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  • 21 Jun
    The scores were certainly eye-popping last week at Maryland.The sixth-ranked womens basketball team won its two exhibition games by an average of 127.5 points, including shutting out Bluefield State in the second half of the 146-17 rout on Nov. 2.A mismatch of record proportions for sure, yet the Big Blue arent crying foul. In fact, coach Todd Fong would love an opportunity to play the Terrapins again.You have to think big picture here. Sure, look at it on the surface and you see the score and wonder what is going on? Fong said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. But you have to understand the behind-the-scene things. Ive known (Maryland coach) Brenda (Frese) for 12 years. I told her when I got to coach a team Id love to play her and she gave us the chance. She didnt have to do that.The Terrapins werent the only team with blowout victories last week, although their Division II and III opponents were a combined 2-47 last year.No. 21 DePaul won its two games against local Chicago NAIA teams in dominant fashion. So did No. 3 UConn. Second-ranked Baylor struggled in its first exhibition game before winning by 89 points on Monday night.So why play these games as opposed to a closed scrimmage against another ranked team?It gets out some of the jitters, Frese said. Weve played closed scrimmages in the past, but our team treated it like a scrimmage. There were no fans in the stands, no nervousness, no anxiousness. In our exhibition games, we have six freshmen this year, you can put fans in the stands, do your pregame routine.Bruno agreed with Frese about how exhibition games can be valuable to get your team ready for the upcoming season regardless of the opponent.The reason we play them is that I want to be able to play with the lights on and have the players have game-day experience. Thats a big deal to have game day experience, Bruno said. What is it like to have to go to pregame shootaround? Whats it like to be in school when you have a game? I get my freshmen time on the floor. I get to see players fighting for positions that might earn spots or not earn spots against real competition on the floor.One of Brunos exhibition games was against St. Francis, Illinois, which is coached by former DePaul guard Sam Quigley. Despite the 70-point loss, Quigley called it a successful night.Losing like we did, was a little eye-opening to our team, Quigley said. We are ranked fifth in the nation in NAIA, but heres a different level. The top two teams might look a little more like these teams.After the loss to DePaul on Friday night, her team then hopped on a flight the next morning to play at Florida State. That game, which the Fighting Saints lost 91-38 served as a chance for junior guard Christina Ekhomu to play against her sister, who is a freshman for the Seminoles. Besides the family reunion, playing at Florida State allowed Quigleys team to play in a bigger arena. Something that she hopes will prepare them well for the NAIA tournament at the end of the season if they can make it in again.We didnt go into a big arena until our very last tournament so hopefully well be better prepared now, she said.Both Quigley and Fongs schools also were given financial guarantees for the game. Those guarantees help the small budgets that these schools have.The Maryland game also gave Fong the opportunity to have three of his players go home to Washington, where he also is from. The Big Blue also played a second game on the trip, routing Anne Arundel 95-37 the day before the Maryland contest.The benefits for us were enormous, Fong said. Did Maryland benefit? I dont know. I wish we could have given them more of a match. We did lead 3-0. When I came back to Bluefield, people were talking about our womens basketball program and our school.The harshest critic that Fong had to deal with was his son, who came to the game.Fong guided the womens golf team at Bluefield State to the USCAA national championship last month.You dont know anything about golf and your team won the national championship and you say you know basketball but they put the thumper on you, recalled Fong.---Follow Doug on Twitter at Cheap Bengals Jerseys Authentic . -- Jonathan Drouin gave Halifax the boost it needed to edge host Sherbrooke Phoenix 3-2 in a shootout in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. Cheap Bengals Jerseys . Here are his mid-season NBA awards. MVP: (KEVIN DURANT-Thunder) - Has been sensational this season and more importantly, the most consistent player in the league. Considering that his team has been without star guard Russell Westbrook and with the free agent departure of sharpshooter Kevin Martin, hes had to carry the majority of the load to not only keep his team afloat but more importantly, at an elite level. . Andrew Luck lost his favourite target and the Indianapolis locker room lost one of its most revered leaders when Reggie Wayne was diagnosed Monday with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee that will cost him the rest of the season. Wholesale Bengals Jerseys . No. 13-seeded John Isner and No. 21 Philipp Kohlschreiber were among six players who dropped out of the tournament on Tuesday, joining No. 12 seed Tommy Haas and two other players who withdrew on Monday. Cheap Cincinnati Bengals Jerseys . "Trying to breathe," he said with a grin. Bernier stopped 42 of 43 shots on Monday night, including all 22 in a hectic middle frame, his heroic performance propelling the Leafs toward an undue point in their final game before the Christmas break. DETROIT -- When the Cleveland Indians poured onto the field to celebrate their first division title since 2007, their mounting list of concerns became secondary.Injuries to Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar -- and now ace Corey Kluber? The Indians have overcome all of it so far, and thats why the American League Central is theirs with about a week to spare.Cleveland clinched the division championship Monday night, overcoming an injury to Kluber in a 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Kluber left after four innings with right groin tightness, joining Carrasco and Salazar in a group of talented pitchers dealing with health problems.Brantley has barely played this year because of shoulder problems, and catcher Yan Gomes is out, too. Yet the Indians have held onto first place for more than three months.Its hard, man. It is so hard to explain how hard winning is, manager Terry Francona said. Weve had some challenges thrown our way, but so has everyone else. We managed to get this far, and now we get to play more baseball.Cleveland last made the postseason in 2013 as a wild card.Coco Crisp and Roberto Perez homered for the Indians, and Jason Kipnis doubled in a run.Buck Farmer (0-1) allowed four runs in five innings for the Tigers, who fell two games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild card.Andrew Miller (10-1) won in relief, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 33 chances.Crisp and Detroits J.D. Martinez traded two-run homers in the second, and Cleveland took the lead for good in the fifth on the double by Kipnis. Mike Napolis sacrifice fly later that inning made it 4-2.With the division title 15 outs away, the Indians took the field for the bottom of the fifth without their ace. Kluber, the team leader with 18 wins, was replaced by Dan Otero, and the announcement about the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winners groin problem came a little while later.Hes good, but he has a groin thing that hes fighting, Francona said. It started getting him in the third and again in the fourth, so I grabbed him. I told him we need to find a way to win a game, but we arent going far without him, so we need to get him healthy and let him do what he does.Miguel Cabrera made it 4-3 with an RBI single, but Perez led off the seventh with a drive to right to put the Indians back up by two.Cabrrera added another run-scoring single in the seventh, but Perez -- who entered the game hitting .dddddddddddd68 -- answered with another big hit in the eighth, lining an RBI single up the middle.Cleveland made it 7-4 on an error by Martinez in right.Miller, the third reliever for the Indians, struck out four of the six hitters he faced before giving way to Allen. The final out came on a strikeout by Cameron Maybin.It was fitting that Cleveland clinched the division with a head-to-head victory over the Tigers, because thats how the Central was won. The Indians are 14-2 against Detroit with three games left in the season series.I cant really explain it, but the truth is, theyve outplayed us, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. Theyve outhit us, theyve outpitched us, theyve out-defended us. Its simple.Cleveland also has been solid against other teams, of course. The Indians won 14 games in a row from June 17 to July 1, a run that coincided with the Cavaliers winning the NBA title to end the citys 52-year championship drought.The Indians are aiming to win the World Series for the first time since 1948.As soon as we got hold of first place, you saw probably the tightest grip on it ever, Kipnis said. We never let go of it, and thats how much this team competed.FRIENDLY CROWDThe Indians werent able to clinch the division crown at home, but Detroit is only about 170 miles from Cleveland, and there were plenty of fans chanting Lets Go Tribe! after this one was over. A large group of Indians supporters gathered behind their dugout on the first-base side.It was awesome, especially that last inning when theyre all chanting, going crazy, Napoli said. Obviously, we wanted to do it at home, but to be able to come here, play Detroit, a team that we can get it done against. Its nice.TRAINERS ROOMIndians: Salazar (strained forearm) threw a bullpen session before the game.Tigers: Ausmus said 3B Nick Castellanos (left hand) could be back before the weekend. Hes in the instructional league.UP NEXTIndians: Cleveland sends RHP Mike Clevinger (2-2) to the mound Tuesday night at Detroit.Tigers: Detroit counters with RHP Justin Verlander (15-8), who struck out 11 against Minnesota last Thursday. ' ' '