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North Carolina making most of NIT opportunity, advances to title game

compiled by megasportsnews.com staff

During the months of March and April, the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team is used to to playing in the NCAA tournament. This year the NIT had to do. But basketball madness is still alive in any tournament even if its not the one you’re used to being in or want to be in.

Injuries, inconsistent play and inexperience combined to doom the Tar Heels’ season early on and they never recovered until the NCAA tournament had passed them by.

Roy Williams Tar Heels coach (UNC)

Then they were selected to play in the NIT, which to some people is known as “the also-rans” tournament. But North Carolina seized the opportunity and went on the road to defeat Mississippi State and Alabama-Birmingham before defeating Rhode Island last night at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals, 68-67 in overtime.

Rhode Island was no “also-ran” team because they had the best RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) of any program that failed to make the NCAA tournament.

Deon Thompson had 16 points and 13 rebounds for North Carolina, which had possession with about 5 seconds left in overtime and the shot clock about to expire when Larry Drew II forced up a shot. The rebound eventually wound up in the hands of Rhode Island’s Lamonte Ulmer, who lost control as he rushed up court moments before the horn sounded, never getting off a shot. Most everybody thought a foul would be called for tripping but it wasn’t.

North Carolina will play the Dayton Flyers for NIT title on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Nash picks up sluggish Blue Jackets and leads them to 3-2 win

compiled by the megasportsnews.com staff

Rick Nash scored on the second of four consecutive Blue Jackets’ power plays in the first 12 minutes of the 3rd period for the game winner as Columbus nipped the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2. With the win, the Jackets are 14-0-2 in its past 16 games against teams from the NHL’s Southeast Division which is located in the Eastern Conference.

Tampa Bay had been the only team that Rick Nash had never scored a goal against. His 33rd goal of the season and second of the game came at the 7:37 mark.

The Blue Jackets had skated through two sluggish periods needed something to spark them to overcome a one-goal deficit. Columbus had only 10 shots through 40 minutes of play.

Mike Lundin and Vincent Lecavalier gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead after two periods, but in the often short-handed Lightning did not have a shot on goal until 4:35 remained in the game, while the Blue Jackets had 14 in the period to that time of the game.

Rick Nash Columbus (cbj)

Columbus came out and was very assertive and aggressive at the start of the final period. Fedor Tyutin made it 2-2 at the 6:21 mark from the high slot with a drive that hit underneath the crossbar before settling across the goal line. After that, the Captain Rick Nash took over.

It’s a big deal to the New Jersey Nets! Winning their 10th game

compiled from staff and wire reports

Yi Jianlian New Jersey Nets (NJN)

New Jersey Nets public address announcer Gary Sussman told everybody in the arena, “We got 10″!  The Nets win!  That happening after the New Jersey Nets snapped a 14-game losing streak in the series to the Spurs. The Nets hadn’t beaten San Antonio since the 2003 NBA Finals.

The Monday night win, helped the Nets avoid any chance of tying for the worst record in NBA history by beating the short-handed San Antonio Spurs, 90-84.

New Jersey, once upon a time was one of the NBA’s better teams, has been in danger of the worst record ever since opening the season with an NBA-record, 18-game losing streak.

Brook Lopez scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds for New Jersey, who grabbed control of the game with a 15-4 run late in the fourth quarter to improve to 10-64.  The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73, will remain in the books as the league’s worst team.

The Nets committed a franchise record-low four turnovers, none in the second half.

Otterbein College Baseball has split two games this week

Courtesy of Otterbein Athletics

John LaCorte Otterbein (OC photo)

On Monday, the Otterbein Cardinals upped their record to 8-2 with a 15-6 win over Mount Saint Joseph College. It was there 4th win in a row. Junior John LaCorte was the winning pitcher, his fourth win of the year. LaCorte pitched five innings.

On Tuesday, the Cardinals traveled to Xenia, Ohio to play Wright State University at Athletes In Action Field and lost 6-2. Otterbein did score two runs in the top of the first inning, but could’nt hold the lead.

Freshman Wes Meadows was 2-for-4 with 1 run scored for the Cardinals.

Wes Meadows Otterbein (OC photo)

Dayton downs Mississippi Rebels, 68-63 to advance to NIT Finals

Courtesy of Dayton Flyers Athletics

Dayton's Chris Johnson slams one on Ole Miss (UD photo)

Columbus Brookhaven graduate Chris Johnson scored 22 points, including five key free throws down the stretch, and the Flyers held off the Mississippi Rebels, 68-66 in the NIT semifinals Tuesday night.

This is the Flyers eighth appearance in the NIT championship game.  Dayton reached the finals five times in the 1950′s and won the tournament in 1962 under Tom Blackburn and 1968 under Don Donoher.

Marcus Johnson added 12 points for Dayton (24-12), who slowed down the Rebels high-scoring offense and advanced to the championship game for the first time since winning their second NIT in 1968. Mississippi was averaging 88 points per game but shot only 33.9 percent.  Dayton’s Chris Wright grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Flyers now have a chance to end a disappointing year on a high note. Picked to win the Atlantic 10 Conference in the preseason, the third-seeded Flyers will play Thursday night against the 2009 national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.

The key play of the game came at the 3:09 mark when Ole Miss was making a comeback and they were hurt by a technical foul on Reginald Buckner. He and Chris Johnson got tied up going for a loose ball, and Buckner threw a right forearm to Chris Johnson’s throat as they were untangled. Chris Wright quickly sepaarated the two players before Chris Johnson hit both free throws, pushing Dayton’s lead to 64-58 and they got the ball.

Chris Johnson, coach Brian Gregory and Chris Wright (UD photo)

Terrico White scored 19 points for the second-seeded Rebels of head coach Andy Kennedy, who were eliminated in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden for the second time in three years. Ole Miss was beaten by eventual champion Ohio State in 2008.

Mississippi’s Murphy Holloway had a chance to tie the game at 64 with 35.8 seconds left. But he missed the second of two free throws, and the Rebels never scored again.

The “Jacksonville Jet,” London Warren hit one of two free throws with 23.7 seconds remaining, extending Dayton’s lead to two. Trevor Gaskins drove through the lane for Ole Miss but came up short on a twisting layup, and the Flyers grabbed the rebound.

Chris Johnson’s two free throws made it 67-63 with 11.2 seconds to play. On the very next play London Warren knocked the ball out of Chris Warren’s hands and out of bounds. Chris Johnson then stole the inbounds pass, got fouled and hit one of two free throws for the final margin.

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