Local Sports

Pacers Hold Off Nuggets

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 26 of his 35 points in the first half, and the Indiana Pacers blew out the Denver Nuggets 124-88 on Sunday.

 

Indiana (45-29) returned home after dropping four in a row during a West Coast swing.

 

Myles Turner had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Domantas Sabonis added 15 points and 13 rebounds. Indiana's focus is on gaining homecourt advantage when the playoffs begin next month.

 

Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, Will Barton had 15 points and reserve Monte Morris scored 12 points for the Nuggets (49-23), who lost for the first time after winning six straight.

 

Bogdanovic scored every point during a 12-2 run late in the second quarter. He made a 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining in the first half to put the Pacers ahead 52-35.

 

Bogdanovic set a career high for points in a half, and that was enough to put the game away before the break. He was 10 of 11 from the field in the first half and didn't miss a shot until Jokic blocked a 3-point attempt with 3 seconds left.

 

The Pacers led 62-46 at halftime, and the Nuggets never got closer than 11 points in the second half.

 

Kyle O'Quinn's dunk made it 121-80 with 1:30 left to play.

 

The Pacers scored a season-high 29 fast-break points and had 25 points off 17 turnovers. Indiana also finished with a 72-42 advantage in points in the paint.

 

The Pacers are at Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

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Illinois Sweeps Illinois State

The Illinois baseball team built a 9-0 lead by the second inning Sunday and coasted to a 12-1 win over Illinois State. Illinois finished the sweep, its fourth straight sweep in three-game series. 

 

Illinois (17-4) had 10 hits in the first two innings and ended with 16, including four homers. Ben Troike had his first career two-homer game and Grant Van Scoy and Cam McDonald both hit their first homers of the season.

 

Troike had a three-hit day from the leadoff spot as Illinois' 1-2-3 hitters - Troike, Branden Comia and Michael Massey - combined to go 7-for-11 with seven runs scored and three RBIs. Both Troike and Van Scoy had three hits and Comia, Massey and McDonald all had two hits and scored two runs.

 

Nathan Lavender (1-1) earned his first career win by throwing the first four innings in shutout fashion. He allowed only two hits and struck out four before leaving due to a predetermined pitch limit.

 

John Rave led the ISU offense, finishing 2-for-3 with a double and a run. Joe Butler drove in the lone run for the Redbirds. 

Illinois State (13-9) was swept for the first time this season. The Redbirds entered the series having won six of their last seven.

 

Illinois is back in action Tuesday at Indiana State.

 

Illinois State will face Milwaukee on Tuesday in Normal at Duffy Bass Field. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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Blackhawks Outlast Avalanche

Duncan Keith's goal 1:23 into overtime gave Chicago a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in a matchup of Western Conference playoff contenders.

 

Keith took a feed from Brandon Saad, bulled his way down left wing, shrugged off a check from Nathan MacKinnon and beat goaltender Philipp Grubauer between the legs to snap the Blackhawks' three-game losing streak.

 

Chicago pulled within five points of Colorado for the second wild card in the West, one night after the Avalanche beat the Blackhawks in the first game of their home-and-home set.

 

Artem Anisimov had a power-play goal for the Blackhawks, tying it 1-all early in the third period. Corey Crawford made 19 saves.

 

Alexander Kerfoot scored on a 5-on-3 power play for the Avalanche, who had won four straight.

Colorado has 81 points in the final wild-card spot. Arizona and Minnesota have 79, and Chicago has 76, with a game in hand on Colorado and Minnesota.

 

For the Avalanche, it was a squandered chance to put more distance between them and their pursuers.

 

Colorado didn't get a shot in overtime. The Avalanche controlled play for the first 50 seconds, but Chicago took control of the puck after a battle on the boards and it eventually came to Saad, who found Keith open on the left side.

 

The Blackhawks are at the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.

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Tennesee, Duke Survive Scares; 12th Seeded Ducks Advance

Tennessee avoided one of the biggest meltdowns in NCAA Tournament history Sunday, letting a 25-point lead slip away before SEC player of the year Grant Williams asserted himself in overtime for an 83-77 victory over Iowa.

