Final four unbeaten teams fall
Also: Cal ends Stanford streak; SCSU wins DII national duals
The undefeated teams in Division I men’s basketball fell like dominos this week.
Last Monday, four squads boasted flawless records – No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Arizona and No. 25 Wyoming. But with a tough slate of contests on the week, by Sunday afternoon, all four had joined the 343 other Division I teams that had already suffered losses this season. Subsequently, fans will have to wait another year to see if a Division I men’s team can accomplish an elusive perfect season. Of course, we have been getting used to that wait.
Thirty-seven years have passed since Indiana went 32-0 and won the NCAA title and it has been 21 years since UNLV entered the NCAA tournament with a perfect mark before eventually falling to Duke in the 1991 Final Four.
Wyoming started the undefeateds’ run of bad luck, opening Mountain West Conference action with a 63-61 loss to Boise State on Wednesday. The Broncos hit a 3-pointer as time expired to snap the Pokes’ 13-game winning streak.
While Wyoming’s setback wasn’t exactly earth-shattering, it definitely started churning up some bad karma for the rest of the unbeatens.
On Thursday, Arizona hit the road to Oregon for a Pac-12 match-up and fell to the Ducks 70-66, who overcame an 11-0 deficit and stretched their home court winning streak to 11. The Wildcats did bounce back at Oregon State with an 80-70 win against the Beavers on Saturday, but the damage to a potential perfect season had already been done.
It was Duke’s turn to face the agony of defeat on Saturday. The top-ranked team went down as No. 20 NC State handed the Blue Devils an 84-76 defeat behind senior Richard Howell’s 16 points and 18 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the year.
It was NC State’s first win against a No. 1-ranked opponent since 2004, which also came against Duke. The Wolfpack is off to a 3-0 start in Atlantic Coast Conference play for the first time since the 1988-89 season, which is also the last time they have strung together 10 consecutive victories.
Michigan stood alone in perfection on Sunday morning, but by the time CBS was ready to switch to coverage of the NFL playoffs in the afternoon, No. 15 Ohio State had made sure the Wolverines had joined the rest of the Division I men’s basketball teams. The Buckeyes led Michigan by as many as 21 points in the first half, and despite the Wolverines’ persistent second-half rallies, Ohio State held on for a 56-53 victory in the Big Ten battle.
• The No. 7 California women’s basketball team made sure they didn’t experience déjà vu as the Golden Bears took on No. 4 Stanford for the second time in a week on Sunday. Instead, Cal ended the Cardinal’s 81-game conference winning streak with a 67-55 behind Gennifer Brandon’s 14-point, 12-rebound performance. It had been nearly four years since Stanford lost to a Pac-12 opponent. The victory also marked the first time the Bears have beat a top-five opponent since Nov. 22, 2008 (No. 2 Rutgers).
• Senior forward John Henrion netted a power-play goal with 15:12 remaining in the third period to lift No. 4 New Hampshire to a 2-1 defeat of No. 2 Boston College in Hockey East action on Saturday. The victory gave the Wildcats a split in the weekend series after BC won the first contest 5-2 on Friday. The Wildcats also ended a six-game losing streak to the Eagles on Saturday. League-leading BC holds a two-point lead against UNH in the Hockey East standings.
“We were a little bit angry after [Friday] night,” Henrion said. “When you’re playing a team like that in a split weekend – they’ve obviously had a lot of success lately – this was a must-win for us to get at least two points in the series.”
• The Babson college men’s ice hockey team earned its third win against a nationally-ranked team in the last month as the Beavers toppled No. 1 Norwich 4-1 on Saturday. Senior goalie Zeke Testa collected 33 saves, stopping Norwich’s potent offense that outshot the Beavers 26-5 in the final two periods. It was only the second time Babson has beat its ECAC East opponent in the last 15 years. The first time was in the league tournament in 2007. The Beavers have won nine of their last 10 contests.
• The No. 8 Wisconsin women’s hockey team stretched its home winning streak to 11 games with a sweep of No. 9 Ohio State during the weekend as the Badgers grabbed second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings. UW trails No. 1 Minnesota, which has put together a 16-0-0 record this season.
• In a rematch of last year’s NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship match, No. 8 USC swept No. 1 and defending national champion UC Irvine 3-0 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation action on Friday. Robert Feathers sparked the Trojans with 12 kills, six blocks and a .526 hitting percentage. It was the Trojans’ first victory of the season after they opened the year with a 3-0 loss to No. 14 UC San Diego on Thursday.
• The No. 8 LSU women’s gymnastics team narrowly edged No. 3 Florida 196.875-196.575 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both squads on Friday in Baton Rouge. The meet came down to the final performances for each team. LSU’s Lloiminica Hall posted a 9.95 to win the floor exercise, while Florida’s Marissa King slipped off the beam, forcing the Gators to count a fall. The victory against the Gators ended LSU’s eight-meet losing streak in the series. Hall, a sophomore, also finished second in the all-around behind Florida’s Kytra Hunter. It was Hall’s eighth floor title of her career.
• The No. 4 St. Cloud State wrestling team remained unbeaten on the season with four dual wins last weekend en route to a first-place finish at the 2013 NWCA Division II National Duals in Springfield, Ill. The Huskies claimed their second consecutive National Duals title with a 17-15 defeat of No. 7 Notre Dame (Ohio) in the championship match. SCSU trailed by one point heading in the final bout, but senior Jacob Kahnke notched a 3-0 decision against ND’s Orland Scales at 285 pounds, propelling the Huskies to a two-point victory.
In the Division III bracket of the tournament, No. 1 Wartburg captured its third consecutive team title with a 24-10 victory against No. 2 Elmhurst on Sunday. It was the first time since the event’s inception that Wartburg had not met Augsburg in the finals. Augsburg was sent to the loser’s bracket on Saturday by No. 7 Centenary College after dropping a quarterfinals match 19-15.
• A pair of nationally-ranked Peach Belt Conference women’s basketball teams remained unbeaten during the weekend, setting up a clash between undefeateds No. 3 Clayton State and No. 4 USC Aiken on Wednesday. Clayton State notched its 13th win of the season with an 86-65 win against Peach Belt Conference rival North Georgia on Saturday, while the Pacers followed with a 68-60 defeat of Montevallo, tying the school record for longest winning streak with 12.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
||The Wisconsin men’s basketball team is tied for first place with No. 5 Indiana atop the Big Ten standings after downing No. 12 Illinois 74-51 on Saturday as the Badgers started 3-0 in league play for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Badgers have won six consecutive games.|
|15||Washington College snapped a 15-game losing streak dating back to last season by shocking No. 14 Franklin & Marshall 62-61 in a Division III men’s basketball match-up of lopsided Centennial Conference opponents on Saturday. The win also ended a 10-game home losing streak for the Shoremen. The Shoremen are now 1-14 on the season.|
|15-1||The No. 3 Elmira women’s hockey team outscored Chatham University 15-1 in a two-game series between ECAC West foes during the weekend as the Soaring Eagles stretched their winning streak to eight consecutive contests. Elmira leads the nation in scoring defense (0.71 gpg), and ranks third in scoring offense in Division III with 4.76 goals per game.|
|16||The No. 5 Quinnipiac men’s hockey squad extended its NCAA-leading unbeaten streak to 16 games (14-0-2) with a 3-2 come-from-behind win versus No. 16 Union. The Bobcats improved to 11-0-1 in ECAC Hockey play, and 8-0-0 against ranked opponents.|
|33||The No. 4 St. Thomas women’s basketball team saw its’ 33-game winning streak against Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes end on Saturday with a 66-62 loss to St. Benedict. The Tommies’ 11-game winning streak was also snapped.|
• The Auburn men’s basketball team is off to a 2-0 start in Southeastern Conference play for the first time in 10 years following the Tigers’ 74-71 victory against South Carolina on Saturday. Frankie Sullivan led the Tigers with 17 points and five assists in the contest. Auburn posted a 6-7 record in non-conference action prior to winning its first two league games.
• No. 4 Bellarmine was upset twice during the weekend, losing to Missouri-St. Louis 87-82 in double overtime, and then falling to Maryville 69-64 on Saturday in Division II men’s basketball. It is the first time the Knights have lost back-to-back games since the 2009-10 season. The Great Lakes Valley Conference had entered the weekend with four unbeaten teams, but just two remain as Bellarmine and Southern Indiana both fell in league action.
• Western Washington scored almost 30 points below its season average, but the defending Division II NCAA Champions and No. 5 Vikings managed to remain perfect on the season with a 61-49 defeat of Northwest Nazarene in Great North West Athletic Conference play on Saturday. The Vikings have won a GNAC-record 20 consecutive games (dating back to last season).
• Texas A&M cruised to a pair of team titles as the hosts of the 12-Team Invitational in Division I indoor track and field action on Saturday. The No. 4 men’s squad and No. 6 women’s squad each won six individual titles at the event. Junior sprinter Prezel Hardy, Jr., led the men’s team with wins in the 60 meters and 200 meters. Hardy’s time of 20.78 in the 200 was both a career-best and meet record. On the women’s side, freshman LaQue Moen-Davis made quite a first impression with the third-best long jump in Aggie history, winning with a meet-record mark of 20-11.25 (6.38).
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy