Hampton big in clutch, guides DePaul to Sweet 16

Hampton big in clutch, guides DePaul to Sweet 16

Monday, March 21, 2011
Posted 8:37 p.m. Updated 9:58 p.m.

Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Keisha Hampton is turning her NCAA tournament into a happy homecoming.

It took her two foul shots with 4.9 seconds left to finally get DePaul past Penn State in a thrilling second-round game Monday night.

The Blue Demons forward shook off a poor first half by scoring 19 of her 26 points after halftime, including the two free throws in the final seconds, and third-seeded DePaul rallied from 14 points down to defeat Penn State 75-73 to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2006.

"I can't let our season end like this, we worked too hard for this," Hampton said in recounting her thoughts before approaching the foul line. "I just took my time and shot those free throws and made them. I just didn't want our season to end like that."

Not in Happy Valley, in spite of a decidedly pro-Penn State crowd in a game being played on the Lady Lions' home floor. Julia Trogele, a senior, had 14 points and 11 rebounds in her final game at the Jordan Center.

The Blue Demons (29-6) won a hard-earned trip back to Pennsylvania on Sunday to play Duke in the regional semis in Philadelphia - Hampton's hometown.

"That this young women is going to be able to come back home to Philadelphia in a regional is just huge. I'm so excited for her ... that she put her team on her back," coach Doug Bruno said.

She wasn't nearly done after he free throws, though, jumping in on a double team of Penn State's Alex Bentley on the ensuing inbounds play to whittle precious seconds off the clock. Trogele missed a desperation heave from halfcourt at the buzzer.

After making the NCAAs for the first time since 2005, the sixth-seeded Lady Lions' resurgent season came to an end.

"It doesn't make it difficult," Trogele said. "We made it this far and to be able to end on the court I started on is great and I'll take it with pride."

After Trogele missed from 15 feet with 20 seconds left, the Blue Demons set up their last shot for leading scorer Hampton. Penn State's Alex Bentley was whistled for a foul after Hampton went up from behind the arc.

She missed the shot, but hit the two of the three critical free throws. The designed play to Bentley fell through, and Penn State lost their first NCAA game at the Jordan Center after going 9-0.

"We felt very confident in getting the ball in Alex's hands and her being able to make something happen," coach Coquese Washington said. "They did a great job of not letting her get up the floor. They made a better play. That's basketball."

Bentley scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half, while Nikki Greene added 12 points, all in the first half, for Penn State.

The Lady Lions (25-10) led by 14 with 18:20 left before DePaul's methodical second-half surge behind Hampton and Felicia Chester, who finished with 16 points.

After shooting 1 of 6 in the first half, Hampton hit 6 of 12 after halftime, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range in the second half. The 6-foot-3 Chester took control in the paint, and her layup with 3:49 left gave the Blue Demons a 68-67 lead with 3:27 left.

DePaul also hung around by dominating the offensive glass, 22-14, and wearing down a Penn State frontline that held its own against Chester and Hampton early.

"Killed us," Washington said. "We talked about doing a better job on the boards, but they got some big second-chance opportunities in the second half."

It was back and forth from there in the frantic final minutes before Hampton's final free throws. She exchanged a high-five with coach Bruno as they jogged off to the locker room.

DePaul's banner season, which already includes program-bests for single-season victories and NCAA seeding, will go on at least another weekend.

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Pat Summitt used the sport to empower women at Tennessee and beyond

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Pat Summitt used the sport to empower women at Tennessee and beyond

Needing yet another men's basketball coach, Tennessee officials turned to the one person they thought would be perfect to take over the Volunteers program.

Pat Summitt said no.

She wasn't interested in the job in 1994 after Wade Houston was forced out, and she turned it down again when Jerry Green quit in March 2001. A Tennessee governor once joked he wouldn't have his job if Summitt ever wanted to run her home state.

Breaking the glass ceiling in the men's game, political office, that wasn't Summitt's motivation. She had the only job she ever really wanted.

"I want to keep doing the right things for women all the time," Summitt said in June 2011 after being inducted into her fifth Hall of Fame.

Summitt died Tuesday morning at age 64.

The woman who grew up playing basketball in a Tennessee barn loft against her brothers, and started coaching only a couple years after Title IX was invoked, spent her life working to make women's basketball the equal of the men's game. In the process, Patricia Sue Head

Summitt stood amongst the best coaches in any sport when she retired in April 2012 with more victories (1,098) than any other NCAA coach and second only to John Wooden with eight national championships.

Summitt used the sport and her demand for excellence to empower women and help them believe they can achieve anything, taking no backseat to anyone.

When I moved to Tennessee in 1976, girls played six-on-six, half-court basketball designed to protect them from getting hurt. Summitt, who took her Lady Vols to four AIAW Final Fours, refused to recruit Tennessee players. Tennessee high schools switched to five-on-five rules starting with the 1979-80 season.

The NCAA finally started running a national postseason tournament for the women in 1982. At the time, Summitt was known for having "corn-fed chicks" on her roster, big and strong but not talented enough to win national titles. After she won her first national title in 1987 in her eighth Final Four either in the AIAW or NCAA, she said, "Well, the monkey's off my back."

