Weekend Sports in Brief
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Top seeds Gonzaga, Arizona and Kansas are in the NCAA Sweet 16.
So is giant killer Saint Peter’s, which became only the third No. 15 seed to make it this far.
And Coach K’s farewell tour continues as he and his Duke Blue Devils made it to the Sweet 16, too.
All eight of the regional semifinal matchups are set after a wild opening weekend that saw seven double-digit seeds win in the first round and four of them move on.
This is the second year in a row a No. 15 has advanced. Last year it was Oral Roberts. This time it’s Saint Peter’s, which knocked off Kentucky and Murray State.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Double-digit seeds are leaving their mark on the first weekend of the women’s NCAA Tournament and bouncing some of the top players and teams in the country, including Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith.
Creighton and South Dakota continued the run of upsets as the two No. 10 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time ever.
The Bluejays got the second round started, shocking Clark and Iowa with a two-point win that silenced the sellout crowd in Iowa City. Hours later, South Dakota knocked off No. 2 Baylor, ending Smith’s college career on her home court.
If you’re counting, that’s eight wins by double-digit seeds in this tournament — tying the most ever in NCAA women’s basketball history through two rounds, a mark set in 2018.
No. 1 seeds South Carolina, Stanford and Louisville advanced to the Sweet 16. The final second-round games will be played Monday.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — American Taylor Fritz upset Rafael Nadel 6-3, 7-6 (5) Sunday to win the BNP Paribas Open and snap the 21-time major champion’s 20-match winning streak this year.
“It’s an honor to even be on the same court as this guy,” Fritz told the crowd. “I grew up watching this guy win everything.”
Nadal sent two straight forehands well wide to set up Fritz’s second match point. Another Nadal error sent the 24-year-old American to the biggest victory of his career not far from where he grew up near San Diego. Fritz’s parents, Guy Fritz and Kathy May, are former tour players.
Nadal’s 20-0 start to the year included the Australian Open, his 21st major championship that broke a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
“I tried my best during the last two weeks,” Nadal told the crowd. “Today was not possible. I had a good fight to the end.”
Iga Swiatek defeated Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 in an error-filled final to win the women’s title. Swiatek will rise from fourth to a career-best No. 2 in the world in Monday’s WTA Tour rankings, trailing top-ranked Ash Barty, who skipped Indian Wells.
Deshaun Watson’s complicated past didn’t dissuade the Cleveland Browns from betting on the quarterback’s future.
He is on Cleveland’s roster, and at this point that is the only certainty with the talented yet controversial QB.
Watson’s stunning trade to the Browns became official Sunday, capping a whirlwind few days during in which the three-time Pro Bowler — accused by 22 women of sexual harassment or assault — agreed to come to Cleveland after initially telling the team he wouldn’t.
The Browns are taking heat for bringing in Watson with his legal baggage, but the team feels comfortable with its decision.
“We spent a tremendous amount of time exploring and investigating the opportunity to trade for Deshaun Watson,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a team news release. “We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision. Our team’s comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved.
“We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process.”
Desperate to win, the Browns have gone all in for Watson, sending first-round picks the next three seasons to Houston along with a 2023 third-rounder and 2024 fourth-rounder. The Texans will part with Watson and a 2024 fifth-round pick.
Cleveland is also giving Watson, who is still facing civil lawsuits, public scorn and possible NFL discipline, a fully guaranteed $230 million contract.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Quarterback Matthew Stafford has agreed to a four-year contract extension through 2026 with the Los Angeles Rams after winning the Super Bowl in his first season with the team.
The deal signed by Stafford on Saturday is worth $160 million, with $135 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.
Stafford is cashing in on his spectacular debut season with the Rams after 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, who traded the 2009 No. 1 overall pick to Los Angeles a year ago. Stafford would be 38 years old in the final season of the extension.
He as headed into the final year of his previous contract signed in Detroit, but he repeatedly said he had no interest in looking for a new home.
SEATTLE (AP) — Longtime NFL journalist John Clayton died Friday following a short illness. He was 67.
The Seattle Seahawks announced the death for Clayton’s family in a statement. Clayton worked for the team in recent years as a sideline reporter on radio broadcasts.
Nicknamed “The Professor,” Clayton spent more than two decades covering the Pittsburgh Steelers for the The Pittsburgh Press and the Seattle Seahawks for The News Tribune in Tacoma. Clayton moved to ESPN in 1995, becoming one of the lead NFL writers for the company. Clayton appeared on TV and radio for ESPN and worked at the company for more than 20 years.
WASHINGTON (AP) — LeBron James moved into second place on the NBA’s career scoring list Saturday night, surpassing Karl Malone in the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ game at Washington.
James now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the lead. He entered the game 19 points behind Malone’s total of 36,928. Abdul-Jabbar scored 38,387 points in his career. James has a chance to break that record next season if he’s healthy enough.
James passed Malone in the same building where Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals moved past Jaromir Jagr and into third place on the NHL’s career list in goals earlier in the week.
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — The Red Sox have reportedly agreed to terms with Rockies All-Star shortstop Trevor Story on a six-year, $140 million contract that would bring him to Boston to play second base.
The deal, which was first reported by USA Today and confirmed by multiple outlets, gives the Red Sox a long-term answer at second, which has been in flux since former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia was first injured in 2017, and leaves Xander Bogaerts in place at shortstop. The team also has a backup plan on the left side of the infield if Bogaerts opts out of his contract at the end of this season.
