Spartans didn’t want any help


By NOAH TRISTER

AP Sports Writer

EAST LANSING, Mich. — This was one Big Ten title coach Tom Izzo could live without.

Needing help from rival Michigan for a chance to share the conference crown, No. 10 Michigan State instead settled for second place. The Spartans beat Northwestern 71-61 on Sunday night, but they’d already been eliminated from the championship race when Indiana beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.

“Sure, I would have liked to have another Big Ten championship, but I like getting them when I earn them,” Izzo said. “I don’t need anybody else earning them for me.”

Keith Appling scored 16 points and Gary Harris added 12 for the Spartans, who struggled to put away the undermanned Wildcats. Northwestern (13-18, 4-14 Big Ten) rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit, tying the game at 51 before the Spartans recovered.

Kale Abrahamson scored 16 points for Northwestern, which has lost eight straight. The Spartans finished in a tie for second place with Ohio State, a game behind Indiana.

Michigan State senior Derrick Nix scored 10 points in his final home game. The Spartans (24-7, 13-5) shot 66 percent from the field and 6 of 10 from 3-point range.

Michigan State held its ceremony for Nix after the game — and Izzo did his best to fire up the crowd, despite the fact that the Spartans fell short of the title. Michigan State needed Michigan to beat Indiana for the Spartans to have any chance of sharing the championship.

“You’ve got yourself a blue-collar coach who hasn’t been given anything,” Izzo told the crowd. “And I don’t want anything from anyone else in this state.”

The Wolverines and Hoosiers were tied at 64 when Michigan State’s game tipped off. Michigan inched ahead, and with fans in East Lansing glancing at hand-held devices, it appeared the Wolverines might get a rare ovation at the Breslin Center.

But Michigan let the game slip away, removing some of the meaning from Michigan State’s regular-season finale. Appling said he got the news of the Wolverines’ loss from assistant coach Dane Fife.

“Coach Fife told me they won. Then he said they lost,” Appling said. “After that it was hard to focus in on the game.”

The rest of the first half seemed anti-climactic — the most interesting moment might have been when a small bird was spotted on the actual playing surface near midcourt for a few seconds.

Early in the second half, out-of-town scores were announced at Breslin, but Michigan-Indiana was left out. That drew a chuckle from some people in the crowd.

At that point, Northwestern had rallied to within five. It was 43-40 before Travis Trice and Adreian Payne made back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead back to nine.

The Wildcats answered with an 11-2 run, tying it at 51 on two free throws by Reggie Hearn. Abrahamson could have given Northwestern the lead, but his 3-pointer from near the top of the key went in and out.

Northwestern went 7 of 27 from beyond the arc.

“To beat that team, you have to be 12 for 27,” Wildcats coach Bill Carmody said. “You can’t be 7 for 27.”

Harris put Michigan State back up by two. Alex Olah tied it again with a dunk, but Nix scored inside to give the Spartans the lead for good.

Nix was pulled with 1:03 remaining and his team up by nine. He kissed the Spartans’ logo at midcourt and then left to a nice hand.

“This program has given me way more than I’ve given the program,” Nix told the crowd afterward. “This is probably the best team I’ve been on my whole life. These guys have all come to my rescue at some point, and Coach is probably the closest I’ve had to a father.”

Northwestern, which is without Drew Crawford and Jared Swopshire because of injuries, will be seeded 11th in the Big Ten tournament. Michigan State will be the No. 3 seed.

No. 14 OHIO STATE 68

ILLINOIS 55

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Deshaun Thomas, playing perhaps his final home game for Ohio State, scored 19 points in a victory over Illinois.

Ohio State (23-7, 13-5) is the No. 2 seed for next week’s Big Ten tournament.

Brandon Paul scored 21 points for Illinois (21-11, 8-10), which will be the No. 8 seed in Chicago.

Aaron Craft added 14 points and six assists while creating his usual havoc on defense for the Buckeyes. Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 10 points.

The Buckeyes have won five in a row, including wins over No. 2 Indiana and then-No. 4 Michigan State.

Thomas, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 19.8 points a game, is expected to give up his senior season to enter the NBA draft.

TEMPLE 84, No. 21 VCU 76

PHILADELPHIA — Khalif Wyatt scored 30 points, Jake O’Brien had 19 and Temple beat Virginia Commonwealth after rallying from a 16-point deficit.

The Owls (23-8, 11-5 Atlantic 10) clinched the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament and earned a first-round bye. Temple and VCU will both open play at the Barclays Center on Friday.

The Rams (24-7, 12-4) lost their chance to share the A-10 title with Saint Louis. VCU is the No. 2 seed.

Juvonte Reddic led the Rams with 20 points and Treveon Graham had 17.

The Owls, who have won seven straight, played their final regular-season game in the Atlantic 10. They’re joining the football-playing members of the Big East next season.

No. 22 WISCONSIN 63

PENN STATE 60

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Traevon Jackson made a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer and finished with 15 points as Wisconsin staved off an upset bid by Penn State.

The Badgers (21-10, 12-6 Big Ten) went the length of the court with less than 4 seconds left. Jackson pulled up on the wing and made his 3 over the outstretched arm of Kevin Montminy.

Officials upheld the basket after a replay review, and anxious fans at the Jordan Center let out a collective sigh of disappointment.