 

Tenth-seeded Iowa (23-12) nearly pulled off another historic comeback , sending it overtime tied at 71 - the first overtime game in this year's tournament. The last time the teams played also was in the NCAA Tournament, with Tennessee rallying from a 12-point deficit to a 78-65 overtime victory in the First Four at Dayton in 2014.

 

Grant Williams had a pair of free throws, two jumpers, and a strip in overtime that helped the Vols pull it out and match their school record for wins in a season. He finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.

 

Zion Williamson had 32 points and helped rally the Blue Devils from behind in the final minute for a 77-76 victory Sunday to reach the Sweet 16.

 

Aubrey Dawkins finished with 32 points for the Knights, but his tip-in try just missed in the final seconds.

 

Zion made a layup over Fall with 14.4 seconds left to draw Duke within a point as Fall fouled out on the play. Williamson missed the free throw, but RJ Barrett scored on a putback to put the Blue Devils (31-5) ahead.

 

Ninth-seeded UCF (24-9) had a final chance. Two of them, actually, from in close.

 

B.J. Taylor missed a short jumper, and Dawkins failed on his tip attempt with less than two seconds left, the ball spinning off the rim. Duke got the rebound, ran out the clock and moved on to the Sweet 16 for 27th time and fourth time in the past five years.

 

Ehab Amin's 3-pointer ended a run of 14 straight points for UC Irvine and provided the pivotal spark that helped the Ducks became the lone double-digit seed to advance to next weekend by beating UC Irvine 73-54 on Sunday night.

 

Payton Pritchard led 12th-seeded Oregon (25-12) with 18 points, Louis King added 16 and Amin had 12 points and three steals. The Ducks have won 10 straight after a lackluster start to the season and will play top-seeded Virginia in the South Regional semifinal on Thursday.

 

After going more than seven minutes without scoring to start the second half and squandering all of a 12-point lead, Oregon used a 15-3 run to take control and end a 17-game winning streak for the 13th-seeded Anteaters (31-6).

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Paul Casey Takes Second Straight Valspar Championship

Paul Casey held off Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson for his third PGA Tour victory Sunday at the Valspar Championship.

 

Maybe most impressively, Casey did it with the No. 1 player on the planet on his hip. Johnson trailed by one entering the final round, but Casey birdied the first and never took on a serious threat from the most threatening man in golf. It was Casey's sixth 54-hole lead but just his second victory in such scenarios.

 

Following a hilly front nine of 1-over 37, Casey tightened his game and his lead on the field with birdies on two of his first five holes on the back nine, and he played the final three holes in 1 over. The 72 in Round 4 was better than the field average on Sunday, and enough to seal the deal by one over Oosthuizen, and late closer Jason Kokrak. 

 

D.J.'s streak of rounds in the 60s came to a surprising end on Sunday in the final pairing with Casey. He made no birdies, less than 50 feet of putts (he made 90 in each of the first three days here), and for the second Sunday in a row, Johnson lost strokes to the field on the greens (he's missed three putts from under 5 feet in the last two weeks).

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Pats TE Gronkowski Announces Retirement

The football party is officially over for Rob Gronkowski. After mulling it over for nearly a month, Gronk has made the decision to retire. 

 

The Patriots tight end made the somewhat surprising announcement in a lengthy Instagram post where he thanked multiple people.

 

Gronk wrote quote - "It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today."

 

Patriots coach Bill Belichick released a statement on Sunday, calling Gronk one of the "most complete players at his position," which is about the highest compliment you can get from Belichick. 

Belichick said quote - "Rob's impact on our team and organization was felt in many ways. In the ultimate team sport, Rob was a great, great teammate. His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and toward whoever he touched will never be forgotten. Rob will leave an indelible mark on the Patriots organization and the game as among the best, most complete players at his position to ever play."

 

Gronk had thought about retiring after the 2017 season, but after mulling it over for nearly two months, he decided to play one more season, which ended up being a struggle for the 6-foot-6 tight end. In 2018, Gronk put up some of the worst numbers of his career while battling through multiple injuries that caused him to miss a total of three games. The Patriots tight end caught just three touchdown passes during the regular season, which tied a career low. 

 

Although he had a rough regular season, Gronk ended up playing a key role in the Patriots' playoff run that ended with the team beating the Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. 

