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Bama's Lacy romps over Notre Dame defense

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Bama's Lacy romps over Notre Dame defense

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Eddie Lacy romped through Notre Dame's defense with power and his favorite move.

No. 2 Alabama's latest star tailback rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown and scored with a spin move on a catch in Monday night's 42-14 rout over No. 1 Notre Dame in the BCS championship.

If the game ends up being the junior's finale at Alabama, it was a doozy. He was slowed early in the season with a nagging left ankle injury but finished with three straight 100-yard games, a 99-yarder and 10 touchdowns in the final four games.

``I think for one of the first times this season we were able to come out and play a complete game,'' Lacy said. ``I mean, we had slow starts at times but we were able to come back and put a couple of drives together and score.''

Named the game's outstanding player on offense, Lacy had 72 yards before the first quarter ended - against a defense that came in allowing a stingy 92 yards a game on the ground. He capped the opening drive with a 20-yard touchdown and had nine touches on the first two possessions, both ending with touchdowns.

It was impressive against a sturdy front seven led by All-America linebacker Manti Te'o.

``I was surprised, but the offensive line came out and opened up big holes,'' Lacy said.

``We did it the way coach always talks about. We come out and play for 60 we gave it all we've got and that was the outcome.''

Lacy spun into the end zone at the end of an 11-yard catch with 31 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 28-0. It's a move that typically buys him extra yardage, and one that he jokes with teammates is trademarked and requires a fee when they try to duplicate it.

``Lacy made us miss,'' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ``I thought his ability to shake us down was outstanding.''

He said most of the Fighting Irish's tackling issues could be credited to ``a really outstanding back in Lacy and the way he ran. I was very impressed with him tonight.''

He's just the latest Bama tailback to shine in the big one, even if he came in with less acclaim than his predecessors. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and last season's finalist, Trent Richardson, both topped 100 yards against Texas and another stout run defense in Pasadena, Calif., three years ago.

Both went on to become first-round NFL draft picks. Lacy isn't projected quite that high, but he definitely didn't hurt his case if he decides to turn pro.

``He's incredible. He's an incredible player,'' center Barrett Jones said. ``We're seeing what Eddie's capable of. He's been a little banged up at the beginning of the year but now he's fully healthy and he's an incredible player.''

Lacy finished the year with 17 rushing touchdowns and 1,322 yards, while sharing headlines and carries with talented freshman T.J. Yeldon, who ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on the night also topped 1,000 yards for the season.

Lacy was at his best late in Alabama's title run.

He rushed for 131 yards against Auburn, 181 in the Southeastern Conference championship game versus Georgia and 99 yards against Western Kentucky before that streak. He scored 10 touchdowns during that four-game stretch.

Lacy mostly grinned and shrugged off questions about not being fully healthy or in game shape early in the season, but admitted a couple of weeks ago that ``it can break you down as a competitor ... because you're thinking about what I used to be able to do.''

Alabama had plenty of big offensive performances against the Fighting Irish, who had won five of the first six meetings.

AJ McCarron, last year's championship game MVP against LSU, completed 20 of 28 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Yeldon gained 108 yards on 21 carries and fellow freshman Amari Cooper caught six passes for 105 yards to break Julio Jones' freshman receiving records.

Lacy set the tone, though.

He converted a fourth-and-1 play and, later, ran for 5 yards up the middle - gaining a couple extra yards after pushing 248-pound linebacker Danny Spond away with one hand in the second quarter.

``We were able to establish and maintain the run with our backs and line doing a great job and then AJ and our receivers converted third downs and maintained drives,'' Tide coach Nick Saban said. ``We were able to possess the ball, and it limited their opportunities.''

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Wizards sit in a good spot at the All-Star break after rollercoaster first half

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards sit in a good spot at the All-Star break after rollercoaster first half

The Washington Wizards did not make any significant changes to their roster over the summer and valued continuity, knowing they had a solid group of young players on the rise. That sort of stand-pat approach could have resulted in a boring first half of the season, but the Wizards managed to ride quite the rollercoaster from October to the All-Star break. 

A lot of things happened. Some were good and some were bad, but the eventual result as we sit here today is the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference and a 33-24 record, good for a 47-win pace. That's solid, especially considering the dramatic lows this team had to navigate through.

PODCAST: BREAKING DOWN THE WIZARDS' FIRST HALF

Here is a look at the biggest storylines of the 2017-18 Wizards season before the All-Star break...

Injuries played a role

During the 2016-17 season, the Wizards' starting lineup missed a combined 17 games. That group of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat logged more minutes than any other starting five in the NBA. In terms of health, that season was one big best-case scenario and it wasn't to happen again this season.

The Wizards ran into injury troubles before training camp even began when Morris needed sports hernia surgery. By November, Wall was dealing with a left knee injury and Porter has had hip issues all season. Beal and Gortat played in all 57 games, but Wall missed 20, Morris missed nine and Porter was out for four of them. This year their depth was tested much more than it was just one season ago.

RELATED: BEAL SHOWS HE BELONGS ON ALL-STAR STAGE

Inconsistency was a problem

For much of the first half, the Wizards just couldn't get out of their own way. They would rise up to play and often beat the good teams, then turn around and suffer terrible losses to some of the worst teams in the NBA. Many teams go through those types of issues, but the Wizards took it to an extreme. In the first half they beat the Celtics, Rockets, Raptors, Timberwolves and Thunder, yet lost to the Nets (twice), Mavs (twice), Lakers, Hawks and Hornets (twice).