D.J. Newbill tied the game for Penn State on a jumper with 5 seconds left. Wisconsin nearly threw the ball away on the ensuing inbounds, but managed to hold on in the scrape on the floor for a tie-up.

Jermaine Marshall had 23 points for Penn State (10-20, 2-16).

WOMEN

BIG 12 TOURNAMENT

No. 1 BAYLOR 77

OKLAHOMA STATE 69

DALLAS — Brittney Griner had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and top-ranked Baylor held off a furious late charge by Oklahoma State for a 77-69 victory in the Big 12 tournament semifinals Sunday.

Oklahoma State trailed by 17 after Baylor guard Odyssey Sims converted a nifty three-point play with 15 minutes left, but the Cowgirls (21-10) cut it to 72-69 with 1:34 remaining when Tiffany Bias converted a steal into a breakaway layup.

But Jordan Madden hit a 3-pointer for the Lady Bears with 38 seconds to go before Griner blocked an Oklahoma State shot, one of her seven blocks.

Baylor (31-1), which has won 48 consecutive Big 12 regular-season and tournament games, will play in its third consecutive tournament final Monday night against No. 2 seed Iowa State (23-7). The defending national champions have won 29 in a row overall since a loss to Stanford during the first week of the season.

Toni Young had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma State.

BIG EAST TOURNAMENT

No. 2 NOTRE DAME 75

SOUTH FLORIDA 66

HARTFORD, Conn. — Natalie Achonwa had 20 points and 20 rebounds to help Notre Dame beat South Florida in the Big East women’s tournament quarterfinals.

Skylar Diggins, the Big East player of the year, added 15 points for the Irish — who have won a school record 24 straight games. They will face No. 13 Louisville in the semifinals Monday night.

Notre Dame (29-1) trailed 51-47 midway through the second half before scoring eight straight points, including four by Achonwa.

The Smith sisters — Andrell and Andrea — did all they could to keep the Bulls (21-10) in the game, but they couldn’t regain the lead. Andrell finished with 27 points, while Andrea had 18.

No. 3 CONNECTICUT 94

DePAUL 61

HARTFORD, Conn. — Breanna Stewart scored 21 points to lead a balanced offense as Connecticut beat DePaul in the Big East tournament.

Stefanie Dolson and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis each added 16 points for the Huskies (28-3), who have won 16 consecutive Big East tournament games. The second-seeded Huskies have made the tournament semifinals every year since 1989, a string of 25 consecutive quarterfinal wins. They’ve won the tournament five straight years.

No. 13 LOUISVILLE 62

ST. JOHN’S 55

HARTFORD, Conn. — Sara Hammond had 22 points and 11 rebounds to help Louisville beat St. John’s.

After trailing by three at the half, Shoni Schimmel’s 3-pointer gave Louisville (24-7) a 32-30 lead with 16 minutes left. Hammond followed with a three-point play moments later to extend the advantage. St. John’s hung around over the next 11 minutes and trailed 54-50 after Nadirah McKenith’s free throws with 3:11 left.

That’s as close as the Red Storm (18-12) would get as the Cardinals scored the next four points to put the game away.

Shenneika Smith scored 19 points to lead St. John’s, which hopes it’s done enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Red Storm are hosting the first two rounds.

ACC TOURNAMENT

No. 6 DUKE 92

No. 15 NO. CAROLINA 73

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Freshman Alexis Jones scored a career-high 24 points and Duke claimed its eighth Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title by routing North Carolina in the championship game.

Elizabeth Williams also had 24 points and Haley Peters scored 17 for the top-seeded Blue Devils (30-2).

Duke led by as many as 26, shot nearly 57 percent and outrebounded North Carolina by six to cruise to its third title in four years.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 25 points to lead the third-seeded Tar Heels (28-6).

SEC TOURNAMENT

No. 19 TEXAS A&M 75

No. 7 KENTUCKY 67

DULUTH, Ga. — Kelsey Bone had 18 points and 15 rebounds, with most of her production coming in the second half, and Texas A&M beat Kentucky to win the Southeastern Conference tournament championship in its first year in the league.

The Aggies, the No. 4 seed, were the surprise of the tournament by beating the top two seeds in the tournament. No. 19 Texas A&M (24-9) beat top-seeded Tennessee in the semifinals before beating No. 2 seed Kentucky (27-5) in the final.

ATLANTIC 10 TOURNAMENT

SAINT JOSEPH’S 61

No. 11 DAYTON 54

PHILADELPHIA — Chatilla van Grinsven’s 19 points and 10 rebounds helped Saint Joseph’s snap Dayton’s 15-game winning streak in the Atlantic 10 Conference semifinals.

The Flyers (27-2) hadn’t lost since Dec. 30 against Bowling Green. They had beaten 22 straight conference opponents, including last season’s tournament title run, since a Feb. 11, 2012, loss to St. Bonaventure.

The fourth-seeded Hawks (22-8), who lost 73-66 at Dayton on March 3, will face third-seeded Fordham in Saturday night’s final in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Rams beat Temple 66-55 in Sunday’s other semifinal and have won eight straight, including a 70-65 overtime win over Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 24.

Erin Shields scored 12 points and Ilze Gotfrida 10 for Saint Joseph’s, and Ashley Prim grabbed 13 rebounds.

 

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