 

In the Super Bowl win, Gronk caught six passes for 87 yards, including a 29-yard reception in the second half that will go down as the final catch of his career. The fourth quarter reception gave the Patriots the ball at the Rams' 2-yard line, leading to the only touchdown of the game for either team.

 

During his nine-year career, Gronk won a total of three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl in five of his nine seasons in the NFL while being named an All-Pro a total of four times. 

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Clinton Lady Maroons Fall to Maroa Forsyth

As heard on WHOW, the Clinton Lady Maroons fell to the Maroa Forsyth Lady Trojans by a score of 17-2 on Friday evening. Mac Armstrong pitched 4 innings, gave up 17 runs on 14 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts. At the plate was Zoie Polen who went 3 for 3 with a solo home run. Amanda Tool went 2 for 2 with a double.

 

The Lady Trojans had Braylee Finck who pitched 4 innings, gave up on 2 runs on 5 hits, 5 walks, and 1 strikeout. At the plate was Allie Robinson who went 2 for 4 with a 3 run home run and an RBI double. Kate Aupperle went 2 for 3 with 3 run home run and an RBI double.

 

With the loss, the Lady Maroons fall to 0-3 and Maroa improves to 3-2.

 

Tune in Tuesday, March 26, as the Maroons take on Tuscola. You can hear the game live on the Big 1520 AM/92.3 FM WHOW, online at dewittdailynews.com, and on the WHOW app.

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Michigan State Rallies Late To Down Bradley

Cassius Winston scored 26 points and second-seeded Michigan State, thanks in part to a season-high, 25-of-26 showing from the line, held off Bradley 76-65 on Thursday in the opening round of the East Region.

 

Xavier Tillman had 16 points with 11 boards for the Spartans (29-6), who'll face Big Ten rival, 10th-seeded Minnesota, on Saturday in search of their first trip to the Sweet 16 in four years. Michigan State throttled the Gophers 79-55 in East Lansing back on Feb. 9.

 

Bradley (20-15) gave the Big Ten champions all they could handle, though.

 

It was a one-possession game until Matt McQuaid drilled a crucial 3 to put Michigan State ahead 61-55 with 3:31 left. Aaron Henry followed with a layup to cap a 9-0 run.

 

Darrell Brown hit a 3 for Bradley to make it 65-60. But the Braves were forced to put the Spartans at the line - where they almost couldn't miss.

 

Bradley surged to a 35-34 halftime lead by shooting 6 of 9 from 3-point range. The Spartans made some of their own luck early in the second half, reeling off 10 straight points in less than two minutes to seize control. Bradley answered with eight straight of its own, though, to retake the lead, 51-50.

 

Elijah Childs scored 19 points and Brown had 17 for the Braves, who went just 3 of 12 from beyond the arc in the second half.

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Illinois, Illinois State Meet This Weekend

The Illinois baseball team is set to take on in-state rival Illinois State in a three-game series at Illinois Field this weekend. Friday is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. CT with Saturday and Sunday slated as 1 p.m. CT starts.

 

Illinois (14-4) is ranked No. 23 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and No. 30 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. The Illini were riding a seven-game winning streak before a loss Wednesday at Saint Louis. Illinois and SLU split a two-game series Tuesday-Wednesday. 

 

Illinois State (13-6) has won six of its last seven, sparked by a win in a three-game series finale at No. 1 Vanderbilt. The Redbirds swept Central Michigan in three games last weekend before shutting out UIC in their midweek game Tuesday. The shutout was Illinois State's second of the season. The Redbirds are hitting .312 as a team on the season which is good for 10th nationally.

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Warriors Blow Out Pacers

Kevin Durant had 15 points, six assists and three blocks after losing a close friend earlier in the day, and the Warriors ran away from the Indiana Pacers 112-89 on Thursday night.

 

Durant led a balanced Warriors attack, playing the same day childhood friend Cliff Dixon was shot to death in Atlanta. Warriors guard Quinn Cook also was close with Dixon as they're all from the Washington D.C./Maryland area.

 

Stephen Curry scored 12 of his 15 points with four 3-pointers during the Warriors' 35-point third quarter in which they limited Indiana to 19.

 

Tyreke Evans scored 20 points off the bench and Thaddeus Young added 18 for the Pacers, who were without coach Nate McMillan for family reasons.

 

Indiana ended its four-game swing out West by losing an eighth straight road game and missing another chance to clinch a playoff berth following a 115-109 defeat at the Clippers on Tuesday night.

 

The Warriors, whose defense has become a greater focus with the playoffs approaching, have allowed their fewest points in two of the past four games. Oklahoma City scored 88 points Saturday before the two-time defending champions held down Indiana.

 

Klay Thompson began 0 for 7, missing his first five 3-pointers, and wound up with 18 points on 7-for-18 shooting. He scored his first field goal of the night, which he followed with another basket the next possession, at the 7:46 mark of the second quarter and his first 3 came in the final minute of the first half as Golden State built a 53-43 lead at the break.

 

DeMarcus Cousins returned after missing two games with a sore right ankle and had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

 

The Pacers host Nuggets on Sunday.

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Blues Win; Blackhawks Lose Thursday

>>Blues Topple Red Wings

 

Ivan Barbashev recorded his first career NHL hat trick to lead St. Louis to a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.

 

Oskar Sundqvist and Pat Maroon also scored for the Blues, who have points in their last four games. Rookie Jordan Binnington made 20 saves, improving to 19-4-1.

 

The win gave the Blues 86 points as they attempt to hold on to third place in the Central Division over Dallas, who lost at Colorado and has 82 points.

 

Thomas Vanek scored twice and Jonathan Bernier made 19 saves for the Red Wings, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.

 

Barbashev gave the Blues a 2-1 lead, poking home a loose puck amid a scramble in front of the Red Wings' net, at the 3:22 mark of the second period.

 

Barbashev made it 3-1 less than two minutes later, starting the play with a hit on the Red Wings' Michael Rasmussen that jarred the puck to Alexander Steen. The Blues forward gave it right back to Barbashev, who punched in a rebound off of his initial shot.

 

Barbashev completed the hat trick with an empty-netter with 48 seconds left.

 

St. Louis hosts Tampa Bay on Saturday.

 

>>Flyers Cruise By Blackhawks

 

Carter Hart made 40 saves and James van Reimsdyk snapped a tie in the third period, helping the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Thursday night.

Corban Knight also scored as Philadelphia picked up a sorely needed victory after dropping three of four. The Flyers (36-30-8) are trying to stay in the race for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

 

Van Reimsdyk picked up his sixth goal in the last five games on a backhand at 9:50. Sean Couturier had a hand in van Reimsdyk's 26th goal with a well-placed screen in front of Corey Crawford.

 

Philadelphia forward Ryan Hartman was whistled for holding at 11:08, but the Flyers didn't allow a shot on goal on the ensuing power play. Couturier then put it away with an empty-netter with 1:14 left.

 

Chicago (32-31-10) missed out on a chance to gain ground in the race for the second wild card out West. Erik Gustafsson scored, and Crawford made 25 stops.

 

The Blackhawks visit the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

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St. Louis Downs Illinois To Snap Seven Game Win Streak

The Illinois baseball team's seven-game winning streak was stopped Wednesday in an 8-3 loss at Saint Louis as the two split a two-game midweek series.

 

Illinois (14-4) outhit Saint Louis 10-8 but issued seven walks and left nine runners on base. The Illini lost for the first time since March 4. 

 

Saint Louis (10-10) got a career day from No. 9-hole hitter Kevin Jordan, who went 3-for-3 with a homer and five RBIs. Jordan hit a two-RBI double in the second and a two-run homer in the fourth to give SLU the lead it never surrendered. No. 8-hole hitter Zach Freiling also had three hits and scored three runs.

 

Illinois was led by two hits apiece from Kellen Sarver and Cam McDonald. Ben Troike, Michael Massey and Jack Yalowitz drove in runs for the Illini. 

 

Illinois is back at Illinois Field this weekend to take on Illinois State in a three-game series Friday-Sunday.

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Michigan State, Bradley Meet Early Thursday

The Michigan State Spartans followed a Big Ten regular-season championship by winning the conference tournament title on Sunday. While the club was holding out hope for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan State drew the No. 2 seed in the East Region and will take on No. 15 Bradley on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.

 

Michigan State (28-6) is in the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd straight season, the third longest active streak behind Kansas (30) and Duke (24). Some believe the Spartans got a tough draw as the No. 6 overall seed being placed in the same region as Duke, the top overall seed.

 

It's an entirely different world for Bradley, the tournament champions of the Missouri Valley Conference. Since the MVC title was in the bag days before the Big Ten tournament tipped off, the Braves are definitely rested.

 

They're also more than ready to get back on the court. During the week off, the private university in Central Illinois made national headlines by barring a longtime reporter from the team with a claim he failed to "promote the Bradley brand."

 

Coach Brian Wardle, in his fourth season, has the Braves (20-14) in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 after winning the conference tournaments, beating last year's Cinderella, Loyola Chicago, along the way.

 

One area the Braves will need to have locked down in Iowa on Thursday is rebounding. A furious rally to beat Northern Iowa in the MVC title game was nearly undone by BU's inability to limit UNI's second-chance looks. More of the same against the Spartans is a sure ticket out of the NCAA Tournament.

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Bears Re-Up With P O'Donnell

The Chicago Bears say they have re-signed veteran punter Pat O'Donnell to a two-year contract.

 

O'Donnell has spent all five of his seasons with Chicago and is the franchise's leader with a 44.9-yard career gross average. O'Donnell averaged 45 yards per punt last season and tied a career high with 28 punts inside the 20.

 

The Bears also agreed to a one-year contract with backup quarterback Tyler Bray. He spent most of last season their practice squad.

 

The Bears announced the moves on Wednesday. Chicago won the NFC North at 12-4 in coach Matt Nagy's first season.

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Bulls Outlast Wizards in Overtime

Lauri Markkanen had 32 points and 13 rebounds, Kris Dunn scored a season-high 26 - including eight in overtime - to go with 13 assists, and the short-handed Chicago Bulls beat the Wizards 126-120 on Wednesday night.

 

Markkanen nailed five 3-pointers, including a key shot beyond the arc in overtime. Dunn hit two 3's in OT, and converted a pair of free throws near the end to make it a six-point game.

 

Shaquille Harrison scored 18. Cristiano Felicio added 15 points, and the Bulls won their second straight after dropping five in a row, despite leading scorer Zach LaVine (bruised right thigh, right knee tendinitis) and Otto Porter Jr. (strained right rotator cuff) not playing because of injuries.

 

Jabari Parker led Washington with 28 points against his former team. Beal scored 27 and hit the tying jumper in the closing seconds of regulation. But the Wizards went 0 for 6 from the field in OT, losing for the third time in four games.

 

Tied at 113 through four quarters, the Bulls went on an 8-2 run to start overtime, with Robin Lopez hitting two foul shots and Dunn nailing two 3-pointers. It was 121-117 with a minute left when Dunn missed two free throws.

 

Beal then missed the first and made the final two free throws after getting fouled on a 3, cutting the lead to two. But Markkanen nailed a 3 from the top of the key to make it 124-119 with 32.3 seconds remaining.

 

Parker then put up an airball on the second attempt after making the first free throw, and Dunn hit two foul shots to make it 126-120 with 19.5 seconds left.

 

Former Bull Bobby Portis had 15 points.

 

The Bulls host Utah on Saturday.

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Big Fourth Inning Sends Mahomet-Seymour Past Clinton

The Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs scored six runs in the fourth inning and that was the difference as they beat the Clinton Maroons 9-3 in non-conference boys baseball action Tuesday afternoon in Mahomet.

 

It was the first game of the season for Clinton, who drops to 0-1, thanks to a wet start to the spring sports season.

 

Kyle Kinney started the Bulldogs scoring with a solo home run in the first inning. 

 

After the Maroons scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to take a 2-1 advantage, it was all Mahomet-Seymour the rest of the way as Dawson Finch paced the Bulldogs offense, going 1-for-2 with three runs batted in. 

 

Logan Peterson paced the Maroons offense, finishing 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. Rustin Wertz added an RBI double as well.

 

Parker West took the loss on the mound for Clinton. He went four innings and allowed seven runs, all earned on, on five hits, issued two walks and struck out five. Logan Peterson pitched two innings of two-run ball, both unearned, in relief. 

 

Finch got the win for Mahomet-Seymour, pitching into the sixth inning. He finished with 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs with four hits, issued four walks and struck out nine.

