The No. 12 UMass Lowell men’s hockey team is peaking at the right time.
With a sweep of Merrimack during the weekend, the Riverhawks improved to 21-9-2 overall, and 15-8-2 in Hockey East play for 32 points, moving ahead of New Hampshire in the league standings. It is the latest in the regular season UMass Lowell has held the top spot, and just two regular season games against Providence remain on the schedule.
The Riverhawks scored two first period goals against No. 17 Merrimack en route to a 3-1 win against the Warriors on Sunday as they stretched their winning streak to six games. The victory also clinched home ice for the Hockey East tournament, which begins March 14.
Freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is having an outstanding season for the Riverhawks in front of the net. The rookie tallied 31 saves against the Warriors while earning his 13th consecutive victory. Hellebuyck improved his statistics to a 1.41 goals against average and .947 save percentage for the season.
UMass Lowell has put together a seven-game winning streak against nationally-ranked opponents – a school record in the Division I era. The Riverhawks are 17-2-1 in their last 20 games – the best 20-game stretch in school history.
“We’re going to try to play our best hockey when it counts most,” head coach Norm Bazin said. “If all that happens, great.’’
• The No. 2 Arkansas baseball team dropped four consecutive games at the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz., including a 4-3 walk-off loss to Pacific on Sunday as the Razorbacks’ record fell to 7-5 on the season. Arkansas opened the tournament with a 3-2 loss to No. 24 Arizona State on Thursday, and then Gonzaga pitcher Marco Gonzales tossed a complete-game shutout with nine strikeouts against the Razorbacks as they fell 3-0 on Friday. On Saturday, the Razorbacks dropped another contest to the Sun Devils 3-1.
Arkansas was leading 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth against Pacific on Sunday, but the Tigers rallied with a three-run inning capped off by a walk-off single from Eric Lockwood to stretch the Razorbacks’ losing streak to four games.
“It’s a setback as far as wins and losses,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “But as far as game experience and getting work in and playing and getting better and figuring out our team, I think this was a big weekend. If we continue to get better, and play well in early conference play, it will be worth it.”
• NC State sophomore pitcher Carlos Rodon struck out a career-high 16 batters in seven innings of a no-decision as the Wolfpack won in walk-off fashion, defeating Florida Atlantic 2-1 in 10 innings at Coastal Carolina’s Baseball at the Beach on Saturday. Rodon surrendered one run on two hits and three walks in the outing. He has fanned 38 batters in 20.0 innings this season.
The Pack posted its second consecutive extra-inning victory on Sunday, edging Coastal Carolina 5-4 in 10 innings to extend their winning streak to 10 games.
• Senior attack Kitty Cullen netted four goals to lead the No. 2 Florida women’s lacrosse team to a 14-10 victory against No. 4 Syracuse at the Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday. The Gators improved to 7-0 as they beat the Orange for the first time since 2011 in the rematch of the NCAA semifinals, which Syracuse won 14-13 in overtime. It is the Gators’ third victory against a ranked opponent, and second against a top-10 foe, this season.
• Notre Dame freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh scored his second overtime game-winning goal in as many games as the No. 2 Irish escaped an epic triple-overtime battle with No. 9 North Carolina 10-9 in South Bend on Saturday. The Irish rallied to score the final four goals of the contest with Kavanagh leading the charge with three goals and an assist during the stretch. For the game, he contributed four goals and two assists, and improved his team-leading totals to nine goals and 12 points on the year. Kavanagh also tallied the overtime game-winner at Penn State last week.
• For the third time in program history, the No. 1 Wartburg wrestling team had all 10 competitors qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships as the Knights won the NCAA Central Regional title on Saturday. It was the second consecutive year Wartburg advanced 10 wrestlers to national championships. Five of the 10 were also regional champions: Gilberto Camacho, 125; Kenny Anderson, 133; Kodie Silvestri, 149; Cole Welter, 157 and Landon Williams, 165.
• Augsburg junior Chad Johnson is one step closer to defending his NCAA Division III heavyweight national title after winning the NCAA West Regional and helping the Auggies collect their fifth consecutive regional championship on Saturday. Johnson opened the tournament with a first-period pin, and then claimed two more wins, including a 2-1 defeat of No. 4-ranked Tom Bouressa of Concordia-Moorhead in the championship match. With the final win, Johnson reached 100 for his career.
• Dickinson College earned a first-round victory in the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship, downing Marietta 80-65 behind a stellar 32-point performance by junior Adam Honig. He connected on five-of-seven 3-pointers, shooting 12-of-15 from the field. Honig’s game-high total pushed him past the 1,000-point milestone.
• The No. 2 Hope College women’s basketball team ended No. 3 Ohio Northern’s 26-game winning streak on Saturday as the Flying Dutch blew by the Polar Bears 63-48 in the second round of NCAA Division III Championship play. Hope improved to 28-1 behind a 21-point performance by senior Courtney Kust. ONU entered the contest averaging 71.2 points per game. Hope advanced to the sectional round hosted by UW-Whitewater where it will play St. Thomas (Minn.) on March 8.
