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UConn, Notre Dame remain undefeated, advance to Elite Eight

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NCAA Women’s Tournament Bracket

The women’s NCAA tournament features two teams expected by many to play for the national title on Tuesday, April 8. in No. 1 UConn and No. 1 Notre Dame. They’ve been the two best teams in the country all season long, and it’ll take an exemplary effort to keep either team from reaching the game’s biggest night in Nashville. Saturday both teams took another step towards their goal of winning a national title, advancing to the Elite Eight with double-digit victories.

Geno Auriemma’s Huskies, the top overall seed, struggled with No. 12 BYU in a Lincoln Region semifinal and led the Cougars by just one point at the half. Whatever Auriemma said to his players in the locker room had an effect, as UConn limited BYU to 31% shooting in the second half of their 70-51 victory.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, leading four double-digit scorers, and UConn turned 20 offensive rebounds into 27 second-chance points (18-point advantage). Kim Beeston scored 16 points and Morgan Bailey added 14 for BYU, which beat No. 5 NC State and No. 4 Nebraska last weekend to reach this point. Next up for 37-0 UConn is No. 3 Texas A&M, as the Aggies limited No. 7 DePaul to 24 first-half points in their 84-65 victory over the Blue Demons. Courtney Walker paced the Aggies with 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

As for Notre Dame, Muffet McGraw’s Fighting Irish built up a 14-point halftime lead and that proved to be the cushion they needed in an 89-72 win over No. 5 Oklahoma State. Natalie Achonwa accounted for 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five blocks to lead the way, with Jewell Loyd adding 20 points and 12 rebounds and Kayla McBride 18 points for the 35-0 ACC champions.

Next up for Notre Dame is the South Bend regional final against No. 2 Baylor, which is also the last team to beat the Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion. Job one for Notre Dame on Monday night will be to slow down high-scoring guard Odyssey Sims, who led the Lady Bears to a 90-72 win over No. 3 Kentucky with 25 points and seven assists. Sims has now scored 1,021 points this season, becoming the second woman in Division I history to score 1,000 points in a single season (Jackie Stiles was the first in 2001).

Not to be overlooked in Baylor’s win is the play of Nina Davis, who added 2o points and eight rebounds. Kentucky shot just 34.8% from the field and guard Jennifer O’Neill, who leads the team in scoring with an average of 12.6 points per game, missed all 12 of her shots and scored all eight of her points at the foul line. And in a glance at Monday’s game in South Bend, Baylor is 4-0 all-time against Notre Dame with their last win coming on December 5, 2012, and the Fighting Irish have won 27 straight home games since.

Cody Riley cuts list to five schools

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Cody Riley has cut his list to five schools, according to Scout.com.

A four-star four man, Riley is now considering just UConn, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC.

Ranked the No. 29 player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals, Riley is an undersized-but-powerful forward. His bread and butter is on the block, where his strength and low center of gravity make him a nightmare to deal with, but he’s also skilled enough to do damage as a face-up four.

Riley is from California and will be playing his senior season alongside Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2018, at Sierra Canyon.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)