a huge opportunity in the fifth inning, when they loaded the bases against Carr before being lifted for Bundy. With one out, Bundy got Isaac Trotter to ground to shortstop Mitch Rhoades who flipped to defensive replacement Brody Macak who fired a strike to first to get the inning ending double-play.
After back to back two-out singles by Mozinga and Wells in the second inning, Carr set down 11 in a row, with seven being strikeouts.
Blue Ridge drops to 3-5 on the season while Monticello improves to 7-1 overall.
In a game heard on WEZC and at dewittdailynews.com, Delaney Hildebrandt's 2-run home run capped a five-run second inning, and the Monticello Lady Sages held off LeRoy 8-3 Monday afternoon from Monticello High School in non-conference girls softball action.
The Lady Sages hit through their order in the second inning and LeRoy committed five errors. Pitcher Marissa Adams surrendered only two earned runs in the inning on just two hits.
The Lady Panthers got two runs back in the top of the third inning but Monticello senior pitcher Leslie Taylor worked in and out of trouble all afternoon as she was instrumental in handing formerly undefeated LeRoy their first loss of the season to drop to 5-1.
Jenny Hinton finished the day 2-for-3 with three runs scored for the Lady Sages and Cameryn Menacher had a two-run double in the fifth inning that extended the Lady Sages lead to 8-3.
With the win the Lady Sages improve to 3-3 on the season.
This afternoon on WEZC and dewittdailynews.com, hear Monticello boys baseball action opposite Blue Ridge from Monticello High School starting at 4:30 pm.
Jaden Schwartz scored twice and Jake Allen made 21 saves to help the Blues continue their mastery over the Arizona Coyotes with a 4-1 win.
St. Louis has won 10 straight games against Arizona, outscoring the Coyotes 42-13 in that time. The Blues have won 10 of their last 12 overall and trail Nashville by a point for third place in the Central Division.
Arizona has lost six of its last seven. The teams meet again Wednesday in Phoenix.
Schwartz has four goals in his last four games after scoring just once - an empty net tally - in a 25-game stretch from Jan. 21 to March 18.
Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for St. Louis, which is 16-1-1 against Arizona since 2011-12. Alexander Steen added four assists.
Schwartz and linemates Steen and Tarasenko racked up 10 points in the contest.
Allen improved to 7-0 lifetime against Arizona. He has won eight of his last 10 starts, allowing just 13 goals.
Arizona goalie Mike Smith stopped 24 shots.
Schwartz converted from close range off a pass from behind the net by Steen midway through the second period for a 1-0 lead.
Schwartz, backhanded a shot past Smith midway through the third period to push the lead to 3-1.
Pietrangelo tied a career high with his 12th goal of the season. Tarasenko scored his team-high 35th goal with 1:49 left.
The Blues managed just five shots on goal in a scoreless first period but broke loose with two goals midway through the second period.
The Blues begin a two-game road swing in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
>>Lightning Storm Back, Beat Blackhawks in OT
Yanni Gourde had a breakaway goal 4:25 into overtime and the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Monday night.
Victor Hedman set up the winner with his third assist of the game.
Tampa Bay, which trails Boston by a point for the second Eastern Conference wild card, also got two goals from Jonathan Drouin. Ondrej Palat and Anton Stralman also scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy, who got pulled 14 minutes into the first after allowing three goals on eight shots, returned to the start the second and finished with 25 saves.
Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Tomas Jurco and Richard Panik scored for the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks, who were coming off a 7-0 loss Saturday night at Florida. Scott Darling stopped 25 shots.
After the Blackhawks went up 4-1 midway through the second on Panik's goal, Tampa Bay tied it at 4 on Drouin's goals and one by Stralman in a 4:39 span.
Palat and Drouin's second goal came on power plays after Chicago was penalized for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass.
The Blackhawks have the 24th ranked short-handed unit in the NHL.
Nikita Kucherov had two assists to set a Tampa Bay record for points in a single month with 22. The right wing has four assists and 11 points during a five-game point streak.
The Blackhawks complete a three-game trip Wednesday night at Pittsburgh.
The Raiders are on the move -- again -- after NFL owners approved the franchise’s relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports the NFL owners approved the Raiders move to Las Vegas with a whopping 31-1 vote, with the Miami Dolphins being the only team that voted against the Raiders move. The Raiders needed 24 of 32 votes and easily cleared the hurdle.
The expectation for the Raiders is they will play two more seasons in Oakland, which Oakland confirmed in a statement released by the team. The 2019 season is a major question mark. The Raiders could play in Oakland for a third year, but could also play at UNLV’s stadium as well.
The move has been expected for several weeks now, with CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reporting several days ago that the Raiders vote would be at the top of the docket at the NFL’s annual spring meetings. La Canfora also reported that a vote was expected to pass . A letter from Roger Goodell to the Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf only reaffirmed that likelihood and now the Raiders exit from Oakland is a reality.
Oakland’s mayor made a last-second push to try and keep the Raiders in the Bay Area, but ultimately it was too little, too late. And there was just too much public funding available in Las Vegas, even with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson backing out and requiring the Raiders to look elsewhere (Bank of America) to fund the stadium.
Michigan State hit eight home runs Sunday to beat the Illinois baseball team 17-6. The Spartans swept the three-game series from the Illini.
Michigan State (15-5, 3-0 Big Ten) had 13 hits with eight leaving the ballpark. Brandon Hughes hit three homers and Marty Bechina had two.
Illinois (6-15, 0-3 Big Ten) surrendered five home runs in the first two innings, falling behind 7-0. Luke Shilling (1-2) allowed nine runs (eight earned) on six home runs in the first four innings to take the loss.
In the ninth, Tyler Engel added a run-scoring triple and Pat McInerney hit his team-leading eighth homer of the season.
It was the first time Michigan State swept Illinois since 1979.
Illinois is back at home Tuesday against Bradley. Indiana State visits Illinois Field Friday-Sunday.
Illinois State and Xavier split a baseball doubleheader Saturday at Hayden Park as the Redbirds won the opener, 7-5, before dropping the nightcap, 3-2.
Big performances at the plate from Owen Miller and Joe Butler helped Illinois State win the opener of Saturday's twin bill. Miller went 4-for-5 and Butler went 3-for-4 as both players matched career highs for hits in a game.
Miller and Butler combined for nearly half of Illinois State's 15 hits, and a trio of Redbird relievers limited Xavier to two runs over the final five-plus innings. Jack Landwehr earned his first win of the season and Mitch Vogrin tallied the first save of his collegiate career to help the Redbirds secure a 7-5 win.
Xavier salvaged a doubleheader split with a walk-off win in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. Gallagher provided a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to help the hosts earn the doubleheader split and the series victory.
The loss spoiled a solid day from the mound for the Redbirds. Starter Brent Headrick allowed just two runs over 4.1 innings, while striking out a career-high six batters. Jeffrey Barton followed that by retiring eight batters without allowing a hit in a sparkling relief appearance. David Meade pitched a scoreless eighth before Xavier scored the game-winner in the ninth.
Miller, Braithwaite and Aeilts tallied two hits each for the Redbirds.
Illinois State's record is now 6-15. Xavier is 13-11.
The Chicago Bears have signed quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is expected to back up Mike Glennon next season.
The Bears announced the one-year contract Friday. Chicago is coming off a season in which it went 3-13 and finished last in the NFC North.
The Bears cut quarterback Jay Cutler this month after eight seasons and the next day signed Glennon of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a three-year deal.
Sanchez played in two games last season with the Dallas Cowboys, throwing for 93 yards on 10 of 18 attempts. He spent five of his eight seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets before going to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The former Southern California star has appeared in six playoff games. He was selected fifth overall in the 2009 draft.
>>Bears CB Hall Tesered, Arrested
Bears cornerback Deiondre Hall was tasered for resisting arrest and faces three misdemeanor charges after an alleged fight outside a college bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa, early Sunday morning, according to multiple reports.
Packers cornerback Makinton Darleant, a teammate of Hall’s at Northern Iowa, was also involved in the alleged incident, which took place outside an 18-and-over bar called Sharky’s Fun House.
Jeff Harrenstein, a captain with the Cedar Falls Police Department, told the Chicago Tribune that Hall was tasered by officers for resisting arrest, resisting having handcuffs placed on him and refusing to get into a squad car.
Hall, a fourth-round pick of the Bears last year, played in eight games as a rookie and made one interception before injuring his ankle. He underwent surgery in January.
According to the Tribune, Hall faces charges of public intoxication, interference and disorderly conduct by fighting. He was booked into the Black Hawk County Jail at about 1 a.m. Sunday and posted bond at 5 a.m. Darleant was charged with misdemeanor interference.
Nikola Mirotic tied a season high with 28 points, Jimmy Butler had 20 points and a career-high 14 assists, and the Chicago Bulls pulled away in the second half for a 109-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
Butler broke his previous career best for assists (12) by the end of a pivotal third quarter, when Chicago stretched a one-point lead at the half to 91-79 going into the fourth.
Butler punctuated the second-half runaway with a backcourt steal off a telegraphed pass by Greg Monroe before strolling the other way for an easy dunk and 17-point lead with 8:55 left.
Mirotic hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter, while Rajon Rondo scored 14 of his 18 points in that period.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Bucks.
>>Pacers Down Sixers
Myles Turner had 17 points and 16 rebounds, Paul George scored 21 points, and the Indiana Pacers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 107-94 on Sunday night.
Jeff Teague added 16 points for the Pacers, who used a 30-point third quarter to turn a six-point halftime lead into a 12-point advantage and snapped a two-game skid.
Indiana (37-36) moved into a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta and Milwaukee. The Pacers will play both the Bucks and the Hawks during their final nine games of the regular season.
Al Jefferson finished with 14 points before leaving in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle. Monta Ellis, Aaron Brooks and CJ Miles all had 10 for Indiana.
Sergio Rodriguez scored 16 for the Sixers, while Richaun Holmes finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pacers led by as many as 11 in the first half before the Sixers made a push late to close the deficit to six points by halftime.
George then scored nine points in the third quarter and Teague had eight as the Pacers led by as much as 19 in the period. They extended the advantage to 25 in the fourth.
Luke Maye hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds left and top-seeded North Carolina held off Kentucky 75-73 to earn the Tar Heels' second straight trip to the Final Four, winning a showdown of college basketball's elite in the South Regional.
The national semifinal will be the 20th for North Carolina, where the Tar Heels (31-7) will play Midwest champ Oregon on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona.
North Carolina took control with 12 straight points over the final 5 minutes, a run similar to what it used a week ago to beat Arkansas. The Tar Heels finished this game with a 16-9 run. Kentucky's freshmen De'Aaron Fox hit a 3 and Malik Monk quickly added two more, one with 7.2 seconds left and defenders in his face to tie the game at 73.
Theo Pinson drove enough toward the basket to pick off Maye's defender, then passed back to Maye. The sophomore from Huntersville, North Carolina, knocked it down for the win with his feet on the 3-point line.
Maye finished with a career-high 17 points off the bench for North Carolina. Justin Jackson scored 19 points, and Joel Berry II added 11 on a sprained left ankle.
The Wildcats had one last chance, but Derek Willis' inbounds pass went out of bounds on the far end.
Kentucky (32-6) will miss out on the Final Four for the second straight year. Willis and sophomore Isaac Humphries left the court with towels over their heads, and Fox was the last to leave.
The Wildcats had hoped their talented freshmen would carry them. Bam Adebayo and Fox each had 13 points, and Monk, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, finished with 12.
Dustin Johnson played 112 holes at the 2017 WGC-Dell Match Play Championship. He never trailed in any of his seven matches. Johnson won his third consecutive tournament on Sunday in Austin, Texas, with a 1-up victory against Jon Rahm in the final after defeating Hideto Tanihara 1-up in the semifinals.
His match with Rahm was a roller coaster. Johnson brought the heat early and went 5-up over the first eight holes. Rahm closed like a boss, though, and made birdie at three of the last six holes to narrow the gap. It wasn’t enough. Johnson needed a par on the last hole, got it and held his fifth career WGC trophy. That number is second only to Tiger Woods, who has 18 such titles to his name.
Johnson made only three birdies against Rahm, but he was terrific in all seven of his matches. He led for 105 of those 112 holes.
Johnson blazed through his group of Jimmy Walker, Martin Kaymer and Webb Simpson (all major championship winners) before beating Zach Johnson (two more majors) in the Round of 16, Alex Noren in the quarterfinals and Hideto Tanihara in the semifinals with some clutch putting on the final two holes.
