LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Minnesota stuns No. 6 Maryland

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GAME OF THE NIGHTMinnesota 68, No. 6 Maryland 63

Minnesota picked up its first conference win of the season, stunning the Terrapins in Minneapolis. Joey King, who hit some big free throws late, scored 15 points off the bench with Nate Mason accounting for 18 points and six assists and Jordan Murphy 17 points. Maryland played without the suspended Diamond Stone, and Melo Trimble once again struggled. If not for Rasheed Sulaimon (28 points), the margin could have been worse.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Connecticut 68, No. 21 SMU 62: The Huskies, who appeared to be in good shape in regards to the NCAA tournament, picked up a quality win at home as they outlasted the Mustangs in Hartford. Amida Brimah was good on both ends of the floor, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks, and Shonn Miller added 12 and seven caroms. SMU, which shoots 52.6 percent from two, made just 40 percent of those looks thanks in large part to Brimah’s play in the middle for UConn.

No. 8 Michigan State 69, Wisconsin 57: The Spartans ended the Badgers’ seven-game win streak, with Denzel Valentine playing a key role. Valentine finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and ten assists to lead the way for Michigan State, with Bryn Forbes adding 17 points. Ethan Happ scored 18 points and Bronson Koenig 12 for Wisconsin, but an off night from Nigel Hayes spelled doom for the visitors.

No. 14 Kentucky 80, Tennessee 70: No. 14 Kentucky avenged its loss at Tennessee earlier this season with an 80-70 win over the Vols in Lexington. Jamal Murray scored 28 points and Derek Willis 25 for Kentucky, which currently leads the SEC. John Calipari’s team has been playing very good basketball of late, and the emergence of Willis is one of the reasons why.

THURSDAY’S BUBBLE BANTER

STARRED

Jamal Murray and Derek Willis, Kentucky: Both players shot 8-for-12 from the field, with Murray scoring 28 points and grabbing nine boards in the win over Tennessee. Willis has really emerged in recent weeks, and he added 25 points while shooting 7-for-11 from three.

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: 24 points, seven rebounds and ten assists in the Spartans’ win over Wisconsin.

Joel Bolomboy, Weber State: 34 points and ten rebounds in the Wildcats’ win at Southern Utah.

STRUGGLED

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: Hayes scored five points, shooting 1-for-13 from the field, in the Badgers’ loss at No. 8 Michigan State.

CJ Wiggins, North Carolina Central: Wiggins shot 1-for-9 from the field in the Eagles’ 71-60 loss at Coppin State.

Kevin Johnson, Cincinnati: Johnson scored two points on 1-for-7 shooting as the Bearcats lost by two at Tulsa.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • UNCW’s 11-game win streak came to an end, as the Seahawks lost 87-69 at William & Mary. Kevin Keatts’ Seahawks are still on top of the CAA standings with a record of 12-3, one game ahead of second-place Hofstra.
  • In a matchup of two of the better teams in the Atlantic Sun, reigning league champ North Florida blitzed NJIT by the final score of 107-71. Demarcus Daniels scored 25 points and Dallas Moore added 21 and 11 boards for the Ospreys, who ended their four-game losing streak with the win.
  • UNC Asheville and Winthrop are tied for first in the Big South, as both teams picked up wins Thursday night. The Bulldogs rebounded from a 19-point first half to win by nine at Presbyterian, and Winthrop beat Coastal Carolina by 12 at home.
  • Wichita State retained its two-game lead atop the Missouri Valley with a 99-68 beating of Missouri State. Zach Brown scored 16 points and Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker added 15 apiece for the Shockers, who are now 13-2 in league play.
  • In a matchup of two of the four teams that entered the night tied atop the NEC standings, Wagner won 94-74 at Fairleigh Dickinson. Bashir Mason’s Seahawks are now in sole possession of first, as Mount St. Mary’s was upset by Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis (PA) lost to St. Francis-Brooklyn at home.
  • Chattanooga maintained its two-game lead atop the SoCon with an 85-59 win over VMI. The Mocs scored 52 first-half points against the Keydets.
  • Little Rock moved to 13-2 in Sun Belt play with a 57-49 win at Georgia State. The Trojans limited the Panthers to 5-for-22 shooting in the second half, and Lis Shoshi finished the game with 11 points and 16 rebounds.
  • Marshall took care of Charlotte, 87-72, thus remaining a game behind UAB in the Conference USA standings. Marshall and Middle Tennessee are both 10-3 in league play, with the Blue Raiders taking on UAB Sunday.
  • IPFW moved into sole possession of first place in the Summit League with a 91-79 win over South Dakota State. Max Landis and John Konchar scored 22 apiece for the Mastodons, with Konchar also grabbing 12 rebounds.
  • Belmont moved to 11-3 in OVC play with an 86-78 win at Eastern Kentucky. Craig Bradshaw finished with 33 and seven boards for the Bruins, who host 10-3 Tennessee Tech on Saturday.
  • Gonzaga beat Pacific 90-68, moving to 13-2 in the WCC. Kyle Wiltjer and Damontas Sabonis combined to score 49 points, with Sabonis adding ten rebounds. The Bulldogs are a game ahead of Saint Mary’s, who they host Saturday night.
  • Tulsa nearly threw away the game with a turnover in the final seconds of overtime, but a Cincinnati three missed the mark as the Golden Hurricane won 70-68. The loss makes Saturday’s game against UConn even bigger for the Bearcats, who are squarely on the bubble.
  • New Mexico State retained its lead atop the WAC with a 63-55 win over CSU Bakersfield. The Aggies hold a one-game lead on Grand Canyon in the standings.
  • Weber State moved into a tie for first in the Big Sky with an 87-83 win at Southern Utah. Joel Bolomboy led the way with 34 points and ten rebounds.
  • A Joe Rahon shot in the final seconds gave Saint Mary’s a two-point win at Portland. With their résumé not having much from a non-conference standpoint, the Gaels can’t afford any missteps down the stretch.
  • Utah picked up its first win at UCLA in 55 years as they held off the Bruins 75-73. Jordan Loveridge led the way for the Runnin’ Utes with 17 points.
  • Stacy Davis became Pepperdine’s all-time leading scorer as he scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough for the Waves to avoid an 82-72 home loss to San Francisco.
  • Stefan Jankovic scored a career-high 34 points as Hawai’i remained alone atop the Big West with a 69-63 win at CSUN.
  • Cal hung on in the second half to pick up their second win away from Berkeley this season, 78-75 at Washington. Jaylen Brown and Tyrone Wallace combined to score 41 points for the Golden Bears.

Northwestern beats No. 20 Michigan State in Big Ten opener

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Boo Buie scored 20 points and Northwestern beat No. 20 Michigan State 70-63 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Chase Audige added 15 points and Ty Berry had 13 for Northwestern (6-2), which ended a two-game losing streak.

“Needless to say, this was a huge win for us,” coach Chris Collins said. “Coming off our performance in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, where we lost badly on our home floor (to Pittsburgh), I was really pleased with our resolve the past couple days.”

Mady Sossoko and A.J. Hoggard each had 12 points for Michigan State (5-4) and Joey Hauser added 10. The Spartans have lost two in a row, falling to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

Hoggard cut Northwestern’s lead to 64-63 with 46 seconds left. After a timeout, Buie scored on a layup with 23 seconds left.

“We got out-toughed,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Northwestern took the lead late in the first half on a layup by Buie and never relinquished it, leading by as many as nine points.

“We put (the loss to Pittsburgh) under the rug,” Buie said. “We turned the page, just like we do with any win or loss. The season is so long you can’t get caught up on one single game. Just like tonight. We’re super happy with the win, but after tonight it’s over. You can’t dwell on things.”

The Wildcats went 21 of 24 on free throws, while the Spartans were 9 of 12.

“I was concerned about a knockout punch early,” Collins said. ‘I knew they would be revved up after the Notre Dame loss. They hit us early and got a seven-point lead, and then we settled down.”

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Prairie View A&M on Dec. 11

Michigan State: At Penn State on Wednesday night.

Miles, No. 7 Notre Dame women beat No. 3 UConn; Fudd hurt

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Olivia Miles had 21 points and eight rebounds for No. 7 Notre Dame, and UConn star Azzi Fudd suffered a knee injury in a collision with a teammate, as the Fighting Irish handed the third-ranked Huskies their first loss of the season, 74-60 on Sunday.

“I think she’ll be all right,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said afterwards of Fudd, who went into the day averaging 24.0 points, but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes.

Fudd exited in the final minute of the first quarter after teammate Aaliyah Edwards fell on her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way as a precaution, according to Auriemma.

Maddy Westbeld had a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (7-1), which bounced back from a 74-72 loss to No. 20 Maryland three days earlier.

“I think Thursday’s loss really fueled us today,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said. “We learned a lot from that game. We have incredible scorers on our team, a lot of balance offensively, but it’s our defense that’s gonna win games, so that was our focus the last 48 hours. (The players) took the challenge and came out and played with heart and defensive intensity. I feel like if we can play that way, we can beat anyone in the country.”

Notre Dame shot 56% from the field while limiting the Huskies to 37%.

“We played very badly (Thursday), but we were still two points away,” Miles said, “so it’s kind of scary what we can do when we play really well.”

Led by Miles, the Irish roared to a 41-24 lead by intermission, outscoring the Huskies 30-11 over the final 11 minutes of the first half.

Miles scored 13 of Notre Dame’s 18 first-quarter points, going 6 of 7 from the field. Westbeld provided her scoring punch after averaging 5.2 points over her previous five outings.

Lou Lopez Senechal led UConn (6-1) with 21 points. Edwards added 14.

“We didn’t win the rebound battle and that hurt us,” said Auriemma, whose club was outboarded 39-26 and outscored in the paint. 46-16. “We just didn’t have enough scoring on the court and enough people playing at a real high level to get enough buckets when we needed them.”

The Huskies got as close at 49-44 at the 3:44 mark of the third quarter, but the Irish stretched their lead back to as high as 70-53 at the midway mark of the fourth period.

Notre Dame ended a seven-game head-to-head losing streak against UConn in regular-season play, prevailing for the first time since a triple-overtime decision in March 2013.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies faced a top-10 opponent for the fourth time this season, but this one was their first true road game. If Fudd’s injury doesn’t turn out to be serious, UConn ought to still have a chance to do what it’s done for decades: craft a resume that will make them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame: The Irish, coming back from that loss at the buzzer to Maryland, showed that Thursday’s outcome may just be a blip on their promising season. Notre Dame matched last season’s win over No. 3 North Carolina State for the highest-ranked team it has beaten in its third year under Ivey.

UP NEXT

UConn: The Huskies host Princeton on Thursday before visiting Maryland next Sunday.

Notre Dame: The Irish have a couple apparent mismatches coming up as they visit Lafayette (2-7) on Thursday and host Merrimack (1-6) on Saturday.

Brink leads No. 2 Stanford women over No. 23 Gonzaga 84-63

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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STANFORD, Calif. – Gonzaga may be rolling out an injury-depleted roster, but the Bulldogs nevertheless left a lasting impression on their West Coast rival in Stanford.

And that leads the Cardinal to wonder if the two power programs might meet again on college basketball’s biggest stage come March.

“This is a team that is a Top-25 team,” Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I think if we can do it, they’re going to be in Seattle (for the NCAA Tournament).”

Cameron Brink had 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds and Brooke Demetre made a career-high five 3s and scored 17 points, leading second-ranked Stanford past No. 23 Gonzaga 84-63 on Sunday.

The Cardinal (10-1) have now won five straight games after falling to top-ranked South Carolina in overtime on Nov. 20.

“I kind of call Brooke my secret weapon,” VanDerveer said. “She is a really special young lady, and when you have both Cam out there and Brooke, it’s a two-headed monster.”

“She has one of the highest releases I’ve ever seen, one of the quickest releases,” Brink said of Demetre. “She can shoot it, and we’ve always had confidence in her.”

Hannah Jump hit four 3s and scored 14 points, and Haley Jones had 12 points for Stanford.

Short-handed Gonzaga (7-2), limited to seven players because of illness and injuries, had won three in a row.

The Zags kept the pressure on Stanford early in the game, thanks to a 20-point first half from Kaylynne Truong.

Truong shot 4 of 9 from deep and finished with a career-high 22 points.

Brynna Maxwell contributed 19 points. Yvonne Ejim, Gonzaga’s leading scorer, was held to two points in the first three quarters but added six points in the fourth.

“We try to focus on a leading scorer and try to limit them,” VanDerveer said. “But you can’t just focus on (Ejim) because they’ve got Truong, they’ve got Maxwell. . I think we did a much better job (on defense) in the second half.”

STAT OF THE GAME

The Cardinal were able to pull away due to a strong game from beyond the arc, making 15 3-pointers on 15 of 28 (53.6%) shooting. A season-high eight different Stanford players made a 3, led by Demetre’s five and Jump’s four.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: Lost its fourth straight in the series with Stanford and dropped to 1-7 on the Cardinal’s home floor. The Zags haven’t won any matchups since a 79-73 victory at home on Dec. 2, 2018. … Despite playing short-handed, Gonzaga did not yield an easy win to its higher-ranked opponent, trailing by just one point after the first quarter before fading in the second half.

Stanford: Held a 37-23 rebounding advantage. … This win marked the beginning of a crucial stretch in the Cardinal’s season. Stanford’s next two games come against Tennessee – receiving votes in The Associated Press Top 25 poll – and No. 13 Creighton, followed by the start of Pac-12 Conference play against rival California on Dec. 23.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs return to McCarthey Athletic Center to start a five-game homestand, starting with a Tuesday matchup vs. Queens University of Charlotte.

Stanford: After a two-week break for final exams, the Cardinal will continue their seven-game homestand vs. Tennessee on Dec. 18.

Top-ranked Houston grinds out 53-48 win over Saint Mary’s

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas – J’Wan Roberts scored 15 points, Marcus Sasser added 13 and top-ranked Houston held on to beat Saint Mary’s 53-48 on Saturday night.

The Cougars (8-0) won twice in their first week as the No. 1 team since the final poll of the 1982-83 regular season, when Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon led high-flying Phi Slama Jama.

Logan Johnson scored 17 points and Aidan Mahaney had 14 for the Gaels (6-3), who lost their third in a row following a 6-0 start.

Houston was the favorite to win it all in the second of three consecutive trips to the Final Four nearly 40 years ago, but lost to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in one of the iconic championship games.

Coach Kelvin Sampson’s first top-ranked team is coming off trips to the Final Four and Elite Eight the past two seasons.

For the third straight year, the postseason path will start at Dickie’s Arena, where Sampson likes to bring his team during the regular season as prep for the American Athletic Conference tourney.

This victory in the Battleground 2k22 series improved the Cougars to 9-0 in the arena near downtown Fort Worth, where they have won AAC tournament titles each of the past two years.

Saint Mary’s whittled a 12-point deficit to a single possession when Mahaney hit a 3, and he made it a three-point game again at 46-43 with another from long range.

Roberts answered by backing down for a short jump hook before Sasser converted a three-point play to put the Cougars up 51-43.

Houston broke a 17-all tie with a 14-3 run to finish the first half, with Saint Mary’s going 1 of 11 from the field in that stretch against the vaunted Cougars defense. Both teams shot 37%.

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary’s: Facing the No. 1 team isn’t foreign to the Gaels, who play in the West Coast Conference with Gonzaga. St. Mary’s is 2-7 against the Zags when they have the top ranking, with one of the victories coming last season.

Houston: The Cougars had no trouble in their debut with the No. 1 ranking, blowing out Norfolk State 100-52 at home Tuesday. A disciplined and tournament-tested opponent for the second game was just the threat Sampson’s club figured it could be.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary’s: Missouri State at home Wednesday.

Houston: North Florida at home Tuesday.

Clowney, No. 11 Alabama recover to beat South Dakota State

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Freshman Noah Clowney’s breakout game – 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a steal – helped No. 11 Alabama recover from blowing a 20-point lead and beat South Dakota State 78-65 on Saturday night.

Clowney shot 8 of 17, including 5 of 12 on 3s, in his highest-scoring game of the season.

“We’ve encouraged him to shoot it, I’m glad he did,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “His senior year of high school, he started out pretty poorly from 3 then shot it 40% after that, so I kind of referenced that.”

Alabama (7-1) led 37-17 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the first half. South Dakota State (3-6) rallied to go ahead 51-50 on Alex Arians’ 3-pointer with 11 1/2 minutes remaining.

Nimari Burnett’s foul shot a minute later put the Crimson Tide ahead for good at 54-53. Alabama used a 9-0 run to pull away.

Mark Sears scored 19 points and Brandon Miller had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Crimson Tide

Alabama made 14 of its first 26 shots to build a big lead before it slipped away.

“I’m not going to call them mature, we still have some room to grow,” Oats said. “Our guys have to understand, no matter who we’re playing, even if their record isn’t great, they’re Division I basketball players, they’re good teams. Last year, we had issues with this going down the road.”

Charlie Easley and Arians each scored 17 points for the Jackrabbits. Zeke Mayo added 12 points and Matt Dentlinger contributed nine rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Sears continues to be a force at home for Alabama. In Alabama’s last three home games – wins over Liberty, Jacksonville State and South Dakota State – he has scored 22, 18 and 19 points, making at least three 3-pointers in all three games. Alabama’s next home game comes against a Memphis team that already has two wins over SEC competition.

SECOND HALF SPRING

South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson noticed that in Alabama’s first two home games, Longwood and Liberty both trailed by fewer than 10 points at halftime before losing by 21 and 36 points, respectively. He viewed the first five minutes of the second half as critical in both instances, seeing an Alabama team using the home environment to its advantage.

Henderson stressed to his team that it had to win those five minutes to have a chance. Down 42-35 at the break, it did, and ultimately took the lead.

“They really increase the pressure, they try to play a little faster, they get downhill and they really spray it,” Henderson said. “I thought we were getting some 50-50 balls, I thought we were playing with some confidence. There’s been a lot of schools to come in here and have a good first half and it ends up being a 30- or 40-point game.”

UP NEXT

South Dakota State stays on the road to face Montana on Tuesday.

Alabama takes a weeklong break before its second game against the current No. 1 team in the nation, this time a road game against Houston on Saturday. The Crimson Tide beat former No. 1 North Carolina in its first shot at the top-ranked team, winning 103-101 in four overtimes on Nov. 27.