NCAA Talk

DePaul women fall short of Elite Eight

427921.jpg

DePaul women fall short of Elite Eight

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Posted 4:46 p.m. Updated 5:53 p.m.Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - The final seconds ticked down, and Duke was set for a celebration. The Blue Devils will get a blockbuster sequel they believe has a better ending than the original

The Blue Devils get a second straight shot at winning a regional final - and a rematch with top-seeded UConn to show how far they've come since an embarrassing loss in January.

Karima Christmas had 23 points and nine rebounds, Jasmine Thomas scored 19 points and the Blue Devils beat DePaul 70-63 on Sunday to reach the regional final for the second straight year.

Duke (32-3) earned a rematch against top-seeded Connecticut on Tuesday night with the Final Four at stake. Maya Moore scored 29 points as UConn surged to a 41-15 halftime lead in an 87-51 win over Duke on Jan. 31.

"That game, we, I can't even explain what happened in the first half," Christmas said. "It just kind of put us in a place where we didn't want to be and didn't expect to be."

The second-seeded Blue Devils did expect a return to the regional final a year after they were bounced out by Baylor. They've won nine straight games and are a win away from their first Final Four since 2006.

"It's really a lot of fun," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "It's not something you reflect on too much right now because you've got a game coming up you've got to get ready for."

Chelsea Gray scored 16 points for the Blue Devils, who raced to a 15-point lead and had to hold on after the big advantage nearly evaporated late in the second half.

DePaul's Deirdre Naughton hit two 3-pointers in less than a minute that cut the lead to three each time, but Gray made four free throws in the final 22 seconds to set up Duke's date with UConn.

The Blue Devils clearly feel they're a different team than the one that faced the Huskies in their first meeting.

"I wouldn't say (they're) vulnerable, but every team has their weakness," Christmas said. "If we try to exploit some things that we've seen that, had they gone wrong last game, we would have been in better shape."

Naughton scored 17 points for DePaul (29-7), which has never played in a regional final.

The Blue Demons had no answer for Christmas on either end of the court. She attacked the lane for easy buckets and got to the free throw line 14 times.

"We had no answer for Christmas," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "We couldn't guard her. Nothing we tried to do could manage her."

Duke coasted until late in the second half, when the Blue Demons were on the brink of pulling off their latest big comeback. Naughton's second 3-pointer of the game in front of a jubilant Blue Demons bench made it 63-60 with 50.4 seconds left. She again delivered a clutch 3, this one with 24.7 seconds remaining to make it 66-63.

It was just too late.

"I think that Duke turned up their defensive intensity and that had a lot to do with it," guard Sam Quigley said. "We needed to be patient.

The Blue Devils survived a 1-for-10 effort from the 3-point line and sealed the win with a 21-for-29 performance on free throws.

The Blue Demons were back in Pennsylvania after winning two games in State College, Pa., to advance to the round of 16 for only the second time in school history.

DePaul, which trailed by 14 last week against Penn State before storming back to win by two, did its best to extend its stay in the Keystone State. Keisha Hampton, Anna Martin and Quigley each hit 3s that trimmed a 15-point hole to 49-42.

Naughton's two free throws made it 57-53 with 2:54 left - a preview of her late-game baskets that nearly gave DePaul a victory.

Bruno led the third-seeded Blue Demons to their highest single-season win total in team history. He lost to a former pupil - McCallie was a summer basketball camp counselor for Bruno during her playing days at Northwestern.

Duke's Blue Devil mascot taped a sign stretched horn-to-horn that read "Demons work 4 me."

For 20 minutes, it was true.

Duke made a habit of slow starts this year, and it nearly cost the Blue Devils in a second-round game against Marist. They needed an 11-0 run in the final minutes to knock off the 10th-seeded Red Foxes.

Not this time. Not with so much on the line.

They used a 20-7 spurt over the final 10 minutes of the first half to take control. The Blue Devils harassed DePaul into 11 turnovers. Balls were stripped on driving layups and Thomas swatted the ball with such force, the "whack!" was heard in the last row of the upper deck.

Hampton was a non-factor in the first half. Hampton, DePaul's leading scorer at 16.1 points, was held to five, giving the Philadelphia native little for her own pocket of fans to cheer for.

UConn's Geno Auriemma stopped Bruno for a small chat outside a locker room before tipoff. Auriemma told him his team was "unbelievable" and he was surprised to learn Hampton was a junior.

"You're definitely the favorites next year," Auriemma told his Big East rival, smiling.

For this week, that title still belongs to the Huskies.

It's up to the Blue Devils to wrest it away.

Box Score

Mark Dantonio retires from coaching Michigan State football

dantonio-204.jpg
USA TODAY

Mark Dantonio retires from coaching Michigan State football

Mark Dantonio led one of the best eras of Michigan State football, but announced his retirement from coaching on Tuesday.

The 63-year-old had been at the school since 2007. He led the Spartans to the College Football Playoff in 2015 and two Big Ten titles. He tweeted out a message announcing his retirement.


“After much reflection and discussion with my family, I feel that it is now time for change as we enter into a new decade of Michigan State Football,” Dantonio wrote.

The timing is unusual considering firing and hiring season in college football has long since passed. On top of that, the early signing period for recruits has already gone by. Whoever ends up being Dantonio’s replacement won’t have much time to prepare for spring practices.

Replacing Dantonio’s accomplishments at MSU won’t be easy either. Dantonio took over a program that managed one top 25 finish in its previous 16 years (and that includes a five-year Nick Saban tenure). He left having produced seven top 25 finishes and 12 bowl appearances in 13 seasons.

The Spartans made three Big Ten Championship Game appearances under Dantonio and won two of them, one of which propelled them to a national semifinal. However, the Spartans had gone 27-24 since making the playoff.

Maxwell 'Bunchie' Young from the NFL’s Super Bowl video already has a scholarship offer from Lovie Smith

lovie-smith-0201.jpg
USA TODAY

Maxwell 'Bunchie' Young from the NFL’s Super Bowl video already has a scholarship offer from Lovie Smith

Remember the kid sporting the cool faux-hawk in the NFL’s star-studded Super Bowl video? There is a chance he could be coming to Urbana-Champaign in five years.

Back in 2017, University of Illinois head coach and former Bears coach Lovie Smith offered then 10-year-old Maxwell “Bunchie” Young a scholarship to play for the Fighting Illini. Bunchie, now 13, starred in the NFL’s “NEXT 100” video, in which he was seen navigating famous football faces and various locales around the US before charging the Super Bowl LIV stadium in Miami. Young had been previously profiled by ESPN and was named Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year in 2017.

The news of the scholarship offer from Illinois three years ago opened up a larger conversation around schools recruiting and offering kids at such a young age. In the case of Young, he won’t be eligible to play for the Illini until 2025. Smith’s current contract expires long before that so there's always a chance that the coaching staff that made the offer won't be in place when Young is eligible to play. According to NCAA rules, schools can't make written scholarship offers until August of the player’s senior season. Verbal offers, however, are a different story.

Young wasn’t the only Chicagoland connection in the NFL’s ode to the next 100 years of football. Bears owner Virginia McCaskey had a supporting role near the end of the video, sporting Bears gear and presenting Young with the ball before he ran into the Super Bowl stadium. McCaskey filmed her cameo at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, which led to another local highlight.

Libertyville High School’s football field made an appearance about a minute into the video, the location chosen due to its proximity to Halas Hall. About a minute in, Young is seen sprinting onto the Libertyville field to intercept a pass from Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman before holding the ball for a field-goal attempt by US women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd.