Wichita State makes it 34-0, wins Valley tourney
ST. LOUIS (AP) Fred VanVleet scored 22 points including several key baskets late to lead another strong ensemble effort and No. 2 Wichita State remained the nation's lone unbeaten after defeating Indiana State 83-69 on Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final.
Tekele Cotton added 20 points - with four 3-pointers - and Ron Baker had 14 points for the Shockers (34-0), who got tested in the second half before putting the title game out of reach with a 13-0 run capped by two 3-pointers from VanVleet that put them up by 18 points with 5:38 to go.
Wichita State matched the NCAA record for victories to start the season held by UNLV in 1990-91 with its third straight convincing tournament win after going 18-0 in the conference regular season. The Shockers won their first conference tournament since 1987.
Manny Arop and Justin Gant had 18 points apiece for second-seeded Indiana State (23-10), which has one of the closer calls against Wichita State with a seven-point loss at home in early February. Arop totaled 12 points the first two tourney games.
The Shockers had runs of 17-0 and 24-0 while beating Missouri State by 25 points in the semifinals.
Wichita State's last nine victories have all been by double digits. The Shockers have won 12 of 14 in the Indiana State series.
VanVleet scored 13 points in the final 6 minutes and was named to the all-tournament team along Cleanthony Early and Cotton, who was voted the tourney MVP.
The only way the Valley could get two teams in the NCAA tournament is if Wichita State lost. The Shockers earned the conference's automatic bid after going to the Final Four as a No. 9 seed and Valley tourney runner-up last March.
Wichita State got some early breathing room with an 11-0 run for a 23-11 lead not long past the mid-point of the first half, and led by at least nine points the rest of the half while taking a 39-29 halftime lead. Darius Carter led the way off the bench with nine points and five rebounds in 9 minutes.
VanVleet hit a layup and Baker had a three-point play in the opening minute of the second half to open a 15-point gap, then Wichita State went cold missing eight straight shots while Indiana State scored nine straight points to shave the deficit to six. Indiana crawled back within five points twice, the last time on two free throws by Jake Odum with 10:20 that made make it 55-50.
Indiana State cut the gap to eight points with about 3 minutes left but VanVleet hit a 3-pointer and made two layups the rest of the way.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 20:51:00 +0000
Lions owner William Clay Ford dies at 88
DETROIT (AP) William Clay Ford was born into a fortune and spent much of his life staying away from fame as he steered the family business and owned an NFL franchise.
The man reverently referred to as Mr. Ford, the last surviving grandchild of automotive pioneer Henry Ford and owner of the Detroit Lions, died Sunday. He was 88.
Ford Motor Co. said in a statement that Ford died of pneumonia at his home in Grosse Pointe. He worked for the company bearing his name for more than half of its 100-year history. He bought a business of his own, the Lions, a half-century ago.
Despite ample opportunity to boost his ego in either role, Ford chose to carry himself in a quiet way publicly.
"My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community," William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. and Lions vice chairman, said in a statement. "He also was a wonderful family man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather."
To the masses in the Motor City, Ford was simply the owner of the Lions who struggled to achieve success on the field despite showing his passion for winning by spending money on free agents, coaches, executives and facilities.
Privately, relatively few people got to know a humble and humorous guy with great stories to tell.
Funeral services will be private, fittingly for a man who didn't let the public get to know him.
"I wish people knew the Mr. Ford that I knew," former Lions general manager Matt Millen said Sunday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "He was a very, very fascinating guy who played golf with President (Dwight) Eisenhower, ran with the Rat Pack, talked to President (John) Kennedy on the phone. As a kid who grew up sitting at the foot of a grandpa who invented everything, talking to him was a history lesson and I absolutely loved it every time."
Ford's first full season leading the Lions was in 1964, seven years after the franchise won the NFL title. The lone playoff victory he enjoyed was in 1992. The Lions are the only team to go 0-16 in a season, hitting rock bottom in 2008 after he finally fired Millen, a Super Bowl-winning linebacker and TV analyst he hired to lead the franchise without any front-office experience.
After an 11-year drought, the Lions improved enough to make the playoffs in 2011 only to lose a combined 21 games over the next two seasons.
From Ford's first season as team owner to his last, the Lions won 310 games, lost 441 and tied 13. His .441 winning percentage with the Lions was the NFL's worst among teams that existed in 1964, according to STATS LLC.
"I hate that we couldn't bring the Lombardi Trophy to Detroit for him," said former defensive end Robert Porcher, who played on the Barry Sanders-led team that won the franchise's only playoff game since 1957. "After I retired, I invited him and his wife to meet me at my restaurant. I didn't think he would come, but he did. He talked about his passion for the team and how much he hated that we weren't winning. Mr. Ford said to me what I think people wished he would've said publicly."
Ford moved the club from Tiger Stadium in Detroit to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1975 before bringing his team back downtown.
"No owner loved his team more than Mr. Ford loved the Lions," Lions President Tom Lewand said in a statement released by the team. "Those of us who had the opportunity to work for Mr. Ford knew of his unyielding passion for his family, the Lions and the city of Detroit. His leadership, integrity, kindness, humility and good humor were matched only by his desire to bring a Super Bowl championship to the Lions and to our community.
"Each of us in the organization will continue to relentlessly pursue that goal in his honor."
Ford Field - a spectacular 65,000-seat, $315 million indoor stadium - opened in 2002 that, coupled with a state-of-the-art team headquarters in nearby Allen Park, gave the Lions the best facilities money could buy.
But blueprints for consistently winning in the NFL are not for sale.
"Detroit is a football town with fans who want to win - bad - but what they miss is Mr. Ford wanted to win more than any of the fans did," Millen told the AP on Sunday. "For a variety of reasons, it didn't work out. It wasn't because he didn't want to. He was willing to try anything and he did."
Born in 1925 with what was already a household name, Ford was 23 when he joined the Ford Motor Co. board of directors in 1948, one year after the death of his grandfather, Henry Ford.
Ford remained a company director until 2005, later taking the title of director emeritus.
"Mr. Ford had a profound impact on Ford Motor Company," Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement.
He helped institutionalize the practice of professional management atop the company that began with the naming of Philip Caldwell as Ford CEO in 1979 and as Ford chairman in March 1980, without relinquishing the Ford family's control.
As a board member, Ford helped bring the company back under his family's control in 2001, when the directors ousted former CEO Jacques Nasser in favor of William Clay Ford Jr.
The youngest of Edsel B. Ford's four children, Ford Sr. was first elected to the Ford Motor Co. board in June 1948. He rarely spoke publicly but was reflective during the company's centennial year in 2003. At the annual meeting, he told stories about his grandfather teaching him to drive at age 10, and of being taken for his first airplane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor by Charles Lindbergh.
"I just want you to know that we have tremendous pride in the Ford name," he told the shareholders more than a decade ago. "We have a spirit of working together, and we have a passion for cars. And we also have a great desire to see the Ford name in the forefront of world transportation."
Ford was more comfortable watching his Lions than maneuvering in the corporate boardroom. By the time he became a Ford director, his brother, Henry Ford II, was firmly in control of the company.
The Lincoln Continental Mark II, his biggest project, was an early attempt by Ford to compete with General Motors' Cadillac brand, which at the time had cornered the market for luxury cars sold to a growing class of affluent Americans, according to Gerald Meyers, a University of Michigan business professor who worked at Ford in the 1950s.
But the car was killed off in 1957 after being on sale only two years, a victim of poor marketing and Henry Ford II's indifference toward his brother's pet project.
"He put his whole life into that car," Meyers said in an interview with the AP. "This was to be the beginning of the high-priced luxury vehicles for the Ford Motor Co. that they didn't have. It would lead the company into the broader market more like General Motors had become. It didn't turn out that way."
The car was a frustrating start to a series of efforts to make Lincoln a top luxury brand, efforts that continue today.
Although Ford personified the family's influence over the company for years, he seldom had a profound impact on it, Meyers said. He was often overshadowed by his brother, Henry Ford II, who fired flamboyant president and Mustang father Lee Iacocca in 1978. But Meyers said William Clay Ford would have had to approve such a bold move to get rid of Iacocca, who went on to lead rival Chrysler.
Ford always kept the Lions close to his heart and was loyal perhaps to a fault.
While each of Detroit's other three professional franchises - the Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers - have won at least one championship in relatively recent decades, the Lions were synonymous with losing under Ford.
