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March 30, 2007

 

WVU makes history

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Associated Press/Frank Franklin II
West Virginia’s Joe Mazzulla passes around Clemson’s Trevor Booker during the second half of NIT action Thursday at Madison Square Garden. West Virginia won the game 78-73.

By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK — It had been 65 years since West Virginia won any postseason championship.
Now the Mountaineers have a NIT title to ease some of the disappointment of missing the NCAA tournament this season.
Frank Young scored 24 points, including six 3-pointers, and De’Sean Butler added 20 points to help West Virginia beat Clemson 78-73 in the National Invitation Tournament final Thursday night.
The Mountaineers thought they had a good case to receive an NCAA bid, with a 9-7 mark in the tough Big East and a victory over UCLA. But they didn’t make the cut.
“It’s been a lot of fun to play in this tournament, and all the emotions just built up as it went along,” Young said. “Of course we wanted to be in the NCAA tournament, but to win this tournament, all the joy is still there. We’re still happy about finishing our season with a win”
Young averaged over 22 points in the five games of the NIT and was selected as tournament most outstanding player.
“It was gratifying just to see how far I’ve come as a player,” Young said. “The trophy signifies that I did a pretty good job leading this team.”
Young has stepped up in March. He averaged over 20 points in the Big East tournament. The senior followed that up with a stellar NIT to cap his college career.
“That is as impressive a run as I’ve seen,” West Virginia coach John Beilein said of his star. “He’s just a believer, he gets on a roll and they just go to him. It just feeds off itself.”
It was the Mountaineers’ first NIT title since 1942 when Rudy Baric led West Virginia over Western_Kentucky.
West Virginia (27-9) advanced to the championship game by edging Mississippi State 63-62 on Darris Nichols’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Tuesday. Nichols finished with 13 points and nine assists in the championship game.
With the victory came increased speculation that Beilein could be a prime candidate for the Michigan job. He declined to comment when asked about possible interest in the vacancy.
The Mountaineers, who came from 14 down in the second half in the semifinal, didn’t need a late-game rally this time. They used a 12-2 run at the end of the first half to take control of the game. The Tigers (25-11) trailed by double digits for the entire second half before a late 11-0 spurt cut it to the final margin.
K.C. Rivers scored 18 points and Vernon Hamilton added 16 for Clemson, which completed one of the most up-and-down seasons in school history.
“We had our spurts, but that’s basketball,” Rivers said. “We played our hearts out to get to the championship. This is a life lesson for us.”
The Tigers started 17-0 before losing nine of 11. They turned things around in late February, winning five of six before falling to Florida State in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Clemson finished tied with the 1986-87 Tigers — led by Horace Grant — for most victories in school history. The Tigers were trying to become the third straight team from South Carolina to win the NIT. The University of South Carolina had won the previous two titles.
“We had a good year,” Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. “We tied a school record for wins, we advanced to the final of the NIT. It was a successful season.”
The Tigers got to the championship game by holding off Air Force, 68-67, in the other semifinal Tuesday.
West Virginia led 26-24 with 3:56 left in the first half before hitting four straight 3-pointers to take a 38-24 lead. Young, who averaged 13.7 points in the regular season, hit two 3s to start the spurt.
Rivers’ layup with 41.9 seconds left ended the 12-0 run. West Virginia was 12-for-20 (60 percent) overall from long range.
“The story of the game is giving up 3s and them making 3s,” Purnell said.
The Mountaineers last lost to Louisville in double overtime in the Big East tournament — also at the Garden — three weeks ago. They beat Delaware State, Massachusetts and North Carolina State to get to New York.
The Tigers fell to 0-2 all-time in the NIT championship. They lost to California in the 1999 title game. Clemson has never won an NIT or NCAA men’s basketball title.

 

Trojans look better, fall

The overall effort was much improved for Homer Central boys Thursday night, but the Trojans still fell short during a 6-3 non-league lacrosse loss to Westhill on chilly Butts Field. Homer falls to 0-2 on the young season while the Warriors even their record at 1-1.
“It really was a great game,” said Homer coach Tom Cottrell. “It was well-played by both teams. We played much better than we did Tuesday night.”
“We played good team defense. Our offense is still a work in progress, but we moved much better tonight and we passed the ball better.”
Westhill took a 1-0 lead with 8:14 left in the first quarter on an unassisted goal by Derek Kurtz, but Homer answered with 5:55 left in the period when Erich Lindhorst scored his first of two goals off a nice feed from Steve Schillo. The first quarter ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Warriors got the only goal of the second quarter as Joe Esptein scored his first of two tallies. The unassisted goal came with 6:14 left on the clock as the Warriors led 2-1 at halftime.
Westhill bumped the margin to 3-1 just 46 seconds into third quarter play when Willie Fischer scored his unassisted goal.
Less than one minute later (10:21), Homer answered when Lindhorst scored a man-up goal off a pass from Kyle Metzger to close the gap to 3-2. Neither team scored again in the period.
Westhill tried to pull away in the fourth quarter. Kurtz netted his second goal of the game with 9:54 left in the match and Ryan Spinek added an insurance goal off a feed from Kevin Centore for a 5-2 Warrior lead with 6:47 to play.
Homer kept attacking, but could not find the back of the cage until 1:56 was left in the contest. Talon Sprouse notched his third goal of the season to pull the Trojans to within 5-3, but Westhill won the ensuing face-off and Epstein scored with 1:43 left to seal the three-goal victory.
“Westhill has a good attack, but I thought we did well against them,” Cottrell said. “Mark Brenchley, Joe May and Mike Carboine did a nice job and they shut down Vinnie Alexander and Matt Kise, two of the best scorers for Westhill. Zach Walter did a good job as long-stick middie while Pat Cleary and Will Connery were solid short-stick midfielders defensively. Kyle Crosley also did a nice job in goal.”
“It was good to see Erich get involved in the scoring,” Cottrell added. “We had some good opportunities, but just did not capitalize on them. I know we will keep_improving.”
Another area that Coach Cottrell praised was the man-down defense, which held Westhill scoreless in five chances and has now allowed just three goals in 10 man-down situations through two games. Homer is now four-for-12 on man-up opportunities.
Crosley made 12 saves in goal for the Trojans while Brett Leonard was solid with 19 saves for the visiting Warriors.
The Trojans did a better job at the “X” winning seven of 12 faceoffs while also holding a 26-20 edge in scooping up groundballs.
Homer will return to action Saturday as the Trojans host Jordan-Elbridge in non-league action at 1 p.m. on Butts Field.

 


 

Dryden drops varsity debut

ENDICOTT — Tim Bouley scored four goals and had one assist as Union-Endicott spoiled the Section 4 Conference varsity boys’ lacrosse debut of Dryden High with an 18-1 non-league rout at Ty Cobb Stadium.
Dan Pezzola added three goals to the Tigers attack while Cameron Kettle (five assists) and Adam Pavlovic each netted two goals. In all, 12 different players tallied at least one point during the 60 shot offensive attack.
U-E led 1-0 after the first quarter and 8-0 by halftime. The score grew to 15-0 after three quarters.
Dryden got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter as Dustin Foote put his name in the record book with the first Purple Lions goal.
Dryden will return to action April 5, hosting Johnson City at 5 p.m.