Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crosby OT goal gives Canada 3-2 win over U.S., gold

2010 VANCOUVER WINTER OLYMPICS SPECIAL COVERAGE – MEN’S ICE HOCKEY GOLD-MEDAL GAME

It didn’t take Canada long to exact revenge for its loss to the United States last Sunday.

Team USA scored with 24 seconds left in the third period to force overtime, but Sidney Crosby found the net in the extra session to give Canada a 3-2 victory over the Americans and the 2010 Winter Olympics gold medal in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday.

Relegated to the qualification tournament after their 5-3 loss to the U.S. last Sunday night, the Canadians completed a stretch of four wins in six days with their victory to clinch gold.

American netminder Ryan Miller was named the tournament MVP and made 35 saves.

Canada (6-1) took control early with the first two goals. Jonathan Toews scored his first Olympic goal on a rebound at the 12:50 mark of the first period, with Mike Richards receiving an assist.

Then, 7:13 into the second frame, Corey Perry sent home a rebound with helpers credited to Ryan Getzlaf and Duncan Keith.

Team USA (5-1) came to life at the 12:44 mark of the second period, when Ryan Kesler redirected Patrick Kane’s drive off Luongo and across the crease to cut the Americans’ deficit in half.

The U.S. narrowly avoided disaster before tying the game. With 3:15 to go in the third period, Crosby couldn’t capitalize on a breakaway when Kane reached in from behind and got his stick on the puck to kept Crosby from getting off a free shot at Miller.

Then, with an empty net and an extra attacker on the ice for Team USA, Zach Parise sent home the puck after Kane sent it at the net off Jamie Langenbrunner’s skate and Luongo with 24.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the game.

But Crosby stepped up in overtime to win it. Crosby, on the left wall, threw the puck into the corner to Jarome Iginla, who then sent it back to Crosby in the left circle. He finished the rest from there to clinch the gold medal and redemption against the Americans for Canada.

Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo, who stepped into the crease after coach Mike Babcock replaced Martin Brodeur following Team USA’s win last week, stopped 34 shots for Canada.

NOTES: Team Canada also beat the U.S. for gold in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. … Finland took bronze after its 5-3 victory over Slovakia Saturday. … Team USA had not trailed in the tournament until the first period of this game. … This marked only the third time a host nation won gold in men’s hockey. The Americans came out on top in 1960 in Squaw Valley and 1980 in Lake Placid.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – NBC

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rafalski, Miller send USA past Canada, to quarterfinals

2010 VANCOUVER WINTER OLYMPICS SPECIAL COVERAGE – MEN’S ICE HOCKEY PRELIMINARY ROUND

Brian Rafalski scored two goals and assisted on another, Ryan Miller turned away 42 shots and the United States beat host Canada 5-3 in the Olympics preliminaries in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sunday night.

Canada outshot the Americans 45-22, but the U.S. held on for its first win over the Canadians in an Olympic contest since 1960. With the win, the Americans clinched either a 1 or 2 seed in the quarterfinals, depending on the outcome of the Sweden-Finland game Sunday night.

The U.S. (3-0) wasted no time, scoring its first goal 41 seconds after the puck dropped. Rafalski’s shot deflected off Canada star Sidney Crosby and past keeper Martin Brodeur. Ryan Suter and Jamie Langenbrunner were credited with assists on the play.

The hosts evened the count 8 minutes later. Eric Staal sent home a deflection from Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews to tie the game.

It only took Rafalski and the Americans 22 seconds to regain the lead. With Langenbrunner screening his New Jersey teammate Brodeur in front of the net, Rafalski rocketed a shot right down the middle for a 2-1 edge at the first intermission.

Canada (2-1) came back to tie the score again 3:32 into the second period. Dany Heatley poked a Toews miss past Miller, with Shea Weber also receiving an assist.

With just under four minutes to go in the second frame, the U.S. took the lead for good. Chris Drury scored off helpers from Bobby Ryan and David Backes at the 16:46 mark for a 3-2 advantage.

The Americans started off the third period with some insurance on a power play. Rafalski’s low slap shot ricocheted off Langenbrunner’s skate and into the net with 7:09 gone in the period. Suter also received an assist.

Crosby scored on a power play to cut the Canadians’ deficit to one goal with just over 3 minutes to go. Rick Nash and Duncan Keith sent the puck to Crosby by the net, who sent it in at the 16:51 mark to make it 4-3, U.S.

But Miller turned aside shot after shot in the next 2 minutes, and the Americans added another goal to seal it. Zach Parise found Ryan Kesler skating up the left side, and Kesler got the puck past Canada forward Corey Perry into the empty net with 44.7 seconds left for the final margin.

Brodeur stopped 18 shots for Canada.

NOTES: Rafalski’s second goal was his fourth straight for the U.S. … The Americans finished their Group A preliminary round with 9 points. Canada netted 5 and will have to face Germany in the qualification tournament for a shot to advance. … This was the first all-North American Olympic hockey game since Canada downed the U.S. 5-2 to win gold in the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – MSNBC

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Duke deals Heels sixth loss in seven games, 64-54

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North Carolina had former star Tyler Hansbrough back in the building to retire his number Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, he wouldn’t be able to wear his familiar No. 50 against rival Duke.

Jon Scheyer led all scorers with 24 points as the Duke Blue Devils (No. 8 AP) handed reeling North Carolina its fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games, 64-54 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Duke (20-4, 8-2 ACC) extended its ACC lead to a full game over second-place Maryland. The Tar Heels (13-11, 2-7), the defending national champions and preseason No. 6, find themselves second to last in the conference with their NCAA tournament hopes dimming seemingly by the day.

North Carolina cut its deficit to 49-48 on Will Graves’ 3-pointer with 6 minutes to go. But Duke put together a 15-4 run down the stretch to win the game. Scheyer sank a 3, Nolan Smith put in a layup, Kyle Singler scored and Scheyer hit a fallaway trey. Scheyer made three more free throws and Smith sank two freebies for a 64-52 lead with under half a minute to go.

The game was back-and-forth throughout. Duke took a 9-4 lead on two 3s from Singler and a Scheyer triple, but Carolina tied the game at 20 on two Deon Thompson free throws and a Graves 3. The Heels’ Larry Drew II made a 3-point play to close the half to cut the black-clad Blue Devils’ halftime edge to 28-27.

Trailing 39-38, North Carolina took its biggest lead at four points on Drew’s 3 and a Dexter Strickland layup. But Duke came back to tie the game at 45 before the Blue Devils’ Mason Plumlee sent home an emphatic reverse slam off an offensive board and Scheyer made a layup for a 49-45 edge.

Duke won despite shooting just 31.9 percent from the field. The Tar Heels hit 34.5 percent of their shots.

Singler scored 19 points and Smith put in 10 for Duke.

Graves led North Carolina with 13 points. Drew scored 11 and Thompson chipped in 10.

NOTES: North Carolina had won the last three games and six of seven in the series. The Tar Heels still lead the all-time series 130-98. … Carolina has dropped five straight home contests. That’s the Heels’ longest such streak since 2001-02. … Duke returns home for a showdown for first place with the Terrapins Saturday afternoon. The Tar Heels host fellow league bottomfeeder North Carolina State Saturday afternoon.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – ESPN

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Brees leads Saints to comeback over Colts, 31-17

2009-10 NFL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – SUPER BOWL XLIV

The resurrection of the New Orleans Saints and of Drew Brees is complete.

Brees, cast off from the Chargers after a torn labrum in 2005, led the Saints to a 31-17 win over Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday night.

And now New Orleans, four seasons removed from a 3-13 record in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has its first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

The Saints (16-3) matched the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, coming back from a first-quarter 10-0 deficit. Super Bowl MVP Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for two touchdowns, tying the Super Bowl record for completions.

Colts (16-3) quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 333 yards and a score, but tossed a crucial fourth-quarter interception that Tracy Porter returned for a 74-yard touchdown for a two-possession lead.

Momentum swung New Orleans’ way after a daring play to start the second half. Trailing 10-6, the Saints elected to onside kick, and safety Chris Reis came up with Thomas Morstead’s boot at the Saints’ 42.

Brees then found Pierre Thomas, who broke three tackles for 12 yards. Thomas took a screen pass and cut up the middle for a 16-yard score. Garrett Hartley’s extra point put New Orleans up 13-10.

Indianapolis marched right back to retake the lead. Joseph Addai ran for 11 yards and Manning found Dallas Clark for 26 and 27 yards on consecutive third downs. Clark made a reception for 11 on third-and-5 before Addai spun out of a tackle for a 4-yard touchdown. Matt Stover hit the point-after.

However, the Saints scored the final 18 points of the game to win going away. Courtney Roby returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards, Reggie Bush caught a pass over the middle for 13 and Devery Henderson made a reception on play-action for 12 yards on the sideline.

Hartley’s 47-yard field goal cut the New Orleans deficit to 17-16 to begin the fourth quarter.

The Saints pinned the Colts back at their own 11 on the kickoff, but Manning and Reggie Wayne hooked up to convert a fourth down as Indianapolis headed into field-goal range. But Stover, the oldest player in Super Bowl history at 42, missed a 51-yard field goal wide left.

Starting at its own 41, New Orleans took the lead for good. Bush ran for 12 yards before Brees hit Jeremy Shockey for a 2-yard touchdown. The Saints went for two, and Lance Moore caught a pass at the goal line, which was initially ruled incomplete but overturned by replay, to put the Saints up 24-17.

Porter then intercepted Manning and ran it all the way back with 3 minutes to go, and on the Colts’ final possession, Wayne dropped Manning’s throw at the goal line on fourth-and-goal for a turnover on downs with 44 seconds left.

Earlier, Indianapolis scored the first points of the game after a Saints three-and-out. Clark caught a play-action throw for 18 yards and made a reception for seven on third-and-4. Manning and Austin Collie hooked up for 14 to convert third-and-7 to set up a 38-yard Stover field goal.

