Cambridge tops East Liverpool netters
CAMBRIDGE — Cole Dailey collected East Liverpool’s only win at first singles during a 4-1 loss to Cambridge at Cambridge City Park on Saturday.
The Bobcats improve to 3-1, while the Potters move to 2-3.
FIRST SINGLES: Cole Daily (EL) def. Caleb Stanberry (C), 6-1,6-1.
SECOND SINGLES: Blade Bachman (C) def. Preston Dawson (jr.), 7-6 (2), 6-4.
THIRD SINGLES: James Goggin (C) def. Coner Ghrist (EL), 6-2, 6-2.
FIRST DOUBLES: Brady Hannon-Justin Cole (C) def. Ayden Wright/Preston Dawson (soph.), 6-4, 6-3.
SECOND DOUBLES: Andrew Daymut-Noah Mitchell (C) def. Liam Campbell/Mark Antonio, 6-2, 6-0.
Cavs cry foul against 76ers
CLEVELAND (AP) — Joel Embiid did plenty of damage on his own. The Cavaliers, though, felt the big man got some unwarranted help.
Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff was highly critical of the officiating after Embiid scored 44 points — and made 20 trips to the free throw line — in Philadelphia’s 112-108 win over the Cavs on Sunday night.
“That game was taken from us,” Bickerstaff said. “We deserved to win it.”
Embiid added 17 rebounds and James Harden had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in his second triple-double with Philadelphia as the 76ers locked up a playoff spot. Embiid was questionable coming into the game with a sore ankle. But not only did the 7-footer play, Embiid dominated down the stretch, scoring 12 points in a key sequence of the fourth quarter.
He also made 17 free throws, added five blocks, made three 3-pointers and had three assists in 38 minutes of another MVP resume builder.
“I get to witness his greatness every night,” Harden said. “Obviously, his offensive numbers tonight are self-explanatory. Defensively, he was very active blocking shots, changing shots and clogging the paint up was key.”
Bickerstaff wasn’t taking anything away from Embiid or Harden, but he was upset with what he thought was a major discrepancy in fouls. Cleveland was called for 28 to Philadelphia’s 19 in a physical game with playoff-level intensity.
“The one thing you can’t defend is the free throw line and that’s absurd,” Bickerstaff said, referring to the Sixers’ 42 attempted foul shots. “Our guys deserved way better than they got tonight.
“They’re great players and they understand how to play through the rules,” he said of Philly’s All-Stars. “They know how to manipulate the rules. This is no knock or disrespect to those guys. But the game has to be consistent on both ends of the floor. We were searching for that consistency and we never found it.”
Coming full circle
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot was almost 11 years old when he was ordered by his parents to go to bed at halftime of the Jayhawks’ last triumphant national title game against Memphis in 2008.
“That’s something that I still give them trouble for,” said Lightfoot, a sixth-year senior who was born in Kansas City and lived there until age 5 before moving to Arizona.
He joked that he’d be getting his revenge on Monday night, when Kansas seeks its fourth NCAA title in its matchup with North Carolina in the Superdome.
“They’re actually here for this one,” Lightfoot said of his parents. “So, I told them they have to go home at halftime.”
Jayhawks guard Christian Braun, a junior from Burlington, Kansas, also missed the second half of that 2008 title game. He was almost 7 years old and tried to watch the game, but fell asleep by halftime.
Matta back at Butler
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Thad Matta is returning to Butler, hired on Sunday to coach the Bulldogs almost five years after he cited his health while stepping down at Ohio State.
The 54-year-old Matta led Butler to a 24-8 record and an appearance in the 2001 NCAA Tournament during his only season as the head coach at his alma mater. He then had successful runs at Xavier and Ohio State.
Matta spent the 2021-22 season as an associate athletic director for basketball administration at Indiana.
Now he’s going back to where it all started for him.
South Carolina ends UConn’s streak
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dawn Staley hoisted the championship trophy high, strutted around the court and stopped for a brief victory dance. She handed over the hardware to South Carolina’s student band, then headed back to midcourt for more merriment.
The Gamecocks hit all the right notes this season, and they finished with a masterpiece.
Staley’s team buttoned up on defense and dominated on the glass, beating UConn 64-49 on Sunday night to end the Huskies’ undefeated streak in title games. Destanni Henderson scored a career-high 26 points, Aliyah Boston added 11 points and 16 rebounds, and the Gamecocks handed Geno Auriemma’s Huskies their first loss in 12 NCAA title games.
