Local Sports News: March 15, 2024

Indiana University Wrestling learns NCAA Championship Matchups for its Six Qualifiers
The NCAA announced the seeding list and bracket placement at each of the ten weight classes for the 2024 NCAA Championships on Wednesday night. Indiana has six wrestlers who are in the tournament field. Cayden Rooks (133), Dan Fongaro (141), Graham Rooks (149), Brayton Lee (157), Tyler Lillard (165) and Nick Willham (285) all clinched automatic bids at the Big Ten Championships last weekend. The six NCAA qualifiers is the most Indiana has had in one season since 2009-10. Indiana’s Brayton Lee got the highest seed of Indiana’s entrants with the No. 11 spot at 157 lbs. Graham Rooks and Tyler Lillard each were seeded at No. 17 at 149 and 165 lbs., respectively. Graduate student Dan Fongaro got the No. 23 seed at 141 lbs. Both Cayden Rooks (133) and Nick Willham (285) got the No. 32 seed at their weight and will wrestle in a pigtail match to start the tournament.

Opening Matches:
133: No. 32 Cayden Rooks (IU) (11-11) vs. No. 33 Dyson Dunham (VMI) (20-13)
141: No. 23 Dan Fongaro (IU) (21-7) vs. No. 10 Tagen Jamison (OK St.) (21-8)
149: No. 17 Graham Rooks (IU) (19-10) vs. No. 16 Kelvin Griffin (Lehigh) (26-10)
157: No. 11 Brayton Lee (IU) (11-2) vs. No. 22 DJ McGee (George Mason) (24-5)
165: No. 17 Tyler Lillard (IU) (21-7) vs. No. 16 Will Miller (App State) (22-6)
285: No. 32 Nick Willham (IU) (12-10) vs. No. 33 Jordan Greer (Ohio) (14-8)

The 2024 NCAA Championships will take place from March 21-23 at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Indiana University Men’s and Women’s Diving Earn Five Bids to the NCAA Championships
Indiana Swimming & Diving expanded its NCAA Championships roster to 26 combined men and women after five divers qualified for the national meet from the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships Thursday inside Ralph Wright Natatorium on the campus of the University of Louisville. Indiana’s five qualifiers was the most from any program on the first day of the regional meet. Three men qualified on the 3-meter springboard, and two women advanced on 1-meter. Zone C continues action this weekend as the athletes build out their programs for the 2024 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships later this month. Springboard competitions resumes today followed by platform diving Saturday.

Junior Big Ten 3-meter champion Carson Tyler and classmate Quinn Henninger were the top two divers in the men’s event. Tyler totaled 910.65 points on the day, over 40 points better than the field. Henninger, last year’s NCAA bronze medalist on the board, finished second with an 869.35. Needing to finish top 10, sophomore Maxwell Weinrich clinched his second NCAA Championships with a score of 752.85 that placed him ninth. Seven qualifying spots were available from a tightly contested women’s 1-meter competition. Senior Anne Fowler led the way with a score of 606.60. Big Ten Diver of the Championships Skyler Liu took fourth place with a 598.05. Freshman Lily Witte missed seventh place by just 2.65 points, and classmate Ella Roselli (549.75) was the fourth Hoosier in the final and finished 11th. However, the freshman duo can still qualify for the national 1-meter competition as top-12 finishers if they can secure automatic bids on either the 3-meter springboard or platform.

Indiana University Softball gets a midweek win at Florida Atlantic
After battling throughout most of the game in a scoreless tie, Indiana Softball broke through for a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night at Florida Atlantic. The win marked Indiana’s tenth in a row and improves their season record to 20-4.  Indiana got the bats rolling in the top of the third inning, recording its first three hits of the game in the inning, but could not get a runner across home. In the bottom of the fourth, Florida Atlantic was threatening with two baserunners on. Junior Brianna Copeland threw a clutch strikeout to get out of the inning and prevent any runs from scoring. Through four innings, the score remained tied at 0-0. Indiana finally broke through and scored in the top of the fifth inning. Senior Brooke Benson placed a perfect bunt in front of home for a single and to load the bases. Copeland would follow up on the bases loaded setup with a single up the middle that would score two and give Indiana the lead. Florida Atlantic tacked on one run in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 2-1 game. Redshirt senior Cora Bassett and junior Taylor Minnick hit for an RBI single and RBI double, respectively, to give Indiana some insurance runs and a 4-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning. Bassett’s hit was the 200th of her career. It occurred on the same field that she recorded her first one when she began her college career in 2020.

With the win, Brianna Copeland’s season record in the circle is now 11-3. Taylor Minnick’s double was her fourth of the season. Copeland recorded two RBI while Minnick and Bassett each had one. In her two innings of work, Sophie Kleiman only allowed one hit and did not allow any runs to protect Indiana’s lead and secure the win. The Hoosiers are 4-0 all-time against FAU in program history. Indiana will stay in the Sunshine State for the Florida Tournament at the University of Florida Today through Sunday. The Hoosiers will play two games against host Florida and Mercer over the course of the weekend.

Indiana State Women’s Basketball beats Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament  
Mya Glanton led all players with a career-high 30 points Thursday afternoon, propelling Indiana State to a 66-54 win over Southern Illinois in the first round of Hoops in the Heartland in Moline, Illinois. Glanton’s 30-point performance came on an efficient 12-for-16 shooting clip. Ella Sawyer added 12 points for the ninth-seeded Sycamores, including a perfect 10-for-10 mark from the free throw line, while Kiley Bess was also in double-figures for the Sycamores with 10.  
Trailing by one entering the second quarter, Indiana State came alive with consecutive 3-pointers from Bella Finnegan and Bess and never trailed from the midway point of the second on. The Sycamores went down low early and often to Glanton, who had 19 in the first half, building a double-digit lead by halftime. Southern Illinois cut Indiana State’s lead down to three by the end of the third quarter, but the Sycamores never wavered. Glanton outscored Southern Illinois on her own in the fourth quarter 11-9, as the Trees advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in the last three seasons.

In the First Half Glanton made her mark felt early with an open layup on the opening possession, and Sawyer added a jumper to put the Sycamores ahead early. Southern Illinois pulled ahead midway through the quarter, but six straight points from Glanton, who had 10 in the opening period, saw the Sycamores go ahead 12-11 late. Indiana State entered the second quarter facing a 13-12 deficit. Baskets from Chelesa Cain and Bess helped the Sycamores tie things up at 16-all near the midway point of the quarter, and the Trees found their groove not long after. Back-to-back threes from Finnegan and Bess put the Sycamores up 22-19 with 4:36 to go in the quarter, and the Blue and White never trailed from that point forward. Glanton went on a personal 7-0 run, as Indiana State closed the half on a 17-4 run to take a 33-23 lead at the half.

In the Second Half Bess got things started for the Sycamores in the third quarter with a 3-pointer, and a jumper from Chelsea Cain extended Indiana State’s lead out to 39-28. Southern Illinois cut into Indiana State’s lead in the third quarter, but Sawyer and Saige Stahl combined to go 6-for-6 from the charity stripe inside the last two minutes of the frame to keep the Sycamores in front. Bess added a late basket for the Sycamores, who led 48-45 entering the fourth quarter.
Indiana State went back to what had worked early in the game to start the fourth, as consecutive baskets from Glanton saw the Sycamores go up 52-45. Asia Donald took full advantage of an extra possession with a layup, and Glanton added another layup to make it 57-50 in favor of the Trees. Indiana State used a 12-2 run to ice the game, with Glanton and Sawyer accounting for 11 of the 12 points for the Sycamores in that span. Glanton outscored Southern Illinois 11-9 in the last 10 minutes of the game to seal a 66-54 opening round win for Indiana State and advances to the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament, where it will face top-seeded Drake this afternoon at 1pm.

Indianapolis Colts sign veteran Quarterback Joe Flacco to a one-year deal
One of the NFL’s feel-good stories in 2023 has been added to the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback room. The team has signed veteran Joe Flacco to a one-year contract that could be worth as much as $8.7 million, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The deal includes $4.5 million in guarantees. Flacco, 39, was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year last season after joining the Cleveland Browns in Week 12 when Deshaun Watson was sidelined with a season-ending shoulder injury. He led the Browns to a 4-1 record and a playoff berth, completing 60.3% of his passes for 1,616 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Flacco steps in as the Colts’ backup to Anthony Richardson, who missed the final 12 games of his rookie season with a shoulder injury. The No. 2 spot was officially vacated this week when Gardner Minshew II signed a free-agent contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. Flacco is reunited with Shane Steichen. In 2021, the Philadelphia Eagles signed him to a one-year deal to be Jalen Hurts’ backup in Steichen’s offense. Flacco didn’t appear in a regular-season game before being traded to the New York Jets in October. Flacco’s NFL resume is deep and impressive. The 2008 first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens has a 103-82 record as a starter and was MVP of Super Bowl XLVII when he led the Ravens to a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers. In 16 seasons, Flacco has completed 61.6% of his passes for 43,936 yards with 245 touchdowns and 155 interceptions.

Indiana Pacers fall to the Chicago Bulls in Overtime
DeMar DeRozan scored 46 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime, to help the Chicago Bulls outlast the Indiana Pacers 132-129 on Wednesday night. The All-Star forward’s only 3-pointer at the 2:17 mark of overtime pushed the Bulls ahead 127-123. Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton missed a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer. “It’s like a survival mode that kicks in, in a fun way,” DeRozan said. “You embrace those moments. For me, I just thrive off those moments. I’m not scared to fail. I’m not scared to try to make something happen. I want those moments more than anything. It always reminds me of my childhood, being a kid and doing the little fake countdown, jumping on the bed, shooting the shot.”

The final 72 seconds of regulation were particularly entertaining as Pacers center Myles Turner hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions with 1:12 and 56.7 seconds remaining for a 3-point lead. But DeRozan sank a free throw and swished a baseline fadeaway jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining to force overtime. “DeMar is an incredible closer,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “Give him a lot of credit and respect for that.” The Bulls trailed by two when they inbounded the ball with 2.4 seconds remaining in regulation.

“I actually broke the play off,” DeRozan said. “The play was for me to come over top. But teams do a great job scouting and understanding what we’re going to run. As soon as they checked the ball in, I just found an opening honestly.” The teams traded the lead 12 times in the fourth. “Our defense just wasn’t good enough,” Turner said. “DeRozan hit some big shots, special player. But as a whole, I don’t think we were there, just that last part. This time of year, there’s no excuses. You’ve got to find a way to get it done.” The Bulls’ Alex Caruso scored 23 and Ayo Dosunmu 20.

“What a game,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “So many ups and downs. We were one rebound away.” Turner led the Pacers with 27 points and five 3-pointers. Pascal Siakam scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Haliburton had 17 points and 14 assists. “It’s a gut punch,” Carlisle said. “When you make minor mistakes at the wrong times, it can really bite you. There were a lot of ’em.” Pacers reserves T.J. McConnell and Jalen Smith scored 16 and 15 as the Indiana bench owned a 47-16 advantage. The Bulls outscored the Pacers 35-23 in the third quarter to take a 93-85 lead. Caruso contributed 14 points with four 3-pointers in the stretch. DeRozan added nine points. The Pacers’ bench provided 11 points in a 15-1 run to forge an eight-point lead midway through the second quarter. The advantage reached 11 before the Bulls closed the gap to 62-58 at the break. The Pacers will host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday Night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

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