2014 Winter Games News

AP Sports
updated 4:45 p.m.) Akron women win MAC tourney title (3-15-14) PDF Print E-mail
Written by TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 16:39
CLEVELAND (AP) — Clutching scissors in her right hand, Akron coach Jodi Kest steadied herself as she began climbing the ladder propped open underneath the basket.
Once she got high enough, Kest snipped the last strand of the dangling net, yanked it off the rim and waved the nylon souvenir above her head.
It took 40 years, but the Zips were finally on top of the Mid-American Conference.
“It’s so sweet,” Kest said. “Sweeter than I even imagined.”
Rachel Tecca scored 30 points and dominated inside, leading Akron into the NCAA tournament for the first time with a 79-68 win over Ball State in the MAC championship Saturday.
Tecca, who scored 20 in the first half, added 12 rebounds for the third-seeded Zips (23-9), who started the season 4-4 but have won 16 of 17 and will enter the NCAAs as one of the nation’s hottest teams. With their first MAC title, Akron also tied a school record for wins in the program’s 40th year.
It’s been a long ascent for Akron, which endured seven consecutive losing seasons — including a 1-27 mark in 2001-02 — before Kest arrived and turned the Zips around.
“People thought I was crazy to take this job,” Kest said. “But my kids are just like me. They love the challenge.”
The Zips led by 25 in the second half and withstood a late rally by the fifth-seeded Cardinals (18-16), who were playing their fifth game in six days.
Brittany Carter made five 3-pointers in the last eight minutes and led Ball State 23 points. Brandy Woody added 15 and Nathalie Fontaine 14 for the Cardinals.
Ball State had knocked off top-seeded Bowling Green in the semis and won four games in the tournament, but the Cardinals didn’t have nearly enough to take down Akron.
Their biggest problem was Tecca.
A three-time All-MAC selection, Tecca capped her stellar career with the tournament’s MVP award and by carrying the Zips to a long-awaited title.
The 6-foot-1 senior from Tallmadge drove past Ball State defenders whenever she wanted, and if she couldn’t find an opening, Tecca simply stepped outside and knocked down shots. She finished 13 of 19 from the floor.
“Our team set program history today,” Tecca said. “This is something no one here has ever done. This is a moment we’ll never forget. I’ll always cherish being part of this.”
The Zips were fueled by the bitterness they felt had after losing to Central Michigan in last year’s final. They didn’t want to come up short again. Other than a brief stretch of the second half when Ball State couldn’t miss, Akron was in complete control.
“I was so nervous today,” Kest said. “I wanted it so bad for them.”
When Akron’s lead reached 25, the school’s fans began celebrating when the Cardinals got hot. Carter found her stroke and made four consecutive 3-pointers, the last cutting Akron’s lead to 73-63 with 4:02 left.
With Ball State making its run, Kest said she didn’t panic, knowing she had four seniors on the floor — one of them Tecca.
“I thought, ‘We’ll be OK, and get the ball to Rachel,”’ she said.
Akron went right back inside to Tecca, who got fouled and made two free throws to make it 77-63. Ball State scored again, but this time the Zips got a basket underneath from senior reserve Carly Young, who had 15 points.
As the final seconds ticked down, Tecca and her teammates shared emotional hugs at mid-court. Moments later, they were presented with the MAC title trophy — and the NCAA spot that goes along with it — two prizes long out of reach for the Zips.
Now, the Zips want more.
“They think they can go farther in the NCAA tournament,” Kest said. “People laughed when some of our kids said that. But they believe.”
Akron senior guard Hanna Luburgh scored just 6 points — 17 under her average — but chipped in with 12 rebounds.
The Zips never stopped pushing the tempo, convinced the Cardinals would crumble.
“The fatigue no question was a factor,” Ball State coach Brady Sallee said. “As talented as Akron is, if you show just a little bit of that, they’re flying down the floor for layups. They never let up. They did what they had to do. That’s what championship teams do.”

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 March 2014 16:49
 
No. 8 Michigan overcomes rally by Illinois 64-63 PDF Print E-mail
Written by MICHAEL MAROT AP Sports Writer   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 02:49
INDIANAPOLIS — Tracy Abrams had the ball right where he wanted it — in his own hands with a drive to the basket.
The junior guard just came up short.
Jordan Morgan scored on a layup with 7.9 seconds left Friday and Abrams missed what would have been the winning shot at the buzzer, allowing No. 8 Michigan to survive a quarterfinal scare with a 64-63 win in the Big Ten tournament.
“I thought it was going to go in, and I thought we were going to win and I had the utmost confidence,” said Abrams, after staring at the rim in disbelief. “I wasn’t shocked that we lost, but shocked the shot didn’t go in.”
Abrams and Illinois (19-14) did everything they could to pull off the upset.
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Cavaliers rally past Warriors 103-94 PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOSH DUBOW AP Sports Writer   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 02:47
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Cleveland Cavaliers found a way to shake off a horrid start to post another impressive road victory in their late-season playoff push.
Spencer Hawes had 22 points and 13 rebounds to help the Cavaliers erase an 18-point first-half deficit on the way to a 103-94 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
“We did a good job responding, not panicking in the first quarter when it seemed like we couldn’t do anythng to get a bucket,” Hawes said. “We stayed the course and it paid off.”
Dion Waiters added 18 points off the bench and Luol Deng and Kyrie Irving had 16 apiece for the Cavaliers, who overcame a slow start to take the game over in the final three quarters and snap a six-game losing streak against the Warriors.
The Cavaliers have won at Phoenix and Golden State to start this West Coast swing and hope to wrap up a perfect trip by beating the Clippers in Los Angeles on Sunday. The Cavs are in a tie for ninth in the Eastern Conference, 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot.
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No. 24 Ohio State comes back to beat Nebraska PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 02:49
INDIANAPOLIS — After watching his team turn the ball over nine times and fall behind by three points at halftime, Ohio State coach Thad Matta had some choice words for the No. 24 Buckeyes.
“I told our guys at halftime, I said, ‘Look, with the nine turnovers we had, why don’t we just go out and give them the ball nine times and let them try to score,” Matta said. “And they took me literally, so we were down 18 points.”
The fifth-seeded Buckeyes (25-8) found themselves in a deep hole, but rallied to beat fourth-seeded Nebraska 71-67 on Friday in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Ohio State led for almost the entire first half, but the Cornhuskers (19-12) stuck around. Playing after a first-round bye for the first time since joining the Big Ten in 2012, Nebraska finally took its first lead on Shavon Shields’ layup with 48 seconds to play in the first half.
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Banged-up Red Wings beat Oilers 2-1 in SO PDF Print E-mail
Written by LARRY LAGE AP Hockey Writer   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 02:47
DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings are desperate for wins as they try to get into the playoffs for the 23rd straight time.
On a night in which they barely beat the worst team in the Western Conference, coach Mike Babcock didn’t diminish the importance of the much-needed victory.
Tomas Tatar scored on Detroit’s third shootout attempt, and Jimmy Howard stopped all three Edmonton attempts to lift the Red Wings to a 2-1 win over the Oilers on Friday night.
“Huge,” Babcock said. “Howie, obviously, in the shootout, bailing us out was a real positive for us.
“It gives us some confidence.”
Howard finished with 21 saves.
Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth tied the game midway through the third period. Smyth scored on a shot from the slot that was set up by Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith’s backhanded giveaway.
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