WAMC Sports News: March Madness Heating Up
Top-ranked Gonzaga trailed by 12 at halftime before pulling out an 88-78 victory over BYU that gives the Bulldogs the West Coast Conference title.
Jalen Suggs hit two late 3-pointers and scored 23 points to help the Zags stay unbeaten this season, now at 26-0.
The Zags responded to their biggest halftime deficit in three years by locking down defensively and getting back to their efficient ways on offense.
Suggs took charge down the stretch, hitting consecutive 3-pointers to put Gonzaga up by nine with 1:28 left. Corey Kispert scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half.
To men’s basketball and the MAAC tournament where number 9 Iona crushed number 8 Quinnipiac 72-48, and number 7 Fairfield beats number 10 Manhattan, in overtime, 59-58. Meanwhile, in the quarterfinals today, number 1 Siena will face number 9 Iona this evening at 5 p.m., and number 2 Monmouth takes on number 7 Fairfield at 7:30 p.m.
To the women’s Maac tournament where Siena beat Niagara 75-65, and Rider topped Monmouth 44-41.
In the ACC, number 13 Miami beats number 12 Pitt 79-73. Number 10 Duke crushed number 15 Boston College 86-51, and number 11 Notre Dame downs number 14 Wake Forest 80-77. Meanwhile, today number 9 NC State faces number 8 Syracuse at noon. Number 13 Miami faces number 5 Clemson at 2:30 p.m. Its number 10 Duke vs. number 7 Louisville at 6:30 p.m., and number 11 Notre Dame takes on number 6 North Carolina at 9 p.m.
The Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off today with number 8 Georgetown facing number 9 Marquette at 3 p.m. Number 7 Xavier takes on number 10 Butler at 6 p.m., and number 6 Providence faces number 11 DePaul at 9 p.m.
ATLANTIC 10 WOMEN
And in NCAA women’s basketball the Atlantic 10 Tournament kicks off today at 1 p.m. as number 13 St. Bonaventure faces number 12 Davidson Wildcats.
Kansas will be without starting center David McCormack and backup forward Tristan Enaruna for the Big 12 Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols
Jayhawks coach Bill Self said Tuesday the pair entered the protocol “semi-recently” but did not say whether either tested positive for the virus. McCormack is averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds and Enaruna plays sparingly off the bench.
The second-seeded Jayhawks open tournament play in Thursday’s quarterfinals against No. 25 Oklahoma or Iowa State.
The No. 11 Jayhawks hope to have both players back for next week’s NCAA Tournament.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made a pair of big moves as they try to retain their Super Bowl-winning roster.
The Buccaneers have placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin, who now stands to make about $16.4 million next season after earning $2.1 million last year. Godwin ranked second to Mike Evans on the Super Bowl champs with 65 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games.
The Bucs also agreed to a deal with linebacker Lavonte David. A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that David accepted a two-year package worth up to $25 million. The 31-year-old David, was set to become a free agent after nine pro seasons, all with the Bucs. He’s a long-time captain and generally regarded as the heart of a defense that’s ranked first against the run each of the past two seasons.
Elsewhere in the NFL:
The Jacksonville Jaguars used their franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson. The move prevents him from hitting free agency and makes him the blindside protector for presumptive No. 1 draft pick Trevor Lawrence. The team made it official about two hours after coach Urban Meyer said “we are headed in that direction.” Robinson has started 50 of 67 games since being drafted in the second round in 2017.
New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis says the club placed the franchise tag on free safety Marcus Williams. The decision prevents the 24-year-old Williams from entering free agency and effectively places him under a one-year contract for about $10.5 million. Williams was a second-round draft choice out of Utah in 2017, who has started since the beginning of his rookie year and has intercepted 13 passes during his first four NFL seasons.
The Tennessee Titans released cornerback Malcolm Butler on Tuesday three years into the five-year deal he signed in March 2018, according to his agent Derek Simpson. Butler signed for more than $60 million in March 2018 after leaving New England as a free agent. Releasing Butler is expected to save the Titans more than $10 million against the salary cap as they try to create space for free agency.
The Minnesota Vikings have cleared more salary cap space by cutting kicker Dan Bailey. Bailey ranked last in the league in 2020 in field goal percentage and extra point percentage, among kickers who appeared in 10 or more games. Both of those rates were career lows, by far. The 10-year veteran missed five field goals and five extra points over the final five games.
The Chicago Bears have placed the franchise tag on star receiver Allen Robinson, setting up a potential messy situation with their most consistent playmaker on offense. The sides have until July 15 to reach a multiyear deal. Otherwise, he would play next season for approximately $16.4 million assuming he signs.
The Carolina Panthers have placed the franchise tag on Taylor Moton while still hoping to work out a long-term extension with the fourth-year offensive tackle. If no long-term deal is reached by July 15 Moton would make between $13 million and $14 million next season depending on the NFL salary cap —and would be eligible for free agency next year.