There is no question now. Johnson is the favorite for the 2017 Masters.
He has become the first golfer to win all four of the current WGCs.
Patrick Kane scored his team-leading 33rd goal in regulation and connected again in the shootout as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Thursday night to open an eight-point lead for first place in the Central Division.
Artemi Panarin also scored in the shootout as Chicago rode a 42-save effort by Corey Crawford through overtime to improve to 6-0-1 in its last seven. It was also the Blackhawks' 18th win in their last 22 games. Marian Hossa scored his 24th goal of the season midway through the third period.
Crawford was beaten only by Tyler Seguin in the shootout and twice in regulation by Ales Hemsky as he rebounded from giving up four goals on 10 shots to Vancouver on Tuesday night.
Dallas' Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves through overtime, following up on a 30-save shutout on Monday against San Jose.
>>Blues Blast Canucks
Magnus Paajarvi scored twice to lead the Blues to a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. St. Louis has won 14 of 20 since Feb. 7 after Paajarvi was recalled from Chicago of the AHL.
Kyle Brodziak and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for the Blues who won their fourth straight to give them nine wins in their last 10. Jake Allen made 27 saves for his seventh win in eight starts while allowing just nine goals in the stretch.
Henrik Sedin scored for the Canucks who have lost seven of their last eight to fall to 11-22-3 on the road. Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots.
Brodziak snapped an 11 game goal-scoring drought when he roofed a slap shot by Miller late in the second period for his eighth goal of the season to put the Blues up 2-1.
St. Louis C Paul Stastny was scratched as he is out week-to-week with a lower body injury.
The Blues host Calgary on Saturday.
>>Blackhawks Extend F Kero
The Chicago Blackhawks have signed utility forward Tanner Kero to a two-year contract extension.
The deal with the 24-year-old, signed by the Blackhawks as a free agent in April 2015, runs through the 2018-19 season. Terms of the deal announced Thursday weren't disclosed.
Kero, one of seven rookies to play for Western Conference-leading Chicago this season, has five goals and seven assists in 38 games. He was recalled from Rockford of the AHL on Dec. 22 when he was leading the IceHogs with 20 points on seven goals and 13 asssts.
Kero played four seasons at Michigan Tech, located in Houghton, Michigan. and just across the Keewenaw Waterway from his hometown of Hancock.
A 2015 Hobey Baker Award nominee, Kero was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's Player of the Year during his senior year when he led the Huskies with with 20 goals and 46 points.
Player of the year front-runner Frank Mason III poured in 26 points, Kansas turned on the jets in the second half and the top-seeded Jayhawks soared to a 98-66 blowout of No. 4 seed Purdue on Thursday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
Devonte Graham also had 26 points and Josh Jackson had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Jayhawks (31-4), who led by 7 at halftime before their up-and-down pace finally wore down the Boilermakers.
Kansas used two big runs, including an 11-0 charge highlighted by Lagerald Vicks' 360-degree drunk, to coast into a matchup with No. 3 seed Oregon on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.
Caleb Swanigan had 18 points and seven boards for the Boilermakers (27-8), but the 6-foot-9, 250-pound All-America candidate had to work for all of it. The Jayhawks kept collapsing on him in the post, forcing Swanigan to begin taking 3-pointers early in the second half.
Jeffery Wileaver’s 2-run single capped a five run sixth inning and propelled Monticello to an 11-1 ten-run rule win over Oakwood Thursday afternoon in non-conference boys baseball action from Monticello High School.
Wileaver’s hit capped a 3-for-4 afternoon.
Leading 6-1 in the top of the sixth, the Alex Marquardt doubled to following Nate Graham’s pop out to center field. Then Konner Bundy walked. Nick Stokowski singled over the head of Oakwood left fielder Noah Ruch. An errant throw to second allowed Stokowski to take third, then an errant throw to third allowed Stokowski to score, making it 9-1.
Logan Hislope followed with a single, Mitch Carr was hit by a pitch. Jacob Pakorny walked to load the bases and set up Wileaver’s two-run walk off single to extend the lead to a game ending 11-1 lead.
Marquardt finished the afternoon 4-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and three runs scored.
Cam Wittig was the pitcher of record, throwing four innings, allowing a run on three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Stokowksi finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Chase Vinson tripled in the fourth inning and scored on a Hunter Phelps RBI single for the only run of the game for the Comets.
Vinson finished 1-for-2 with a walk.
Oakwood drops to 1-1 on the season while Monticello improves to 4-1 overall.
B.J. Taylor scored 17 points, Tacko Fall had a double-double and Central Florida held on to defeat Illinois 68-58 on Wednesday night to advance to the final four of the NIT.
A.J. Davis and Matt Williams added 16 points apiece for the Knights (24-11), who play TCU in a semifinal game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Fall had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
UCF was the fourth-seed in the bracket and Illinois (20-15) No. 2 but due to an arena conflict the Fighting Illini couldn't host the game. The Knights took advantage with the first sellout crowd in 10,000-seat CFE Arena history to move within one win of tying for the most in school history.
Both teams had five 3-pointers in the first half but Illinois only had two other baskets, shooting 7 for 26 to fall behind 34-19.
UCF pushed the lead to 19 midway through the second half and was up 52-37 before Malcolm Hill rallied the Illini. Hill hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then made three free throws with 3:14 to play to cut the deficit to six. But Davis made 5 of 6 free throws from there and Taylor was 6 of 8 in the final minute.
Hill had 29 points to finish his Illini career with 1,846, third all-time. Jamall Walker went 2-1 as the interim coach after replacing John Groce, who was fired after the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois introduced Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood as its new coach on Monday.
Nikola Mirotic scored a season-high 28 points, and the Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons 117-95 in a matchup between struggling teams fighting for a playoff spot on Wednesday night.
Mirotic shot 12 of 15 and made 4 of 6 3-point attempts to lead Chicago to an easy win after dropping eight of 10.
Jimmy Butler added 16 points and 12 assists. Joffrey Lauvergne filled in for suspended center Robin Lopez and outplayed Andre Drummond with 17 points and seven rebounds. Rookie Paul Zipser added a career-high 15 points as the Bulls moved into a ninth-place tie with Detroit in the Eastern Conference.
Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris each scored 14 for the Pistons, losers of five of six. Drummond grabbed 17 rebounds but scored just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting.
The Bulls host Philadelphia on Friday.
>>Celtics Drop Pacers
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points, Avery Bradley had 18 with eight rebounds and the Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 109-100 on Wednesday night for their fifth win in six games.
Al Horford added 15 points with eight boards and eight assists, and Jae Crowder also scored 15 points for Boston, which won for the 12th time in 13 home games.
Paul George led the Pacers with 37 points and Jeff Teague had 25. Indiana has alternated by winning and losing in its last 15 games.
The Celtics turned a red-hot shooting third quarter into 39 points, pushing a seven-point halftime lead to 14 after three quarters.
Boston hit 17 of 25 shots from the field, with Marcus Smart's last-second bank shot in the lane capping the shooting. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw, giving the Celtics an 88-74 lead entering the final quarter.
Thomas hit two 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the third.
George kept the Pacers in the game, though, scoring 14 in the quarter.
Trailing by 17 early in the fourth, the Pacers went on a 13-2 run to slice it to 95-89 on Teague's 3-pointer.
Thomas then sandwiched a couple of breakaway layups around a turnaround by Horford to seal it.
The Pacers open a three-game home stand, beginning with Denver on Friday.
>>Lopez Gets Game Suspension For Altercation With Ibaka
Chicago's Robin Lopez and Toronto's Serge Ibaka have both been suspended one game without pay by the NBA for fighting.
Lopez and Ibaka threw punches at one another during the Bulls-Raptors game on Tuesday. Lopez was barred from Chicago's home game with Detroit on Wednesday, and Ibaka will not play when Toronto visits Miami on Thursday.
Also, Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire was fined $15,000 for his role in the altercation. He pushed Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic and the league says he acted "as other than a peacemaker."
Lopez and Ibaka were both ejected and issued technical fouls after Tuesday's incident.
The Raptors and Bulls do not play again this season.
Dallas Green, the tough-talking manager who guided the Philadelphia Phillies to their first World Series championship, has died. He was 82.
The Phillies say Green died Wednesday at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. He had been in poor health for several years.
Green spent 62 years in baseball as a player, manager, general manager, team president and other roles.
As a big league pitcher, he went just 20-22 in the 1960s. It was in the dugout where the 6-foot-5 man with a commanding presence really found his voice - and a booming one, it was.
Green guided the Phillies to the World Series championship in 1980, ending a drought that stretched back nearly a century. He later managed the New York Yankees and Mets, and was GM and president of the Cubs.
>>USA Wins World Baseball Classic
On Wednesday evening in Dodger Stadium in front of over 51,000 fans, the United States defeated Puerto Rico by an 8-0 final to win the 2017 World Baseball Classic championship.
Marcus Stroman was the star of the show, tossing six no-hit innings against a previously undefeated Puerto Rico squad before being lifted following a leadoff double. Ian Kinsler and Brandon Crawford -- Team USA’s double-play combination -- both drove in a pair of runs apiece.
Late in the game, the United States broke it wide open, thus securing their first WBC crown. Japan (twice) and the Dominican Republic were the tournament’s prior winners.
Angel Pagan led off the seventh with a double, ending Stroman’s night before he reached the pitch-count limit.
Ian Kinsler hit a two-run home-run that put the United States up 2-0. Kinsler later added a hard-hit single while playing his typically strong defense.
In a move that plenty of people might have seen coming but resonates with unpleasantness nonetheless, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dropped a bomb Tuesday in his response to whether the league will partake in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Bettman’s response, according to CBC Radio News’ Tom Harrington: “Assume we’re not going.”
The league has its reasons for holding back from Olympic participation -- namely ones centered on financial and player-health risks. But if Bettman’s not-so-subtle hint holds true, the NHL will certainly have no shortage of players -- and big-name ones, at that -- tempted to skip their own regular-season obligations for a shot at some overseas action on the world’s grandest athletic stage.
And some owners, like the Washington Capitals’ Ted Leonsis, apparently won’t have a problem letting their stars pursue Olympic opportunities the NHL should probably be throwing in their direction.
The Monticello Lady Sages could not overcome their own miscues on a cold Wednesday afternoon and fell to the Meridian Lady Hawks 10-8 in non-conference softball action from Monticello High School.
The Lady Sages jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead after two innings, but the Lady Hawks fought back with a three run third inning and four run fourth inning to take a 7-6 lead.
The Lady Hawks threatened to extend the 7-6 lead in the fifth inning with a lead off double then a walk. A passed ball allowed for runners at second and third with no one out. Taylor Wunderlich, on in relief of starting pitcher Leslie Taylor, got the ninth hitter for the Lady Hawks to pop out to shortstop Jenny Hinton, then struck out leadoff hitter Kaelee Stockton. A two-out walk to Jesse Damery loaded the bases but Amy Aukamp popped out to third base to end the threat.
They would add a run in the sixth inning, but the Lady Sages tied it at 8 after six and with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the seventh, they could not get the run in and the game went to extra innings where a crucial error allowed the winning run to score and an insurance run to get into scoring position, that would later come around to score.
The Lady Sages committed four errors on the game.
Makayla Reedy led the Lady Sages, going 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles and three runs batted in. Mackenzie Reedy was 1-for-3 with a two-run single that tied the game the sixth inning.
She tried to score on an errant throw to third but was thrown out at the plate in what would have been the go-ahead run.
Delaney Hildehrandt reached base twice on a single and a walk and scored two runs for the Lady Sages.
Mackenzie Reedy also scored twice for Monticello.
Leslie Taylor, Hannah Oberheim, Cameryn Menacher and Taylor Wunderlich each had base hits for the Lady Sages.
Wunderlich took the loss in relief of starter Taylor.
The Lady Sages drop to 1-4 on the season while Meridian improves to 2-1 overall.
The Clinton YMCA swim program, the Otters competed this past weekend at the state tournament and according to their head coach, Josh Gibson, it was a record setting weekend for his team.
Coach Gibson indicates Dalton Glenn was outstanding this weekend of the Otters. He adds they have a set of relay teams that did very well this past weekend.
Tuesday night at the YMCA, in the gym, three banners and some age group trophies were shown for the first time.
Gibson is very pleased with the way the team came together. He points out there are swimmers from different areas of central Illinois and he was pleased with the way the kids became friends and took on the core values of the YMCA at the same time.
