March 06, 2005

llinois, Kentucky Lose; N.C. Edges Duke

Just hours after Ohio State handed top-ranked Illinois their first loss of the season, No. 3 Kentucky lost by the same one-point margin to Florida. It took a game-closing 11-0 run for No. 2 North Carolina to beat No. 6 Duke by two points and avoid the top three teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll all losing just days before the conference tournaments get under way.

Illinois (29-1, 15-1 Big Ten) was trying to become the second team in as many seasons to get to "Championship Week" without a loss. Ohio State reserve Matt Sylvester hit a 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds left to give the Buckeyes the 65-64 lead and the Illini's Roger Powell Jr. wasn't close with a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

"Everyone says a loss will help. We'll find out," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "We'll learn from it and move on. This next stretch is the most important of the year and that's what people are going to remember."

Saint Joseph's was 27-0 last season when the top-ranked Hawks lost to Xavier by 20 points in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament. The loss didn't derail their season by any means as they reached the round of eight in the NCAA tournament, losing to Oklahoma State in a thriller one game short of the Final Four.

Stanford also made a run at a perfect season last year, winning its first 26 before losing to Washington in the last game before the Pac-10 tournament. The Cardinal won the conference tournament, then were upset by Alabama in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Xavier's coach in that game against Saint Joe's was Thad Matta. He moved on to Ohio State this season and on Sunday he ended another long run at perfection.

"I'd like to be the other team just one time," Matta said with a laugh. "I'm living for the day I'm the No. 1 team and someone else is trying to do it to us."

The last team to reach the NCAA tournament without a loss was UNLV in 1991. The last team to go undefeated in a season was Indiana in 1976.

Illinois is still the top seed in this week's Big Ten tournament and it's hard to imagine the Illini losing the No. 1 ranking or a No. 1 seed in the NCAA's field of 65.

"I'd rather lose now than three weeks from now," Weber said.

North Carolina freshman Marvin Williams converted a three-point play with 17 seconds left to cap an 11-0 run and give the second-ranked Tar Heels a 75-73 victory over No. 6 Duke.

Sean May had 26 points and 24 rebounds to record his eighth straight double-double for North Carolina (26-3, 14-2), which won its first Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championship since 1993, the same year of its most recent national title.

Florida ended an eight-game losing streak to Kentucky with a 53-52 win as Anthony Roberson scored 21 points, including two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.

The Wildcats (23-4, 14-2 Southeastern Conference) had a chance to win it, but Kelenna Azubuike's 3-pointer just before the buzzer bounced off the left side of the rim.

Like North Carolina, Kentucky had already sewed up the top seed in the conference tournament, but the loss to the Gators may wind up costing the Wildcats a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

There is no record of the top three teams all losing on the same day, although they have all lost in the same week several times. The last time it happened was in November 2003 when the top four — Connecticut, Duke, Michigan State and Arizona — all went down.


No. 10 Notre Dame 70, West Virginia 59

Missing her first four shots didn't shake up Jacqueline Batteast. The Big East player of the year found other ways to help No. 10 Notre Dame early in the Fighting Irish's 70-59 Big East quarterfinal win over West Virginia.

No. 8 Michigan St. 83, No. 23 Penn St. 76

Kelli Roehrig and Kristin Haynie were determined to add one more chapter to their legacy at Michigan State -- a victory in the Big Ten semifinals.

No. 5 Tennessee 67, No. 1 LSU 65

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt moved within a game of Dean Smith's career victories record, and the Lady Vols beat top-ranked LSU 67-65 on Sunday for their first Southeastern Conference tournament title in five years.

No. 2 Stanford 73, Southern California 69

Tara VanDerveer only needed to tell her team one thing at halftime: The Cardinal would be coming to the Pac-10 tournament championship game Monday night no matter what, either to play or to watch.

Texas Christian 60, Louisville 41

When Louisville lost track of Ashley Davis, Texas Christian found its offense. Davis scored all 13 of her points in the second half to lead TCU to a 60-41 win over Louisville on Sunday in the championship game of the Conference USA women's basketball tournament.

No. 15 Minnesota 66, No. 3 Ohio State 63, OT

Janel McCarville was haunted by the memories of her first matchup with Jessica Davenport. On Sunday, McCarville did something about it. She scored the final four points in regulation.

Santa Clara 77, No. 24 Gonzaga 66

Santa Clara got the NCAA tournament bid it really wanted. Snapping Gonzaga's 23-game winning streak was just a bonus. Michelle Cozad scored 22 points and Santa Clara beat Gonzaga 77-66 on Sunday, ending the nation's longest winning streak.

No. 6 Duke 74, Maryland 44

Separated by a concrete wall, North Carolina and Duke players crowded around locker room television sets to watch their men's teams battle it out.

No. 16 Temple 64, Xavier 61

Candice Dupree scored 24 points and Ari Moore made two late free throws to lead No. 16 Temple into the final of the Atlantic 10 tournament with a 64-61 win over Xavier Sunday.

No. 4 North Carolina 78, Virginia 72

Trailing yet again in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Ivory Latta never panicked. ``I looked in everyone's eyes and I had no doubt we were going to win this game,'' Latta said.

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