He seemed to lead the Lions with a light touch, leaving most decisions up to administrators such as Russ Thomas, Chuck Schmidt, Millen and current general manager Martin Mayhew.
In league circles, he was very popular.
"For five decades, Mr. Ford's passion for the Lions, Detroit, and the NFL was the foundation of one of the NFL's historic franchises," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "As an NFL owner, Mr. Ford helped bring the NFL through enormous periods of change and growth, always guided by his commitment to what was best for the NFL and his beloved Lions."
Ford was married to the former Martha Parke Firestone, an heiress to the Akron, Ohio, rubber fortune. Her grandfather, Harvey Firestone, was a close friend of Henry Ford. They had three daughters, a son, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 23:05:00 +0000
Noah, Augustin lead Bulls over Heat 95-88 in OT
CHICAGO (AP) Joakim Noah had 20 points and 12 rebounds, D.J. Augustin scored 22 and the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 95-88 in overtime Sunday after Jimmy Butler blocked LeBron James at the end of regulation.
Dwyane Wade scored 25 for Miami, but with James struggling again, the Heat dropped their third straight to match their longest losing streak of the season.
James scored 17 points on 8-of-23 shooting and couldn't come through after Miami blew a 12-point lead down the stretch. With a chance to win it at the end of regulation, he got stripped by Butler on a layup attempt.
In overtime, it was all Bulls.
Chicago outscored Miami 9-2, starting with Augustin's 3 just under a minute in. Butler added a jumper from the wing, Noah scored on a putback and Butler added two free throws to make it 95-86 with 1:33 left before James made a layup.
Noah also had seven assists and five blocks with his dad - tennis great Yannick Noah - looking on.
Butler added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Wade tried to carry the load for Miami, particularly in the early going. Chris Bosh scored 15, but James had another rough afternoon. The four-time MVP is 23 for 59 in the three games since his career-high and franchise-record 61-point effort against Charlotte last week.
James also went without a mask from the start to protect his broken nose, after ditching it during the previous game. He said it was simply uncomfortable, so he decided to play without it even though he was not cleared to do so.
The Heat led by 12 in the third quarter, but the Bulls hung in.
Augustin's 3-pointer and Butler's steal and two free throws put Chicago ahead 75-74 midway through the fourth.
It was 82-82 with just over two minutes left when Noah blocked a layup by James. Taj Gibson raced the other way for a thunderous dunk while getting fouled by Mario Chalmers, drawing a roar from the crowd.
James tied it again on a layup with 1:10 left. Wade then stole the ball from Butler and hit two free throws after getting fouled inside by Noah to give Miami an 86-84 lead with 29.2 seconds remaining. But Kirk Hinrich quickly scooped in a runner to knot it at 86 with 20.1 seconds left.
After a timeout, James took the inbounds and got stripped driving along the right side by Butler to send this one to overtime.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 20:16:00 +0000
Jets release cornerback Antonio Cromartie
NEW YORK (AP) The New York Jets cut ties with their top cornerback - and saved millions of dollars under their salary cap.
Antonio Cromartie, who was entering the final season of his four-year deal, was released Sunday. He was scheduled to cost the Jets' cap $14.98 million this season, including a $5 million roster bonus that would have kicked in later this month.
With the move, which was expected, New York created about $9.5 million in cap space. There's a chance the Jets could bring back Cromartie at a lesser salary, unless the three-time Pro Bowl selection chooses to explore free agency. The NFL's free agency period begins Tuesday.
Cromartie expressed appreciation for the team and its fans in a few posts on his Twitter page.
"I would like 2 thank the Jets organization so much with helpin me grow as leader and a player," he wrote.
Cromartie, who will be 30 next month, is coming off perhaps his worst season as he struggled with a hip ailment for most of the year while continuing to play as the Jets' No. 1 cornerback. He still made the Pro Bowl, though, as an alternate.
"I just had a bad year," he said during an interview with NBC Sports Network in January. "That falls heavily on me and no one else."
New York could be in the market for a starting cornerback if the Jets don't re-sign Cromartie because they have just Dee Milliner, the team's top pick last year who struggled through an up-and-down season, and Kyle Wilson, their 2010 first-rounder who has played in more of a nickel back role. They also claimed former Chargers cornerback Johnny Patrick off waivers last week and have backups Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster.
The Jets have already shown some interest in free agent cornerback Alterraun Verner, who spent his first five seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
The move with Cromartie could be just the first of a few high-profile players being released this offseason by the Jets. Quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes are also likely to be cut because of high salary cap numbers.
Cromartie said a few times at the end of last season that he would prefer to retire as a member of the Jets and expressed excitement about the team keeping coach Rex Ryan around for 2014. Whether he's a part of Ryan's secondary next season remains to be seen.
Ryan called Cromartie "one of the finest athletes I've ever coached."
"He was willing to contribute wherever the team needed him to win games," Ryan said, adding: "He has a passion and enthusiasm for the game and I wish him and his family the best."
Cromartie's right hip bothered him at times after he reinjured it in Week 2 of the preseason. The hip issues stem from a 2008 injury in which he actually played through a dislocated hip while with the San Diego Chargers.
Cromartie has had varying degrees of pain the last few years related to the hip, but hadn't felt sharp pains until late in the season. It appeared at times to have sapped some of Cromartie's speed, with the cornerback getting beat on some plays he normally wouldn't have in the past.
When Darrelle Revis was traded to Tampa Bay last April, Cromartie stepped in as the team's No. 1 cornerback - a role in which he played well when Revis was lost early in the 2012 season with a knee injury.
He spent his first four seasons with the Chargers and was traded to the Jets in March 2010 for a draft pick. Cromartie became a free agent after that season, but after they unsuccessfully flirted with Nnamdi Asomugha, the Jets re-signed him to a four-year, $32 million deal.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 21:26:00 +0000
Keselowski edges Junior on last lap in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) Brad Keselowski surged ahead on the final lap when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel, claiming a dramatic victory Sunday in the NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Keselowski swept a weekend's races for the first time in his career with his first Cup victory at Las Vegas. He also won Saturday's Nationwide Series race.
Keselowski capitalized when Earnhardt's fuel gamble failed. The 2012 Sprint Cup champion earned a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship after missing it entirely last season.
Earnhardt was just a few ounces of fuel shy of earning his second victory in three races to start the season. He also finished second last week at Phoenix.
Paul Menard finished third in front of Keselowski's teammate, pole-sitter Joey Logano. Carl Edwards was fifth.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 22:13:00 +0000
Agent confirms Mendenhall retiring from NFL
PHOENIX (AP) Running back Rashard Mendenhall is retiring from the NFL at the age of 26.
Agent Mike McCartney confirmed via Twitter on Sunday that Mendenhall had decided to end his playing career after six NFL seasons, all but one of them with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mendenhall, the Steelers' first-round draft pick and 23rd overall selection out of Illinois in 2008, gained 4,326 career yards, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
After signing a free-agent contract with Arizona, he was hampered by a toe injury much of last season and was most effective down the stretch. Mendenhall finished with a team-high 687 yards in 217 carries.
Mendenhall had consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Steelers in 2009 and 2010. A knee injury limited him to six games with Pittsburgh in 2012.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 22:28:00 +0000
Maryland stuns No. 5 Virginia 75-69 in ACC finale
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland closed out its 61st and final Atlantic Coast Conference regular season in stunning fashion, outlasting No. 5 Virginia 75-69 in overtime Sunday to end the Cavaliers' 13-game winning streak.
After blowing a seemingly secure lead in the closing seconds of regulation, the Terrapins never trailed in the extra session in front of an emotional sellout crowd of 17,950 at the school's final home basketball game in a conference it joined as a charter member in 1953.
When the final buzzer sounded, thousands of fans stormed the court to celebrate another unforgettable ACC memory at the expense of one of its biggest rivals.
Seth Allen scored five of his 20 points in overtime and Dez Wells finished with 18 for the Terrapins (17-14, 9-9 ACC), who will play in the Big Ten next season. Maryland had lost six straight to Virginia, including a 61-53 decision in February that was part of the Cavaliers' school-record winning streak against ACC competition.
Anthony Gill scored 15 points and London Perrantes had 14 for Virginia (25-6, 16-2), which had already won the regular season title and was vying to set an ACC record for most league wins during the regular season.