Mahomet-Seymour shut out Clinton Tuesday afternoon 6-0 in non-conference boys baseball action from Mahomet.
Isaac Bushue thre five shut out innings for the Bulldogs en route to a season opening victory on the hill. He struck out seven walked two and allowed three hits. Tanner Kirts closed the door on the win with two shutout innings of relief.
Jake Wade pitched five innings for the Maroons allowing six runs, three of which were earned, striking out four and walking two. He allowed nine hits.
Mac Hickman threw and inning of scoreless relief for Clinton.
Wade led the Maroons offense with a 1-for-3 afternoon and Logan Petersen was also 1-for-3.
Bradley Hamiltom and Lukas Graham collected a pair of hits. Charlie Grant and Noah Steepleton were 1-for-2. Hamilton had a double and a run batted in. Steepleton added an RBI as well for Mahomet-Seymour.
The Maroons drops to 1-1 on the season and Mahomet-Seymour is 1-0.
The Illinois baseball team used six pitchers Tuesday to combine on a four-hitter in a 7-1 win over Illinois State at Illinois Field. It was a bullpen day for the Illini and the offense supported the pitchers by scoring in six different innings.
Illinois (6-12) was led by Michael Massey's three-hit, two-RBI day, and also got two-hit outings from Doran Turchin and Pat McInerney. Jack Yalowitz added two sac flies for two RBIs as Illinois cruised to a win in its first midweek game of the season.
Cyrillo Watson (1-1) pitched the first three innings without giving up a hit on his way to his first career victory. He was credited with the win despite only getting through three innings on 49 pitches due to a predetermined pitch-count limit. Watson struck out two and walked two.
After Quinten Sefcik allowed one run on three hits in the fourth and fifth, Illinois, next four relievers each threw one frame and combined to allow just one hit. Zack Jones (1.0 IP, 1 H), Ryan Thompson (1.0 IP, 0 H), Ryan Schmitt (1.0 IP, 0 H) and Joey Gerber (1.0 IP, 0 H) shut down the Redbirds through the remainder of the game.
Illinois jumped out to a 3-0 lead through two innings and never looked back. The Illini scored two in the first, its only multi-run inning, on two-out RBI singles from Casey Dodge and Massey.
Illinois State lefthander Colton Johnson (1-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on five hits in the first three innings.
Jack Landwehr pitched the next four frames, allowing three more runs, although only two were earne. Jeff Lindgren allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth before Jeffrey Barton got the final two outs of the game for the Redbird pitching staff.
Illinois State (5-13) got on the scoreboard in the fifth when Miller provided a sac fly that allowed Joe Aeilts to score.
The Illini open Big Ten play this weekend against Michigan State. The Spartans visit for a three-game series Friday-Sunday.
The Redbirds return to action this weekend with a three-game series at Xavier, in Cincinnati, Ohio, beginning Friday.
DeMar DeRozan had 42 points, and the Toronto Raptors snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Chicago Bulls by rallying for a wild 122-120 overtime win on Tuesday night.
DeRozan shot 17 of 38 from the floor and also collected eight assists. Cory Joseph had 19 points for the Raptors, and Serge Ibaka scored 16 before he was ejected for his role in a memorable fight with Robin Lopez during the third quarter.
Jimmy Butler had 37 points for the Bulls, and Rajon Rondo finished with 24. It was Chicago's first loss to Toronto since Dec. 31, 2013.
Jake Allen made 26 saves, and Magnus Paajarvi and Jaden Schwartz scored in the third period to lift the Blues over the Avalanche 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Patrik Berglund had two goals, including an empty-netter to seal it for the Blues. They tied idle Nashville for third place in the Central Division with 83 points, and St. Louis holds the tiebreaker by virtue of more regulation and overtime wins.
The Blues finished 4-1 on their trip. They've won eight of 11 overall and 14 of their last 20 away from home.
David Perron and Zachary Stanford had two assists each for St. Louis, which played most of the game without center Paul Stastny after he was hit on the foot by a shot in the first period.
John Mitchell had a goal and an assist, Mark Barberio also scored and Calvin Pickard made 25 saves for Colorado, which has lost three straight. The Avalanche, last in the NHL with 43 points, fell to 11-23-2 at home. Their 11 home wins are the fewest in the league.
The game was tied 1-all after two periods before Paajarvi deflected Ivan Barbashev's shot past Pickard at 5:05 of the third. Schwartz made it a two-goal lead at 8:44 with his 15th of the season.
Barberio got Colorado within one with his second of the season at 14:50. Pickard came off for an extra skater in the final two minutes and Berglund scored his 21st goal into the empty net at 19:12.
Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon hit the post moments before Berglund scored the clincher.
The Blues host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
>>Canucks Come Back To Beat Blackhawks
Daniel Sedin scored a power-play goal 2:12 into overtime and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Tuesday night to end a six-game skid.
With his twin brother Henrik Sedin screening goalie Scott Darling, Daniel Sedin connected on a high, long shot. The score withstood a video review for goaltender interference and snapped the Blackhawks' five-game winning streak.
Chicago rookie Ryan Hartman scored his second goal of the game with 1:03 left in the third period to tie it at 4. The Blackhawks rallied with three goals in the third period to send it to overtime.
Vancouver's Brandon Sutter scored two goals to end a 13-game drought. Sutter, along with Henrik Sedin and Reid Boucher, connected on three of the Canucks' first five shots as Vancouver pounced on Chicago mistakes to build a 4-1 advantage.
Ryan Miller made 40 saves as the Canucks were outshot 44-15.
The Chicago Bears boosted their kickoff return game, signing Benny Cunningham to a one-year contract.
Cunningham ranked among the top kickoff returners in the NFL the past four years with the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams. His 2,575 yards in that span rank fourth, and he had the league's third-highest return average at 27.2 yards last season. He also ran for 101 yards in 2016 and has rushed for 748 yards over four seasons.
Cunningham joins a team that finished last in the NFC North at 3-13. The Bears announced the move on Tuesday.
The rebuilding Chicago White Sox and promising shortstop Tim Anderson have agreed to a $25 million, six-year contract.
Anderson will receive $850,000 in 2017, $1 million in 2018, $1.4 million in 2019, $4 million in 2020, $7.25 million in 2021 and $9.5 million in 2022. The deal also includes club options of $12.5 million for 2023 and $14 million for 2024. If either is declined, Anderson gets $1 million.
The deal announced Tuesday comes on the heels of an encouraging debut last season.
The 23-year-old Anderson, selected 17th overall in the 2013 amateur draft, was promoted in June after Jimmy Rollins was released. He hit .283 with 10 stolen bases, nine homers and 30 RBIs in 99 games. He also struck out 117 times and walked just 13.
The United States of America moves to its first ever World Baseball Classic final, by virtue of taking down two-time champion Japan in the semifinals on Tuesday night, 2-1. The final will be on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT in Dodger Stadium vs. Puerto Rico, which is undefeated to this point.
For at least the first five innings, it was raining in Dodger Stadium, which is a rarity. Sometimes it was pretty steady but it didn’t really let up until the sixth inning. It picked up on occasion the rest of the way as well. The grounds crew had to become involved a few times, notably around home plate and on the mound, obviously.
Christian Yelich hit a relatively hard grounder right at second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi, and he booted it.
USA would make Japan pay. After a Nolan Arenado strikeout and Eric Hosmer walk, Andrew McCutchen would deliver the two-out, go-ahead single.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning and Japan trailing 1-0, Kikuchi clubbed a home run off USA reliever Nate Jones to right field. It was a wall-scraper and initially it looked like McCutchen robbed him. Instead, Cutch just missed the ball and the game was tied.
Tanner Roark went for USA and threw four scoreless innings. He allowed only two hits and a walk. There was a timely double play and a hard ball hit or two, but it was mostly soft contact or routine fly balls. He pitched to contact, too, only striking out one.
He was outshined, in my opinion, by Japan starter Tomoyuki Sugano. In six innings of work, he gave up just one run on three hits, but that was an unearned run as mentioned above. He struck out six while walking just one, and that was with two outs and a base to work with. The USA hitters were stuck attempting to check swings often due to being caught so off-guard by his arsenal, too.
Brandon Crawford picked up a one-out single that was hit awfully hard to right in the eighth. Then Ian Kinsler hit a ball that looked like it was going to end up over the left-center fence. Crawford didn’t score due to what looked like caution with the wet/muddy infield. So it was second and third with one out for Adam Jones, who had been clutch throughout the WBC.
It was a soft grounder to third base, but Crawford was coming home on the contact play. He probably would’ve been out, but the weather came into play again, as Japan third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda couldn’t initially handle the ball and had to call an audible by getting the easy out at first.
And USA would head to the bottom of the eighth with a 2-1 lead.
There was no close call in the ninth inning for Luke Gregerson. He needed only seven pitches to dispatch of Japan’s 5-7 hitters while striking out the final batter. USA is now 5-2 in this tournament with Gregerson saving three games in four appearances.
Puerto Rico awaits for all the marbles on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
The Athletic Department at the University of Illinois introduced their new head basketball coach Monday afternoon.
Brad Underwood was at the State Farm Center. He said that once he found out the U of I was interested in him as a coach Athletic Director Josh Whitman didn’t need to sell him on taking the job. Underwood has ties to the state, having been a 10 year assistant at Western Illinois University. He says it’s great to recruit the state because of top talent and coaches.
The contract will pay Underwood more than $3 million a season for 6 years. He was making a little more than a million a year coaching at Oklahoma State. Underwood was introduced to Illini fans at halftime of last night’s NIT game against Boise State.
Tracy Abrams scored 18 points, Leron Black had a double-double and Illinois pulled away midway through the second half to beat Boise State 71-56 on Monday night in the second round of the NIT.
No. 2 seed Illinois (20-14) will play fourth-seeded Central Florida (23-11) in a quarterfinal. The game was tied at 49 with 10 minutes left before Illinois closed on a 22-7 run.
Malcolm Hill scored 13 points and has 1,817 for his career, surpassing Dee Brown (1,812) for third place all-time at Illinois. Abrams was 6 of 11 from the floor and made three 3-pointers. Black had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Chandler Hutchison scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead No. 6 seed Boise State (20-12). Nick Duncan chipped in 12 points. The Broncos shot 0 of 14 from long range in the second half.
Brad Underwood, who became the 18th coach in program history for the Illini, was in attendance. He replaced John Groce after five seasons.
Jeff Teague scored 21 points, Paul George added 19 and the Indiana Pacers beat the Utah Jazz 107-100 on Monday night.
Indiana continued its trend of following a loss with a win - failing to do either in consecutive games since Feb. 16. The win helped the Pacers maintain the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
Former Butler star Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with a career-high 38 points. Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 14 rebounds on the final stop of a four-game trip.
Utah looked sluggish all night, and the Pacers took advantage.
While they struggled to put away the win, the Pacers seized control with an early 8-0 run and never trailed after the 6:42 mark of the first quarter.
Puerto Rico is heading back to the World Baseball Classic championship game. They beat the Netherlands 4-3 in 11 innings (box score) in their semifinal game at Dodger Stadium on Monday night to clinch a spot in the final. The Netherlands, meanwhile, is heading home. Puerto Rico is a perfect 7-0 in the WBC.
Monday’s game started with a wild first inning , which featured an epic baserunning blunder by Jurickson Profar and a monster two-run home run by Wladimir Balentien.
Puerto Rico answered right back courtesy of Carlos Correa’s two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. They took a 3-2 lead on T.J. Rivera’s solo home run in the second inning, then the Netherlands rallied to tie in the fifth. Catcher Shawn Zarraga doubled in the tying run, and it would have been a two-run double had Puerto Rico not executed a perfect relay to the plate.
The score remained tied 3-3 until the 11th inning, when the weird extra-inning rules kicked in. The Netherlands started the top of the 11th with runners on first and second, but failed to score thanks to a bunt and a double play. Puerto Rico then started the bottom of the 11th with runners on first and second. Molina bunted the runners up, Javier Baez was intentionally walked to set up the double play, and Eddie Rosario smacked a game-winning sac fly.
With the win, Puerto Rico returns to the WBC title game after finishing as the runner-up to the Dominican Republic in 2009. That team didn’t have Correa, Baez, and Francisco Lindor on the infield, however. Puerto Rico will play the winner of Tuesday’s USA vs. Japan game in Wednesday’s winner-take-all Championship Game.
Illinois has hired Oklahoma State's Brad Underwood as its new coach.
