DALLAS (AP) A’ja Wilson scored 23 points to help coach Dawn Staley and South Carolina win their first national championship with a 67-55 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday night.
Staley made the Final Four three times as a player at Virginia but never won. She also led the Gamecocks to the national semifinals two years ago before losing to Notre Dame.
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The victory in front of a sellout crowd came one day after the Gamecocks men’s basketball team lost in the Final Four in Phoenix.
Mississippi State had all the momentum on its side after a shocking win over UConn on Friday night that ended the Huskies’ record 111-game winning streak. The Bulldogs couldn’t muster the same effort against their SEC rival. Morgan William, who had become the face of the tournament with the game-winner against the Huskies after a 41-point performance against Baylor, was held to just eight.
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – North Carolina is one game away from its sixth college basketball national championship after surviving a late rally in the final seconds against Oregon.
Kennedy Meeks matched his career high with 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as North Carolina won 77-76 on Saturday. The Tar Heels will face Gonzaga, looking for its first NCAA title, which beat South Carolina 77-73.
The title game is Monday night.
Meeks’ final rebound was the most pivotal, coming after a missed free throw in the closing seconds.
North Carolina missed four straight free throws at the end of the game but got offensive rebounds in both cases to emerge victorious.
Dylan Ennis and Tyler Dorsey scored 21 and 18 points for the Ducks. Dillon Brooks had a rough night for Oregon, making 2 of 11 shots and committing five turnovers before fouling out.
Gonzaga survived a furious second-half rally by South Carolina to advance. South Carolina reeled off 16 straight points to take a 67-65 lead with 7:06 to play. Zach Collins answered with a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga back on top and the Bulldogs held on from there. Collins, a 7-foot freshman, had an impressive stat line: 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in 23 minutes of play.
Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 for the Bulldogs. P.J. Dozier had 17 points for the Gamecocks.
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) – So Yeon Ryu won the ANA Inspiration on Sunday in a one-hole playoff with Lexi Thompson, who was given a four-stroke penalty late in the final round for an incorrect ball placement a day earlier.
Ryu birdied the 18th hole in the playoff to win her second major title, but her celebration was muted because of the bizarre circumstances on the Dinah Shore Course.
The 22-year-old Thompson had a three-shot lead and appeared to be cruising to her second major championship when LPGA Tour rules officials informed her of the penalty with six holes to play.
An email from a television viewer during Sunday’s final round alerted officials to the violation committed Saturday, and the LPGA Tour confirmed it with video review. Thompson had marked a 1-foot putt with a coin on the 17th green during her third round Saturday, but she replaced the ball perhaps 1 inch out of position.
HUMBLE, Texas (AP) – Russell Henley made 10 birdies in the final round and closed with a 7-under 65 to win the Shell Houston Open and earn the final spot in the Masters.
Henley started the final round Sunday four shots behind and caught up to Sung Kang with five birdies in eighth holes. Henley fell back with a double bogey from the bunker on the par-3 ninth. They were tied with six holes to play when Henley ran off three straight birdies with two short putts on par 5s and a 35-foot putt on the par-3 14th. Kang, going for his first PGA Tour victory, didn’t make a birdie over his last 10 holes.
Henley finished at 20-under 268 for a three-shot victory, the third of his career and first since 2014.
Leave it to Madison Bumgarner to get baseball off to a smashing start.
Before the World Series champion Chicago Cubs took the field and after the New York Yankees lost their sixth straight opener, Bumgarner struck.
The San Francisco ace, known for his dominant pitching in October, provided an opening day jolt by hitting not one, but two home runs Sunday for the Giants. San Francisco wound up losing 6-5 at Arizona as new closer Mark Melancon blew a ninth-inning lead.
The Cubs opened Sunday night at St. Louis, and fans of the longtime rivals mixed and mingled outside Busch Stadium before the Cardinals rallied for a 4-3 win on Randal Grichuk’s RBI single in the ninth.
NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Yankees aren’t among baseball’s top two payrolls for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, making cuts along with some other traditional big spenders.
The Los Angeles Dodgers topped the major leagues for the fourth straight opening day but dropped to $225 million, according to a study by The Associated Press. That’s the Dodgers’ lowest payroll since 2013.
Detroit was second at $199.75 million and the Yankees, in the midst of a turn toward youth, third at $195 million. The Yankees had not been outside the top two since 1993, and their opening-day payroll had not dropped this low since 2007, according to the AP’s calculations. New York topped opening-day payrolls from 1999-2013 before falling behind the Dodgers each year since 2014.
NEW YORK (AP) – Katy Feeney, a baseball executive for four decades and a daughter of former National League President Chub Feeney, has died. She was 68.
Feeney died Saturday while visiting relatives in Maine. She had not shown any sign of illness, baseball officials said. She retired from baseball in December after working her final postseason.
Feeney was hired by the NL in 1977 and rose to Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of club relations and scheduling. She was among the most prominent women in baseball and the sport’s go-to expert on the complicated rules governing the schedule.
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) – Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal for the third time this year Sunday, 6-3, 6-4, to win the Miami Open and become the tournament’s oldest men’s champion.
Playing some of the best tennis of his career at age 35, Federer also beat his longtime nemesis in the Australian Open final in January and at Indian Wells two weeks ago.
Federer was coming off a thrilling three-hour semifinal win over Nick Kyrgios, but nonetheless looked fresh against Nadal and erased all four break points he faced. Federer failed to take advantage of five early break-point chances himself but broke in the next to last game of both sets.
Federer also won the tournament in 2005 and 2006. Nadal fell to 0-5 in Key Biscayne finals.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) – Brad Keselowski passed Kyle Busch with 43 laps to go and pulled away to win for the first time in his career at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
The victory was the 23rd for Keselowski, the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, and his second in the first six races of this season. It made him just the eighth active driver with a victory in the top series on NASCAR’s oldest and shortest oval.
The victory was the first for Ford on the 0.526-mile oval since 2002, and gave Keselowski five straight top-five finishes this year.
Keselowski and Busch swapped the lead several times during a green flag run that began with 64 laps to go.
Keselowski had the lead coming out of a caution, but Busch quickly slipped underneath him to go back in front. Keselowski stalked him for 14 laps, the nose of his Ford inches from the rear bumper of Busch’s Toyota. When he finally got around Busch again, he gradually pulled away, opening a lead of nearly two seconds that helped him when he also had to navigate around lapped traffic. He won by 1.8 seconds.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Sam Ard, a two-time champion of NASCAR’s second-tier series, died Sunday. He was 78.
Ard died in South Carolina. NASCAR called Ard ”a tough-as-nails racer” in a statement confirming his death, but gave no details.
Ard won titles in what is now known as the Xfinity Series in 1983 and 1984. He won 22 races in three seasons – just 92 career starts – and his average finishing position was an impressive fifth.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth was released from the hospital Sunday and was resting at home, a day after collapsing in his crease during a game against New Jersey.
Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall said that tests on Neuvirth came back ”normal.” The 29-year-old Neuvirth has been dealing with an upper respiratory infection for more than a week.
Neuvirth was awaiting a faceoff at the far end of the ice about 7 1/2 minutes into the first period Saturday night when he fell backward and landed on his back. Flyers athletic trainer Jim McCrossin quickly ran onto the ice to attend to him and was joined by three other team doctors. He appeared to be unconscious for a brief time, but began moving his arms and legs and sat up in his crease before being placed on a stretcher and carted off the ice.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Washington guard Brandon Jennings accused Golden State of trying to embarrass the Wizards in Sunday night’s 139-115 loss.
Jennings also didn’t back down after shoving JaVale McGee after the Warriors backup center shot a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
”It’s just a rule. I learned it when I first came into the league not to do that,” Jennings said. ”You’re already up 20 almost, and then for him to do it, it was like, `All right, come on. Chill out. Now you’re trying to embarrass us.”
The Warriors were comfortably ahead by 14 late in the fourth quarter but still had two starters – Draymond Green and Stephen Curry – on the floor. Curry scored five points in the final three minutes to finish with 42, while Green made a 3-poointer with 2:17 left to complete a triple-double.
That both were still playing with the outcome not in doubt miffed several Wizards players. When McGee tried a 3-pointer with the Warriors up 137-115 with 6.9 seconds remaining, Jennings had enough and gave McGee a hard two-handed shove after the ball was shot. Officials reviewed the play and called a flagrant-1 foul on Jennings.
NEW YORK (AP) – Derrick Rose’s season is over early because of knee surgery again.
The New York Knicks guard has torn cartilage in his left knee and the team said he will miss the remaining five games.
It was a surprising but all too familiar ending to Rose’s first season in New York. He sat out his third straight game Sunday against Boston, but the Knicks initially reported the injury was just soreness and swelling, with coach Jeff Hornacek saying before the game that he believed Rose could play again this season.
Instead, Rose will go into free agency coming off arthroscopic surgery.