• The No. 1 West Liberty men’s basketball team captured its third consecutive West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship with a 92-78 defeat of Fairmont State on Saturday, becoming only the second team in the league’s 76-year history to sweep the regular season and tournament titles in three consecutive seasons.
“It always feels great to win a championship but this one might mean a little more to me simply because it’s the last one for a great league,” WLU head coach Jim Crutchfield said. “I’m a West Virginia guy and I grew up around this tournament. To think that this league has been around since 1924 and our guys won the last three championships, that’s something they can be proud of for a very long time.”
The WVIAC will be dissolved following the 2012-13 academic year with most of the current members moving into the newly-formed Mountain East Conference.
• The No. 2 Florida women’s gymnastics team posted the nation’s leading team total, setting a school-record mark of 198.425 in a win against No. 14 Minnesota (197.175) on Friday. The Gators’ score topped No. 1 Oklahoma’s nation-best score of 198.375, which the Sooners achieved a week ago. A Florida gymnast earned a nearly-perfect mark of 9.975 on each of the four events, including a 9.975 by sophomore Kyrtra Hunter on vault. The Gators are the only team to break the 198 barrier twice in 2013, as they turned in a 198.10 versus Alabama on Feb. 8.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|1:46.07||Arkansas senior runner Leoman Momah ran an NCAA-leading time of 1:46.07 in the 800 meters at the Arkansas final qualifier on Friday. Momoh had entered the race with a season-best time of 1:50.21, and shed four seconds off of the mark to move to the top of the NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying List in the 800 meters. He was not ranked in the nation’s top 50 before the performance.|
|15||With a pair of shutouts against Bemidji State during the weekend, Minnesota women’s hockey goaltender Noora Raty collected her 14th and 15th of the year, earning the NCAA single-season record in the process. The No. 1 Gophers improved to 36-0-0 on the season, and advanced to next weekend’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Face-off, while stretching their NCAA-record winning streak to 44 contests.|
|26-0||The No. 1 Clayton State women’s basketball team was the only Division II squad to conclude the regular season with a perfect record after downing Columbus State 80-47 on Saturday to improve to 26-0 on the year. The Lakers also extended their regular season winning streak to 34 games dating back to last year. It is the second time in the last three seasons the Lakers have finished the regular season with a flawless record. They also accomplished the feat in 2010-11 en route to winning the national title.|
|34||The No. 1 Texas men’s swimming team won its 34th consecutive conference team championship at the Big 12 Championships on Saturday. It was the 17th Big 12 title for the Longhorns. Texas was paced by senior Dax Hill, the Men’s Swimmer of the Meet. Hill won two individual titles for the Longhorns, including the 100 freestyle with a time of 42.71 – the sixth-fastest mark in college swimming.|
|34-of-34||The Oklahoma men’s basketball team tied an NCAA single-game mark as the Sooners connected on 34-of-34 free throws en route to an 86-69 defeat of Iowa State on Saturday. Oklahoma shares the mark of perfection with UC Irvine (vs. Pacific, 1981) and Samford (vs. UCF, 1990).|
|36||Duke senior captain Ryan Kelly returned from a two-month injury with the performance of a lifetime as the No. 3 Blue Devils edged No. 5 Miami 79-76 on Saturday. Kelly netted a career-best 36 points, shooting 10-of-14 from the floor, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range. He also grabbed seven rebounds in a match-up of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top teams.|
• Tufts diver Johann Schmidt began his quest to defend last year’s NCAA Division III three- and one-meter diving titles as he was the top scorer at NCAA Zone Diving Qualifier at Springfield College during the weekend. Schmidt won both individual events at the regional, scoring 588.95 in three-meter on Friday and 543.20 in one-meter on Saturday. He will compete at nationals in Shenandoah, Texas, on March 20-23.
• Sophomore Kevin Rice netted his first career game-winning goal to lift the No. 18 Syracuse men’s lacrosse team to a 9-8 overtime victory against No. 6 Virginia at the Carrier Dome on Friday. It was the fifth time in the last seven meetings between the two teams the outcome was decided by one goal.
• The Virginia men’s swimming and diving team captured its sixth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title at the Greensboro Aquatic Center on Saturday, earning the 16th championship in program history – all of which have come under head coach Mark Bernardino. Bernardino’s 16 titles are the most by a coach in the 60-year history of the league.
• The No. 1 Alabama softball team remained unscathed during the weekend, picking up four victories at the Easton Classic in Tuscaloosa to improve to 22-0 on the year. The Crimson Tide is the only remaining unbeaten top-25 team after Oklahoma, Arizona State and Texas A&M all suffered their first losses of the season last weekend.
Third baseman Danielle Richard was voted the Easton Classic Most Valuable Player after batting .800 with four runs scored, three RBI, three stolen bases and a home run.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy