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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DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A number of teammates took the field for the first time with DeShone Kizer during the cacophony of Sunday night’s atmosphere at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin. And much as Kizer did last year, he led the Irish offense with a certain kind of poise and mentality that deftly toes the line between confident and cocky. 

“When we were down by two touchdowns or when it was tied, he had the same demeanor,” sophomore receiver C.J. Sanders said. “That really speaks volumes about him as a man.”

Kizer wowed his teammates a year ago when he subbed in for the injured Malik Zaire and threw a game-winning touchdown to Will Fuller. It wasn’t just for the throw, but it was also for the way in which the quarterback conducted himself in a hostile, pressure-packed environment. 

Last year’s Irish offense, though, was loaded with leaders. Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin and Chris Brown were pillars on that team, and there were veterans all around like Fuller, C.J. Prosise, Steve Elmer and Amir Carlisle. 

Notre Dame only returned a handful of upperclassmen who played on that 2015 team in Kizer, Torii Hunter Jr., Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson (running back Tarean Folston was injured in Week 1 against Texas, and tight end Durham Smythe missed the remainder of the regular season after an injury in Week 2). 

So that meant there was quite a bit of inexperience permeating Notre Dame’s offense Sunday night. But some of those greenhorns said Kizer’s composure and confidence helped them ease into a roaringly-intense evening. 

“When we were down, he brought us together and said we’re going to drive and score and come back,” sophomore receiver Equanimeous St. Brown said, adding that message from Kizer gave him and the rest of the Irish offense a confidence boost in the second half. 

“What young guys typically don’t understand when they go into that environment is that it’s not too much different from what you’re doing in practice,” Kizer said. “When you step in front of 100,000 people, there’s a lot of noise and that could definitely create some adrenaline. But other than that, we’re playing the same game that we’ve been playing all summer. 

“The plays have been made time and time again all offseason and just understanding that when they’re out there, they’re expected to make those same exact plays and all they have to do is do that and do that well. You don’t have to go out there and be someone else. We have a really good coaching staff who put you in good positions to make big plays and all you have to do is execute what they say.” 

Leadership is one of those nebulous things every football player and coach will tell you is necessary, but it’s a quality that’s impossible to quantify. It’s not an end-all, be-all for an offense or defense — Notre Dame, after all, didn’t score when it got the ball back after Jarron Jones’ miraculous blocked PAT, which probably had more to do with the loss of Hunter Jr. than anything else — but it is something that can be pointed to as an asset in close games. 

And with Kizer quarterbacking the offense, Notre Dame has to feel confident in its ability to hang in close games. It still needs its special teams, defense (which was primarily behind recent losses to Stanford and Texas) and coaching (behind the loss to Clemson) to come through, but the next time Notre Dame finds itself in a high-pressure, hostile situation, it can count on Kizer to keep things calm. 

And that counts for something, whatever the extent of it is. 

“Before the game he kind of talked to us, got in front of us and told us hey, I don’t care how young you are, I know you guys can make plays,” Sanders said. “So just hearing that from him developed a comfort level to know that he can depend on us. Hearing that from him really made a big difference.” 

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola didn't have the season they were hoping for in 2015-16 but they're optimistic that things can turn around for the upcoming season. Even though the Loyola roster is filled with newcomers, the Ramblers are hopeful that a summer trip to Spain can help give them a head start.

As part of the trip, Loyola will get 10 extra practices and four games against Spanish competition that will give the team some much-needed experience before practice officially begins in October.

Head coach Porter Moser is already happy about working with this group, which features some productive returnees and a lot of talented newcomers.

"We play four games over there. They get that feel of being coached in a game at this level with their teammates," Moser said. "So then when we start back up in October they have a sense of some of the things we're trying to teach, some of the things of what to expect. And I think that's such a big element."

On a team full of new players, it will be important for senior guard Milton Doyle to have a bounce-back year for Loyola after a disappointing junior campaign. A former star at Marshall, Doyle saw his shooting percentages dip last season as the Loyola coaching staff challenged him to improve for his final season of college basketball. 

Moser is happy with the strides that Doyle has made this summer as he's added over 10 pounds of muscle to now play at 192 pounds. Also committed on the defensive end of the floor and being a team leader, Doyle is the Ramblers' only senior this season, so he'll be counted on to be a productive presence.

"It's a lot this year just because we had four seniors leave last year and I'm the last senior," Doyle said. "So it's my job to make sure everyone stays on track and everyone is uplifted, even when coaches get on them. That's my job right now."

Junior wing Donte Ingram — a former Simeon product — and junior guard Ben Richardson also return as key contributors from last year's team while Iowa State transfer guard Clayton Custer is expected to come in and be a major factor in the team's backcourt rotation.

As for the newcomers, Moser compared juco transfer forward Aundre Jackson favorably to former Loyola forward Christian Thomas while Vlatko Granic gives the team a stretch option at forward that they didn't have in the past. The team's freshmen are also very talented as guard Matt Chastain has shown solid athleticism and a good basketball IQ through some early practices. 

Another freshman guard, Cameron Satterwhite, is coming off of a torn ACL that cost him his senior season, but the Loyola staff is optimistic about his recovery for this season. Croatian freshman guard Bruno Skokna is also recovering from injury as he has played against professionals in Europe the last few seasons on an amateur contract. He is expected to be cleared soon so that he can return to action this season.

"I love this group because it's a group full of gym rats. This is a really enthusiastic group," Moser said. "They've come together, we've got a lot of newcomers. That's the benefit, that's why we did the Spain trip this summer."

Loyola takes its trip to Spain from Aug. 12-22 as they'll hit cities like Barcelona and Madrid during the trip.