“We played every possession like it was our last possession,” said Staley, the first Black men’s or women’s coach with two Division I titles. “They were determined to be champions today.”
A year ago, South Carolina lost in the Final Four when Boston missed a layup before the buzzer.
“Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this since last season. Everyone had a picture of me crying,” said Boston, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. “Today, we’re national champions and I’m in tears.”
With Staley calling the shots in a Louis Vuitton letterman jacket, South Carolina took UConn to school on the boards and capped a wire-to-wire run as the No. 1 team in the country in The Associated Press poll. The Gamecocks also won the championship in 2017 with A’ja Wilson leading the way.
This time it was Boston — the AP Player of the Year — and her fellow South Carolina post players who dominated on the game’s biggest stage. The Gamecocks outrebounded UConn 49-24, including a 21-6 advantage on offensive boards.
“We knew tonight that if we didn’t hold our own on the boards, that it was going to be a really bad night for us,,” Auriemma said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”
They also clamped down on star Paige Bueckers and the Huskies on defense, just like they did all season long.
“They deserved it 100%,” Auriemma said. “They were the best team all year.”
It was South Carolina’s night from the start. The Gamecocks (35-2) jumped to an 11-2 lead, grabbing nearly every rebound on both ends of the floor. They led to 22-8 after one quarter much to the delight of their fans, who made the trip to Minneapolis to be part of the sellout crowd.
UConn (30-6) trailed by 16 in the second quarter before Bueckers, a Minnesota native, got going. After having just one shot in the first quarter, she scored nine points in the second to get the Huskies within 35-27 at the half. She finished with 14.
An 8-2 run to start the third quarter put South Carolina up 43-29 before the Huskies finally started connecting from behind the arc. UConn missed its first eight 3-point attempts until Caroline Ducharme made one from the wing and Evina Westbrook followed with another to get the Huskies within 43-37.
That’s as close as they could get because of Henderson.
The senior guard had a three-point play to close the third quarter and then had the team’s first four points in the fourth to restore the double-digit lead. The Huskies couldn’t recover.
“My teammates believed in me once again. We’ve been working so hard since Day 1, and it finally paid off, all my hard work, all my focus,” Henderson said. “Me trusting the process. Me trusting God. She just put me in a position just to be great, and today, we national champions.”
This was UConn’s first trip to the championship game since 2016, when the Huskies won the last of four straight titles. Since then, the team has suffered heartbreaking defeats in the national semifinals, losing twice in overtime, before holding off Stanford on Friday night. The Huskies were trying to win their 12th title in the same city they won their first one in 1995.
Auriemma said Saturday that when his team had won each of its 11 titles, the Huskies entered the game as the better team. They certainly weren’t on Sunday.
“We just didn’t have enough,” he said. “They were just too good for us.”
It had been one of the most challenging seasons of Auriemma’s Hall of Fame career. UConn overcame losing eight players for at least two games with injury or illness, including Bueckers, who missed nearly three months with a left knee injury suffered in early December. She came back in late February but wasn’t at the same level that earned her AP Player of the Year as a freshman last season.
Hamlin wins at Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Denny Hamlin hoped a visit to the track he watched races at as a youngster would help kickstart a season that started in an uncharacteristic fashion — poorly.
Thanks to some crafty tire strategy that his team timed right, he got it done.
Hamlin ran down William Byron with five laps to go Sunday and ended the slowest start to a season in his career with a victory in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Spaun gets first PGA Tour win
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — J.J. Spaun won his first PGA Tour event — and his first trip to the Masters — by firing a final-round 69 at the Valero Texas Open on Sunday.
In his 147th PGA Tour start, Spaun survived a double-bogey start to his round by recording five birdies with no bogeys to finish at 13-under at TPC San Antonio. It gave him a two-shot margin over Matt Kuchar (69) and Matt Jones (66).
“I was thinking about the Masters last night,” Spaun said. “But I think a year ago, to think I would even be here playing on tour, I’d have to do a lot of work. To finally get a win, it’s what you dream about.”
In October, Spaun was ranked No. 396 in the World Golf Rankings. It followed a 2020-21 season where he missed more cuts than he made, including a missed cut at the Texas Open, and only one top-10 finish. He had to play in the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour last year to retain his tour card.
The 31-year-old Spaun closed with four straight pars, and no one could close in on him. His previous best finish on tour was runner-up in 2018 at the RSM Classic. Sunday’s tournament win includes a $1.54 million check.