Just a little too much Brittney Griner.
That’s what No. 6 Duke saw for 40 minutes in the final of the Memphis Regional in women’s basketball, the Blue Devils having their season end in a 51-48 loss to No. 14 Baylor.
Duke, seeded No. 2 in the region, finished its best season in its three under Joanne P. McCallie with a 30-6 record after winning both the ACC regular-season and tournament championships.
No. 4 seed Baylor (27-9), which got some fashion of revenge against Duke for eliminating its men’s team in the same Elite Eight round on Sunday, will take on the winner of Tuesday night’s game between heavily favored No. 1 seed Connecticut and Florida State in the national semifinals on April 4 in San Antonio.
Joanne P. McCallie says her mind isn’t going to be on anything that happened five years ago.
But the Duke women’s basketball coach has led a team against Baylor just once before.
That was in the 2005 NCAA title game, when Kim Mulkey’s Bears laid an 84-62 win on McCallie’s Michigan State Spartans.
No. 6 Duke will take on No. 14 Baylor tonight at 7 in Memphis for a spot in this season’s Final Four, with the more experienced Blue Devils perhaps slight favorites against a team featuring a weapon of a center in 6-8 freshman Brittney Griner.
There were reasons to miss last night's friendly between the Carolina RailHawks and last year's USL-1 champions, the Montreal Impact: It was sort of cold; there was a Wilco show in Durham; and there was college basketball (including what may turn out to be the final game of John Wall's NBA-mandated career as a student athlete).
Well, we went to WakeMed Soccer Park anyway and saw a few things worth seeing in the largely unremarkable 1-1 draw, including two more trialists in the starting XI:
JohnnyJoseph Ngwenya and Cory Elenio. The former is someone who's suited up for other RailHawks games this spring, but who has been unseen (by us, anyway) for a couple of weeks. He played the left wing for most of the game. (Gregory Richardson played 90 minutes Friday night against UNC and did not suit up for the Impact.)
The real new face, however, was Elenio, a burly-ish redhead who lined up at the right wing. Elenio spent the last two seasons under contract with the Columbus Crew, evidently without making a huge impact. He was cut by the Crew (Crew-cut?) on Tuesday, and immediately traveled to Cary to train with the RailHawks.
Last night, he was an active presence on the right, combining with Daniel Paladini, Josh Gardner, Andriy Budnyy and Ramak Safi to create good chances. The best one came in the 27th minute when Gardner sent a low cross in from the right and Elenio's right-footed volley went just over the crossbar.
JOHN WILLIAMS ATHLETIC COMPLEX/SOUTHERN PINES — Friday evening’s match between the Carolina RailHawks and the UNC Tar Heels at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines was the climax to the RailHawks’ three-day Sandhills retreat. Unfortunately, it appeared the RailHawks’ minds were still somewhere along the back-nine of Pinehurst No. 8 as they met defeat by a score of 2-0. Moreover, the RailHawks may have lost far more than a preseason friendly.
A modest, but energetic crowd braved the elements and, together with the setting, helped conjure the pleasant feel of an autumn high school football game. With back-to-back matches scheduled against the Tar Heels and the Montreal Impact back at WakeMed Soccer Park Saturday night, Coach Martin Rennie fielded a lineup that included two trialists teamed with a set number of roster players, most of whom will not likely see repeat action against Montreal.
The RailHawks’ performance was as frigid as the cold snap that blew into the area mere hours prior to kickoff. Billy Schuler put the Tar Heels on the board in the 15th minute when he muscled past Brad Rusin’s mark and poked a slow bounder past a statuesque Nic Platter.
Two minutes later, the takedown of a streaking Sainey Touray failed to grab the referee’s attention, but it left Touray lying in a heap just outside the 18 yard box. Touray was helped off the field, replaced by Andriy Budnyy. According to Rennie, the injury to Touray “looks pretty bad.” He will undergo tests to determine the extent of the damage, but early indications suggest a torn hamstring that could keep the RailHawks’ latest signing out of action for weeks or even months, depending on its severity.
North Carolina may win 20 games after all. The Tar Heels, playing in the NIT quarterfinal on Tuesday night, traveled to Alabama-Birmingham and captured their 19th victory by defeating the Blazers 60-55 in what some local reporters called the biggest home game in the history of UAB’s program.
The Heels did it with defense, holding the Blazers to just 29 percent field goal shooting. Carolina played a combination of its customary man-to-man defense and, in an atypical wrinkle, incorporated some 2-3 zone to force UAB — which doesn’t shoot nearly as well from the perimeter as the Heels’ previous two NIT opponents — to fire up jump shots.
Continuing the very recent trend, the Heels also displayed admirable poise while dealing with a hostile crowd and after getting hit by a couple of scoring runs. They also knocked in the majority of their clutch free throws.
Three days after struggling to create chances in the final third against the New England Revolution, the Carolina RailHawks officially announced the signing of 20-year-old striker Sainey Touray. Formerly a reserve with the New York Red Bulls, where he played with RailHawks left back John Gilkerson (who gets credited for bringing him to the attention of the RailHawks staff), Touray most recently played for Wallidan of The Gambia Premier League, where he scored six goals in 2009.
Touray has been trialing with the team for several weeks and has scored four goals in two abbreviated scrimmage appearances. In a scrimmage against N.C. State two weeks ago, he scored two goals in 45 minutes before departing the game with a hamstring injury. That same hamstring kept him out of Saturday's contest against the Revolution, although he participated in pregame warm-ups. Triangle Offense first reported his signing here.
He's tall and clearly opportunistic, and hopefully he'll provide some goals for the RailHawks this season. As RailHawks head coach Martin Rennie puts it in the team press release, "Players who can score are hard to find, and he could be really good."
Fans may be able to see Touray this weekend, when the RailHawks take on the UNC Tar Heels in a Friday night scrimmage in Southern Pines, or Saturday night's friendly against USSF D2 rival Montreal Impact.
For tickets to Saturday's game against the Impact, or for the just-announced April 25 matchup against Mexico's Olympic team, go to the team Web site. Complete press release below.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke gets a chance to get to the NCAA Women's Tournament Sweet 16 for the 12th time in the last 13 years, and the home court definitely gives the Blue Devils an advantage.
But tonight's opponent for No. 6 Duke, the No. 2 seed in the Memphis Region, is No. 21 and No. 7 seed LSU, which is also long and quick and athletic.
Both teams were just able to out-athlete their first-round opponents here on Monday, with Duke easily dispatching Hampton and LSU doing the same to Hartford.
That won't happen at all tonight, as the Tigers come in and make it nearly a 40-minute war. But the Blue Devils get big contributions from four different players over the final 10 minutes and advance to Memphis 60-52.
RBC CENTER/RALEIGH – The Buffalo Sabres shelled Carolina goalie Justin Peters and chased him in less than two periods en route to a 5-3 win. Former Team USA darling Ryan Miller played well enough to preserve the win and Carolina played hockey reminiscent of last November, allowing several defensive breakdowns and goals in quick succession. Two late goals gave the ‘Canes a fighting chance, but Raleigh’s booming Buffalo transplant community walked away happy after more than three minutes of empty net hockey failed to produce an equalizer.
Either no one told the Buffalo and Carolina fans around the arena that this game didn’t really have any standings implications or they didn’t care. Snippets of “Let’s go, Buffalo!” and smack talk were all around. You’d think it was a playoff game with all the heated discussions, but the Sabres faithful always seemed to have the upper hand. They’re favorites to win the Northeast Conference and will probably lock down the three seed in the Eastern Conference soon.
Sabres captain Craig Rivet went to the box early and things started to get chippy. Tuomo Ruutu attempted to take on two Sabres – both taller than him – on his own, which the crowd appreciated but the referees did not. Ruutu and Chris Butler both got minors for roughing.
On a later Buffalo power play, Justin Peters dropped his stick behind the net and Jay Harrison handed him his, but the goalie couldn’t collect himself in time for Tim Connolly’s stuff chance, which put Buffalo up 1-0.
N.C. State's run in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament turned out to be a very short one.
Jasmine Dixon had 17 points and 11 rebounds as UCLA steadily pulled away over the second half for a 74-54 win over the Wolfpack on Sunday night in the first round of the Kansas City Regional in Minneapolis.
Marissa Kastanek (pictured) finished her freshman season with a 21-point performance for the No. 9 seed Wolfpack (20-14). Nikitta Gartrell added 13 points in her final collegiate game, 10 of them in the first 13 minutes.
Rebekah Gardner added 13 pointsErica Tukiainen had 12 points for the No. 8 seed Bruins (25-8), who will play the region's No. 1 seed Nebraska on Tuesday night. Erica Tukiainen chipped in 12 points and Doreena Campbell 11 for UCLA.
Four of the six ACC teams in the tournament lost their first-round games. The exceptions are Duke and Florida State, both of which are hosting sub-regionals.