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Saint Louis comes up short from long range

Saturday, 22 March 2014 22:20 Published in Sports
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Saint Louis did something it hasn't done all season Saturday — and it proved costly against defending national champion Louisville.
 
The Billikens went 0 for 15 from 3-point range in a 66-51 loss in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
 
They shot long, came up short, missed to both sides and even had a couple blocked. It was easily the team's worst long-ranging shooting performance of the season.
 
Saint Louis, a 32-percent shooting team from behind the arc this season, had made at least two 3s in every game and had 190 total. They hit 9 of 18 treys in Thursday's come-from-behind, overtime victory against North Carolina State.
 
"I thought we took a lot of good shots today," said forward Dwayne Evans, who led the way with 16 points but missed his only 3-point attempt. "They weren't falling, but we had the right guys in the right spots."
 
Saint Louis (27-7) shot 40 percent from the field.
 
Mike McCall Jr. missed all six of his 3-pointers. Jake Barnett (0-4), Jordair Jett (0-2), Rob Loe (0-1) and Austin McBroom (0-1) also misfired from that distance.
 
"We're going to keep taking shots if they're good shots," coach Jim Crews said. "We don't have a plan before a game to say, 'OK, we're going to take X number of 3s in this game and that game.' We don't do that because I think that you've got to have a balance to be really good."
 
The champs had a lot to do with Saint Louis' struggles.
 
Louisville (31-5) mixed defenses repeatedly, using man-to-man, the 2-3 zone and even a little 1-1-3 to make sure no Billikens could get open looks from the corners.
 
"We wanted to smother the 3," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "This team reminds me of Colorado State last year: Extremely well coached in all phases of the game. And we felt if we gave up the 3 we could get beat tonight, so we will take that away."
 
It worked to perfection.
 
Louisville made six treys. Luke Hancock, who finished with 21 points, drained two 3s midway through the second half that helped the Cardinals create some cushion in a tight game.
 
Saint Louis just couldn't answer.
 
The Cardinals have the size and athleticism to close out on the 3-point line, and it showed Saturday.
 
Making matters worse for the Billikens, they had 18 turnovers. Louisville had nine steals to go with five blocks.
 
"They're very good defensively," Crews said. "They change things up. They do press and they play zone and have different shifts and so forth, and they mix it up with man. They keep you a little bit off balance with that, which is a good thing because basketball is a rhythmic game and they keep you out of rhythm with it."

Flyers top Blues 4-1 for 5th straight win

Saturday, 22 March 2014 22:17 Published in Sports
 
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn each scored in the second period to rally the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-1 win Saturday over the St. Louis Blues and a fifth straight victory.
 
Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds added goals, and Steve Mason made 32 saves to help Philadelphia improve to 12-2-1 in its last 15 games to maintain its hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division.
 
Jaden Schwartz opened the scoring 6:23 into the game, finishing a 2-on-1 short-handed opportunity after taking a feed from Kevin Shattenkirk. Schwartz's wrist shot from close range went under the glove of Mason.
 
St. Louis needed one point in the game to become the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot.
 
Goaltender Ryan Miller lost for the second time as a member of the Blues since being traded from Buffalo on Feb. 28. Miller had his first setback in Wednesday's 4-0 defeat at Chicago, a game in which he was pulled after allowing four goals on 27 shots. He fell to 7-2-1 with St. Louis.
 
The Flyers dominated the second period when they erased a 1-0 deficit with a pair of goals to enter the final period ahead 2-1. Hartnell tied the game 57 seconds into the period when he finished from right in front of the crease after a cross-ice pass from Voracek.
 
Miller appeared to try to stop the pass and was caught slightly out of position, and Hartnell fired a wrister high into the open side of the net.
 
Schenn put Philadelphia up a goal when he scored on a rebound with 6:36 left in the period.
 
Simmonds took the initial shot after receiving a pass from Schenn. Miller's rebound went right to Schenn, who went top shelf with a backhander over the sprawling Blues goaltender.
 
Mason preserved Philadelphia's one-goal lead with a pair of strong saves on Derek Roy with nine minutes remaining on a power play by St. Louis. Schwartz took the initial shot and the rebound went to Roy, who was stopped by Mason's pads on his first attempt and gloved on the second.
 