Story, 29, batted .251 with 24 homers and 75 RBIs for the Rockies last season, an off-year that followed three straight years in which he received NL MVP votes. In five major league seasons, he has never played any defensive position other than shortstop.
NEW YORK (AP) — Star shortstop Carlos Correa agreed early Saturday to a $105.3 million, three-year contract with the Minnesota Twins, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was subject to a successful physical.
The move ends Correa’s seven-season tenure with the Houston Astros. He will earn $35.1 million annually under the deal and can opt out after the 2022 and 2023 seasons to become a free agent again.
Correa picking the Twins was a surprise, given they have lost 18 consecutive postseason games and finished last in the AL Central a year ago at 73-89.
NEW YORK (AP) — Free-agent slugger Nick Castellanos and the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a $100 million, five-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity early Saturday because the deal is subject to a successful physical and had not been announced by the team.
Castellanos batted .309 with 34 homers and 100 RBIs last season for the Cincinnati Reds, making his first All-Star team.
SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — After winning last year’s Formula One title on the last lap of the last race, Max Verstappen’s title defense began with a different sort of drama — his critics might say karma — as his Red Bull car retired just laps from the end of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.
Ferrari clinched a 1-2 finish with Charles Leclerc winning the race, almost six seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. Lewis Hamilton, who lost the title so painfully to Verstappen in 2021, enjoyed better luck this time with an unexpected third place.
HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — William Byron had a freight train in his rearview mirror. A sitting duck, it seemed. Fortunately for him, all those challengers started jostling against each other rather than working together to take down the leader.
While Byron cruised to the checkered flag for the third victory of NASCAR Cup career, one last crash unfolded behind him Sunday in an appropriate finish to a chaotic, thrilling race at remodeled Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The reconfigured track — with new pavement and steeper banking — lived up to predictions of frenzied pack racing at blistering speeds approaching those seen at Talladega and Daytona.
There were 46 lead changes among an Atlanta-record 20 drivers, a traffic jam of tightly bunched cars that never got too far away from each other over a more than four-hour race, nine wrecks that took out several top contenders, and a bunch of smashed-up race cars to lug home.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Josef Newgarden used the nonexistent high line to pass Scott McLaughlin in the final turn at Texas Motor Speedway and steal the IndyCar race his teammate had dominated.
The win gave Team Penske back-to-back victories to open the season and 600 overall wins across all its platforms. Chevrolet has opened the season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2017. The margin of victory was 0.669 seconds — the eighth-closest finish in 35 races at Texas.
Will Power was fourth to complete the banner day for Penske. Marcus Ericsson led Honda and Chip Ganassi Racing with a third-place finish and was followed by his three teammates, including Jimmie Johnson, who finished an IndyCar career-best sixth.
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Sam Burns is a winner again in the Valspar Championship, this time with a lot more stress and plenty of more emotion.
Burns holed a birdie putt from just over 30 feet on the 16th hole to beat Davis Riley on the second playoff hole, giving him three PGA Tour victories in his last 22 starts.
Burns, who closed with a 2-under 69, is the second straight back-to-back winner at Innisbrook following Paul Casey’s consecutive wins in 2018 and 2019. The tournament was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.
The victory moves Burns to No. 10 in the world for the first time, knocking Dustin Johnson out of the top 10 for the first time in seven years.
“Man, it’s crazy,” Burns said. “Davis played well today, especially the way he finished. I tried to stay steady. I didn’t make a lot of mistakes. A lot of time on Sunday if you plot your way around, make a bunch of pars, throw in a few birdies, a lot of times it works well. So happy.”
Burns won last year by three shots.
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning made another trade on the eve of the deadline aimed at becoming the NHL’s first team to win three in a row since the 1980s.
The Lightning acquired forward Nick Paul from the Ottawa Senators for Mathieu Joseph and a 2024 fourth-round pick. The cap-strapped Lightning upgraded again up front thanks to Ottawa retaining 44.5% of Paul’s salary for the remainder of the season.
Tampa Bay got Paul two days after acquiring forward Brandon Hagel from Chicago for multiple first-round picks and players and in the aftermath of major movement around the Eastern Conference.
The Toronto Maple Leafs shored up their defense by dealing for Seattle captain Mark Giordano.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Claude Giroux will try to win his first Stanley Cup in Florida.
The Philadelphia Flyers have traded Giroux after he played his 1,000th career game with the franchise to the Florida Panthers, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Saturday because the trade had not been announced.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Kenzie Hauswirth broke a tie with 6:20 left and top-seeded Ohio State beat Minnesota Duluth 3-2 on Sunday for the Buckeyes’ first women’s Frozen Four championship.
Hauswirth blasted a shot from the left side that deflected off a defender’s skate and slipped inside the far post.
Paetyn Levis and Clair Degeorge also scored for Ohio State and Amanda Thiele made 17 saves. T
Naomi Rogge and Elizabeth Giguere scored for Minnesota Duluth, which made its first appearance in the championship game since 2010.
DETROIT (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson of Minnesota successfully defended his heavyweight title in his final college match, Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis became a three-time champion and Penn State completed a dominating run through the NCAA tournament Saturday night.
Penn State wrapped up its ninth team title in 11 years hours before the finals, then had five of its wrestlers win individual championships. Michigan was second for its highest team finish in program history, and 2021 champion Iowa was third.
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