It was a maddening trend and one the players and coaches were well aware of. As it kept plaguing them through the month of January, the Wizards appeared to have no answers, but they rebounded nicely in the final weeks leading up to the All-Star break and some of their losses to teams that were sub-.500 at the time now don't look so bad. The Wizards, in fact, sit 19-9 against sub-.500 teams at the break. Only four teams in the East have more such wins. And the Clippers and Jazz, who were struggling at the time they beat the Wizards, rallied to now hold winning records and be factors in the playoff race.

Oubre and Satoransky emerged

The development of two young players in the first half of the season has vastly changed the Wizards' outlook in the short- and long-term. Kelly Oubre, Jr. took another step and gives them starter-caliber production off their bench. And Tomas Satoransky is now not just a replacement level backup point guard, but a real strength on their roster. 

Oubre continues to cut out his youthful mistakes on defense and has become one of their most consistent offensive players. He is third on the team in double-digit scoring games (38) with an average of 11.7 points, nearly double his output from last season. Satoransky is using his size and athleticism to affect games while making few costly errors. He has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team and leads the Wizards with a 46.8 three-point percentage. Both Oubre and Satoransky are providing value on both ends of the floor, have high ceilings and are on bargain contracts.

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They rallied without Wall

The Wizards were dealt some news in late January that could have crippled their season. They learned that Wall, their best player, would be out up to two months following arthroscopic left knee surgery. He would likely miss well over 20 games and the Wizards had been significantly better with him than without him in the previous months.

The Wizards, though, responded exceptionally well. They won seven of their final nine games before the break after Wall went down. The others in their starting lineup stepped up and Satoransky proved he was more than just a placeholder. They likely won't be able to keep up the 7-2 pace, but the Wizards showed they can still compete and win while Wall is out. That will be important with a tough schedule coming up out of the break.

Locker room disagreements

The Wizards entered this season with heightened expectations and as a result couldn't tolerate some of their early season woes. There was a team meeting that didn't go as planned. There were things said in the media. Then, when Wall went out and the Wizards started playing better, people got carried away and said that Wall was holding the Wizards back. Wall even thought that sentiment was suggested by his teammates and aired his grievances publicly. 

That's what happens when teams have big goals and hit adversity, they point fingers and problems ensue. The Wizards, though, don't seem to have any major, untenable issues. However, their concerns need to be communicated better, not through social media or in front of cameras. That's what makes what could be considered normal locker room strife into national news.

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS STACKED CLASS

 

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2018 Olympic Hockey Results: U.S. Women back in the gold medal match

2018 Olympic Hockey Results: U.S. Women back in the gold medal match

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- The Americans played their way back into the only women's hockey game that matters: a showdown with Canada for the Olympic gold medal.

The Americans are back in the title game for a third straight Olympics after shutting out Finland 5-0 on Monday in the semifinals. They will face their arch-rival, which beat the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" 5-0 a few hours later, on Thursday. They Americans will be trying to win their first gold since 1998 when women's hockey made its debut in the Olympics.

And yes, the Americans understand the United States-Canada playing for gold is what everyone expects to see.

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"Definitely the rivalry has been there since I think I was born, so everyone's looking forward to that," said 22-year-old Dani Cameranesi.

This will be the third opportunity at gold for six Americans: captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy and twin sisters Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

"It's honestly a dream come true," Knight said. "This is the world's biggest stage. This is the game that you want. This is the game we've been dreaming of and to have another opportunity to get back here, it's huge."

Olympic newcomer Cameranesi scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Americans over Finland. Marvin started the scoring, and Lamoureux-Davidson and Knight both scored during a 5-on-3 34 seconds apart in the second period. Maddie Rooney made 14 saves for the shutout.

Finland remains winless in eight games against the Americans at the Olympics. The Finns, ranked third in the world last year, will try to take home the bronze medal for the first time since 2010.

"We're got one thing on our mind, and that's to get a medal," said goaltender Noora Raty, who made 33 saves. "They're the best in the world (U.S. and Canada). We just need to get more girls involved so we have more to choose from."

The Americans opened these games a 2-1 loss to Canada wrapping up pool play.

"This was really a gold-medal preparation for us because they're a darn good team, and we had to be ready to play," U.S. coach Robb Stauber said of Finland.

The Americans wasted no time getting on the board. Captain Meghan Duggan found Marvin alone in the slot, and she beat Raty stick-side for the easy goal just 2:25 into the game.

Finland lost defenseman when she had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room after a knee-on-knee collision with Duggan. She was knocked off balance before crashing face-first into the boards, snapping her head back. When play resumed without a penalty, some fans booed. Savolainen returned in the second period.

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Stauber said the referee immediately came over and said it was a collision. Duggan said she was really happy Savolainen got up and that any decision about a potential suspension was out of her control.

"There's been some other plays that haven't been put into question, and so I can't imagine that there would be any disciplinary action just based on other things that have been let go," Duggan said.

Cameranesi put the United States up 2-0 with 1:22 left in the period, taking the puck away from Susanna Tapani and skating into the left circle before beating Raty's blocker with a wrist shot top shelf.

Lamoureux-Davidson's slap shot from the left circle came with 2 seconds left on the 5-on-3 at 13:21 of the second period, and Knight got her first goal of this tournament by redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin with 5 seconds left on the man advantage for the 4-0 lead. Cameranesi padded the lead as she scored from the slot over Raty's glove off a pass from Hannah Brandt.

"We're super excited to be in this position again," Lamoureux-Davidson said. "We worked four years to put ourselves in position to compete for a gold medal and we'll enjoy this for a little bit, but we know that this isn't what we came here for. We're ready to go to battle in a couple days."