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Notre Dame falls short in bid for Final Four against UNC

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Notre Dame falls short in bid for Final Four against UNC

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Roy Williams will take his postgame injuries as long as he and the North Carolina Tar Heels are headed to the Final Four.

The Hall of Fame coach bit his tongue and cut a finger during the net-cutting ceremonies after the Tar Heels beat Notre Dame 88-74 on Sunday night, leaving them as the only No. 1 seed in the Final Four.

"I was screaming. I started to take a step back and I felt like the ladder moved and I grabbed. When I grabbed I grabbed the end of the scissors and it started bleeding," he said.

That's OK since his team will head to Houston.

"Never in my life have I wanted something for someone else as I wanted to get these guys to Houston," he said.

Brice Johnson had 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Tar Heels reached the Final Four for a record 19th time and the first since 2009, when they won the last of their five national championships.

North Carolina (32-6) will face Syracuse, the 10th seed from the Midwest Regional, in another all-Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in the Final Four on Saturday. The Orange beat top-seeded Virginia 68-62.

"He should be used to cutting nets," senior point guard Marcus Paige said of Williams. "He said 'I'll bleed for you guys if you keep playing the way we're playing.' We'll get him patched up."

Sunday's halves were very different. In the first, the teams went shot for shot with both teams shooting over 58 percent and neither leading by more than six points. The second half was run for run and the Tar Heels, taking control of the boards, had the last and biggest one to seize control over the final 10 minutes.

It was Johnson's school-record 23rd double-double of the season.

"It took us four years to do this, but we're finally there," Johnson said of the Final Four.

Paige added 13 points and Joel Berry II had 11 points and eight assists for North Carolina, which has won its four tournament games by an average of 15.4 points. The Tar Heels finished with a 32-15 rebound advantage. They had more offensive rebounds than Notre Dame had on the defensive end.

"We got going a little bit and all of a sudden they made a huge run," Williams said of the second half. "(In a timeout) Marcus said, 'It's a game of runs. They made runs. We're going to make our run.'"

Demetrius Jackson had 26 points and V.J. Beachem had 18 for sixth-seeded Notre Dame (24-12), which has made the Final Four once, in 1978.

"I thought we put ourselves in position," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We took that one-point lead and they answered it like men. ... I thought the way they answered that run was championship level."

[MORE: Notre Dame's furious finish ends Badgers' NCAA Tournament run]

The teams split their games before the tournament, with the Tar Heels winning by 31 in the conference tournament two weeks ago.

The second half Sunday seemed like it was going be similar with North Carolina making a big run.

This time, a 12-0 run gave the Tar Heels a 63-52 lead with 9:19 to play. North Carolina showed its depth during the run with the final eight points coming from reserves Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson.

North Carolina opened the second half with an 8-2 run and Kennedy Meeks scoring all the Tar Heels' points down low. Notre Dame answered with 12 straight points. During that run, Johnson was charged with a technical foul for throwing the ball high in the air after he was called for a foul. He apologized after the game.

"That was dumb on my part," Johnson said. "But my teammates did a very good job of playing. They stepped up during a time of need."

After an incredible first half in which both teams played about as well as they could offensively, North Carolina led 43-38.

Both teams shot better than 58 percent from the field and from 3-point range. In one stretch, North Carolina went 4 minutes without missing. It was the third half this tournament that North Carolina shot better than 60 percent. North Carolina finished 61.5 percent for the game (32 for 52).

Notre Dame shot 55.1 percent (27 for 49).

Williams went to a 1-3-1 zone for a while trying to slow down the Fighting Irish from 3-point range. They made five of their first eight from beyond the arc and finished 6 for 10 for the half and 9 for 18 for the game.

North Carolina was 16 for 25 from the field (64 percent) and 4 from 6 on 3s, while the Fighting Irish were 14 for 24 from the field (58.3 percent).

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.