No. 21 Northwestern ends drought in Gator Bowl

973769.png

No. 21 Northwestern ends drought in Gator Bowl

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Behind huge interceptions early and late, No. 21 Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl and snapped college football's longest postseason losing streak Tuesday.

The Wildcats (10-3) earned their first bowl game win since 1949, ending a nine-game losing skid that was tied for the longest in NCAA history. They also celebrated double-digit victories for the first time since the 1995 Rose Bowl season.

Quentin Williams returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the game and Nick Vanhoose set up a late touchdown with a 39-yard interception return. Those plays were the difference in a back-and-forth game that featured more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six).

In between, Northwestern's two-quarterback system kept the Bulldogs (8-5) off balance most of the day.

Scrambler Kain Colter ran for 71 yards, making up for his two interceptions. Backup Trevor Siemian threw for 120 yards and an interception, and also ran for a score.

Even with the turnovers, they were more efficient than Mississippi State's Tyler Russell.

Russell completed 12 of 28 passes for 106 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He had only thrown six picks in the first 11 games this season.

LaDarius Perkins ran 19 times for 84 yards for the Bulldogs, and freshman Josh Robinson added 91 yards on seven carries.

Venric Mark, Northwestern's all-everything back, finished with 56 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Mark and Colter were on the field for the final few snaps, watching from afar as the madness started to unfold on their sideline. The Wildcats spent the final 1:42 celebrating the program's first postseason victory since beating Cal in the 1949 Rose Bowl.

Senior defensive tackle Brian Arnfelt doused coach Pat Fitzgerald with a water bucket and then jumped into his arms. Players danced at midfield and then ran toward the stands to recognize friends, family and fans. Fitzgerald playfully directed the band as it played the alma mater.

The Wildcats donned Gator Bowl championship hats and posed for pictures long after the final seconds ticked off the clock.

The feeling had to be special, especially since players and coaches hadn't forgotten that they blew three double-digit leads in the second half of every loss this season. Northwestern surrendered big leads against Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan. That 'here-we-go-again' feeling surely had to come into play when Mississippi State tied the game at 13 in the third quarter.

But the Wildcats responded, with Siemian directing a 76-yard drive that put NU up for good.

Siemian's 4-yard TD run, set up by Colter's 31-yard scamper, made it 27-13 with 26 remaining in the third.

Mississippi State ended the season losing five of its final six games.

NCAA final rematch: Loyola-Lewis in men's volleyball MIVA semis Wednesday on CSN+

loyolavolleyball-gevis.jpg

NCAA final rematch: Loyola-Lewis in men's volleyball MIVA semis Wednesday on CSN+

A rematch of the 2015 NCAA men's volleyball final between Loyola and Lewis will be aired on CSN+ on Wednesday at 7 p.m..

The two-time defending NCAA Champion Loyola men's volleyball team will take on Lewis, which the Ramblers defeated in five games in last year's final, in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association tournament semifinal.

The two Chicagoland schools are again among the best teams in the country with the Ramblers currently ranked No. 10 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I-II Men’s Coaches Poll and the Flyers coming in at No. 12. Loyola is the No. 2 seed in the tournament while the Flyers hold the No. 4 seed.

This is the fifth straight year the two teams have met in the MIVA tournament, including meeting in the tournament final each of the past three years.

Local products feature heavily on both teams. Jeff Jendryk, a graduate of St. Francis High School in Wheaton, leads the Ramblers with 266 kills, Cary-Grove grad Jake Selsky leads Loyola with 180 digs and Ricky Gevis (Benet Academy) has 174 kills. Key Chicagoland players for Lewis include kills-leader Mitch Perinar (Minooka), blocks-leader Bobby Walsh (Mt. Carmel), digs-leader Jake Walenga (Lincoln-Way North) and setter Scott Fifer (Sandburg).

Loyola coach Sheryl Swoopes elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

sherylswoopes.png

Loyola coach Sheryl Swoopes elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

Loyola women's head coach Sheryl Swoopes is among those elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2016 was announced Monday and Swoopes joins Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf as well as Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and former NBA stars Allen Iverson, Shaquille O'Neal and Yao Ming.

“Today marks a very special moment in my life as well as my family,” Swoopes said in a statement. “I could not be more excited and honored to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Thank you to everyone who has helped me accomplish all of my goals and dreams along the way. God has blessed me tremendously and I am so grateful to be joining such an amazing group of people that I can call family.”

[RELATED - Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf named to basketball Hall of Fame]

Swoopes has an impressive resume that includes an NCAA National Championship, the 1993 Naismith National Player of the year, an NCAA scoring record, Final Four MVP, 12-year WNBA veteran, four WNBA championships, three WNBA MVPs, six WNBA All-Star appearances and three Olympic Gold medals.

"On behalf of Loyola University Chicago and all our Rambler fans I would like to extend a big congratulations to Sheryl on being a part of the 2016 Naismith Hall of Fame class,” Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said in a statement. “It’s an amazing honor and a well-deserved tribute to one of basketball’s great champions and pioneers."

Swoopes has been the head coach for Loyola's women's team since 2013.