Underwood spent three successful seasons at Stephen F. Austin before signing on to coach Oklahoma State for 2016-17. The Cowboys got off to a rough start to Big 12 play before rallying with a 9-1 stretch that landed them an NCAA Tournament bid.
Oklahoma State fell to seventh-seeded Michigan 92-91 on Friday, closing out Underwood's only season in Stillwater.
Underwood replaces John Groce, who was let go earlier this month.
The Fighting Illini went 95-75 in five seasons under Groce but made just one NCAA tournament appearance.
The Clinton Maroons boys baseball squad opened up a 6-1 advantage in after the first inning and never looked back as they routed Heyworth 13-3 in six innings Saturday from Clinton High School after the game was moved to Clinton and the Maroons were still considered the road team.
Travis Osgood went 5.2 innings allowing three runs, two earned on nine hits, walking five and striking out four.
Wesley Conn closed out the game and drew four walks at the plate with a base hit.
Mac Hickman finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs while Isaac Woodward and Levi Nettles added a pair of hits apiece.
The Maroons are 1-0 on the season after snow called off a pair of games last week.
The Illinois baseball team dropped both ends of a doubleheader Sunday at Illinois Field. The Illini opened the day with a 10-4 loss to Toledo and followed with a 3-1 setback against Southern Illinois.
Illinois (5-12) finished the weekend 1-3 in the three-team double round robin. Sophomore outfielder Jack Yalowitz led the Illini with a .471 batting average (8-17), two home runs and nine RBIs on the weekend. Senior first baseman/outfielder Pat McInerney added two homers during the four games.
The home schedule continues Tuesday against Illinois State at 4:05 p.m. CT.
Lipscomb earned a three-game series sweep of the Illinois State baseball team by virtue of an 8-3 win over the Redbirds Sunday at Ken Dugan Field.
Illinois State (5-12) tied the game with two runs in the top of the second inning, but the Redbirds struggled late against its opponent's pitching staff, which limited the Redbird lineup to just a single run over the final seven innings. Lipscomb (11-8) got four perfect innings of relief pitching from Kyle Kemp.
The Lipscomb win secured a sweep for the Bisons, who won both games of Saturday's doubleheader, by scores of 10-8 and 3-1, respectively.
No Redbird collected multiple hits in Saturday's game, although Owen Miller extended his hitting streak to nine games. For the second game in a row, Lipscomb's pitching staff did not issue a walk.
The Redbirds will take Monday off before returning to action Tuesday against in-state foe Illinois at Illinois Field in Champaign.
Jonathan Toews scored twice and Richard Panik and Artemi Panarin each had one in a span of 3:02 in the third period to erase Colorado's two-goal lead and rally the Chicago Blackhawks past the Avalanche 6-3 on Sunday night for their fifth straight win.
Patrick Kane scored his team-leading 32nd goal and Marcus Kruger added an empty-netter for Chicago, which won for the 17th time in its last 20 games to pull seven points ahead of slumping second-place Minnesota in the Central Division.
With Chicago trailing 3-1, Toews tipped in Kane's bouncing shot at 10:17 of the third period to cut it to 3-2. The goal withstood a video review that showed Toews may have been offside.
Panik rifled in a loose puck from the slot 17 seconds later to tie it at 3. Panarin put Chicago ahead 4-3 just 17 seconds after that.
DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points in three quarters, and all five Toronto starters were in double figures as the Raptors beat the Indiana Pacers 116-91 on Sunday night.
DeRozan added four assists and three rebounds and was able to rest the entire fourth quarter as the Raptors cruised to their second straight victory. Serge Ibaka had 16 points, while Jonas Valanciunas finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 41-29.
Paul George had 18 points and Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young added 16 apiece for the Pacers, who lost to Toronto for the eighth time in the last nine regular-season meetings.
Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and spurred a furious second-half rally to send Michigan past second-seeded Louisville 73-69 on Sunday and into the Sweet 16.
The seventh-seeded Wolverines (26-11) have won seven straight - six since a frightening plane accident before the Big Ten Tournament. They also earned a ticket to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City, Missouri, their first since 2014.
Donovan Mitchell scored 19 points and Deng Adel had 16 points to lead Louisville (25-9), which had made the Sweet 16 in its last four NCAA Tournament appearances.
But Wagner bailed out the Wolverines from a poor game.
Trailing 45-36 with 16:09 to play, the German native scored on a layup to start a 17-6 run that gave Michigan its first lead since the opening minutes. And after Wagner's 3-pointer broke a 55-55 tie with 6:39 to go, the Wolverines led the rest of the way.
Sindarius Thornwell had 24 points, Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and seventh-seeded South Carolina stunned No. 2 seed Duke 88-81 on Sunday night to advance to its first Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament's expanded bracket.
The Gamecocks (24-10) trailed by 10 points early in the second half after one of its coldest shooting stretches of the season to start. But behind Thornwell's outside shooting and Silva's dominance underneath, South Carolina rallied to win two NCAA games for the first time in 44 years.
>>> With 2 gift FTs, Northwestern prevails 68-66 over Vandy
SALT LAKE CITY - Northwestern got its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, 68-66 over Vanderbilt, after Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably grabbed Wildcats guard Bryant McIntosh on purpose, sending McIntosh to the free throw line for the go-ahead points with 15 seconds left.
Riley LaChance made a layup with 18 seconds remaining in Thursday's game to put the ninth-seeded Commodores up by one after trailing by as many as 15.
But seconds after the in-bounds pass, Fisher-Davis reached out and grabbed McIntosh while he was in the backcourt. That put eighth-seeded Northwestern in the double bonus, and McIntosh went to the line and calmly swished the free throws with 15 seconds left.
LaChance missed a 3 on the next possession and eighth-seeded Northwestern (24-11) got another free throw.
>>> Dwyane Wade out for rest of season with elbow injury
CHICAGO - Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade will miss the rest of the season with a fractured right elbow.
The Bulls said an MRI revealed the fracture. Wade was injured in the fourth quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night. He collided with Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph and said after the game that he felt his elbow pop.
Wade averaged 18.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in his first season with his hometown Bulls. But the homecoming has been marred by a 32-36 record that has the Bulls out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference amid discord in the locker room.
The Bulls have lost six of their last seven games. They next play at Washington on Friday.
Panik's late power-play goal lifts Blackhawks past Senators
OTTAWA, Ontario - Richard Panik scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period, lifting the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night.
Panik scored on the power play on a one-timer off a pass from Patrick Kane with 3:01 remaining. Duncan Keith also scored and Scott Darling made 33 saves to help the Blackhawks get their second straight win.
Kyle Turris scored for Ottawa, and Mike Condon finished with 26 saves as the Senators squandered a chance to move in to first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead at 8:04 of the third as Keith's shot eventually found its way across the goal line.
Turris tied it on a one-timer from the right side on a power play with 8:37 remaining.
Tarasenko scores twice to lead Blues past Sharks 4-1
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals to give him 34 on the season and Zach Sanford added his first since joining St. Louis to help the Blues complete a regular season sweep of the San Jose Sharks with a 4-1 victory on Thursday night.
Scottie Upshall also scored and Carter Hutton made 19 saves as the Blues bounced back from a 2-1 loss the previous night in Anaheim with a crucial win over the team that beat them in the Western Conference final last season.
St. Louis remained two points behind Nashville for third place in the Central Division and four points up on Los Angeles for the second wild-card spot.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the lone goal for the Sharks. Aaron Dell made 32 saves.
Steven Ross of North Lawndale Charter, Evan Myers of Mundelein Carmel, Cade Nailor from Rock Falls and Joel Pantoja from LaSalle-Peru will shoot tomorrow night during the Class 3A and 4A State Finals in Peoria.
A Clinton High School senior is among the selections for the 2016-2017 Central Illinois Conference Boys Basketball All-Conference team, and a Maroons junior received an Honorable Mention.
Maroons senior Peyton McCubbin was one of six awarded the honor this week. He joins five other CIC players on the All-Conference 1st team. The other selections were: Keaton Garner, of Central A&M; Layne Kircher, of Meridian; Malcolm Miller, of Shelbyville; Isaiah Bond, of St. Teresa; and Andrew Butts, of Warrensburg-Latham. All six were unanimous selections.
The CIC All-Conference 2nd team includes: Connor Heaton, of Central A&M; Turner Pullen, of Shelbyville; Kaleb Williams, of Tuscola; Ray Kerkhoff, of Tuscola; Joe Gustafson, of Warrensburg-Latham; and Jarius Ingram, also of Warrensburg-Latham.
Clinton Maroons junior Austin Baker was among the four players earning a CIC All-Conference team honorable mention. Joining Baker were Jameson Smith, of Central A&M; Manny Green, of St. Teresa; and Bryce Farris, of Sullivan.
CHICAGO - Mike Conley and Marc Gasol each scored 27 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 98-91 win against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Conley and Gasol scored 18 of the team's 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies held off the Bulls, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Memphis, which had lost five straight before winning Monday, earned its second straight win.
Chicago never led in the second half, but Nikola Mirotic had a pair of tying 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Both were answered by Gasol, his teammate on the Spanish national team.
The Bulls were without Dwyane Wade down the stretch after he injured his right elbow with 8:34 remaining. He did not return.
Rajon Rondo scored 17 points to lead Chicago.
Bucks hold off Clippers 97-96 when Griffin misses late
LOS ANGELES - Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton each scored 16 points to lead six Milwaukee players in double figures, and the Bucks held off the Los Angeles Clippers 97-96 on Wednesday night when Blake Griffin's last-second shot rolled off the rim.
DeAndre Jordan had 22 points and 17 rebounds for the Clippers. Griffin added 18.
Milwaukee led by seven with less than three minutes to play, but baskets by Jordan brought the Clippers within one. With 5.1 seconds left, Los Angeles called a timeout and ran a play for Griffin, who drove the lane and put up a short shot that was off target.
The Bucks improved to 11-5 since losing second-leading scorer Jabari Parker to a season-ending knee surgery. They are seventh in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of Detroit and Miami.
Hawkins hits 6 3s; Illinois St. beats UC Irvine 85-71 in NIT
NORMAL, Ill. - Deontae Hawkins made a career-high six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points to lead Illinois State to an 85-71 victory over UC Irvine in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night.
Top-seeded Illinois State (28-6) bounced back from a loss to Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game, and will play No. 4 seed Central Florida (22-11) in the second round.
Hawkins was 8 of 11 from the floor and made all six 3-point attempts. MiKyle McIntosh and Paris Lee added 13 points apiece for the Redbirds, who shot 52.5 percent (32 of 61) from the field and 13 of 25 (52 percent) from long range, and had a season-high 22 assists.
Jaron Martin scored 24 points and Luke Nelson had 17 to lead UC Irvine (21-15).
The Redbirds had a double-digit lead for most of the second half. A 12-3 run pulled UC Irvine to 61-55 but the Anteaters didn't get closer.
UC Davis 67
N.C. Central 63
The full NCAA Tournament begins today across the country.
Blackhawks C Artem Anisimov sidelined by left leg injury
OTTAWA, Ontario - Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov will be sidelined for three to four weeks with a left leg injury.
Anisimov got hurt in the first period of Chicago's 4-2 win at Montreal on Tuesday night. He had to be helped from the ice after Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov fell on the back of his leg in a corner behind the Chicago goal.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Anisimov was day to day after the victory against the Canadiens. He provided a longer timetable for Anisimov's return on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks have won nine of 11 heading into Thursday night's game against Ottawa. With Anisimov out, rookie Nick Schmaltz likely will center Chicago's second line with wingers Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.
Anisimov has 22 goals and a career-high 45 points in 64 games this season.
Rakell, Getzlaf keep rolling as Ducks drop Blues, 2-1
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Rickard Rakell scored his 30th of the season, Ryan Getzlaf added a short-handed goal and the Anaheim Ducks defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves for his fourth straight win as Anaheim passed Calgary for second place in the Pacific Division. The Flames' 10-game winning streak ended with a 5-2 loss to Boston.
Ivan Barbashev scored his third career goal and Jake Allen made 20 saves, but the Blues' five-game winning streak was stopped.
St. Louis missed out on its chance to pass Nashville for third place in the Central Division. The Blues still hold the second wild card in the Western Conference, four points ahead of Los Angeles.
Rakell hit the 30-goal mark for the first time in his five-year career by putting the Ducks ahead 5:32 into the first period.
In Team USA’s 4-2 win over Venezuela to open the second round of the World Baseball Classic for each country, the cliche that fits is “better late than never.”
For seven innings, very little went right for the USA offense.
Then came the eighth inning, with Venezuela holding a 2-1 lead and Hector Rondon entering the game.
Adam Jones would homer to knot things up and USA would burst through the door. Christian Yelich singled. After a Nolan Arenado fly out, Eric Hosmer would come through with the big blow of the game -- a two-run home run to right-center. Luke Gregerson would close things out and USA would move to 3-1 in this tournament, with the only loss coming in a game it probably should have won against the Dominican Republic.
>>> AGENT-CUBAN SMUGGLING
Agent, trainer guilty in Cuban smuggling case
MIAMI (AP) - A Miami jury has convicted a Florida sports agent and a baseball trainer accused of smuggling Cuban ballplayers into the U.S.
The jury verdict Wednesday came after about six weeks of testimony in the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada on alien smuggling and conspiracy charges.
Prosecution evidence included testimony from several Major League Baseball players detailing their defections from communist Cuba and signing of lucrative free-agent contracts.
Trial evidence included documents containing false information used to obtain players' residency in Mexico and Haiti they needed before coming to the U.S. There was also testimony about attempted kidnappings of players and illegal border crossings.
Several smuggled Cuban players testified, including Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Leonys Martin of the Seattle Mariners.
Neither Hernandez nor Estrada took the stand. Their lawyers contended prosecutors never proved they were involved in smuggling and insisted the men ran legitimate businesses.
Malcolm Hill scored 25 points, Leron Black had a double-double and Jamall Walker picked up a win in his debut as the interim coach for Illinois, an 82-57 romp over short-handled Valparaiso in an opening game of the NIT on Tuesday night.
Hill made 7 of 12 shots, including four 3-pointers, and 7 of 8 free throws and became the fourth player to surpass 1,800 points for the Illini (19-14), who are seeded second in their bracket and are home against the Boise State next. Black had 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Walker served as an assistant to head coach John Groce for five seasons until Groce was fired on Saturday.
Tevonn Walker had 25 points for Valparaiso (24-9), which reached last year's NIT title game. The Crusaders were without Horizon League player of the year Alec Peters, the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, who started all 134 games of his career before an injury sidelined him prior to the last regular season game.
Hill and Black combined for 24 points and the Illini shot 53 percent, including 5 of 10 behind the arc, to lead 41-24 at the half. Valpo pulled within 15 early in the second half, but got no closer.
The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms with placekicker Connor Barth on a one-year contract.
Barth made 18 of 23 field-goal attempts last season and missed only one of 32 extra-point tries in 16 games.
Barth has appeared in 99 games over nine NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs (2008), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-13, 2015), Denver Broncos (2014) and Chicago Bears (2016). He has made 157 of 187 field goal attempts (84 percent) and 205 of 207 extra points (99 percent).
Carmelo Anthony scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, Derrick Rose added 16 points and the New York Knicks overcame a 13-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 87-81 on Tuesday night.
Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis exited in the third quarter with a left leg injury. Rookie Willy Hernangomez entered in his place and had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
New York had lost its last three games. Anthony also had 13 rebounds.
Paul George scored 22 points for the Pacers, who failed to build on their sixth-place lead in the Eastern Conference. Myles Turner had 17 points and 12 rebounds.
The Knicks trailed 59-46 with 9:07 left in the third after Turner's basket but closed out the quarter on an 18-3 run, capped by Anthony's 3-pointer that gave New York a 64-62 lead with 52 seconds left.
Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, Rajon Rondo had a season-high 20 in his return to the starting lineup and the Chicago Bulls beat the Charlotte Hornets 115-109 on Monday night to snap a season-high, five-game losing streak.
Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler each had 23 points for the Bulls (32-35), who got a needed win to boost their hopes of earning the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Rondo provided the spark for the Bulls in his first start since Dec. 30. Along with hitting a season-high three 3-pointers, he had six assists and seven rebounds.
Jeremy Lamb scored 26 points filling in for Nic Batum (migraine), while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 22 and Kemba Walker 21 for the struggling Hornets. Marvin Williams had 13 points and tied a career high with 18 rebounds.
>> Bucks Lose
Vince Carter scored a season-high 24 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the Milwaukee Bucks 113-93 on Monday night. Memphis stopped a five-game skid by ending the Bucks' six-game winning streak. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 18 points, while Malcolm Brogdon contributed 15 off the bench.
Illinois State has fired women's basketball coach Barb Smith.
Athletic director Larry Lyons announced his decision Saturday after the Redbirds lost to Drake in the Missouri Valley Tournament to conclude an 8-23 season.
When she arrived four years ago, Smith inherited a team that had strung together seven straight winning seasons. But during her tenure, the team went 28-93 - the worst four-year stretch in the program's history.
Lyons says the contracts of Smith's assistant coaches will not be renewed when they expire next month. He says a search for a new coach will begin immediately.
Jake Allen made 38 saves Monday night as the St. Louis Blues topped the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Magnus Paajarvi, David Perron and Alexander Steen all scored for the Blues. Jonathan Quick stoped 23 shots, but the Kings failed to earn a point for the first time in Quick's six starts since returning from a groin injury.
Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points and later joined fans doing the wave as it circled TD Garden, leading the Boston Celtics over Chicago 100-80 Sunday and sending the Bulls to their season-high fifth straight loss.
The Celtics rushed to a 13-0 lead, shutting out Chicago until Dwyane Wade's jumper nearly six minutes into the game.
Thomas, the team's leading scorer at 29.2 points per game, played only 24 minutes and sat the entire final quarter. He had some fun with the fans in the closing minutes of the blowout, taking part with teammate Jae Crowder in the crowd's cheer.
Avery Bradley had 17 points and Marcus Smart and Al Horford both added 12, and no Boston starter played more than 32 minutes.
Robin Lopez and Denzel Valentine paced the Bulls with 13 points apiece. Wade scored only eight points and Jimmy Butler had five.
>> Pacers Win
Paul George and the Indiana Pacers find themselves in the thick of a tight playoff race. George scored a team-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Pacers to a much-needed 102-98 home win Sunday over Miami, which had won 21 of its previous 25 games.
Illinois basketball coach John Groce has been fired after the team finished 18-14 this season and ninth in the Big Ten.
Assistant Jamall Walker has been appointed interim coach while the school searchers for a successor.
Athletic director Josh Whitman on Saturday praised Groce's leadership but said the team was not able to sustain a level of "competitive excellence."
Groce was 95-75 overall and 37-53 in Big Ten play in his five seasons. The Illini were 8-10 in the conference this season. They ended the regular season with a loss to last-place Rutgers and lost 75-55 to Michigan in their conference tournament opener.
Groce led the Illini to 23 victories and a win in the NCAA Tournament in 2013, his first season. NIT bids followed in 2014 and 2015.
>> NU Makes Dance
Northwestern's first trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history has grabbed headlines in the run-up to March Madness. Opening-round matches begin later this week and No. 8 seed Northwestern will face No. 9 Vanderbilt in the opening round. The Final Four starts April 1 in Phoenix.
Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin scored on Chicago's first two shots, Corey Crawford made 42 saves and the Blackhawks defeated Minnesota 4-2 on Sunday to pull within a point of the Central Division-leading Wild.
Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marian Hossa also scored for the Blackhawks, who ended a two-game slide and won for the 13th time in their last 16. Kane's goal was his team-leading 30th and 10th in eight games.
Eric Staal scored his 22nd goal and Mikael Granlund got his 23rd for Minnesota, which has dropped three of four. Minnesota outshot Chicago 44-23 for a season high allowed by the Blackhawks.
The Chicago Bears have signed free-agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper and re-signed cornerback Johnthan Banks.
The signings announced Saturday came after the Bears signed safety Quintin Demps on Friday.
Amukamara, who has appeared in 69 games with 57 starts over six seasons, signed a one-year contract. He played for the New York Giants from 2011-15 and Jacksonville last season.
Cooper, who signed a three-year contract, has appeared in 54 games with 24 starts with Kansas City and Arizona. Cooper had four interceptions and a team-high 11 pass breakups with the Cardinals last season.
Banks, who signed a one-year deal, appeared in two games with Chicago last season. He also appeared in two games with Detroit and five with Tampa Bay.
Martin Truex Jr. passed Brad Keselowski with two laps to go and avoided a last-lap wreck that led to a pit-road brawl and left Kyle Busch bloodied in a wild finish to the NASCAR Cup race Sunday. Joey Logano spun out Busch down pit road at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and, moments later, Busch and Logano tangled before crew members pulled Busch away.
A quick 7-0 run in the third quarter by Bishop McNamara turned a 29-24 halftime deficit into a 31-29 lead, a lead the Fightin’ Irish would not relinquish as they defeated Monticello 58-53 for third place at the State Finals in Peoria Saturday night.
The Sages trailed 16-12 after the first quarter but used a better effort on the glass to take control at the break, however, the speed of Bishop McNamara was too much in the second half. Coach Kevin Roy says his team didn’t move the ball as well in the second half and missed some shots they usually make.
Calvin Fisher says being at the State Finals this weekend has been a real eye-opener. He says it’s a whole new level of competition.
Senior Isiah Florey led the Sages again at the State Finals with 19 points, a game high.
Luke Stokowski finished with 11 and Johnny Dawson added 10 points.
The Sages were outrebounded 32-31, giving up 16 offensive rebounds which resulted in 18 second chance points for the Fightin’ Irish.
Monticello won the points in the paint battle 40-36.
They committed 14 turnovers.
The Sages end the season 23-7 overall.
There will be a rally at Miller Gym Sunday afternoon at 2 pm at Miller Gym in Clinton High School for the boys basketball squad who made their first ever appearance at the state finals.
Next up for Monticello sports on 95.9 FM WEZC will be baseball and softball coverage this spring with the first game set for Monday at LeRoy.
Hear all the action, weather permitting at 4:30 pm on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
Chicago Orr used a fast 16-4 start and never looked back as the Spartans were too much for Monticello in a 62-44 Class 2A State Semifinal victory from Carver Arena at the Peoria Civic Center Friday night.
The Sages went to the half trailing 38-20 and Isiah Florey tried to will the Sages back in the game with 11 of his game high 19 points in the third quarter but the Orr answered every Sages run with a run of their own to create more separation.
Head Coach for Monticello, Kevin Roy says it was the quick start that the Spartans got off to that was the difference in the game. He also pointed to Orr’s ability to control the glass as a reason his team struggled early.
Point guard Johnny Dawson felt Orr’s defensive intensity and length made it difficult for them to get into any offensive rythm.
Florey (right) led all scorers with 19 points. Calvin Fisher chipped in with 12 points.
The Sages were outscored in the paint 30-26 while Orr controlled the glass 35-21. Orr also had 19 second chance points on 16 offensive rebounds.
Chicago Orr will go for a state title tomorrow night at 7:15 pm opposite Mt. Carmel.
The Sages will take on Kankakee McNamara at 5:30 pm for 3rd place. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
The typical son of a varsity coach is predominantly the story the star of the program.
That's not the case this year for Monticello, who is making their first state finals appearance in school history. Coach Kevin Roy (pictured left) has seen his son, Jarron, (pictured right) a senior, work his way through his basketball program over the years but indicates Jarron doesn't play the typical role of a coach's son.
Roy has seen limited minutes in his time at the varsity level until he stepped into the starting role this year. While Jarron doesn't do all the scoring, Coach Roy says he does all the little things and is reliable.
Jarron says his perspective being the coach's son is different from most but says away from the floor, there's not a lot of discussion about the game or the team.
Jarron is the Student Council president and is involved with the Rotary Club, WISE, and is the French Club President.
Jarron will attend the University of Illinois next year. Kevin says Jarron is very studious and has much bigger dreams than basketball. He adds it's been nice to share the bond with basketball during the incredible run they've been on, but indicates basketball is only a small part of what his son is all about.
Jonathan Bernier made 43 saves for his 100th NHL win, and Anaheim Ducks cooled off the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 victory on Thursday.
Corey Perry scored in the second as Anaheim ended Chicago's seven-game winning streak despite being outshot 43-26 on the night. Corey Crawford blocked 25 shots as the Blackhawks lost for only the second time in their last 14.
Bernier's second shutout this season and 14th of his career helped the Ducks pull ahead of idle Edmonton for second place in the Pacific Division. Bernier made his sixth straight start with John Gibson sidelined a lower-body injury.
Perry stopped a 10-game scoring drought with his 12th goal at 17:44. He hadn't connected since scoring twice on Feb. 9 at Buffalo.
