Weekend Sports In Brief
Kentucky reached the Sweet 16 and needs to win four more NCAA Tournament games to become the first undefeated champion since Indiana in 1976.
The Wildcats improved to 36-0 – the best start to a season for any team – with a workmanlike win over Cincinnati. Next up in the Midwest Regional semifinal is West Virginia (29-6).
The East Region changed dramatically entering the Sweet 16 with top seeds Villanova and Virginia ousted. It’s the first time since 2004 – and eighth time ever – that the top two teams from one region failed to advance to the second week.
Other teams in the Sweet 16, with matchups: N.C. State (22-13) vs. Louisville (26-8); Michigan State (25-11) vs. Oklahoma (24-10); UCLA (22-13) vs. Gonzaga; Duke (31-4) vs. Utah (26-8); Wichita State (30-4) vs. Notre Dame (31-5); Wisconsin (33-3) vs. North Carolina (26-11); and Arizona (33-3) vs. Xavier (23-13).
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 11 seed Gonzaga, paced by Emma Wolfram with a career-high 17 points, held off a furious late rally by the Oregon State Beavers on their home court for a 76-64 victory on Sunday.
Gonzaga (26-7) advanced to the Sweet 16, heading home to Spokane to face the winner of Monday’s game in Knoxville between Tennessee (28-5) and Pittsburgh (20-11). The Bulldogs were also the No. 11 seed in 2011, and also playing in the Spokane Regional, when they made a stunning run to the regional finals before losing to top seed Stanford.
Gonzaga isn’t the only surprise to the regional semifinals. Dayton upset Kentucky on its home court, earning Jim Jabir and his team their first trip to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
While Dayton is making its first trip to the regionals, Iowa is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1996. They are joined in the next round by regional stalwarts Duke, South Carolina and Baylor. This is the sixth season in a row that a double-digit seed has made it to the second weekend.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Michael Sam was among 105 players who participated in the initial NFL veterans combine, seeking another chance to prove they can play in the league.
The first openly gay player drafted didn’t make it with the Rams last year, cut at the end of training camp. He landed on the Cowboys’ practice squad for a few weeks, then was released.
Unlike many of the others on hand, including a variety of former first-round draft picks such as Brady Quinn, Felix Jones, Jamaal Anderson and Adam Carriker, Sam really has a blank NFL resume. But he’s certain he’ll get a shot at a roster spot. Sam didn’t rule out Canada, either.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Five-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison is returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 36-year-old Harrison signed a two-year deal with the team Sunday following a productive 2014 in which he had 5 1/2 sacks after being lured out of a brief 18-day retirement.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Matt Every won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the second straight year, making an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Bay Hill to beat Henrik Stenson and earn another trip back to the Masters.
Every rallied from a four-shot deficit last year for his first career victory. This one was even sweeter. He came from three shots behind Sunday with a 6-under 66, and he had to make the biggest putt of his career to get that handshake with the tournament host.
Stenson closed with a 70 and extended a curious streak on the PGA Tour. It was the ninth straight tournament in which a 54-hole leader failed to win, and the Swede let this one get away.
PHOENIX (AP) – Hyo Joo Kim birdied five of the last eight holes to outlast Stacy Lewis on Sunday at Desert Ridge in the JTBC Founders Cup.
The 19-year-old Kim closed with a 5-under 67, holing a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to beat Lewis by three strokes for her second LPGA Tour title. The third-ranked Lewis shot a 68. She pulled within a stroke with a birdie on the par-4 16th, but three-putted for bogey on 18.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – Marco Dawson won the Tucson Conquistadores Classic on Sunday for his first Champions Tour’s title, breaking a tie with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th hole and closing with two pars for a two-stroke victory.
The 51-year-old Dawson shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 13-under 203 in the first-year event at Tucson National, the longtime home of the PGA Tour’s defunct Tucson Open.
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) – Dawie van der Walt won the Chile Classic on Sunday for his first Web.com Tour title, closing with a birdie for a 6-under 65 and a two-stroke victory.
