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Irish win narrows Bulls' bye options

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Jack Cooley scored a career-high 27 and had 17 rebounds as No. 20 Notre Dame beat Providence 75-69 Friday to wrap up a double bye in next week's Big East basketball tournament.

Notre Dame (21-10, 13-5 Big East) locked up the No. 3 seed, which means USF must win today and hope Marquette beats visiting Georgetown to get the last double bye.

Cooley scored 21 and grabbed 10 rebounds in the first half, hitting 7 of 10 shots. The Irish outscored the Friars 26-5 over the first 10 minutes of the second half to take control.

No. 12 Murray St. 78, Tenn. Tech 58: Donte Poole scored 25 as the Racers (29-1) reached today's final of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in Nashville. They play Tennessee State, a 59-52 winner over Morehead State.

No. 15 Wichita St. 72, Ind. St. 48: Toure Murry and Joe Ragland scored 14 each as the Shockers (27-4) advanced to today's semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in St. Louis against Illinois State, a 54-42 winner over Northern Iowa.

No. 25 Creighton 68, Drake 61: Doug McDermott scored 26 as the Bluejays (26-5) reached today's semifinals of the Missouri Valley tournament against Evansville.

Calhoun at practice: UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who turns 70 in May, returned to practice four days after back surgery. "I'm not quite as cranky as I should be, but hopefully I will get there," he said. He planned to return either today against Pitt or at the Big East tournament Tuesday.

Women: UF loses lead, SEC quarterfinal

NASHVILLE — The Gators had their chance to make a stronger case for an NCAA Tournament bid, building a lead against 10th-ranked Kentucky. But now they must wait to see if their resume is strong enough without an SEC tournament victory.

Florida led 20-6 early and 38-25 in the second half before losing 71-67 to Kentucky in the SEC quarterfinals.

Coach Amanda Butler, whose Gators got 18 points from Jennifer George, believes her 19-12 team more than made its case for its first NCAA berth since 2009.

The Gators won six of their final 10 games, went 8-8 in SEC play and went into the tournament with the nation's 11th-toughest strength of schedule. Also, 10 of the losses came by six or fewer points.

"These kids, there's no question, have got a lot more basketball to play, " Butler said. "It would be a travesty if it was any other way."

A'dia Mathies scored 24 points as Kentucky (25-5) advanced to today's semifinal against LSU.

More SEC: Shekinna Stricklen scored 18 in the second half to lead No. 13 Tennessee (22-8) to a 68-57 win over Vanderbilt in a game that was temporarily delayed because of a tornado warning. The second-seeded Vols face No. 25 South Carolina (23-8), a 59-55 winner over No. 16 Georgia (22-8), today in the semifinals. … Adrienne Webb sank a 3-pointer with nine seconds left as LSU (21-9) beat Arkansas 41-40.

USF survives Pitt rally in Big East

HARTFORD, Conn. — Inga Orekhova scored 25 and Andrell Smith hit the winning 3-pointer with 43 seconds left as USF edged Pittsburgh 60-59 in the first round of the Big East tournament after losing a 19-point halftime lead.

Brianna Kiesel scored 15 of her 24 in the second half for Pittsburgh (8-22), which lost all 16 of its regular-season conference games.

Orekhova scored 21 first-half points, including five 3-pointers, as the ninth-seeded Bulls (17-14) made 7 of 10 3-pointers to take a 39-20 halftime lead. Smith scored 16 for the Bulls, who plays eighth-seeded DePaul in the quarterfinals today.

ACC: Secily Ray scored a season-high 21 as Wake Forest upset No. 7 Miami 81-74 in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament at Greensboro, N.C. The seventh-seeded Demon Deacons (19-12) play today against No. 6 Maryland (26-4), a 70-58 winner over Virginia. The Hurricanes (25-5) were led by Riquna Williams' 22 points. … Bonae Holston and Marissa Kastanek each scored 16 as ninth-seeded N.C. State upset No. 5 Duke 75-73. The Wolfpack scored 26 points off 22 turnovers by the Blue Devils (24-5) to advance to play Georgia Tech. … Tyaunna Marshall scored 21 as No. 15 Georgia Tech (23-7) beat UNC 54-53.

Top 25: Maggie Lucas scored 24 as No. 9 Penn State (24-5) rallied to beat Minnesota 78-74 in the Big Ten quarterfinals in Indianapolis. The top-seeded Nittany Lions face No. 21 Purdue (22-8), a 73-64 winner over Michigan State. … No. 14 Ohio State (25-5) held off Michigan 57-48 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes today play No. 24 Nebraska (23-7), which beat Iowa 80-68 behind Lindsey Moore's 26 points.

.Fast Facts

Sunshine State men's tournament

at Florida Southern, Lakeland

Today's semifinals

Eckerd vs. Saint Leo, noon

Florida Tech vs. Florida Southern, 2:30

Final: 1 p.m. Sunday

Irish win narrows Bulls' bye options 03/02/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 3, 2012 12:22am]

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