New Orleans punted again, sending the Colts back to their own 4. Manning and Co. responded with the longest drive in Super Bowl history to go up by double digits. Donald Brown caught a pass for 11 and Addai reeled off gains of 16, 11 and 26 yards, the last on third-and-1. Manning found Pierre Garcon for a 19-yard score on third-and-6.

But the Saints kicked two field goals to close the second half. Brees and Marques Colston hooked up for 11 yards on the sideline, Indianapolis’ Philip Wheeler was penalized for unnecessary roughness and Colston hauled in a pass for 10 over the middle. Hartley kicked a 46-yard field goal for the Saints’ first points.

Indianapolis went three-and-out, but New Orleans couldn’t score, as Thomas was stuffed on fourth-and-goal by Gary Brackett, Clint Session and Tim Jennings. But the Colts again were held to three plays and punted, setting up the Saints at their 46 with 35 seconds to go in the half.

Henderson caught a pass for 19 yards to set up Hartley’s 44-yard field goal as the half expired, cutting the Colts’ edge to 10-6.

Brees threw for 288 yards in his Super Bowl debut. Colston caught seven passes for 83 yards, Henderson made seven receptions for 63 yards and Thomas caught six passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Manning connected on 31 of 45 passes. Addai ran for 77 yards on 13 carries, with a touchdown. Clark caught seven passes for 86 yards, Collie made six receptions for 66 yards, Garcon hauled in five tosses for 66 yards and a score, Addai made seven catches for 58 yards and Wayne snagged five passes for 46 yards.

NOTES:
Washington came back from a 10-0 deficit to beat Denver in Super Bowl XXII. … The Saints had won two playoff games in franchise history before this season; they’ve won three this year. … Morstead’s onside kick was the first before the fourth quarter in Super Bowl history. … Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney started after tearing a right-ankle ligament during the Colts’ AFC title-game win over the New York Jets. Freeney recorded one sack but made little noise in the second half. … Hartley became the first kicker to hit three field goals from 40 or more yards away in one Super Bowl. … The Colts were seeking their second Super Bowl win in four years, after taking down Chicago in the same venue in Super Bowl XLI. … The Colts lost just their third playoff game out of their last nine. … Indianapolis ran just six offensive plays in the second quarter. … Brees completed his last 10 passes. … Tom Brady connected on 32 passes during New England’s Super Bowl XXXVIII win over Carolina. … Manning and Brees’ 63 combined completions set a Super Bowl record.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – CBS

Saturday, February 6, 2010

McCamey paces Illini to win over Lucas-less Spartans

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With Michigan State’s star on the sideline, Illinois made the Big Ten race a whole lot more interesting.

Demetri McCamey scored 22 points and handed out 11 assists as the Fighting Illini beat the No. 5 Spartans 78-73 in Champaign, Ill., Saturday night.

Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas, last year’s conference player of the year, did not dress after spraining his right ankle during the Spartans’ loss to Wisconsin Tuesday.

Illinois (16-8, 8-3 Big Ten) has won four straight games after a three-game losing streak. The first-place Spartans (19-5, 9-2), meanwhile, have lost two straight games for the first time since February 2008.

The Spartans, who had trailed most of the night, drew even with 1:45 left when two Raymar Morgan free throws tied the game at 68. But Illinois freshman Brandon Paul drove for a layup, and McCamey drained a 3-pointer with 37.7 seconds left to put the Illini up 73-68.

Michigan State’s Durrell Summers’ 3 with 17.4 seconds to go cut the Spartans’ deficit to 74-73, but D.J. Richardson sank two free throws, and Summers’ potential game-tying trey was partially blocked by Mike Davis, who capped the night off with an emphatic slam at the other end.

Earlier, Illinois put together the game’s first run. With the score tied at 16, Richardson hit a 3, Dominique Keller dunked, Davis made a layup and Bill Cole slammed it home to cap a 9-2 run.

Michigan State answered, though. Chris Allen and Korie Lucious hit 3s and Austin Thornton’s jumper at the first-half buzzer brought the Spartans to within 35-34.

The teams kept going back and forth early in the second half. Tied at 45, Paul scored after Davis’ offensive rebound while being fouled. McCamey then sank back-to-back 3s for a 53-47 edge.

The Spartans scored eight straight to take the lead. Draymond Green hit a putback and Allen made two 3-pointers.

Illinois then reeled off nine straight to regain the advantage. Davis sank a jumper, Paul converted a steal into a slam, McCamey drilled a 3 and Richardson dunked in transition for a 64-57 lead with about 7 minutes left.

Davis scored 16 points and Richardson added 14 for the Illini.

Michigan State’s Green put up a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Allen contributed 15 points and Summers chipped in 11.

NOTES:
The Spartans had won 10 straight before falling to the Badgers. … Michigan State lost for just the third time in its last 15 conference road games. … The all-time series, including the Spartans’ 73-63 win Jan. 16, is tied at 54. … Illinois travels to Wisconsin Tuesday night. The Spartans face Purdue Tuesday.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – ESPN