The 32-year-old South African finished at 21-under 263 at Mapocho and earned $108,000. He won two European Tour events in South Africa in 2013. Erik Barnes was second after a 66. He birdied the final three holes.
SANTO ANTONIO DA SERRA, Portugal (AP) – Organizers canceled the Madeira Islands Open because of continuing bad weather on Sunday.
In a statement on the European Tour website, chief operating officer Keith Waters said ”we are already in discussions with the club and the sponsors to reschedule the event for another week” later this season. Heavy winds and rain sweeping the Portuguese island for the previous three days did not let up, leaving the Clube de Golf Santo da Serra flooded. Organizers had already reduced the tournament to 36 holes on Saturday in an effort to salvage the European Tour event.
FONTANA, Calif. (AP) – Brad Keselowski roared past Kurt Busch on the final lap and held off streaking Kevin Harvick to win at Fontana on Sunday, earning his first NASCAR victory of the season in a wild finish.
Harvick fell just short of a three-race West Coast sweep, but finished second to extend his remarkable streak of top-two Sprint Cup finishes to eight races dating to last season. Richard Petty holds the NASCAR record with 11 straight in 1975.
Keselowski led only one lap in his Team Penske Ford, but capitalized on two late restarts to a green-white-checkered finish.
FONTANA, Calif. (AP) – Brian Vickers will be sidelined for at least three months while the NASCAR driver is taking blood thinners to treat clots in his lungs.
Before Brett Moffitt drove his No. 55 Toyota in Sunday’s race at Fontana, Vickers said he still hopes to resume his racing career after his latest medical setback. Two days after blood clots were discovered in both of his lungs when Vickers alertly responded to pain by getting to a hospital, Vickers came to Auto Club Speedway to support his Michael Waltrip Racing team.
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish says he’s ”feeling great” after season-ending surgery on his right elbow and looks forward to coming back stronger than before.
Darvish is back in Arizona with the team and spoke Sunday for the first time since the elbow ligament-replacement procedure five days earlier in Florida. The 28-year-old likely will be sidelined until early 2016.
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) – The Marlins took another step toward keeping their young talent in Miami, agreeing to a seven-year, $49.5 million contract with outfielder Christian Yelich on Sunday.
The Marlins have a club option for an eighth year with the 2010 first-round draft pick. They have now locked up two-thirds of their outfield through 2021. Giancarlo Stanton signed a 13-year deal worth $325 million in November. The 23-year-old Yelich hit .284 last year in his first full major league season. He had nine homers and 54 RBIs and also won a Gold Glove.
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) – The Kansas City Royals optioned Brandon Finnegan, who became the first player to play in the College World Series and the World Series the same year, to Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Sunday.
The Royals’ first-round pick out of TCU last year, will be used as a starter in the minors after pitching out of the Kansas City bullpen last September and in the postseason.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) – Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 to win his fourth BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, tying him with Federer for the most titles in the desert after winning for the second straight year.
Djokovic, ranked No. 1 in the world, and No. 2 Federer met for the 38th time, second-most among rivalries in the Open era. Federer leads the series 20-18 and had won three of their last four meetings going into the final.
Simona Halep beat Jelena Jankovic 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the women’s final, giving the Romanian the biggest title of her career and a WTA Tour-leading third tournament victory of the year.
Halep improved to 6-0 in three-set matches this year, smacking a crosscourt forehand winner off Jankovic’s weak volley return on match point. The world’s third-ranked player advanced to the final after Serena Williams withdrew before their semifinal because of a sprained right knee.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Megan Wolfe scored early and Amanda Leveille made 19 saves, leading Minnesota to a 4-1 victory over Harvard on Sunday for the third women’s hockey championship in four seasons for the Gophers.
Hannah Brandt, Megan Lorence and Rachael Bona had goals in the third period for Minnesota (34-3-4). Sarah Edney’s bad-angle shot from the left corner slipped past Leveille with 4:33 left trimmed the lead to 2-1 and gave Harvard (27-6-3) hope, but Lorence answered with a wrist flip past Crimson goalie Emerance Maschmeyer less than 90 seconds later.