Morning Box Score
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 23, 2008 5:00PM
Blackhawks Remain Undefeated On Trip
The road is being kind to the Blackhawks, who moved to 3-0 on their current Circus Trip after a 5-4 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. The Leafs scored the first three goals of the game to take a big lead, but the 'Hawks, led by a pair of Patrick Sharp goals, fought back. Sharp's two second period goals cut the lead to one goal, only to have the Leafs take a 4-2 lead heading into the final period. But goals from Patrick Kane and Ben Eager, plus nine saves in the net from Nikolai Khabibulin - who had 34 saves in all - helped the 'Hawks force overtime, when Dave Bolland scored the winning goal only 49 seconds into the extra period. The 'Hawks now find themselves in sole possession of second place in the division heading into the second half of their trip.
Northwestern Cruises Past Illinois
The Wildcats eased past the Illini and possibly into a New Year's Day bowl with a 27-10 victory that also saw them take home the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy, which has now officially been retired. C.J. Bacher threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns while adding 34 on the ground to pace the Northwestern offense while Juice Williams once more provided all of the offense for Illinois, accounting for 306 of Illinois' 335 total yards. Illinois was able to chip away at the Northwestern 13-0 halftime lead and the game stood at 16-10 early in the fourth quarter, but Brendan Smith returned a punt over 50 yard to the Illinois 20 that set up an 18-yard Bacher touchdown pass that put the game out of reach. The Wildcats have steadily improved under Coach Fitzgerald improving from 4-8 in 2007, to 6-6 last year, to this year's 9-3 record. At fourth place in the Big Ten, the Wildcats could get an invite to the Outback Bowl if Ohio St. sneaks into the BCS; they'd face one of the mid-tier SEC teams, most likely Ole Miss, LSU, or South Carolina if both Florida and Alabama make it into the BCS. As for the Illini, they'll be staying home (at 5-7) a year after appearing in the Rose Bowl.
Notre Dame Chokes Against Lowly Syracuse
The maddening underachievement (for their fans, anyway) of Notre Dame continued yesterday as the Irish struggled at times and ultimately blew a 23-10 lead to Syracuse as the 19.5-point underdog Orange eeked out a 24-23 upset victory. Jimmy Clausen threw for two touchdowns and 291 yards in the effort, but the rushing game only netted 41 yards as Syracuse ran for 170 yards against the Irish defense. In spite of falling behind 10-3 at one point, Notre Dame seemed like they'd pull this one out. But Syracuse had other plans, scoring the final 14 points including a touchdown with 42 seconds left in the game. Brandon Walker missed a 53-yard field goal as time ran out, going 3 for 6 on the day. But the blame can't fall on Walker; the ND offense started inside the Syracuse 23-yard line four times and only came away with six points to show for it. Others are pointing to Coach Weis who is now 28-20 and is looking down the barrel at a 6-6 season if next week's trip to No. 6 USC turns out as expected. The natives are getting restless, but never fear, Irish fans. This being Notre Dame, even after a 6-6 season, the team will probably find its way into a Gator Bowl slot.
Men's College Hoops
The DePaul Blue Demons escaped their first-ever visit to UIC Pavilion Saturday with a 67-63 victory, despite shooting just 38.3 percent from the field. Luckily for the Blue Demons, UIC made only 32.8 percent of their attempts. Down 13 with 8:50 left in the game, senior Josh Mayo lead a late charge for the Flames. Mayo, however, came up short on a three-pointer that would have given his team a one-point lead with four seconds to play.
Loyola University Chicago earned a hard-fought, 54-51 win on the road at Western Michigan Saturday afternoon. Gritty defense gave the Ramblers the edge in a second half played mostly from the charity stripe. As part of his 17-point, 6-rebound, 5-assist performance, J.R. Blount laid in a key basket with 32 seconds left on the clock to ultimately give Loyola the upper hand.
Northwestern University went deep against the Brown Bears on Saturday, scoring the Wildcats a 73-64 road win. Senior guard Craig Moore knocked down a school-record nine three-pointers, while his teammates chipped in an additional five. The Wildcats didn't make many mistakes either, committing only four turnovers in the game. The overwhelmed Bears clawed back with a 16-6 second-half run, but were never able to make it less than a two-possession game.
College Hoops coverage by Matt Motyka, AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh