NCAA Talk

DePaul women eliminated by Oregon State in Sweet 16

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DePaul women eliminated by Oregon State in Sweet 16

DALLAS (AP) — An elite performance by Jamie Weisner and a first-ever regional final for Oregon State in the women's NCAA Tournament.

"What I'm seeing is amazing," coach Scott Rueck said.

Weisner had career highs with 38 points and seven 3-pointers, along with 10 rebounds, as the Pac-12 champion Beavers beat DePaul 83-71 on Saturday night to win in the Sweet 16 less than six years after Rueck took over a program in shambles.

"Just enjoying every moment of it," said Weisner, the senior guard who was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and conference tournament MVP.

After Weisner missed her first three shots, she scored Oregon State's last 11 points of the first quarter — right after the Beavers (31-4) had gone ahead for the first time, and to stay. She made 14 of her last 17 shots, including 7 of 9 3s.

"That was contagious for the rest of the team," guard Sydney Wiese said.

"She willed us to win tonight," said center Ruth Hamblin, another Beavers senior. "To have a competitor and a teammate like that, it makes you want to work harder and to do more for her and for the team."

The Beavers (31-4), the No. 2 seed in the Dallas Regional, play top seed Baylor (36-1) on Monday night with a Final Four berth on the line.

Wiese and Hamblin both scored 13 points. Wiese had consecutive early 3-pointers right before the Beavers went ahead to stay.

DePaul (27-9) was in its fourth Sweet 16 under 30-year coach Doug Bruno, but has never gotten farther in the tournament.

Jessica January had 20 points for sixth-seeded DePaul, while Jacqui Grant had 15 and Mart'e Grays 14.

Grant scored her team's first seven points as the Blue Demons jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead before Wiese hit consecutive 3s in 32 seconds and Deven Hunter — who finished with nine points and 12 rebounds — made a go-ahead layup.

"They're obviously a lot bigger than us and it made it difficult to get to the rim as we have in other games," January said. "Just a good team all around, they own their match-ups and they're just really aggressive."

Weisner then had her 11 straight points, including three 3s for a 21-14 lead. Her previous career highs had been 27 points and six 3s.

"She is the ultimate competitor. She gives everybody in the room confidence. Her confidence is earned," Rueck said. "She just brings this infectious energy to every situation. ... You just want to be around it, so you would be crazy not to just smile and enjoy it."

With a roster filled with seniors and juniors recruited by Rueck, the Beavers are in a regional final nearly six years after he had to conduct open tryouts to fill his first roster.

Oregon State has won 21 of its last 22 games and has already set a school record for victories this season. They won the Pac-12 Tournament and shared the regular-season title, after last season winning the crown outright to end Stanford's run of 14 championships in a row.

"There are four No. 1s in this tournament, and the fifth team is Oregon State," Bruno said. "It should be a really good game on Monday night."

Baylor has a 23-game winning streak after a 78-58 win over Florida State earlier Saturday in the NBA Dallas Mavericks' arena that is only about 100 miles from the Lady Bears' campus in Waco.

The Lady Bears are trying to get to its fourth Final Four in coach Kim Mulkey's 16 seasons after losing in regional finals to Notre Dame each of the past two seasons.

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

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AP

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

It looks like it was too good to be true.

Tyger Campbell shocked the recruiting world when he committed to DePaul on May 8.

Less than four months later, Campbell has reopened his recruitment.

The Rivals.com four-star point guard out of La Lumiere High School in Indiana, who is the No. 66 prospect in the 2018 Class, took to Twitter Friday night to explain his decision.

One of Campbell's original draws to the Blue Demons was DePaul hiring Shane Heirman as an assistant coach. Heirman coached Campbell for two seasons at La Lumiere.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com when he committed to the Blue Demons. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy."

Campbell currently has offers from a handful of D1 schools, including Illinois, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Purdue, SMU, Memphis and Tennessee.

Upset alert? Why a confident UIC is challenging juggernaut Kentucky

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USA TODAY

Upset alert? Why a confident UIC is challenging juggernaut Kentucky

On the heels of a 12-win improvement, UIC basketball is riding confidently into the new season. 

And why shouldn't they be? Head coach Steve McClain returns a young, talented nucleus that's expected to challenge for a Horizon League championship and NCAA Tournament berth. 

In fact, the program is in such good shape that they thought: Let's play Kentucky. 

Yup, that's right. The UIC Flames will match up with the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on Nov. 26, a necessary stage in development, according to McClain. 

“Every year you build your program, there’s steps you have to take," McClain said. "When we got the opportunity to go to Kentucky, I think that’s the next level of exposure for our program.

"When you're chasing trying to be great, you gotta show your kids and show people what greatness looks like. I don't think anyone can argue what Kentucky has done, so I want to put our kids in that environment so they see what it is." 

The contrast between programs is severe. UIC hasn't made an NCAA Tournament since 2004. The Wildcats have made 11 since then. UIC has never advanced out of the first round at the Big Dance. Kentucky has eight National Championships. 

Even this upcoming season, as the Flames boast one of their most skilled teams in school history, none of them were ever touted like Kentucky's freshman class, which ranks No. 2 in the nation per ESPN. 

But the disparities in past successes don't seem to bother UIC. Instead, players, who were likely snubbed by bigger schools in recruitment, are excited about the opportunity to compete on a national stage that the Flames rarely see. 

“First I was like, ‘It’s about time we got someone like (Kentucky) on our schedule,’" said center Tai Odiase, one of the few seniors on the roster. "We’ve been trying to play bigger teams to showcase what we’re made of."

“I don’t see why you go into a place like that without a chip on your shoulder. You don’t go in there just to play basketball, we’re trying to win."

UIC will be heavy, heavy underdogs. There's no way around that. But there are certain spots where they may not be at such a disadvantage. 

On the defensive end, Odiase continued to terrorize guards and big men alike, finishing fifth in the NCAA with 2.9 blocks per game. The dynamic guard duo from "The Six," Godwin Boahen and Marcus Ottey, are quick enough to hang and both took a huge step down the stretch last season. Then there's the return of 2015-2016 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year Dikembe Dixson, who is recovering from a torn ACL.

"The doctors at times thought he was a freak of nature because he was back as quick as he was," McClain said.  

Still, it's a tune-up game for Kentucky, who also scheduled Kansas, UCLA and Louisville on their non-conference slate. But one team's expected walk through is another team's vital experience. 

"Our guys can walk in and see that on a given night, you can compete with anyone," McClain said. 

Given new athletic director Garrett Klassy's comments at his introductory press conference, it doesn't seem as if games like this are a one-hit wonder for UIC. 

“I am an aggressive scheduler," Klassy said. "I helped with the scheduling at George Washington. We’ll play anyone, anytime, anywhere.

"You want to measure yourself against the best. We have a lot of returning starters. It’ll be nice to go on the road, play a tough game and maybe sneak out an upset."