No. 4 Stanford women top No. 9 Arizona, wrap up Pac-12 title

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford spent two months on the road this season because of local health department restrictions on sports – a major reason why winning the Pac-12 Conference title was deeply meaningful for Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer’s team.

Among the many championships on VanDerveer’s resume, this was one of the most special.

Kiana Williams scored 15 points and No. 4 Stanford clinched its first regular-season league title in seven years, beating ninth-ranked Arizona 62-48 on Monday night.

“I’m glad I was wearing my mask. I have to say I get a little emotional because it’s such a great thing that this team has accomplished,” VanDerveer said. “But not only that, it’s how they have been as teammates, how they have been mature. It’s been amazing, so you want good things for people who are like that. I’m really proud of the leadership of our team. I’m really proud of the sisterhood. They really care about each other, the unselfishness. And I told our team that. There’s not a team I’ve wanted it so badly for with this team.”

Lexie Hull added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinal (21-2, 18-2 Pac-12), who won their 10th straight game to capture the program’s first league title since 2014. Oregon won the past three.

“I think for all of us it means so much. The two months we were on the road we were around each other and that was it. We really grew closer and we were a family, and we still are,” Hull said. “We care for each other so much that winning something like this means a lot to us.”

Arizona star Aari McDonald scored 20 points despite a slow start and missing all six of her 3-point tries. She began 1 for 8, was 2 of 11 at halftime as her team trailed 31-25, and finished 8 of 24.

“She did hit her little pull-up, but we were willing to live with that,” VanDerveer said.

The Wildcats (15-3, 13-3) went more than four minutes without scoring late in the first half, missing five straight field goals during one stretch and 10 of 11 as they finished the half shooting 29% (8 for 28).

“They made Aari really work to take pull-up jumpers, which is a really hard shot with congestion. It wasn’t easy,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “We need some other productivity. They made us pay for the little mistakes. We didn’t think we played our best game. They make you do that. They make you play ugly.”

Arizona’s second seven-game winning streak of the season ended just like the first one, with a loss to Stanford. The Wildcats were 7-0 before they took a lopsided loss at home to the Cardinal on Jan. 1.

“We’ve got to get better, work on the little things, go back and watch film,” McDonald said. “There’s a lot of basketball left to be played.”

Haley Jones had 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals for Stanford but also committed seven of her team’s 16 turnovers.

Stanford began 5 for 14 to 4 of 13 by Arizona as the teams were tied at 13 after one quarter. Only six free throws were shot in the first half, the Wildcats going 4 for 4 and Stanford 0 for 2.

“We have a great conference and we’re really proud of winning our regular season,” VanDerveer said. “Now we want to go to Las Vegas and win the tournament.”

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Wildcats surrendered 24 points in the paint to Stanford. … Arizona had won five of its last eight against Top-10 opponents and six of nine against Top-25 competition. … McDonald has scored in double figures in 84 consecutive games, longest active streak in the country. … The Wildcats suffered just their 10th defeat in the last 55 games.

Stanford: Freshman F Cameron Brink fouled out with 2:16 left, contributing 10 points and seven rebounds. … Stanford has not lost at home to the Wildcats since a 68-65 defeat on Jan. 6, 2001. … The Cardinal are 5-1 against ranked opponents this season. … Stanford secured the No. 1 seed and a bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. … The Cardinal shot 57.9% against Arizona State on Friday – their highest percentage of the season – then followed that up by shooting 36% on Monday.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Closes out the regular season at rival Arizona State on Sunday.

Stanford: Hosts California on Sunday to conclude the regular-season slate.

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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Saul Young/USA TODAY NETWORK
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

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Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.

BIG PICTURE

At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.