The end of regulation was a horror show for Maryland and the fans lining up to storm the court when victory seemed all but clinched.
After Jake Layman made two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to put the Terrapins ahead 64-61, Maryland quickly fouled. Malcolm Brogdon made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second before the Terrapins swatted the ball out of bounds with 1.7 seconds to go.
Gill caught the inbounds pass in the lane and dropped in an uncontested jumper to force overtime.
After that, however, Maryland dominated. Allen made two straight layups for a 68-64 lead, then blocked a shot before adding a free throw.
The Cavaliers used a layup by Gill to close to 71-69 with 1:13 left, but they would not score again. Despite the loss, Virginia will head into the ACC tournament as a top seed for only the second time.
Maryland opened the second half with an 11-2 run, turning a one-point deficit into a 45-37 lead.
After Wells made two free throws, Perrantes answered with a foul-line jumper. Wells then made a basket and added two foul shots before Allen popped a 3-pointer and Shaquille Cleare added a layup.
The teams combined for only two field goals over the next 5 minutes, but Virginia made five free throws during that span to close to 47-44 with 11:34 left.
Minutes later, Joe Harris hit a 3-pointer to end a 6-0 spree that put the Cavaliers in front 52-51 with 8:30 to play. Maryland went ahead 62-58 with 2:39 remaining but could not make the lead stand up.
Perrantes scored 12 first-half points on four 3-pointers, including one in the closing seconds that put the Cavaliers ahead 35-34.
As an expression of gratitude to the lone senior on the squad, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon started seldom-used forward John Auslander, who missed his only shot before being replaced with just under 4 minutes elapsed.
Virginia used an early 12-2 run to go up 14-5 before Evan Smotrycz hit a jumper, a 3-pointer and a three-point play to launch a 16-4 spurt that included seven straight points by Allen.
It was 27-22 before Perrantes drilled successive 3-pointers to reverse the momentum and calm the crowd.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 18:51:00 +0000
No. 7 Syracuse ends losing streak with 74-58 win
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) C.J. Fair scored 22 points and No. 7 Syracuse closed the regular season with a 74-58 victory in the program's first trip to Florida State.
The Orange, who ended a two-game losing streak, had lost 4 of 5 after starting the season 25-0.
Jerami Grant, who had been bothered by back problems recently, had 16 points and eight rebounds while Tyler Ennis finished with 16 points for Syracuse (27-4, 14-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Okaro White led Florida State with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow senior Ian Miller scored 16 points in his last home game while Aaron Thomas chipped in 14.
The bubble may have burst for Florida State (18-12, 9-9) which desperately needed a signature win at this point of the season to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 20:11:00 +0000
Reed on a roll, wins a World Golf Championship
DORAL, Fla. (AP) Patrick Reed won the Cadillac Championship for this third PGA Tour title in seven months, and this was a big one.
Dressed in a red shirt he always wears on Sunday - with Tiger Woods in the group ahead of him - Reed made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 at Doral to pull away early. He played the 18th conservatively and made bogey for an even-par 72 and a one-shot victory over Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson of Wales.
At 23, Reed became the youngest winner of a World Golf Championship.
Woods failed to make a birdie in the final round for the first time in his career and closed with a 77, matching his worst Sunday score ever.
It was the second straight time Reed has won wire-to-wire.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 23:04:00 +0000
Buckeyes score last 4 in 69-67 win over No. 22 MSU
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) LaQuinton Ross scored 22 points and Aaron Craft added 12, including a late free throw, to lead Ohio State past No. 22 Michigan State 69-67 on Sunday.
Keith Appling's jumper with 2 seconds left was off the mark for the Spartans, who failed to score over the final 4:30 as Ohio State scored the game's final four points.
Adreian Payne scored 23 points, Gary Harris had 12 and Denzel Valentine 11 for the Spartans (23-8, 12-6 Big Ten), who have lost seven of their last 11.
Much-maligned center Amir Williams hit a free throw with 37.2 seconds left to put Ohio State (23-8, 10-8) ahead for good. Craft then added a free throw with 20.9 seconds remaining.
Both teams were seeking some traction heading into the postseason. The Buckeyes had dropped their last two on the road to second-tier Big Ten teams.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 22:55:00 +0000