NCAA Hoops Roundup: Local teams complete perfect Sunday

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NCAA Hoops Roundup: Local teams complete perfect Sunday

Northwestern tops Fairleigh Dickinson

EVANSTON -- Reggie Hearn scored 14 points and Northwestern's defense did the rest Sunday in an 80-53 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson.Fairleigh Dickinson's inability to convert in the paint prevented them from staying in the game early. The Knights missed six layups in the first half alone, which allowed Northwestern (3-0) to quickly take command in the first meeting between the schools.

For the second time in three games, Northwestern held its opponent to 14 points in the first half, a feat it previously had not accomplished since December 2008. The Wildcats led by as many as 36 points.

Eleven different players scored for the Wildcats, who shot 49 percent from the field. Northwestern's big men dominated Fairleigh Dickinson (0-2) in the post, outscoring them 36-16 in the paint.

Complete Recap Box Score

Loyola defeats Maryland-Eastern Shore

TAMPA, Fla. -- Ben Averkamp scored 27 points and Loyola of Chicago beat Maryland-Eastern Shore 62-46 on Sunday.

Averkamp also had eight rebounds and became the 19th player in Loyola (3-2) history with at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds.

Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-6) got 13 points from Troy Snyder.

Both teams lost games Friday and Saturday in the three-day South Florida Invitational.

Loyola grabbed a 47-36 lead with five minutes remaining on Christian Thomas' three-point play and three in-close baskets by Averkamp.

Averkamp's rebound basket after a missed free throw and his 3-pointer on the Ramblers' next possession extended their lead to 54-36.

Jordan Hicks connected on a long-range jumper, part of a 7-0 run, as Loyola took a 32-31 lead eight minutes into the second half.

Complete Recap Box Score

Illinois State throttles Delaware State

NORMAL -- Tyler Brown scored 14 points, Jon Ekey and Nick Zeisloft each chipped in with 11 and Illinois State had no problems with visiting Delaware State in an 87-48 rout for the Redbirds on Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State (3-0) shot 54.7 percent from the field, making 35 of 64 shot attempts including a 9 for 23 mark from behind the arc. Jordan Threloff scored nine points, had eight rebounds and added four assists to his stat total while Bryant Allen and Jackie Carmichael each had eight points.

Delaware State (3-1) had only one player in double figures with Miles Bowman scoring 10 points off the bench, going a perfect 5 for 5 from the field in 20 minutes of play. The Hornets had 22 turnovers and were outrebounded 42 to 28 by the Redbirds.

Illinois State put the game away in the first half, taking a 49-22 lead at the break.

Complete Recap Box Score

Eastern Illinois edges IPFW

YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Sherman Blanford scored 17 points, including the deciding basket with 21 seconds to play, and Eastern Illinois defeated IPFW 68-67 on Sunday.

The game was part of the Ice Man Classic at Eastern Michigan University.

Josh Piper scored 12 points for the Panthers (2-3), and Malcolm Herron and Morris Woods added 11 points apiece. Blanford had seven rebounds to lead EIU.

Kevin Harden led all scorers with 22 points for the Mastadons (2-3). Frank Gaines had 15 points and Mario Hines scored 10 for IPFW.

The game featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes. Eastern Illinois built an early 11-point lead but IPFW drew within 34-33 at halftime.

Complete Recap Box Score

Link leads Western Illinois past Yale

OAKLAND CITY, Ind. -- Adam Link scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists to lead Western Illinois past Yale on Sunday afternoon 59-47.

Western Illinois (3-2) trailed the Bulldogs 32-31 at halftime but outscored Yale 28-15 in the second half to close out a win. The Fighting Leathernecks shot 45.8 percent from the field, making 22 of 48, and were almost perfect from the free-throw line, hitting 10 of 11.

Link was one of three players in double figures for Western Illinois. Ceola Clark scored 12 points and added six assists and five rebounds. Jack Houpt had 10 points and four rebounds.

Yale (1-4) didn't have a player in double figures but had two with nine points in Brandon Sherrod and Javier Duren. Justin Sears had eight points and nine rebounds to go along with his four assists.

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Northern Illinois crushes Judson

DE KALB, Ill. (AP) Sam Mader and Akeem Springs scored 16 points apiece and Northern Illinois won its home opener, defeating Judson of Illinois 72-54 on Sunday.

Kevin Gray had 10 points and eight rebounds to lead the Huskies (1-2), who dropped road games at Nebraska-Omaha and Valparaiso.

The Eagles (2-6), who play in NAIA Division II, jumped out to a 20-12 lead. NIU answered by running off 15 straight points and eventually led 39-32 at halftime.

Luke Pearson and Luke Labedzki led Judson with nine points - each of them hitting three 3-pointers.

It was the first meeting between the schools.

Complete Recap Box Score

White Sox expect Chris Sale's return to be 'fairly normal'

White Sox expect Chris Sale's return to be 'fairly normal'

It doesn’t sound as if there’s much ambivalence among the White Sox about Chris Sale’s expected return on Thursday.

Manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday he expects things to be “fairly normal” as Sale is scheduled to pitch the finale of the Crosstown series after serving a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property. Adam Eaton said teammates should have no reservations about Sale’s coming back after his actions Saturday left them in a bit of a bind. And pitching coach Don Cooper said he’s the first to forgive and that everyone has situations they might later wish they’d handled differently.

“Open arms,” Eaton said. “He’s our teammate. He’s our guy. All of the things that are swelling around about his character, who he is as a player … he’s my brother and I enjoy every second with him on and off the field. Can’t be a better person. I’ll be excited to see him and I’m sure he’ll be in the same form he’s been the entire year — go out and perform and be Chris Sale.

“I’m sure he’ll be well-rested and a clear mind for him I’m sure is going to be a good thing. We’ll welcome him back.”

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The pitching staff could use some innings from Sale without question. When he didn’t pitch Saturday, the White Sox filled those innings with a committee of relief pitchers. Prior to Tuesday’s win, the bullpen had pitched 19 1/3 innings the previous four games.

But the White Sox have handled the drama extremely well. They’re 4-0 with one game left in Sale’s suspension and they look forward to having their ace back. Cooper said he hopes to move on, sentiments that were previously echoed by Ventura and executive vice president Kenny Williams.

“Welcome back, let’s go,” Cooper said. “Let’s go to work. Let’s move on. Listen man, who would want to be held responsible for the (stuff) they did at 22, 24, 26, 27, you know what I mean? He’s way too good of a kid. I don’t think anybody would. Everybody screws up from time to time or has some missteps.”

One of the actions that has caught Sale flack is his criticism of Ventura’s handling of the situation. Neither Ventura or Williams responded to Sale’s comment on Tuesday that “Robin is the one who has to fight for us.” Ventura said he wouldn’t have done things any differently and Williams applauded how Hahn and Ventura handled a difficult, “unique” situation.

Ventura said he doesn’t expect much out of the ordinary.

“I think it’s going to be fine,” Ventura said. “Players always have their teammates’ backs, and that’s no different with our clubhouse, and it’s going to be fairly normal, as far as he’s going to be prepared to pitch and our guys are going to prepare to play and it’s going to go from there.”

White Sox C Dioner Navarro has a good story behind the best game of his career

White Sox C Dioner Navarro has a good story behind the best game of his career

There’s a good story behind the best game of Dioner Navarro’s 13-year career. 

On May 29, 2013, Navarro — then playing for the Cubs — hit three home runs and drive in six in a 9-3 Crosstown victory at Wrigley Field. Both were career highs. 

And Navarro did it without a whole lot of preparation. 

“I got to the ballpark and I didn’t see the lineup, I thought I wasn’t playing,” Navarro recalled. “So we go out for stretch and the first group is hitting and they called my name and I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ And they said ‘You’re playing.’ It was already too late to get into the group so I went inside.”

Navarro only took two rounds of batting practice in his haste to get ready. But he also took those swings thinking right-hander Jake Peavy was going to start for the White Sox, so he hit left-handed during batting practice. 

The White Sox, though, were starting left-hander John Danks, so the switch-hitting Navarro wound up batting right-handed when the game started. 

The pregame mixup hardly hurt Navarro, as it turned out. He homered off Danks in his first and second at-bats, and then launched a three-run homer in the seventh off White Sox right-hander Brian Omogrosso. 

“It was one of the best experiences of my career,” Navarro said.

Navarro is one of a handful of people to play for both the Cubs and White Sox since the two teams began their annual interleague series in 1997 (others include pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Bob Howry, Edwin Jackson and Neal Cotts, among others). His perspective from playing off the Addison and Sox/35th Red Line stops is one he said he’ll cherish after his career is over. 

“I’m really fortunate to be part of it from both sides,” Navarro said. “A little bit bittersweet because the Cubbies had lost 100 games the year before and we were onto our way to lose 100 more games that year (2013). But still the rivalry against this team was something that people always talked about. Being part of it with the Cubs and now being part with the White Sox is a tremendous experience, something I look forward to share with my kids when I get older.”

White Sox happy to retain, and drink beer from, Crosstown Cup

White Sox happy to retain, and drink beer from, Crosstown Cup

The White Sox had a little fun with the Crosstown Cup trophy after securing it for the third consecutive year.

Well, at least one player did for sure: Left fielder Melky Cabrera, according to first baseman Jose Abreu, drank some beer out of the trophy after the White Sox beat the Cubs, 3-0, Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. 

The White Sox retained the Crosstown Cup by virtue of winning the season series in 2014 (three wins, one loss), splitting in 2015 (three wins, three losses), and assuring themselves of at least a split in 2016 (two wins with two games to play). 

This isn’t like a college football rivalry trophy that gets passed between campuses every year. And baseball players generally aren't keen to over-emphasize four or six games over the course of a 162-game season. 

But the Crosstown Cup is still a trophy, and it’s one White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton appreciated receiving again. 

“Any time you win an award — I don’t care if my grandma gives me an award during checkers, I’m excited,” Eaton said. “I don’t really care. But if you play for anything there’s some extra emphasis there. I definitely do think guys take pride in it for sure. But more pride in it that our side of town is happy with us in that sense that we’ve taken the cup back. 

“You don’t want to put too much emphasis on any particular series. But at the same time, if it makes our fans happy that we got the cup back then that’s what we do.”