Maryland Terps

Muscala powers Bucknell past Lafayette 66-51

Muscala powers Bucknell past Lafayette 66-51

LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) Mike Muscala scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season as Bucknell defeated Lafayette 66-51 Saturday night in Patriot League play.

Cameron Ayers opened the second half with a 3-pointer to make it 30-20 and the Bison (16-3, 3-0) maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way to win their third straight game and fifth in the last six.

The win ties the second-best start in program history after 19 games. Bucknell was 17-2 in 1983-84 and also 16-3 in 2005-06.

Muscala was 12 of 24 from the field as the Bison shot 44.6 percent (29 of 65). Ayers added 12 points and Joe Willman 10.

The Leopards (8-12, 1-2) shot only 34.5 percent (19 of 55), making 1 of 13 3-pointers, to lose their ninth straight in the series.

Seth Hinrichs scored 12 points and Dan Trist added 11 for Lafayette.

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Maryland women face off against UCLA for spot in Sweet 16

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Maryland women face off against UCLA for spot in Sweet 16

NEW YORK (AP) -- Eight invitations to the Sweet 16 have been delivered and the other eight will be decided Monday night.

UConn's back in the regional semifinals for the 26th consecutive year. The Huskies had to work for it as pesky Buffalo rallied from a 24-point, third-quarter deficit to get within eight in the fourth before the Huskies won by 12. It was UConn's closest game in the second round since a two-point victory over Xavier in 1999. The next-closest was a 15-point win over TCU in 2003.

"It's been kind of that type of year for us, where things just don't naturally happen the way they have before, and for us that's good preparation," UConn senior Katie Lou Samuelson said. "That shows that when things go wrong, when things happen, we can always pick up what we need to do and pick up from the next person down."

While reaching the Sweet 16 seems to be a rite of spring for the Huskies, other teams will be trying to make it there for the first time in a long time. The last time Missouri State advanced to the regional semifinals, assistant coach Jackie Stiles was leading the Lady Bears to an incredible Final Four run in 2001. For the team to get to the next round, they'll have to contend with Iowa State and a rowdy crowd at ISU's Hilton Coliseum.

Arizona State and Texas A&M needed big plays in the final few seconds to reach the next round in wins over Miami and Marquette, respectively.

Oregon had a little easier time advancing to its third consecutive Sweet 16. Sabrina Ionescu was a big reason why, getting her 18th career triple-double and second in the NCAAs. She became the second player to do it multiple times in the tournament, joining former Stanford great Nicole Powell.

Ionescu got her 10th rebound to reach the stat milestone in the final few minutes when she rebounded her own miss.

"I knew exactly where it was going to go," she said. "Let me add a little more rotation on this shot so I can get it back."

STILL UNBEATEN

The Pac-12 has yet to lose in the postseason, improving to 8-0 after wins by Arizona State and Oregon. Throw in two victories by Arizona in the WNIT and the conference is unblemished.

"I was able to tell the team yesterday, there's nothing that this team can show us that we haven't seen and the conference hasn't prepared you for this. How many close games has this group been in down the stretch of the year?" Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. "You have the confidence to get the stops and to score and to execute."

HOME SWEET HOME

Baylor has been dominant at home -- during the regular season and in the women's NCAA Tournament.

The California Golden Bears know all too well the difficulty of playing the perennial Big 12 champion Bears in Waco during the postseason. They are 0-2 there, with those losses by significant margins.

For the third time in six years, the Golden Bears won an opening-round game in the Ferrell Center to set up a matchup against the host team -- they overcame an early 12-point deficit and beat North Carolina 92-72 on Saturday. Cal lost by 19 to Baylor in 2014, the year after an NCAA Final Four appearance, and two years ago ended their season with an 86-46 loss in Waco.

"We were very, very young when we came the last time, and I think that's a huge difference, just players having been here before, having gone through a lot of different experiences in the life of a basketball player," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said.

After overwhelming NCAA Tournament first-timer Abilene Christian 95-38 in the first round Saturday night, Baylor has won 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament games at home since 2011 and won those games by an average margin of 37 points.

The Lady Bears are 16-0 at home this season, and have won 38 in a row overall in Waco. They are 148-3 in non-conference home games in coach Kim Mulkey's 19 seasons, and have won 48 in a row since losing in January 2014 to UConn, which was the No. 1 team in the country when losing at Waco this season.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Monday's game will be played exactly 41 years after UCLA beat Maryland 90-74 to win the AIAW national championship, a precursor to the NCAA Tournament.

"That's pretty amazing," UCLA coach Cori Close said. "I think it's really good to pause and say thank you to the people that were involved in those games, thank you to the people that really lived out Title IX in an amazing, courageous way. Now we get opportunities that would have never been there without their sacrifice."

GROWING THE GAME

Rueck spoke about how the NCAA Tournament allows women's basketball to attract more fans -- even in Corvallis, which is known for its support of the sport and the home team.

"That's what I've loved about our community. They've embraced us," he said. "I always joke, I know we've got the women's basketball fans, and we're going to do great things for them.

"I want the football fans," he said. "I want the men's basketball fan that maybe has never given us a chance. Give us a shot, and be careful because you're going to get hooked."

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NHL Power Rankings: How good are the Capitals without Michal Kempny?

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NHL Power Rankings: How good are the Capitals without Michal Kempny?

It seems crazy to think that 13 months ago, practically no one in Washington knew who Michal Kempny was. Now we are wondering whether the Capitals can win without him.

That’s what a Stanley Cup run will do for a player.

Washington struggled all season in 2017-18 to find a partner for John Carlson. Individually he was having a phenomenal season, worth of more Norris attention than he ultimately received. In terms of the defensive pairs, however, the Caps just could not seem to find a partner that complimented him. Then the team traded for a little-known defenseman from the Chicago Blackhawks and the rest is history.

We do not yet know how long Kempny will be out. Todd Reirden has said he will be out “indefinitely” but has not given a definitive timetable. We do not know if Kempny could come back for the playoffs or is done for the season, but at the very least it seems possible he will not be ready for the start of the playoffs. That means Washington has to find a way to win without him.

Reirden got out the blender on Sunday and went through just about every defensive combination he could think of in the game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Washington is still locked in a tight race for the division, but Reirden is going to have to use the last few games of the season to figure out the best combinations to use in case Kempny does not return.

It’s not easy to replace a top-pairing defenseman, but that is the reality that is staring the Caps in the face right now.

SEE THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Here are a few recent observations and thoughts on the Caps:

  • Christian Djoos did a great job not letting his size be an issue last season in the playoffs last season. In his first two games back in the lineup in place of Michal Kempny, he did not do nearly as well with that. He was pushed around in front of the net by Minnesota and to some degree against Philadelphia as well. That makes it difficult for him to play with a partner like Carlson who is quick to go up ice to join the offense. He may be better off playing alongside Brooks Orpik so long as Orpik knows he can’t pinch in the neutral zone as much as he typically does.
  • Reirden also experimented with the offensive lines on Sunday. While I do not think he will stray too much from his normal lineup to start the playoffs, there are some intriguing possibilities he can turn to if the team needs a spark. I like how Jakub Vrana and Brett Connolly looked together and I have always loved the chemistry Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie have. Having a speed line of Vrana and Andre Burakovsky is a good potential weapon as well, though I think that line would only really work with Nicklas Backstrom at center or I could easily see it becoming a defensive liability.
  • The Caps have two power play goals in their last 19 opportunities. The first problem has been zone entries. When the puck is cleared, they struggle to get it back in. The slingshot is atrocious, it doesn’t work and it needs to go away. When the Caps go fast up ice and simply attack, they have a much easier time getting into the zone than they do with the slow, methodical slingshot which everyone sees coming a mile away. If Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov is standing behind Carlson, it’s not hard to figure out that Carlson is going to turn around and pass it back. Get rid of it. The second problem is that teams are going all in on stopping Ovechkin. Everyone knows he is two goals away from 50. There’s no more pretense to it, they are doing everything they can to stop getting him the puck whether it be having a defenseman guard him or putting a wall in the passing lane to prevent getting the puck to him, but the Caps are still trying to force him the puck. Kuznetsov and Backstrom have got to take advantage of the extra room they are being afforded and shoot more. That will force teams to account for them opening up more room to Ovechkin.
  • I have seen a lot of players work on their deflections at practice and the work seems to be paying off. Brett Connolly scored a deflection against Minnesota, and Tom Wilson and Travis Boyd both scored deflections against Philadelphia. Having said that, I do not want to see this team become a low to high team where they get the puck down low and always look back to the blue line for the shot. Those are very low percentage opportunities. If that’s the only option, great, go for it, but that should not replace trying to get the puck into high danger areas with settling for point shots. This team won the Stanley Cup last season by emphasizing quality over quantity. Don’t change that now.

Even without Kempny, the Caps still look like one of the teams to beat for the Cup.

Find out how they stack up with the other top teams here in this week’s NHL Power Rankings.

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