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Sports Report: Holy Cross, With A Losing Record, Goes Up Against Southern In NCAA Tournament

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NBA:

In the NBA, Brooklyn topped Philadelphia 131-114, Indiana won against Boston 103-98, Orlando bested Denver 116-110, Toronto blasted Milwaukee 107-89, San Antonio beat the Clippers 108-87, and it was Sacramento over the Lakers 106-98.

NHL:

In the NHL, Pittsburgh skated past the Islanders in a shootout 2-1, San Jose beat Boston 3-2, Washington won against Carolina in overtime 2-1, Philadelphia beat Detroit 4-3, Florida defeated Montreal 4-1, Toronto bested Tampa Bay 4-1, Los Angeles topped Dallas 5-2, and it was Ottawa over Minnesota in overtime 3-2.

NCAA:

Florida Gulf Coast and Wichita State are play-in winners on the first night of the "First Four" portion of the NCAA tournament. Wichita State eliminated Vanderbilt 70-50. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker each had 14 for the Shockers, who advance to play Arizona Thursday night. Marc-Eddy Norelia scored 20 points and Florida Gulf Coast coasted to a 96-65 win over an overmatched Fairleigh Dickinson team in a First Four game. The Eagles move on to play East No. 1 seed North Carolina on Thursday.

Entering the NCAA Tournament with a losing record, Holy Cross wants to prove to the nation that it belongs here. The Crusaders had to win their final four games on the road and the Patriot League crown to finish 14-19 and punch their ticket to the tournament. They'll play Southern University in a First Four game tonight in Dayton, Ohio. That's followed by Michigan and Tulsa with the victor getting Notre Dame in the East regional Friday. 

Former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves faces charges after a woman says she was held against her will in a motel room and sexually assaulted. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says the 39-year-old Cleaves was charged Tuesday with criminal sexual conduct, sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment. Cleaves led Michigan State to the NCAA championship in 2000 and played in the NBA.

NIT:

The once-dominant NIT began with nine games at campus locations. LaimonasChatkevicius scored a career-high 30 points on 15-of-16 shooting, SindariusThornwell added 20 points and short-handed South Carolina cruised past High Point 88-66 to move into the second round of the NIT.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin had suspended five backup players for "conduct issues." But the Gamecocks did not miss a beat as they went up by 18 through the first 11 minutes. Other first-round NIT winners were Washington, Florida State, Creighton, Valparaiso, Florida and Ohio State. The tournament concludes March 31st in Madison Square Garden.

MLB:

Adam LaRoche surprised the Chicago White Sox by telling them he intends to retire, leaving $13 million on the table. The 36-year-old LaRoche signed a two-year deal for $25 million with the White Sox a year ago. But he struggled in 2015, batting just .207 with 12 homers.

Spring Training:

The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 6-3 last night. David Price got his first taste of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, striking out six over four innings for Boston. The new Red Sox ace gave up one run and three hits with no walks. His lone blemish came on Aaron Hicks' first homer of the spring. Ivan Nova permitted one run and three hits in four innings with a walk and four strikeouts for the Yankees.

The New York Mets beat the Miami Marlins 8-6 last night. Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard made his second start of the spring and gave up five hits in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out three, including Giancarlo Stanton, and was charged with two runs — one earned. Travis d'Arnaud hit a three-run double to right-center for New York.

In other training camp news:

—Slugger Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays will be sidelined for at least a week because of a strained side. Manager John Gibbons calls it a "minor oblique problem" and expects Encarnacion to be ready for the April 3 opener at Tampa Bay.

— Rockies' veteran utility infielder Daniel Descalso will be out several weeks with a broken bone in his non-throwing hand. Descalso was hurt Friday when he was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Cleveland's Tom Gorzelanny. Descalso had played some shortstop with the Rockies this spring, looking to replace Jose Reyes, who's on paid leave while he faces domestic violence charges.

NFL:

New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul says recent surgery on his mangled right hand went well and he hopes to play next season without a "club" on it. Speaking for the first time since re-signing to a one-year contract, Pierre-Paul wasn't very specific yesterday in discussing his hand hurt by fireworks.

The Patriots' special teamer Nate Ebner is taking a break from the NFL to attempt to earn a spot with the U.S. Rugby team in the 2016 Summer Olympics. The Patriots will keep Ebner under contract while he trains with the U.S. Rugby Sevens team at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. New England announced yesterday that it had re-signed the unrestricted free agent.

Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan is giving a second chance to a former colleague by hiring John Blake to become the team's defensive line coach. The Bills announced that Blake had agreed to terms on Tuesday, two days after Karl Dunbar was abruptly fired. Ryan was Oklahoma's defensive coordinator in 1988 during Blake's final year as Sooners head coach. Blake had been hired last month to be a defensive line coach at Lamar University in Texas. He had been out of football since September 2010, when Blake resigned as North Carolina's associate head coach as a result of an NCAA investigation. In 2012, the NCAA ruled Blake received personal loans from a sports agent while coaching. Blake won two Super Bowls coaching the Dallas Cowboys defensive line from 1993-95.

Arizona has acquired linebacker/defensive end Chandler Jones from New England for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second round pick. Jones has 12 1-2 sacks last season to rank fifth in the NFL. He's expected to fill Cardinals big need for an edge pass rusher. Cooper was Arizona's first round pick in 2013, but was injured in his rookie season and has not reached expectations.

Elsewhere:

— Pacman Jones has signed a new three-year contract with Cincinnati. Jones was Cincinnati's top cornerback in a 12-4 season which ended with a playoff loss to Pittsburgh. Jones' personal foul for bumping an official helped set up the Steelers' winning field goal in the closing seconds.

— Seattle has agreed to a $6.25 million, two-year contract with J'Marcus Webb. Webb started all 16 games last season for Oakland as a guard, but has played tackle in the past and could be an option for Seattle at that position.

— The agent for Will Blackmon says the cornerback has re-signed with the Washington Redskins on a two-year deal. Peter J. Schaffer confirmed multiple reports about Blackmon's signing in an email to The Associated Press. The nine-year veteran had two interceptions and forced three fumbles in 15 games for the Redskins last season, including 10 starts.

— Denver has matched the Miami Dolphins' front-loaded, four-year, $18 million offer to running back C.J. Anderson. Anderson ran for 720 yards and five touchdowns last season. He had 90 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in the Super Bowl.

— Free agent receiver Mike Wallace has signed a two-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens. Released by the Vikings on March 8, the 29-year-old Wallace joins his third team in as many years.

— A person familiar with the negotiations says the Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with former Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum on a two-year contract. The Jaguars are signing Beachum to compete with starting left tackle Luke Joeckel.

__ A person directly involved in the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Washington Redskins have signed defensive end Junior Galette to a $4 million, one-year contract. Galette missed all of last season with a torn Achilles.

— Backup quarterback Matt Moore has agreed to terms to remain with the Miami Dolphins, his team since 2011 when he started 12 games. The 31-year-old Moore has not started a game since.

Iditarod:

Aliy Zirkle has completed a bittersweet Iditarod. Zirkle finished third in this year's race Tuesday morning, bringing her team of 13 dogs down Nome's Front Street through a boisterous crowd chanting her name. It's Zirkle's fifth top five finish in the last five years.

But this race will always be known for separate attacks on Zirkle and four-time champion Jeff King by a man on a snowmobile. The man has said he was drunk when it happened, and he faces charges in state court. The attack killed one of King's dogs, and left several others injured. King was running in 10th place Tuesday.

Dallas Seavey won the Iditarod early Tuesday morning, crossing the finish line in record time. It's his third straight win and fourth in the last five years.

Noah Periera of Brockport is running his first Iditarod and remains out on the course, currently in 56th place among the mushers. The 19-year-old was the first non-Alaskan musher to win the Junior Iditarod race in 2013.

PGA:

Four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer will be on the first tee to help start the Masters this year, but without his golf clubs. Every year since 2007 he has hit a ceremonial tee shot to start the Masters. He was joined in 2010 by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in 2012. This year the 86-year old Palmer says he won't be taking part because he can't hit the driver the way he would like. Nicklaus and Player will continue in the role this year with Arnie watching.

MMA:

Mixed martial arts appears to have escaped the chokehold that kept the professional version of its cage fights outlawed in New York. The state Assembly, where the legislation has stalled while the Senate approved it for seven years, plans to vote on the bill next week.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, says there are votes to pass it. New York is the only state that still prohibits professional matches, though fighters train at many gyms around the state and amateur cards are held.

The legislation would put MMA under the control of the State Athletic Commission, which regulates professional boxing. Recently added provisions would increase required insurance for injured fighters and authorize studying a funding mechanism for long-term care of fighters who develop degenerative brain conditions.

©2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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