The Maroons are scheduled to host Ridgeview for a Saturday doubleheader at Clinton High School.

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Sages Rally Past Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond

After Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond posted three runs early, the Monticello Sages scored three runs in the third and tacked on the winning run in the fourth inning to take a 4-3 non-conference victory in boys baseball action Tuesday afternoon in Arthur.

 

Brody Macak led the Sages offense with two RBIs. Asher Bradd reached base twice via a walk and also drove in a run. 

 

Joel Edmondson and Andrew Rudolph combined to keep ALAH off the board after their three-run first. 

Edmondson finished with 3 2/3 innings and Rudolph pitched 3 1/3 innings. 

 

The Sages improve to 3-1 overall and will travel to Oakwood Thursday for a non-conference game. 

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Illinois Topples St. Louis

The Illinois baseball team beat Saint Louis, 4-1, Tuesday in the first game of a two-game midweek series. Illinois (14-3) won its seventh straight game and tied its best 17-game start since 1959.

 

Illinois was led by Jeff Korte's two-hit, two-RBI day and Cam McDonald's two RBIs and two runs. Michael Massey and Jack Yalowitz also singled twice, as Illinois outhit Saint Louis 7-5. 

 

It was a planned bullpen game for both teams with Illinois throwing four pitchers and Saint Louis sending five to the mound. Ryan Schmitt (1-0) picked up the win by throwing the fourth and fifth innings scoreless. Sean Leland followed Schmitt with an impressive three innings, allowing only one hit on a bunt and striking out six. 

 

Aidan Maldonado started on the mound for the first time in his career and pitched around five walks in three innings to allow only one run. Garrett Acton earned his seventh save on a double play ball to shortstop Ben Troike with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth.

 

Saint Louis (9-10) left 11 runners on base and was held to 2-for-15 with runners on base. Illinois was only 3-for-18 with runners on but plated runs on a ground out and sac fly.

 

The Illini are 14-3 for the fifth time since beginning 16-1 in 1959. Illinois tied its sixth-best 17-game start in program history.

 

The two teams are back at Billikin Sports Complex at 3 p.m. CT Wednesday for the two-game finale. 

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Illinois State Blanks UIC

The Illinois State baseball team defeated UIC 4-0 Tuesday afternoon at Duffy Bass Field in Normal.

 

Illinois State used four pitchers in the game to record its second shutout of the season.

 

Joe Aeilts went yard for the Redbirds, finishing 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

John Rave and Gunner Peterson also drove in runs for ISU.

 

Brett Wicklund was terrific for the Redbirds. He finished with six scoreless innings and struck out five, issuing just three hits.

 

The Flames had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Jacob Gilmore struck out the final batter of the game.

 

Illinois State will take on the University of Illinois this weekend in Champaign in a three-game series. First pitch for Friday is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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LB Clay Matthews Signs With Rams, Cobb Signs With Cowboys

Linebacker Clay Matthews agreed to a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday, returning to his native Southern California after a decade with the Green Bay Packers.

 

The 32-year-old Matthews set the Packers franchise record with 83½ sacks over his 10 seasons in Green Bay. The former USC star earned six Pro Bowl selections and won a Super Bowl ring with the Packers, although his 3½ sacks last season were a career low.

 

Matthews went to high school in Agoura Hills, California, and he lives in nearby Calabasas with his wife and growing family. Both towns are a short drive from the Rams' training complex in Thousand Oaks northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

 

Matthews will contribute to the Rams' pass rush alongside All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and linebacker Dante Fowler, who re-signed with the NFC champions earlier this month. Nose tackle Ndamukong Suh is still a free agent after his sole season with Los Angeles.

 

Matthews played four seasons for the Trojans at the Coliseum, where the Rams will play next season before moving into their multibillion-dollar stadium complex in Inglewood in 2020.

 

Matthews won four Pac-12 titles and three Rose Bowls at USC. He famously walked onto Pete Carroll's roster and redshirted on the Trojans' last national championship squad before growing into a first-round NFL pick.

 

The Rams released starting linebacker Mark Barron earlier this month, creating additional opportunities for Matthews.

 

Matthews joins veteran safety Eric Weddle and backup quarterback Blake Bortles in the Rams' compact class of free-agent signings.

 

The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free-agent receiver Randall Cobb.

