NCAA Talk

Late tip-in gives Notre Dame 76-75 win over Stephen F. Austin

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Late tip-in gives Notre Dame 76-75 win over Stephen F. Austin

NEW YORK (AP) — Notre Dame and Stephen F. Austin went shot-for-shot in an NCAA Tournament game that was about as good as it gets. The power school against the unflinching underdog. The lead never was more than seven for either team.

That it came down to the last shot was no surprise. The hero, though, might have been the most unlikely player on the floor to make a game-winner.

Rex Pflueger tapped in a rebound with 1.5 seconds left and Notre Dame survived 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin 76-75 on Sunday to reach the NCAA round of 16 for the second consecutive season.

Down one with 17.5 seconds left, sixth-seed Notre Dame grabbed an SFA rebound and put the ball in the hands of Demetrius Jackson. The point guard drove to the basket and missed. Zach Auguste followed for the Irish (23-11) but could not convert. The ball slipped off the rim and with one hand Pflueger flipped it in.

Not only had Pflueger not scored in the game to that point, he hadn't had a field goal since March 5.

"I just crashed the board," Pflueger said. "I thought Zach was going to make that last layup, but coach always emphasizes going to the board hard, especially in situations like that, and it just turned out for the best for us."

A long heave from Stephen F. Austin (28-6) went wide and Notre Dame celebrated by swarming Pflueger.

"Are you kidding me? Are you freakin' kidding me? That was unbelievable," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

The Irish advance to play either Wisconsin or Xavier Friday in the East Regional at Philadelphia.

The Irish and Lumberjacks put on a show to match Beyonce at Barclays Center, with Brey's longtime friend, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, sitting not far behind the Notre Dame bench.

"I've been watching them all year, and they're very tough-minded so they were going to battle right to the very end," said Christie, whose daughter Sarah is a team manager. "But was I nervous? Yeah, absolutely."

Thomas Walkup, the hero of Stephen F. Austin's first-round upset of West Virginia, scored 21 in his last college game.

"It's something I've been afraid of for a while," Walkup said of his SFA career coming to a close. "It hurts."

After it was over, Walkup had his arm around senior point guard Trey Pinkney, friends since their days playing AAU in Houston, as they walked back to the locker room.

"I told him I loved him and hugged him for a couple minutes," Walkup said. "He'll be my best friend for life, but we'll never get to do this together. That's what hurts the most."

The loss snapped a 21-game winning streak for Stephen F. Austin that was the longest in the country. No mid-major has been as dominant in its conference lately as the Southland Conference champions. This is the Lumberjacks' third straight NCAA appearance and the second time they won a first-round game. Their goal all year was Sweet 16.

"They've set a new standard for SFA basketball," coach Brad Underwood said of his seniors.

Jackson had 18 points, helping the Irish erase a five-point lead in the last two minutes with a driving layup and two free throws. Auguste had 16 points and 15 boards, but it was the freshman from California who made the biggest play.

"We took punches and kept fighting and Rex made a great play at the end," Jackson said. "Like coach says (Pflueger) plays volleyball in the summertime. So this counts as volleyball on the backboards."

Walkup picked up his third foul with 17:53 left in the second half. He stayed in and dropped in a jumper a few moments later, but Underwood had to sit his star for a chunk of the second half. The Lumberjacks showed they could pick up for the two-time conference player of the year, getting offense from T.J. Holyfield (15 points) and Demetrious Floyd (16).

When Floyd made a 3 in transition with 3:31 left, it gave SFA a 73-70 lead. SFA forced turnovers on Notre Dame's next two possessions — the Lumberjacks lead the nation in taking it away — and Walkup made two from the line to up the lead to five. It was the last points of the tournament for Stephen F. Austin.

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

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USA TODAY

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

One of the icons of DePaul athletics is sticking around.

Monday, DePaul extended the contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through the 2023-24 season. Bruno just wrapped up his 32nd season as head coach of his alma mater, leading DePaul to its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament.

While the Blue Demons were eliminated in the Round of 32 this March, Bruno has led the program to the Sweet 16 three of the last eight seasons.

“I am so thankful to be working at a great institution like DePaul,” Bruno said in a press release. “I never would have been here without coach Ray Meyer who gave me a basketball scholarship, Frank McGrath and Gene Sullivan who hired me in the 1970s."

Behind Bruno, DePaul went 27-8 in 2017-18, winning its fifth-straight Big East regular-season title. The Blue Demons also won their third Big East Tournament title in five years, defeating rival Marquette 98-63. Bruno also picked up his 700th career victory in February, defeating conference-foe Butler 86-68.

“I’ve been fortunate to have great assistant coaches through all the years,” he said. “My current staff is absolutely one of the best in the country.

"Most important, the reason you succeed is the players. I’ve been blessed to have tremendous student-athletes help build the DePaul women’s basketball legacy.

“I am excited about this contract extension because we still have work to do. As proud as we are of everything we have achieved, our expectation through the length of this extension is to take the Blue Demons to even higher places.”

 

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

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USA TODAY

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

Loyola is rewarding Porter Moser for his basketball team's success this season.

Loyola and Moser have agreed to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Wednesday. The deal is through the 2025-26 season.

"We are excited to be able to announce a new contract for Porter that will keep him at Loyola a long time," Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said. "He is the perfect fit for Loyola and operates his program the right way, with student-athletes who achieve excellence on the court and in the classroom and are also excellent representatives of the institution.

"We are fortunate to work at a university like Loyola, that values and has made a commitment to athletics. It is nice to reward Porter not just for an outstanding season, but also for the job he has done during his time here."

That's a well-deserved extension for a head coach who led the Ramblers to a NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985.

As the 11th seed, Loyola exceeded all expectations, shocking the world with a Final Four appearance. The Ramblers took down No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Nevada, and No. 9 Kansas State before losing to No. 3 Michigan, who would go on to lose to No. 1 Villanova in the championship game.

Loyola finished the regular season with a 28-5 record and a MVC Championship.

In seven seasons, Moser has a 121-111 record with the Ramblers, though three of his last four have been winning seasons.