Hillmon’s 17 put Michigan women past S. Dakota in Sweet 16

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
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WICHITA, Kan. — Michigan earned its chance to keep making history, and believed in it.

The third-seeded Wolverines reached the Elite Eight for the first time with a 52-49 win over tenth-seeded South Dakota on Saturday night, helped by Naz Hillmon’s 17 points and 10 rebounds and Laila Phelia’s 14 points – including a go-ahead layup in the final minute.

“We have players that came in here with this vision and this belief that they could do something incredibly special,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “They wanted to be a part of that Block M and that excellence, and here we are sitting at the table going to the Elite Eight. It’s just a dream like you could never imagine, but it’s people that came together and created something incredibly special. It’s awesome.”

Michigan (25-6) will play No. 1 seed Louisville on Monday with a trip to the Final Four at stake. The teams met earlier this season on Dec. 2, when Louisville beat Michigan 70-48.

South Dakota (29-6) was trying to become just the fifth double-digit seed to reach the Elite Eight. The Coyotes had won 27 of 28 and were coming off a stunning upset of No. 2 seed Baylor.

“It’s hard to lose,” South Dakota coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “You always want one more. But it certainly wasn’t from a lack of effort, lack of anything. We just needed to make one more play in all reality.”

Hannah Sjerven had 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out for the Coyotes. Chloe Lamb, the Summit League Player of the Year who averaged 16 points per game, was held to just six points.

Lamb said the fact that South Dakota had a historic season won’t ease her short-term pain.

“Losing sucks for a lot of reasons,” she said. “I think one of those being you forget all the good stuff that happened, right?”

The Coyotes nearly pulled off another win. With the crowd overwhelmingly on their side, they held the Wolverines without a field goal for 3:40 to start the game and led for much of the first half.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Grace Larkins put the Coyotes ahead 25-23 in the second quarter, and they led 26-24 at the break thanks to 11 points from Sjerven. Phelia, who had averaged just under nine points per game for the season, scored 12 in the first half to keep Michigan in the game.

Michigan took a 39-38 lead into the fourth quarter, with Hillmon scoring nine points in the third.

A mid-range jumper by Lamb rattled in to tie the game at 48 with 48.5 seconds remaining.

Phelia made a layup with 22 seconds remaining, and Brown later made two free throws to put the Wolverines up by four.

South Dakota’s Maddie Krull made the first of two free throws to cut Michigan’s lead to 52-49 with 7.5 seconds left. She unintentionally missed the second, and there was a scramble for the ball before it went out of bounds. It wasn’t immediately clear whom the ball last touched, but South Dakota got it after the referees’ review.

But the Coyotes couldn’t get a clean look, with Kyah Watson missing a 3 as time expired.

“I think we were probably outsized in every position and maybe out-athleticized in all positions, and to our ladies’ credit they kept fighting and competing and found a way to be in that game and have an opportunity,” Plitzuweit said. “I’m proud of our young ladies for what they did.”

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota: Lamb, Sjerven and Liv Korngable are super-seniors who came back to make a run. They did that, nearly propelling the Coyotes to the Elite Eight for the first time. The other two starters are freshmen. With that foundation and the support the Coyotes received along the way, the program appears to be in good hands.

Michigan: The Wolverines got off to a rough start in what was essentially a road environment and scraped out a win despite Hillmon – a first-team All-American – going scoreless in the first quarter.

“I think sometimes my defense gets me going … I knew if I could continue that motor and get my teammates second opportunities by getting offensive boards, that would help me and I can get into the flow of things,” she said.

STAT LINES

Sjerven played 28 minutes and made 7 of 11 shots. She picked up all five of her fouls in the second half and played just nine minutes after the break. When she fouled out, the Michigan bench celebrated wildly.

CROWD PARTICIPATION

Thousands of South Dakota fans made the trip, and they were active throughout the game. Even after the game, they started a “U-S-D” chant as the Michigan band played its school song. Lamb referred to the crowd as a “sea of red.”

QUOTABLE

Barnes Arico at the postgame media session: “I’m not sure what I look like. I borrowed some clothes to get here because we had a celebration in the locker room.”

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events

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WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

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Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.