Back then only a student ID was needed to attend a women's game. And there was no demand for the results of those games. After graduating from Tennessee, I helped the sports writers by bringing notes from an NCAA Tournament game back to the office for someone else to write up. There was no urgency since there was no reader demand.

So Summitt worked to make it impossible to ignore her team or the women's game.

By January 1993, so many people wanted to watch then-No. 2 Tennessee visit top-ranked Vanderbilt that the contest became the first Southeastern Conference women's game to sell out in advance. With children under 6 allowed in free, having a ticket didn't guarantee getting through the door; at least 1,000 were turned away at the door - including Vanderbilt's chancellor.

The Lady Vols won 73-68, a game I covered in my first year as a sports writer for The Associated Press in Nashville.

"This was the biggest game in women's basketball, and that's what I've been waiting 19 years to see," Summitt said. "I'm glad I stayed around to see it."

Summitt scheduled opponents anywhere and everywhere, barnstorming the country to introduce people to women's basketball. Tennessee played Arizona State in 2000 in the first women's outdoor game played at then-Bank One Ballpark, drew the largest crowd ever to a regional championship in March 1998 when 14,848 packed Memorial Gym in Nashville with Tennessee trying to finish off the NCAA's first three-peat and helped Louisville set a Big East record christening the KFC Yum! Center in 2010.

The Lady Vols became must-see TV in the sport as Summitt put the women's game on the national stage with six national titles in the span of 12 years.

I remember when I got real up-close look at what drove Summitt.

Assigned to cover Summitt as part of AP's annual college basketball preview package in the fall of 1998, I spent nearly 30 minutes with the coach in her office.

Door closed, Summitt gave a glimpse of that famous stay-away stare. With undivided attention now on me, she wanted to know if I had talked with her mother, Hazel, for the story. She then showed me the engaging side, laughing when asked about a stretch of play during the 1998 title game that resembled the Showtime Lakers, beaming while reflecting on how well her Lady Vols showed women could play the game.

The Lady Vols lost 69-63 to Duke that season in the East Regional. The next day I left a message at Summitt's house and late that afternoon, she called back to talk about more life lessons and basketball.

"It's a game, and winning and losing both can be great ways to teach kids how to get ready for the real world," said Summitt, who had to stop the interview because her mother had given son, Tyler, a gift. She explained he would have to save some of that cash before buying something for himself. Then she resumed the conversation about the game.

That was Pat Summitt: Hoops and family.

She held everyone to the exacting standards she learned from her father cutting tobacco and helping bale hay on the family farm. Tennessee and Connecticut was the biggest draw in women's basketball with Geno Auriemma and his Huskies handing Summitt her lone title game loss in 1995. But Summitt canceled the series in 2007 and refused to say why other than, "Geno knows."

Summitt ended a nine-year championship drought with her seventh national title in 2007 followed by the eighth in 2008. She became the first NCAA coach to win 1,000 games Feb. 5, 2009, and received a new contract that boosted her annual salary to $1.4 million - far removed from the $8,900 of her first season.

She never got to the 40th season in that contract, her career cruelly and prematurely ended by early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She finished 1,098-208 with 18 Final Fours, at the time tying the men of UCLA and North Carolina for the most by any college basketball program.

Not that numbers define Summitt, who once said, "Records are made to be broken."

Yes, all marks fade, but no one will eclipse Summitt's contributions to women's basketball.

Illini starting pitcher Cody Sedlock named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year

Illini starting pitcher Cody Sedlock named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year

University of Illinois starting pitcher Cody Sedlock was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year on Tuesday.

The junior from Sherrard, Ill., led the conference in strikeouts (116) and innings pitched (101.1).

He is the fifth Illini pitcher to take home the award, following Tyler Jay who was given the honor last year — and later went on to be picked No. 6 overall by the Minnesota Twins in the 2015 MLB draft. It's the second time in program history that an Illini pitcher has won the award in back-to-back seasons.

The right-hander Sedlock is projected by many to be a first-round selection in the upcoming MLB draft on June 9.

Sheryl Swoopes under investigation for coaching practices at Loyola

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Sheryl Swoopes under investigation for coaching practices at Loyola

Loyola women's basketball coach Sheryl Swoopes is under investigation for coaching practices at the university.

The investigation was sparked after 10 of the team's 12 players have transferred or have requested releases — nine having been recruited by Swoopes. Loyola began an "independent and comprehensive university investigation" on April 15.

According to Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, five former players have stated that Swoopes' "unusual coaching style" was the reason behind their exits.

Swoopes has declined to comment on any allegations, according to Ryan. Loyola released the following statement on Thursday:

"Until the investigation is completed, the athletics department and women's basketball coaching staff are conducting business as usual as we prepare for the 2016-2017 season."

Swoopes is listed as one of the greatest WNBA players of all-time. She was hired to coach Loyola's women's basketball team in 2013.

Click here to read the full story from the Chicago Tribune.