Voracek provided a cushion when he beat Miller high to the stick side with 4:19 left. Hartnell stole the puck along the boards, fed to Claude Giroux in the right circle and Giroux passed to wide-open Voracek.
 
Simmonds scored an empty-netter with 2:54 remaining.
 
Flyers winger Steve Downie was lost for the game with an upper body injury after a collision with Patrik Berglund early in the contest. Downie had his head turned when he skated right into Berglund near the boards at center ice. Downie missed four games this season after suffering a concussion during a fight against Washington on Nov. 2.
 
Giroux had four of the 11 Philadelphia penalties. His eight penalty minutes were one-fourth of the total penalty minutes (32) he entered with this season.
 
The Central Division-leading Blues entered the game leading the Western Conference in points and tied with Boston for most points in the NHL with 101.
 
Notes: St. Louis LW Magnus Paajarvi returned after missing the last three games with an upper body injury. The Blues remained without D Jordan Leopold (ankle) and RW Vladimir Tarasenko (hand). .. It was the first meeting between the teams since Oct. 22, 2011 when the Blues won 4-2 in Philadelphia. ... The teams will meet for the second time this season on April 1 in St. Louis. After playing with a plain white mask in his first nine games with St. Louis, Miller unveiled a music-themed goalie mask on Saturday. ... Blues RW T.J. Oshie, who entered with a team-best 54 points, went to the locker room with 11 minutes remaining after blocking a slap shot from Simmonds in the slot but later returned.

Adams homers, Wacha goes 7, Cardinals beat Astros

Saturday, 22 March 2014 22:15 Published in Sports
 
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Matt Adams hit a homered among his two hits and drove in three runs, lead the St. Louis Cardinals past the Houston Astros, 5-2, Saturday.
 
Michael Wacha gave up two runs in seven innings, his longest outing of the spring. He allowed two runs and struck out eight without allowing a walk.
 
"I'm pretty happy with how it's going," Wacha said. I am just stretching myself out. I'll be ready in two weeks."
 
Mark Ellis played three innings at second base for the Cardinals. He is competing with Kolten Wong for the starting job at second base. Ellis is recovering from left knee tendinitis. He was signed as a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers during the off season. He had a hit and scored a run in three at-bats.
 
"I feel good and better than ever," said Ellis, who batted .270 in 46 games for the Dodgers last season. "I just want to keep progressing and getting better."
 
Brett Oberholtzer, who was named the No. 3 starter in the Astros' rotation, allowed five runs in five innings as his ERA rose to 11.00.
 
Jose Altuve homered for the Astros.
 
STARTING TIME
 
Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny said that Wacha is ready to start the season right now. "He had a nice game and he's ready," Matheny said. "He has made some adjustments and when you have no walks in two straight games, that's pretty good."
 
Wacha has a 1.76 ERA this spring and hasn't allowed a walk in 10 2-3 innings.
 
Astros: Oberholtzer said he isn't concerned about his inflated ERA and is ready for opening day. He will follow Scott Feldman and Jarred Cosart in the Astros' rotation. The final two spots haven't been named.
 
Oberholtzer gave up four runs in the first inning, but still went a spring-high five innings.
 
"I had a rough first inning, but I was satisfied after that," Oberholtzer said. "During the course of a season, that is going to happen. I got some pitches up, but I'm still preparing for opening day."
 
WHAT A RELIEF
 
Astros reliever Chad Qualls pitched an inning with one strikeout. He is a candidate to be the Astros closer, but said he has no idea how the scenario will play out.
 
"You have to go two doors down," said Qualls, pointing toward manager Bo Porter's office. "Who knows. I feel good. I am locating my pitches and getting my fastball over."
 
Qualls went 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA for the Miami Marlins last season.
 
BIG IMPRESSION
 
The Cardinals' Keith Butler allowed onoe hit in an inning of relief. His Grapefruit League ERA is 8.64 but Matheny said he was impressed by Butler.
 
"He was really crowding the zone with his fastball," Matheny said. "I haven't seen that from him before. I like what I saw."
 

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