 

Cobb spent the first eight years of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers, though he was limited to nine games last season because of a hamstring injury and a concussion.

 

Along with the addition of Cobb, the Cowboys on Tuesday re-signed unrestricted free-agent long snapper L.P. Ladouceur They also signed Kerry Hyder, a defensive end from Texas Tech who was with Detroit last season.

 

Dallas has brought in Cobb and re-signed receiver Tavon Austin to a one-year deal since slot receiver Cole Beasley left in free agency last week for a four-year deal with Buffalo.

 

Cobb has 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Packers from 2011 through last season. The 28-year-old receiver was a Pro Bowl pick in 2014, when he had 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns.

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Clippers Topple Pacers

Danilo Gallinari scored 24 points, Montrezl Harrell had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Clippers beat Indiana 115-109 on Tuesday night, preventing the Pacers from clinching a playoff berth.

 

Clinging to a 110-107 lead, Lou Williams hit a pullup jumper with 40 seconds left to stop a 5-0 run by Indiana.

 

Tyreke Evans answered with a layup that again drew the Pacers within three.

 

After a timeout, Bojanc Bogdanovic slipped defending Patrick Beverley, who scored and then made a rolling dice motion.

 

Bogdanovic slipped again on the Pacers' final possession and they failed to score over the final 33 seconds.

 

Evans and Bogdanovic scored 19 points each for the Pacers, whose road skid extended to seven straight games. Doug McDermott added 17 points and Domantas Sabonis had 13 points and a career-high-tying 16 rebounds playing the second night of a back-to-back.

 

The Clippers led by 17 early in the fourth only to see the Pacers close within five. Gallinari re-entered the game and promptly hit a 3-pointer that ended Indiana's 16-7 run.

 

Beverley made a 3-pointer and Gallinari and Gilgeous-Alexander combined to make four straight free throws that extended the Clippers' lead to 106-97.

 

Los Angeles closed the third by scoring eight straight points to lead 89-75 going into the fourth.

 

The Pacers visit Golden State on Thursday to end four-game Western swing.

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Blues Blast Oilers

Jaden Schwartz had three goals and an assist, David Perron added two goals and two assists, and the Blues cruised to a 7-2 rout of the Oilers.

 

Schwartz, who has 10 goals, scored once in each period for his fourth career hat trick and first since Oct. 18, 2017, against Chicago.

 

Alex Pietrangelo and Pat Maroon also scored for the Blues, who outshot Edmonton 44-17 and improved to 6-1-2 in their last nine home games against the Oilers.

 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian scored for Edmonton.

 

St. Louis jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Oilers scored twice late in the second period. The Blues added three goals in the third.

 

Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko returned to the lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury sustained March 7 against the Kings. 

 

Connor McDavid had his streak of eight consecutive multipoint games snapped. McDavid remains three points shy of tying his career high of 108, set last season.

 

Jordan Binnington improved to 14-3-0 in his past 17 starts.

 

The Blues host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

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Maroa-Forsyth's Ennis: I Don't Take This Opportunity Lightly

Former Clinton High School athletic standout, Aaron Ennis was named the head basketball coach at Maroa-Forsyth last night and he says this is an opportunity he dreamt of for some time.

 

Ennis says the opportunity at Maroa-Forsyth is not something he takes lightly and was excited to learn Monday he would be their coach.

 

 

In his journey to Maroa-Forsyth, Ennis has had stops in Argenta-Oreana where he was a student-teacher, then in Maroa-Forsyth and most recently at Tolono Unity. Central Illinois sports fans will be familiar with some of the power-house names he's been able to learn under along the way.

 

 

Ennis indicates he wants to have an up-tempo style offense that runs a half-court offense that allows their athletes to make plays. Defensively his teams will run a pressure style man-to-man offense and hopes to bring an exciting brand of basketball to Maroa-Forsyth. 

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Former Clinton Standout Named Head Basketball Coach at Maroa-Forsyth

Former Clinton High School standout Aaron Ennis has been named head coach of the Maroa-Forsyth boys basketball program as announced by the school yesterday.

 

Ennis was a three-sport athlete at Clinton High School who played baseball at Millikin University in Decatur.

 

Since his graduation, Ennis has coached various sports at schools like Argenta-Oreana, Maroa-Forsyth, and most recently Tolono Unity.

 

In a statement from Maroa-Forsyth yesterday, quote - "Coach Ennis is an energetic coach with a passion for the game of basketball. We expect him to bring high expectations and challenge our student-athletes both on and off the court."

 

This story will be updated.

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Bulls Win; Pacers Lose Monday Night

Robin Lopez scored 24 points on 11-for-14 shooting to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Phoenix Suns 116-101 on Monday night, snapping a five-game losing streak.

 

Zach LaVine had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Lauri Markkanen added 17 points and nine boards for Chicago. The Bulls shot 52 percent (46 for 89) from the field.

 

Deandre Ayton had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Devin Booker also scored 25 for Phoenix, which has lost three of four after a 5-2 stretch.

 

The Suns played without one of their top scorers and main contributors to their recent run of improved basketball, as Kelly Oubre Jr. missed the game with a left thumb sprain. Guard Tyler Johnson did not play due to a sore knee, missing his third straight game, and forward T.J. Warren hasn't played since Jan. 22 due to an ankle injury. Backup center Richaun Holmes also sat out with a quadriceps strain, his second straight game missed.

 

Lopez hit four different angles of hook shots in the first quarter, helping the Bulls take a 34-20 lead into the second. Lopez scored 14 of his points with hook shots.

 

The Suns missed their first six 3-pointers, and after Cristiano Felicio's putback dunk and free throw, the Bulls took their largest lead of the game, 19 points, with 10:22 to play in the second quarter.

 

The Suns responded with an 11-2 run capped off by Troy Daniels' 3 with 7:03 to go, making it 41-31.

LaVine's layup and free throw put the Bulls up by 19 again, 54-35, with 4:12 left in the half.

 

The Suns cut it to 56-43 at halftime, with Booker making just 3 of 11 shots, including four misses from 3-point range.

 

Phoenix pulled to 56-48 early in the third, but Lopez scored the Bulls' next three baskets for a 66-52 lead with 6:57 to go. Chicago went ahead by 18 in the third and led 86-73 going into the fourth.

 

The Suns got the Bulls' lead down to nine early in the fourth, but couldn't get any closer. Antonio Blakeney dunked with 9:25 to play to give the Bulls a 91-77 lead.

 

Chicago improved to 5-7 in the second of back-to-back games.

 

The Bulls host Washington on Wednesday night.

 

>>Trailblazers Get By Pacers

 

Damian Lillard had 30 points and 15 assists as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Indiana Pacers 106-98 on Monday night in their first game since McCollum injured his left knee.

Jusuf Nurkic added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who led by as many as 21. Portland has won four of five and is holding onto fourth place in the Western Conference.

 

Myles Turner had a season-high 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who missed out on clinching a playoff spot in the East. Indiana (44-27) has lost six straight on the road.

 

The Blazers (43-27) have won 10 in a row against the Pacers in Portland.

 

Bojan Bogdanovic's layup pulled the Pacers to 100-91 with just under three minutes left, and Turner made free throws to get Indiana closer. The teams traded free throws down the stretch, but Portland was stung when Nurkic fouled out.

 

Wesley Matthews' layup closed the gap to 102-97, but Al-Farouq Aminu made free throws on the other end and Portland held on.

 

McCollum, averaging 21.3 points per game this season, got hurt during Saturday's loss at San Antonio. He has a popliteus strain and will be re-examined in a week, the team said. It isn't known whether he'll be back before the end of the regular season.

 

Turner scored 11 points in the opening six minutes and the Pacers led 19-12. They stretched the margin to 11, but Portland got to 31-28 by the end of the first quarter.

 

Lillard closed out the first half with a 3-pointer from nearly the pinwheel logo at center court, and the Blazers went to the locker room with a 55-48 lead. Lillard had 18 points and eight assists in the half. Turner also scored 18 to go with six rebounds.

 

After hitting just three 3-pointers in the first half, the Blazers made eight in the third quarter. Aminu had four of those and scored 14 points in the third quarter alone.

 

Domantas Sabonis received warm applause from the crowd when he entered. His dad, Arvydas, played for the Blazers from 1995-2001 and again during the 2002-03 season.

 

The Pacers visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

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