Another notch in his belt · Junior Ahmad Rashad wins the 100-meter sprint again and is among the favorites to win in next week’s NCAA Championship, where the individual competition will be emphasized. Dieuwertje Kast | Summer TrojanThe beautiful 90-degree weather in Eugene, Ore. inspired the USC track team to rise up from the bottom last weekend, earning a collective 165 points with the men taking first place and women taking third place in the 2009 West Regional.The men’s team ended the first day of competition in fourth place, but managed to score 80 points on the final day, bringing their total to 97, which was 16.25 more than the runner-up and the host of the meet, the Oregon Ducks. According to USC director of track and field Ron Allice, however, the sole agenda was to get individual athletes to the NCAA Championships.“We did what we had to do to qualify for the national championship,” Allice said. “There wasn’t an area of the sport that we didn’t perform. Outside of the dual-meet against the Bruins, this was probably our most stellar meet. Fifty schools in the U.S. competed, and for us to score almost 100 points based on qualifying procedure is great.”The NCAA Championship, which will take place June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark., required the track athletes to meet certain requirements to qualify. The athletes needed to finish in the top five in each area of the sport, except for relays where they needed to get into the top 3. USC earned its way to Arkansas with 13 individual athletes and four relay teams.Junior Shalina Clarke won the title in the women’s 100-meter high hurdles (and earned the team 10 points in the women’s competition) and junior Ahmad Rashad took the men’s 100-meter dash title. The Trojans also grasped two other winning titles with the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.Along with the accolades received by the Trojans, they experienced a bit of concern when freshman Duane Walker ended the 4x400m relay falling to the track with a shoulder injury. X-rays were negative.The men’s team was not the only team that came from behind to excel; the women’s team rose from seventh place on the first day of competition to finish third behind Arizona State and Oregon.The Women of Troy began the competition with the 4x100m relay team, freshmen Aareon Payne and Erica Alexander and juniors Shalina Clarke and Judith Onyepunuka, who were timed at 44.81. They were slated to take fourth place, but when the Ducks were ruled out of zone during their run, the Women of Troy were moved up to third place, which gave them enough points to take it to Arkansas for the championship.“Going through the results and the numbers of qualifiers, you can see that we all were missing the multi-event and 10,000-meter athletes, who didn’t have to go through this meet because of the closeness to regionals and finals,” Allice said. “Oregon didn’t have their multi-event and 10,000 meter people. The goal of everyone in the meet was to break up the Oregon ‘distance-machine’, and to do that in a qualifying meet and to score as well as we did, we surprised a lot of people.”Leaving Oregon this weekend, the Trojans have a significantly large group of competitors getting ready for the championship in Arkansas in a couple weeks, and Allice said he believes they have all the pieces needed to excel in the finals.“We’re going to go with large contingent of young people; around 15-17 guys and 13 girls,” he said. “That’s some good sizeable numbers to go to a national championship with. Our team is really focused and I am really proud of their continued excellence.”The Trojan athletes qualifying for the NCAA Championships are: Nia Ali (heptathlon), Nate Anderson (400m), Kristine Busa (javelin), Shalina Clarke (100m high hurdles), Zsofia Erdelyi (3000m steeplechase), Brandon Estrada (pole vault), Joey Hughes (400m), Dalilah Muhammad (400m intermediate hurdles), Eva Orban (hammer), Aareon Payne (200m), Ahmad Rashad (100m), Irek Sekretarski (800m), Blake Shaw (800m), Oscar Spurlock (110m HH), Corey White (javelin), Manjula Wijesekara (high jump), Aven Wright (triple jump) and both the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
DETROIT — Tyus Battle shook his head. He clapped his hands, and he beat his chest. Syracuse’s sophomore swingman was visibly frustrated the entire first half.In the NCAA Tournament, against a Michigan State group that entered the NCAA Tournament ranked fifth, the Orange’s leading scorer was nowhere to be found. He’d missed all four of his shots and split a pair of free throws. He was out-hustled to a long rebound that gave MSU another possession, and he was stripped going for a layup on a fastbreak.Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim wasn’t happy with his team’s offense. And he felt he needed more from the team’s two star guards, Battle and Frank Howard.“I told them at halftime, ‘We can’t win without you two guys,’” Boeheim said. “‘You’ve got to go. Tyus, you’ve got to go.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange needed its star player, and finally he delivered. Battle scored 16 second-half points en route to helping No. 11 seed Syracuse (23-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) beat No. 3 seed Michigan State (30-5, 16-2 Big Ten), 55-53, on Sunday afternoon. It continues Syracuse’s improbable run through the NCAA Tournament, with its next game a rematch against No. 2 seed Duke in Omaha, Nebraska.Battle’s second-half run started with a tough floater over an MSU player two minutes in. He added another jumper, getting fouled in the process and converting the and-1.In the first half, against a strong Michigan State defense, Battle settled for tough jump shots and was short on a few. He started taking the ball toward the rim more in the second half.With about seven minutes left, Battle had the ball on the left wing, with the Syracuse support section right behind him. Former Syracuse star Derrick Coleman, who is second on Syracuse’s all-time scoring list, stood up from his seat and yelled, “They can’t take you Tyus, they can’t take you.”Shortly after, Battle’s job would get even harder when Howard fouled out. One of Syracuse’s big three was out and the Orange was still down four.“Me and Tyus just looked at each other and said, ‘We’re not going to let this game slip out of our fingers,’” Oshae Brissett, SU’s second-leading scorer, said. “We knew that this game was going to fall on us.”Tyus Battle didn’t hit a field goal in the first half. In the second half, his 16 led Syracuse to a win. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerBattle, along with teammates Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe, picked up more points at the line for the Orange. That, combined with Oshae Brissett’s tough layup and stellar defense, helped give SU the lead.But the game was still in the balance. And to win, Syracuse still needed a bit more. And it needed it to come from Battle.With the clock ticking down under a minute and Syracuse up just one, Battle had the ball. He knew that Michigan State would try and pack the middle and stop his driving lanes. The Spartans knew he was going to shoot the ball.And as he’s done all year long, Battle made the clutch shot for Syracuse — a midrange jumper with 47 seconds to go to open up the three-point cushion SU needed.“I’m not worried about the first defender. I know I can beat him any time I want,” Battle said. “Once I went left, I saw he was with me a little bit, so I did a little step back just to clear space, and I didn’t get too deep, and I was open for a shot.”Against a weaker TCU team, the Orange was able to scrap by without its star player. That wouldn’t work against the Spartans. And not without Howard there to back him up.It took him a while, but Battle delivered.“With Frank out he’s going to have the ball and we’re going to go with what he can do,” Boeheim said. “And he made all the big plays in the second half.” Comments Published on March 18, 2018 at 8:51 pm Contact Tomer: firstname.lastname@example.org | @tomer_langer Facebook Twitter Google+