Flying into town only a few hours before tipoff because of travel trouble a day earlier, and wearing yellow practice jerseys instead of the game uniforms that got stuck on their abandoned airplane, Michigan raced to an early double-digit lead and beat Illinois 75-55 to reach the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
Derrick Walton scored 19 points for No. 8 seed Michigan (21-11), which meets regular-season conference champion Purdue next.
The Wolverines were stuck wearing the simple, practice tank tops - no players' names on the back - against ninth-seeded Illinois (18-14) because their proper uniforms, along with everyone's suitcases, were trapped under the plane that slid off a runway during an aborted takeoff Wednesday, according to Michigan spokesman Kurt Svoboda.
The reigning World Series champions have signed the reigning NL Most Valuable Player to a record-breaking contract.
The Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant have reported agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.05 million for the 2017 season. That is the largest one-year deal ever given to a player in his pre-arbitration years.
Angels wunderkind Mike Trout did indeed hold the previous record salary for a pre-arbitration-eligible player. He earned $1 million in 2014. Trout was coming off back-to-back second place finishes in the AL MVP voting at the time. The third largest salary for a pre-arbitration-eligible player was handed out this year as well. The Red Sox recently inked Mookie Betts to a one-year deal worth $950,000.
Players with less than three years of service time are in their pre-arbitration years, so their negotiating leverage is limited. Teams could unilaterally renew the player’s salary at the league minimum in those years, if they wanted. That rarely happens though. Most teams have a sliding salary scale based on service time. Players like Bryant and Trout are special cases given their production and awards history, hence their relatively large salaries.
Once a player reaches three years of service time, he becomes arbitration-eligible and has much more negotiating leverage. Not as much as a free agent, but certainly more leverage than a pre-arbitration player. Most players don’t see their first seven-figure salary until they reach arbitration. But again, Bryant and Trout are special cases.
At some point the Cubs figure to approach Bryant about a long-term contract extension. And when they do, there’s a pretty good chance Bryant will look to become the second $300 million player in baseball history. For now, the Cubs will enjoy the cheapest years of Bryant’s career.
The Monticello boys basketball team punched the school's first ever ticket to the state finals Tuesday night after a 51-49 upset victory of top-ranked Quincy Notre Dame.
The Sages will take on Chicago Orr and Sages head coach Kevin Roy says their speed and quickness is going to be tough to handle. He says they are going to have to play their game and control the tempo.
The defense for Monticello has come a long ways in the second half of the season and has helped propel them into the postseason. Coach Roy says the defensive effort of his team has been contagious.
Monticello has not take an overnight road trip this regular season and the state tournament brings added distractions with a big venue and more media attention. Coach Roy says he gives his kids at least the experience of an overnight trip during their summer schedule.
Monticello will take on Chicago Orr Friday night from Carver Arena in the Peoria Civic Center at 7:15 pm. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
We'll have more coverage on Monticello's run to the state tournament throughout the week and weekend on Regional Radio.
Class 3A Regional Semifinal Scores from Wednesday :
The Cubs World Series Trophy is making some of its final stops before landing in its permanent home. This afternoon, the trophy will be on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Downtown Springfield.
Some Cubs fans thought waiting a few extra hours for a picture with the trophy was no big deal after the franchise waited 108 years for a world championship. Cubs Charities Senior VP Mike Lufrano says the trophy is well traveled.
Lufrano says the early birds are getting the worm but those who aren't in line already have hope.
The trophy can be seen from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Decatur Civic Center, the Peoria Civic Center from 1:30 to 3 and Sterling's Challand Middle School from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Elfrid Payton had 22 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds for his second straight triple-double, and the Orlando Magic rallied for a 98-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
Evan Fournier added 20 points to help Orlando erase a 13-point, second-half deficit and snap a two-game losing streak. The fading Bulls have lost three straight and four of their last five games. They entered the night tied with Detroit for seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Jimmy Butler scored 21 points for Chicago but missed some big shots down the stretch.
>>Pacers Down Pistons
Paul George scored 13 of his 21 points in the third quarter to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 115-98 blowout win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
The Pacers swept the four-game season series and moved two games in front of Detroit in the playoff chase.
Tobias Harris had 22 points and Stanley Johnson had a season-high 17 for the Pistons.
Indiana kept Detroit at arm's length most of the night after scoring the first eight points and still led 58-50 at halftime.
But after the Pistons took their only lead, 63-62, on Marcus Morris' step-back jumper with 7:37 left in the third quarter, Indiana answered with C.J. Miles' 3-pointer. George then scored eight points during a 25-8 quarter-closing run to give Indiana a 90-73 lead.
Detroit never challenged in the fourth.
Indiana won by its largest margin since a 21-point rout Feb. 4 also against the Pistons.
Thaddeus Young had 18 points, C.J. Miles added 15 and Jeff Teague wound up with 10 points and six assists for the Pacers.
Andre Drummond had 14 points and 15 rebounds while Jon Leuer finished with 15 points for the Pistons.
The Pacers will try to snap a two-game losing streak against the Bucks when it heads to Milwaukee on Saturday.
One of the more underrated tournaments of the season unfolds this week as the Valspar Championship sandwiches itself between the WGC-Mexico Championship (last week) and the Arnold Palmer Invitational (next week).
The field is not great, but the course and sleepers are solid. For the fourth consecutive week, we get a tough, shot-maker’s track that has given us some solid champions.
Henrik Stenson and Justin Thomas lead the field as odds-on-favorites to win whil Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson join the field this weekend.
Stenson had to withdraw from last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship with an upset stomach. He almost always plays this event and has played it quite well in past years.
Bubba Watson is playing this event for the first time since 2011, and he needs a little jump start to the year. He has played in just four tournaments, and the only times he played the weekend were in no-cut events (Tournament of Champions and WGC-Mexico Championship). As Augusta approaches, he’ll want to garner some momentum as he goes for a third green jacket. This would be a good week to do it.
As an amateur last year, Lee McCoy finished in the top five. Then later in 2016, he got into a gnarly car accident, hurt his wrist and had to sit out for two months. He got a sponsor’s exemption this week (as he should have) and will try and take advantage. He grew up on this course and will try to top last year’s cinderella story.
Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron scored, and Jake Allen made 32 saves and the St. Louis Blues edged the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Allen was 10.5 seconds away from a second straight shutout before Wild center Mikko Koivu threw a puck on net from near the blue line which bounced past Allen.
Allen's scoreless streak had reached 159 minutes, 8.5 seconds as the Blues won back-to-back games after losing five in a row.
Devan Dubnyk made 18 saves for Minnesota, which has lost two of its past three games.
Minnesota had plenty of chances on Tuesday, outshooting the Blues 33-20.
Perron opened the scoring with just his second goal since Jan. 15 when he tipped a shot past Dubnyk from Colton Parayko. Tarasenko, who has a goal in three straight games against the Wild, scored his 29th of the season in the third.
The Blues return home for a two-game set beginning Friday against Anaheim.
Johnny Dawson's 15-foot jumper from left of the lane game Monticello a 51-49 lead with 1.7 seconds left and the Sages upset Quincy Notre Dame, the top team in Class 2A, in the Supersectional from the University of Illinois at Springfield to advance to this weekend's state finals in Peoria.
The Sages forced two late turnovers to tie the game at 49 after Isiah Florey made two free throws, then Dawson was the hero again in the postseason with his mid-range jumper after a back-court violation for the Raiders game Monticello the ball back with 1:09.
Florey scored 16 of his game high 21 points in the first half, propelling the Sages to an early lead and Luke Stokowski made three of five free attempts in the final period to help Monticello stay close with Quincy Notre Dame.
Quincy Notre Dame used a 13-2 run in the first half to turn a five points deficit into a six point advantage after Stokowski and Dawson went to the bench with two personal fouls apiece about a minute apart.
The Sages started the second half on an 8-2 run to retake the lead and it was back and for the rest of the way.
Florey says his hot start started in the warmup when he was knocking down shots and decided he was going to take over.
Quincy Notre Dame featured a balanced lineup with four players averaging double-figures. Stokowski says they stepped up and felt a 2-3 zone helped slow down their potent offensive attack.
Dawson was impressed his team's defense was able to hold a high powered offensive team to just 49 points. He says they knew they were a good team and need a solid effort to win the game.
Head Coach of the Sages Kevin Roy called this a dream come true. He says his team has shown all year they're a tough group and tonight fought through some adversity and says his guys off the bench did a great job in some tough situations.
Stokowski finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Dawson finished with 10 points and Calvin Fisher was held to just nine points but pulled down five rebounds and dished out three assists.
Quincy Notre Dame was led by Justin Bottorf and Jacob Mayfield's 12 points. Carter Cramsey added 11 points and Johnny Ray chipped in with ten points.
Despite shooting almost 60-percent from the floor, the Raiders committed 14 turnovers.
Quincy Notre Dame outrebounded Monticello 20-19.
The Sages shot 43-percent from the floor and finished 13-for-18 from the free throw line.
The Sages will head to Carver Arena at the Peoria Civic Center for a matchup with Chicago Orr, who defeated Chicago Collins 72-34 Tuesday.
Game time from Peoria is 7:15 pm Friday night. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC on online at dewittdailynews.com.
The Sages will either play at 5:30 pm Saturday for third place or for the state title at 7:15 pm.
A trip to Peoria's Carver Arena and the IHSA Class 2A State Finals is on the line tonight when Monticello heads to the University of Illinois-Springfield for a supersectional matchup with Quincy Notre Dame.
Off an overtime thriller in at the Sectional Final Friday night in a 41-32 win over Paxton-Buckley-Loda, the Sages are seeking their first state finals appearance in school history, but the road goes through the top team in Class 2A.
Quincy Notre Dame at 28-2 for the season, has won nine in a row and are seeking their first state finals appearance since 2003-2004.
Tonight's Elite Eight tilt from the campus of the University of Illinois-Springfield tips at 7 pm.
Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
The Pirates are set to host the Cardinals on Sunday, Aug. 20, but the game will be moved to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, per multiple reports (DKPittsburghSports.com was first).
This happens to be during the Little League World Series in Williamsport, and the game will reportedly be televised on ESPN, which also has the rights to the LLWS. So there’s going to be plenty of crossover there.
Obviously, they can’t exactly play this game on a Little League field. As noted on stltoday.com, there’s a full-size baseball field: BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. It’s 345 feet down the left field line, 405 to center and 350 to right. It only seats 4,200 people, but MLB will surely try to find a way to beef that up before the game.
The ballpark is currently home to the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Phillies’ Class A short-season affiliate.
The special Sunday night game will be slightly reminiscent of the Braves and Marlins playing at Fort Bragg last year . It seems like MLB will try to be more creative when opportunities present themselves to play in different areas, and that’s never a bad thing.
Reggie Jackson scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, and the Detroit Pistons pulled away down the stretch for a 109-95 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
The Pistons climbed into a tie for the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference with the Bulls, who were playing without injured Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo.
Jackson's performance has been spotty this season, and at times backup Ish Smith has seemed like a better option late in games. But Jackson was instrumental in helping the Pistons take control in a game Monday that was tied at 79 after three quarters.
Detroit started the fourth with a 12-3 run and held Chicago to 16 points in the quarter.
Jimmy Butler scored 27 points for Chicago.
>>Hornets Beat Pacers
Kemba Walker scored 28 points, Nicolas Batum added 21 and the Charlotte Hornets beat the Indiana Pacers 100-88 on Monday night.
Returning home after their victory Saturday in Denver, the Hornets notched consecutive wins for the first time since Jan. 20-21.
Paul George had 36 points on 15-of-25 shooting for the Pacers (32-31), who were playing the final game of a five-game road trip.
Charlotte (28-35) used a fast start to provide enough cushion to cruise to the victory, despite Indiana's second-half comeback attempt that sliced the Hornets' lead to 82-75 with 8:12 remaining.
Jeremy Lamb sank a 3-pointer and a layup for the Hornets, however, to keep the Pacers at bay.
Five players scored in double digits for the Hornets, including 14 from Lamb, 13 points and 11 rebounds from Cody Zeller, and 11 points and 13 rebounds from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
With Selection Sunday now only six days away, this will be the final poll before teams are more affectionately referenced with their NCAA Tournament seeding rather than by their rankings. And Kansas appears poised to parlay its No. 1 ranking, which it holds for a second straight week, into a No. 1 seed when the selection committee hands down its field of 68 teams.
Not only did the Jayhawks win the Big 12 for the 13th consecutive season, they did it with a four-game cushion. Kansas beat everyone in the Big 12 this season at least once, finished the regular season 28-3 with wins over Duke and Kentucky among them, and knocked off a red-hot Oklahoma State team on the road on Saturday. The Jayhawks are surging with the heat of March turning up.
The final coaches poll of the regular season has Kansas still on top but UCLA falls to No. 3 after being tied with Villanova at No. 2.
And how about this newcomer to the rankings: Middle Tennessee is now a top-25 team. The Blue Raiders are the favorites to win the C-USA Tournament.
Elsewhere, Butler’s home loss to Seton Hall results in the Bulldogs taking the biggest drop this week, going from 15th to 20th.
And there are three Pac-12 teams in the top seven.
This time next week, we’ll know the entire field of 68 teams.
Conner Frankamp scored 19 points and Markis McDuffie added 16 as No. 21 Wichita State beat Illinois State 71-51 in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game Sunday, earning an automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
After splitting their regular-season series and sharing the conference championship, Wichita State left no doubt as to whom the top team in the MVC was this season.
The Shockers (30-4, 17-1), the No. 2 seed, have won 15 straight games since losing at Illinois State on Jan. 14. The No. 1-seeded Redbirds (27-6, 17-1) had won eight straight games since losing at Wichita State on Feb. 4.
Landry Shamet added 14 points for Wichita State. Paris Lee, the MVC's player of the year, led Illinois State with 18 points, while MiKyle McIntosh scored 16.
DeShawn Freeman scored 21 points and hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds left to lead Rutgers past Illinois 62-59 on Saturday.
Freeman hit the game-winner from the wing, before flinging Tracy Abram's missed 3-point attempt into the student section.
Illinois led 44-34 after Michael Fink made a 3-pointer with 14:44 to go but Rutgers (14-17, 3-15 Big Ten) rallied, taking a 55-54 lead with five minutes remaining after Corey Sanders scored six straight points.
Malcolm Hill and Maverick Morgan each scored 16 points for Illinois (18-13, 8-10).
Florida Atlantic scored in each of the first five innings Sunday to beat the Illinois baseball team 16-2. FAU clinched the three-game series 2-1.
Illinois (3-7) used five pitchers in the first five innings as FAU (6-4-1) built a 14-1 lead on 16 hits by the end of the fifth.
The Illini lineup scored 24 runs and hit 10 home runs in the first two games of the series before cooling off Sunday. The Illini had eight hits and their only runs came on a wild pitch in the fourth and Tyler Engel's ninth-inning double.
Ryan Thompson (0-1) took the loss in his first collegiate start. Seven of the 18 batters that Thompson faced scored in the first three innings, although he only allowed a few hard-hit balls.
Jack Yalowitz led the Illini in the series with a .500 batting average (6-12), two home runs, three RBIs, five runs and two stolen bases. He singled to start the top of the first to extend his hitting streak to a career-long eight games.
Illinois is back in action next weekend at defending national champion Coastal Carolina.
Paul Stastny scored his first goal against his former team, Jake Allen stopped 27 shots and the St. Louis Blues ended a five-game skid by beating the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Sunday night.
Stastny got the Blues going with a power-play goal early in the first period, his first score in 11 career games against Colorado. He spent eight seasons with the Avalanche before leaving for St. Louis.
Kyle Brodziak and Patrik Berglund also scored for the Blues, who moved into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Allen was shaken up with just more than three minutes remaining when Gabriel Landeskog's wrist shot caught him in the throat. He was checked out by trainers before finishing off his third shutout of the season.
The Blues are at the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to wrap up a three-game trip.
The Illinois State baseball team dropped both games of a doubleheader Sunday to Miami (Ohio) as the host RedHawks won by scores of 8-6 and 8-2 to complete a three-game sweep.
Miami grabbed control in the opener Sunday with three runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back on its way to its first win of the day.
Collin Braithwaite led the Redbirds with three RBIs and two runs scored, but the Redbirds were unable to overcome the RedHawks' quick start.
The RedHawks jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the fourth inning.
Illinois State got back to within two runs of the lead with four runs in the top of the fifth. Braithwaite provided a bases-clearing triple to plate the first three runs, and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Derek Parola.
Illinois State added single tallies in the seventh and ninth innings, respectively, on an RBI triple from Bryce Grimm and an RBI double from John Rave.
Redbird starter Brent Headrick suffered the loss in his first collegiate start after allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks over four innings of work.
Owen Miller went 3-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs, but it wasn't enough as the Redbirds dropped the second game of Sunday's doubleheader. A seven-run third inning for the host RedHawks proved to be too much to overcome for the Redbirds.
Illinois State starter Mitch Weis allowed five runs (four earned) over the first two innings.
The Redbirds return to action next weekend at Western Kentucky, beginning a stretch of eight games over 10 days.
Glenn Robinson III hit a 3-pointer with sixth-tenths of a second remaining, Paul George scored 34 points and the Indiana Pacers rallied in the closing minutes to beat the Atlanta Hawks 97-96 on Sunday.
Jeff Teague, in his first game back at Philips Arena after spending his first seven seasons with the Hawks, added 16 points and six assists.
Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 24 points and Paul Millsap had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which has lost five of seven. Millsap's 3-point attempt fell off the rim at the buzzer.
George had 24 points at halftime, 10 in the third quarter and was 12-for-16 from the field, 6 of 7 beyond the arc, entering the fourth. He went 0-for-3 in the final period.
Indiana had lost eight of 10. Atlanta was coming off a five-point home loss in which Cleveland set an NBA single-game record with 25 3s.
Dustin Johnson won the WGC-Mexico Championship on Sunday to capture the fourth WGC title of his career.
Rory McIlroy held the 36-hole lead. Phil Mickelson was the most thrilling player in the field and shot a 68 on Saturday even though he only hit four fairways. Jordan Spieth shot a course-record 63 on Saturday. Justin Thomas made an ace to share the lead late in the tournament. Jon Rahm took a run at the reigning No. 1 golfer in the world with a late-round charge on Sunday.
Johnson was impossible to catch as he shot a 3-under 68 on Sunday to finish at 14 under overall. Johnson edged Tommy Fleetwood by one and defeated Rahm and Ross Fisher by two.
On a leaderboard rife with superstars from multiple generations, Johnson turned in a scorecard at the end of the week’s festivities that solidified what the Official World Golf Rankings tell us about him: He is, right now, the best golfer in the world.
Johnson shot 62 on the front nine at this tournament on the weekend: a 31 on Saturday highlighted by a boss eagle on the par-4 first and another 31 on Sunday that included four birdies and zero bogeys. It was flawless.
Johnson met some trouble at the beginning of the back nine in his final round with a pair of bogeys. That was when Rahm tied him for the lead. A tournament that was under wraps was suddenly very much in question once again.
A birdie on the par-5 15th got him the lead back, and Rahm faded coming in with a pair of bogeys when he needed birdies. Fleetwood also gave it a go with a stellar pair of 66s on the weekend.
For Johnson, it is the 14th PGA Tour win of his career and second straight this season as he also won the Genesis Open. He also moved into solo second on the all-time WGC wins list, just 14 tournaments behind Tiger Woods.
Jordan Spieth was very exciting on the weekend, but he dug himself too deep of a hole early on in the tournament. He trailed McIlroy, the 36-hole leader, by 10 strokes at the halfway point and needed a miracle 63-63 weekend to get into a playoff. He got the first 63 but fell short of the second one.
After looking like he was going to steal the tournament in the first two days after a two-month stretch of not playing, the 36-hole leader faded a tad on the weekend. He didn’t play poorly, really. He shot 1 under during the final 36 holes. He simply found himself in a situation where he was chased by a handful of the best players in the world, and he did not give himself enough chances to score.
Deontae Hawkins scored 19 points, Keyshawn Evans had 16 and Illinois State set a program record on Friday with its 26th win, beating Evansville 80-69 on Friday in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament quarterfinals.
Paris Lee added 13 points with seven assists and DJ Clayton had 12 points for the Redbirds (26-5), who blocked a tournament and school record 14 shots. Hawkins, Phil Fayne and Daouda Ndiaye had four blocks apiece.
The Redbirds face the Loyola-Southern Illinois winner in a semifinal on Saturday.
Illinois State, the top seed, shot 51 percent (27 of 53), had five more 3-pointers and was plus-six at the foul line but didn't put away the Purple Aces (16-17) until they made 7 of 8 free throws in the closing minute.
Jaylon Brown, who had 24 points, scored four points and Christian Benzon had a layup as Evansville quickly cut a 10-point deficit down to 73-69 with less than a minute to play. But the Redbirds made their free throws and the Purple Aces missed their last two shots.
Benzon had 11 points and 10 rebounds and David Howard scored 14 points for Evansville.
In a game heard on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com Friday night, Calvin Fisher banked in a three-point shot from the right wing to tie the game at 32 with 1:10 to play in the game and then the Sages shut out Paxton-Buckley-Loda in overtime to win their first Sectional Championship since 2007 with a 41-32 win at the Monticello Sectional in 2A boys basketball action.
With the game tied at 32, a backcourt turnover by the Panthers with 10.4 seconds gave Monticello the basketball. Then with Colton Kleinert fouled on a lose-ball with three-seconds but Monticello turned the ball over with 0.2 seconds to play, giving PBL a chance at the win.
A full court pass from the opposite baseline sailed out of bounce without being touched, giving Monticello a chance with a ball on their end of the floor, however, a pass for an intended tip-in went too high and the game went to overtime.
In overtime, the Sages forced three PBL turnovers and the Sages came up with big stops on defense to close out the victory, 41-32.
Fisher led the way for the Sages with 23 points and six rebounds. He says PBL's offense is a handful and their defense was even more disruptive.
Junior point guard Johnny Dawson did not score but pulled down eight rebounds and dished out five assists. He says he's doing whatever gets the team to a win.
Head coach of the Sages, Kevin Roy says he has told his team all year, felt they could play with anyone in the state.
Junior forward Luke Stokowski finished with 11 points and nine rebounds and came away with a crucial steal on a post-feed which sent him to the free throw line, where he made one-of-two attempts and increased the Sages advantage to 37-32 which was followed by a Fisher steal and layup fora 39-32 advantage.
Stokowski says they had run the play to feed Andrew Zenner in the post several times in the game, and he recognized it and stepped in the passing lane for the takeaway.
Isiah Florey scored seven points in the second half, five in the fourth quarter and overtime, as Monticello overcame a seven point third quarter deficit.
The Sages advance to Tuesday night's Super Sectional matchup opposite Quincy Notre Dame in Springfield. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com. Game time is 7 pm.
The Monticello Sages and Paxton-Buckley-Loda will play the rubber match of what has been an unconventional three-game series between the two squads tonight in a Class 2A Sectional Final matchup at Monticello Middle School in the Monticello Sectional.
The two sides met up first in late-December at the Monticello Holiday Hoopla for third place, with the Panthers coming away with a 73-55 lopsided win.
Then on January 19, the Sages won a lopsided contest 59-38.
Both games were played at Monticello High School.
The Sages defeated Bismarck-Henning 57-38 Tuesday night to advance to the Sectional final while PBL defeated Warrensburg-Latham 51-38.
PBL won the GCMS Regional last Friday and Monticello won the Unity Regional.
Tonight's winner advances to the Springfield UIS Super-Sectional to take on the winner of tonight's contest between Quincy Notre Dame and Tremont.
Game time tonight from Monticello is 7 pm. Hear all the action on 95.9 FM WEZC and online at dewittdailynews.com.
After leading his team to a regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, Illinois State head coach Dan Muller was named the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year at the Arch Madness pre-tournament luncheon on Thursday.
Muller finished ahead of Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall with 102 total points, in the vote conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors. Muller is the fourth Redbird head coach to win the prestigious honor, joining Bob Donewald (1984), Bob Bender (1992) and his former head coach and mentor Kevin Stallings (1998).
In his fifth season at the helm of his alma mater, Muller led Illinois State to a share of the MVC regular-season title for the first time since 1998 (when he was a senior player) and the sixth time in program history. The Redbirds finished the regular season with 25-5 overall record for the most regular-season wins in program history, and ISU matched the program record for overall victories as well. ISU's 17-1 league record has also set the standard as the most MVC wins in program history.
He is just the sixth coach in program history to win 100 games or more (101-63) and just the third coach to win 57 or more games in conference play (57-33). In each year as head coach at Illinois State, Muller's teams have finished with a better MVC record and higher conference finish than the previous year. He has also led the Redbirds to four victories over Top-25 ranked opponents, tied for the most-ever by an ISU head coach.
The Illinois baseball team is set to travel to Florida Atlantic this weekend for a three-game series to continue nonconference play. The Illini and Owls will play single games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Illinois (2-5) is looking to turn around after two wins over the first two weeks of the season. The Illini have six hitters over .300 on the year and are batting .277 as a team, but the pitching staff owns a 6.82 ERA through seven games. Walks have been a majority of the issue for the arms, as opponents have drawn 6.97 walks per game.
Luke Shilling will start on Friday for the third straight week. Illinois has switched its rotation this weekend, going with freshman Ty Weber on Saturday and freshman Ryan Thompson is set for his first college start Sunday.
Florida Atlantic (4-3-1) got off to a 3-0 start with a sweep of Monmouth (N.J.), but has won just one of its last five games. The Owls hosted Big Ten foe Indiana last weekend and split three games with a loss, win then a Sunday tie, before dropping midweek games to Florida Gulf Coast and Miami (Fla.). Sophomore Tyler Frank leads the team with a .525 batting average (21-40) and three home runs through eight games.
The Illinois State baseball team will return to action this weekend with a three-game series versus the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks in Oxford, Ohio.
With expected cold temperatures Friday, the teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon CT, before a series finale Sunday, which will also begin with a noon CT first pitch.
Illinois State (2-4) will try to bounce back from a tough trip to Memphis, Tennessee, last weekend, Feb. 24-26, as the Redbirds were swept by the Tigers in a three-game series at FedEx Park by a combined four runs.
Miami (0-7) will also be seeking to get on track this weekend after being swept in series at Arkansas (Feb. 17-19) and South Florida (Feb. 24-26) to begin the season. This weekend's games will the RedHawks' first at McKie Field this year.
The Redbirds will utilize the starting pitching rotation of Jack Landwehr, Brent Headrick and Mitch Weis in Oxford, Ohio. Miami will counter with right-hander Cole Gnetz, left-hander Zach Spears and right-hander Brad Schwartz.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 points and the Chicago Bulls beat Golden State 94-87 on Thursday night in the Warriors' first game since Kevin Durant injured his left leg.
Golden State was breathing a little easier after learning Durant probably will play again this season. He was hurt two nights earlier in a loss at Washington.
The NBA-leading Warriors' league-record regular-season streak without consecutive losses ended at 146 games.
Stephen Curry scored 23 points, and Klay Thompson finished with 13. The star guards combined to hit just 3 of 22 3-pointers, and the Warriors made it back-to-back losses for the first time since April 2015.
Bobby Portis added 17 points and a season-high 13 rebounds for Chicago. The Bulls outscored Golden State 10-2 over the final three minutes to wipe out a one-point deficit and come away with their fifth win in six games.
Only seven teams currently have more space under the 2017 salary cap than the Chicago Bears. Per Spotrac, the Bears have just south of $55 million to spend this offseason, and if the Chicago Tribune is to be believed, they are going to be very aggressive in spending it.
A report from the Tribune laid out three top targets for the Bears this offseason: Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon, and Ravens right tackle Ricky Wagner.
Gilmore, Buffalo’s first-round pick back in 2012, is coming off the first Pro Bowl season of his career. He’s been a good corner for a number of years, and 2015 and 2016 were likely his two best seasons. The Bears desperately need help in the defensive backfield.
Glennon has thrown only 11 passes in the last two years. He’s already 27 years old and his track record is sub-average at best, but he has definitely been a source of intrigue over the last few offseasons. With the Bears expected to move on from Jay Cutler, they’re surely exploring all available quarterback options. They’ve been connected to New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo as well as several quarterback options in the draft.
Wagner has been a starter on the right side of the line for Baltimore for the last three seasons, shining in 2014 before slumping in 2015 and bouncing back this past season. The Bears have Bobby Massie signed for the next two years at right tackle but have an opening on the left side.
After sitting out since January with a stress fracture in one of his ribs, Rory McIlroy stepped to the 10th tee at the WGC-Mexico Championship, his first hole of the day. He waggled his Callaway Epic driver a couple of times and pummeled a 341-yard shot into the thin air of Club de Golf Chapultepec to mark that he was indeed back.
McIlroy made one birdie on his front nine for the day and played mostly even golf until he came to the par-5 sixth a few hours later. He had 256 yards to go on his second shot when he ripped a long iron past the hole. He made the 30-foot eagle to get to 3 under on the day.
McIlroy was unsurprisingly No. 6 in the field in strokes gained off the tee and is one stroke back of a group of six golfers that includes Jon Rahm, Lee Westwood and 46-year-old Phil Mickelson.
After a solid west coast swing that showed Lefty still has a ways to go when it comes to finishing tournaments strong following two offseason sports hernia surgeries, he shot a 4-under 67 in Round 1 that included six birdies.
Mickelson was stunningly good off the tee, putted like his usual self and now holds the co-lead with 54 holes left.
He could not close out 72 holes in the tournaments he played on the west coast as he often posted a final nine-hole score well over par so there is a long way to go. But this is certainly the start Mickelson needed as he looks for his first win since summer 2013.
Mickelson shares the 4-under lead with Ross Fisher, Jimmy Walker, Lee Westwood, Jon Rahm and Ryan Moore.
Clinton High School senior girls basketball player Alex Johnson signed her National Letter of Intent Wednesday afternoon to play basketball at North Park University in Chicago.
Johnson says North Park is a great fit. She indicates her final choices were between North Park, Indiana State University and MacMurray College.
Johnson explains her time in Clinton was very enjoyable and says her and her senior teammates were very close all the way through their time together.
Ever since she was a kid when she saw an Illinois State game, she knew she could and wanted to play at the next level.
Clinton Athletic Director Barry Gurvey says student-athletes like Johnson are an example of what they hope for for Clinton athletes. He says it is always a great opportunity to play sports in college and have it paid for.
Patrick Kane had his second hat trick in three games, Scott Darling made 36 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory and 10th in 11 games.
Richard Panik also scored to help Chicago pull within three points of first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference. Kane, last season's MVP, has a team-leading 27 goals - scoring 12 times and adding seven assists in his last 11 games.
Scott Wilson scored for Pittsburgh as the Penguins fell short again after a 3-2 loss at Dallas on Tuesday night. It was the first meeting this season between the last two Stanley Cup winners.
The Chicago Bears have decided not to apply the franchise tag to receiver Alshon Jeffery.
General manager Ryan Pace says the tag "really wasn't an option for us" this time, though he's not ruling out re-signing him once free agency begins on March 9.
Pace says there are "certain instances where testing the market is a necessary part of the process" to determine a player's value. He spoke at the NFL combine on Wednesday.
Jeffery played last season on the franchise tag after he and the Bears were unable to agree to a multiyear deal. He also served a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
This week’s WGC-Mexico Championship is, above all else, fascinating. The Club de Golf Chapultepec, which hosts this week’s event, opened in 1921. It is barely 7,000 yards long and located higher above sea level than, for example, Denver. So the strategy golfers use this week will be exceptionally intriguing.
Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia are among the goflers in the field this week.
The only golfer from the Official World Golf Ranking top 50 who will miss is Jason Day. He has the flu and a double ear infection. This is, by far, the best field of 2017. It’s also a no-cut event so everybody gets paid.
Illinois State men's basketball senior guard Paris Lee is the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Larry Bird Player of the Year and the MVC Defensive Player of the Year, the league office announced Tuesday.
The all-time steals leader at ISU, Lee is the first Redbird to earn the league's top individual player honor in 16 seasons. In addition to averaging 13.0 points per game, Lee leads the league in steals (2.0), assists (5.1) and 3-pointers (69).
Lee received 110 total points to outdistance Wichita State's Markis McDuffie (34 points) and Landry Shamet (30 points).
A Maywood, Illinois, native, Lee is the nation's active leader with 244 steals, good for sixth place on the all-time MVC list. Lee ranks fifth all-time for Illinois State with 471 career assists, tied for 18th in MVC history.
With two more starts Lee will surpass ISU head coach Dan Muller for the all-time school record for career games started. Lee helped lead the Redbirds to their first regular-season title since the 1997-98 season, while ISU set program records with 25 regular-season wins and 17 MVC victories.
Along with earning MVC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year accolades, Lee was also named Tuesday to the All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team and the MVC All-Defensive Team.
Fellow senior guard Tony Wills also earned All-Missouri Valley defensive honors. Senior forward Deontae Hawkins and junior forward MiKyle McIntosh were each named to the All-MVC Second Team, and sophomore forward Phil Fayne garnered MVC All-Newcomer Team recognition. ISU's six All-MVC honors marked the most for the Redbirds since also earning six in 2002.
The Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champion Illinois State men's basketball team is the No. 1 seed in the 2017 State Farm MVC Tournament held at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Redbirds begin play Friday at noon versus the winner of Thursday night's No. 8 Evansville versus No. 9 Indiana State game.
Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double of the season, and the Denver Nuggets rode a second-half surge to a 125-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.
Danilo Gallinari scored 22 points and Wilson Chandler added 20 as Denver, which entered the game fourth in the NBA in scoring (110.6 points per game), posted a 70-48 advantage in the second half to erase a halftime deficit.
Gary Harris and Will Barton had 15 points apiece for the Nuggets.
Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo had 19 points apiece for Chicago, which had its four-game winning streak snapped. Jimmy Butler finished with just eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Cam Talbot made 25 saves, and Milan Lucic and Mark Letestu scored to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
Talbot, making his league-best 57th start of the season, snapped a two-game losing streak.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisted on both goals for the Oilers, who finished their six-game road trip with a 3-3 record.
Paul Stastny scored for St. Louis as the Blues lost their first game since trading defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
Jake Allen stopped 23 of 25 shots and St. Louis dropped its fourth straight coming off a six-game winning streak.
St. Louis opened the scoring on its first power play of the game when Stastny deflected Alex Pietrangelo's shot past Talbot for his 16th goal of the season.
The Blues are at Winnipeg on Friday night to start a three-game road trip.
>>Blackhawks Make Moves
The Blackhawks have reacquired defenseman Johnny Oduya, who left in free agency for the Dallas Stars after being part of two Stanley Cup championships in Chicago.
Dallas traded Oduya to the Blackhawks on Tuesday night in exchange for young forward Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft.
Oduya first played for Chicago from 2012-15, with nine goals and 34 assists in 219 games. He appeared in 71 playoff games with the Blackhawks, including their Stanley Cup championships in 2013 and 2015.
The 35-year-old Oduya has one goal and six assists in 37 games this season with the Stars.
McNeill had six goals and 22 assists in 58 games for Rockford in the AHL. He has played in only one NHL game.
The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to one-year contract extensions through next season with defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Jordin Tootoo.
In five seasons in Chicago, the 38-year-old Rozsival has played on two championship teams. He has one goal and one assist this year.
The 34-year-old Tootoo has played in 36 games after signing with Chicago last summer.
The Blackhawks announced the moves on Tuesday.
Chicago, second in the Western Conference, goes for its fifth straight win and 10th in 11 games when it hosts Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
In an expected move, the Minnesota Vikings have declined Adrian Peterson’s 2017 contract option. The team announced the move in a statement.
Peterson was due to make $18 million in 2017, which included a $6M roster bonus if he was on the Vikings’ roster on the third day of the new league year. Peterson will officially become a free agent on March 9, the first day of the new league year.
GM Rick Spielman didn’t rule out Peterson returning to the Vikings in 2017 at a reduced price.
Peterson has played his entire NFL career in Minnesota after the Vikings selected him seventh overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. In May last year, Peterson made it clear that he felt the Vikings were a legit Super Bowl contender .
The Chiefs announced Tuesday that they have released Jamaal Charles in a move first reported by ESPN.com. Charles had been with the team since 2008, when Kansas City made him a third-round pick in the NFL Draft.
Although Charles has a long history in Kansas City, the decision to release him wasn’t a complete surprise. The 30-year-old running back has only played in a total of eight games over the past two seasons due to a lingering knee injury.
Charles tore his ACL in 2015 after playing in only five games and then dealt with swelling in that same knee throughout the 2016 season. The veteran running back was placed on injured reserve in both years.
During his absence over the past two seasons, both Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West emerged as capable replacements. In 2016, Ware led the Chiefs with 921 yards rushing. As for Charles, he only saw in action in three games last season, and only totaled 40 yards on the ground.
By cutting Charles, the Chiefs will save roughly $6 million in cap space.