For the second consecutive year the New York Giants have given the franchise tag to defensive tackle Leonard Williams. The Giants applied the non-exclusive franchise tag just before the league deadline. He earned $16.1 million on the 2020 tag and a second franchise tag is worth 120% of the previous season’s contract.
Marcus Allen is staying in Pittsburgh. And staying at linebacker too. The Steelers announced they have signed Allen to a one-year deal for the 2021 season. Allen had been an exclusive rights free agent. The 24-year-old Allen played in 14 games in 2021 after being moved from safety to inside linebacker in the preseason because of depth issues at the position.
The Detroit Lions have signed Tyrell Williams, adding much-needed depth at wide receiver with a player they hope can stay healthy. The Lions made the move Tuesday. Detroit’s top receivers from last season are free agents.
The Atlanta Falcons have saved almost $4 million from the 2021 salary cap by cutting veteran offensive guard James Carpenter. The move comes after the team already cleared almost $11 million in cap space by releasing two veterans, safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey.
The Cleveland Browns cleared out a little more salary cap space by releasing veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn after one season. Clayborn appeared in 15 games for the Browns last season after signing a two-year, $5.75 million contract as a free agent in March.
NBA-HALL OF FAME FINALISTS
Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers star Michael Cooper and 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh lead a list of 14 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021. The list features six other first-time finalists: former NBA coach Rick Adelman, Villanova coach Jay Wright, two-time Olympic gold medalist Yolanda Griffith, three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson and former WNBA coach of the year Marianne Stanley, plus Hall of Famer Bill Russell as a coach. The other finalists are high school coaching great Leta Andrews, Michigan “Fab Five” member Chris Webber, 2000 Olympic gold medalist Tim Hardaway, five-time NBA All-Star Marques Johnson and four-time NBA defensive player of the year Ben Wallace. The Class of 2021 will be announced May 16.
Elsewhere in the NBA:
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will both be unable to start the second half of the season with the Philadelphia 76ers, though neither All-Star will be missing from the Eastern Conference leaders’ lineup for long. They will miss Philadelphia’s game Thursday in Chicago, and Simmons will also miss the 76ers’ contest on Friday against Washington. Provided both continue to test negative for COVID-19, they would be cleared after those games.
Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat used an anti-Semitic slur while playing a video game that was being livestreamed, prompting both the team and the NBA office to quickly open investigations into the matter. The video began circulating widely on social media Tuesday afternoon. The Heat, who were in the final day of their All-Star break and are not formally resuming practice until Wednesday, had no immediate comment. An NBA spokesman said the league “unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech.”
The New York Islanders extended their winning streak and stayed atop the East Division, two points ahead of Washington.
Anthony Beauvillier scored the deciding goal in the shootout and the Isles beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 for their sixth straight win.
Brock Nelson scored in regulation for the Islanders, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 32 shots as Barry Trotz became the third coach in NHL history to reach 1,700 games behind the bench. New York beat Boston for the fourth time in four meetings this season.
The Islanders also improved to 11-0-2 at Nassau Coliseum, remaining the league’s only team without a regulation loss at home.
In Washington, Jakub Vrana scored his second goal of the game in overtime to help theCapitals beat the New Jersey Devils 5-4 after squandering a three-goal lead. Washington has won six of seven games, including two in a row since Tom Wilson was suspended for hitting Boston’s Brandon Carlo in the head.
New Jersey earned a point with a dominant third period that featured a 16-5 shot disparity. The Capitals went up 4-1 in the third period before the Devils tilted the ice, scoring three consecutive goals to force OT.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
Blake Coleman scored 2:17 into overtime, giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Coleman’s goal was set up by Tyler Johnson, who also had a goal in the game to help the defending Stanley Cup champions season-high point streak to nine games. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin had a tiebreaking goal midway through the second period and the rebuilding team kept the lead against the NHL power for 20-plus minutes.
Patric Hornqvist and Owen Tippett scored power-play goals in the second period, Sergei Bobrovsky made 40 saves and the Florida Panthers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Tuesday night. Juho Lammikko and Carter Verhaeghe also scored for the Panthers, who have won three of their last four games. Michael Del Zotto and Oliver Bjorkstrand had goals for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo stopped 29 shots. Columbus has lost five of the last seven.
Jordan Staal’s second goal of the game came with 34.9 seconds left on the clock in overtime, sending the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. The Hurricanes have their first six-game winning streak in 10 years. Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Matt Benning and Ryan Johansen had Nashville’s goals as the Predators built a 2-0 lead in the second period.
Kasperi Kapanen got his fourth goal in his last five games and the surging Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 4-2. Teddy Blueger and Jake Guentzel also scored for the Penguins, who went 4-1 on their homestand to gain ground in the hyper-competitive East Division. Sidney Crosby’s empty-net goal with 32 seconds to go helped Pittsburgh escape. Tristan Jarry finished with 33 saves, including a couple of scrambling stops on his belly in the final minutes to preserve a one-goal lead.
Shayne Gostisbehere tied the game late in regulation, Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick scored shootout goals, and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4. The NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres lost their eighth straight game. The Flyers rallied from a 3-1 hole to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. James van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes and Claude Giroux all scored for the Flyers.
Joel Kiviranta scored 100 seconds in and added an assist as the Stars blasted the Blackhawks, 6-1. Rookie Jason Robertson had four assists for his first four-point game, and Joe Pavelski got his team-best 13th goal for the Stars. Anton Khudobin stopped 21 shots for Dallas, which has won two of three by a combined 11-1 after dropping four straight games.
Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves, leading the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-3 win over the North Division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs in the opener of a three-game series. Andrew Copp had a goal and an assist and Josh Morrissey, Kyle Connor and Mason Appleton also scored for Winnipeg. Neal Pionk finished with three assists for the Jets, who trail the Maple Leafs by five points in the standings with two games in hand. Toronto’s Auston Matthews scored twice, raising his NHL-leading goal total to 20.
The Nashville Predators’ injury bug now has hit captain Roman Josi, who is week to week with an upper body injury. Josi took a high stick from Denis Gurianov 2:46 into the third period that drew blood on Josi’s face. Josi stayed in the game and scored the winning goal Sunday night in a 4-3 shootout victory in Dallas. The captain becomes the fourth Nashville player on injured reserve within the past week.
The NHL will be returning to ESPN beginning next season.
People familiar with the deal told The Associated Press the two sides have reached agreement on a seven-year contract that includes four Stanley Cup Finals. The deal was first reported by SportsNet in Canada.
NBC is in the final season of a 10-year contract worth $2 billion that gives it national NHL rights, but the league will air on multiple networks in its next agreement.
NBC has aired games since 2005 and is still among the bidders for the other part of the deal, which includes three Stanley Cup Finals.
Cleveland Indians third baseman José Ramírez and slugger Franmil Reyes have rejoined the team after being banned for breaking COVID-19 protocols.
The players tested negative for the coronavirus and are back at the team’s facility in Goodyear, Arizona.
Ramírez and Reyes had been isolated at their temporary spring training homes since Saturday after they went out to dinner indoors, a behavior that violated virus guidelines set last season by Major League Baseball and the players’ union. Indians manager Terry Francona said the team followed the guidelines and reported the violation.
Elsewhere in baseball:
Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop has returned to training camp after he was kept away for a couple days for violating baseball’s COVID-19 protocols. The team said Sunday that Strop was being kept away from his teammates, and that Major League Baseball will decide when he is allowed to rejoin the team. It has confirmed Strop’s return. The 35-year-old Strop is in camp on a minor league deal. He is trying to make it back to the majors after a tough season last year.
New York Yankees left-hander Zack Britton needs surgery to remove a bone chip from his pitching elbow and seems certain to miss the start of the season. Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced the need for an operation following New York’s 6-5 loss to Detroit on Tuesday. Head team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad will perform the surgery on Wednesday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Boone said Clint Frazier was not hurt when he banged into the left-field wall chasing Willi Castro’s homer in the fourth inning.
The Texas Rangers will be without one of their top relievers to start the season. Hard-throwing Jonathan Hernandez has been shut down from pitching for at least four weeks because of a ligament sprain in his right elbow. Rangers general manager Chris Young says it is a low-grade sprain in the ulnar collateral ligament. The pitcher felt something when throwing his last live BP session. Hernandez was 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 27 appearances last season. He had 31 strikeouts in 31 innings, relying heavily on sinker that averaged nearly 98 mph.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE FOOTBAL
Ohio State has halted football team workouts for a week because of an increase in positive COVID-19 tests within the program.
The school said Tuesday that team activities would pause and administrative offices in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center would close “out of an abundance of caution and with the health, safety and well-being of the student-athletes, coaches and football and facility support staff as the highest priority.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to open spring practice on March 19.
In other developments:
Duke has paused spring football activities indefinitely due to a COVID-19 cluster involving 10 athletes. The school in Durham, North Carolina, announced the pause Tuesday, saying the cluster of cases was tied to people who attended team activities together. Those affected are in isolation. The school said contact tracers have identified others who possibly had close contact with someone who tested positive. The team started spring practice Feb. 26 and conducted three official workouts before the pause.
A long-awaited report from the University of Texas on the history of the school song “The Eyes of Texas” finds that it had “no racist intent.”
The study was ordered last year by the school’s president after a group football players and other athletes demanded the school drop the song because of racist elements of its past.
The song will continue to be played, but school will not require athletes and band members to sing or perform it.