Weekend Sports In Brief
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dawn Staley and South Carolina buttoned up on defense and won their second national championship, stifling UConn for a 64-49 victory Sunday night that ended 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.
With Staley calling the shots in a $5,000 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 by 49-24, including a 21-6 advantage on offensive boards. They also clamped down on star Paige Bueckers and the Huskies on defense, just like they did all season long.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s remarkable career came to thrilling and sudden close Saturday night after Caleb Love made a key 3-pointer and three late free throws to lift archrival North Carolina to a thrill-a-minute 81-77 victory over the Blue Devils.
This was the 258th, most consequential and maybe, just maybe, the very best meeting between these teams, whose arenas are separated by a scant 11 miles down in Tobacco Road.
The eighth-seeded Tar Heels (29-9), of all teams, pinned the 368th and final loss on the 75-year-old Coach K, exactly four weeks after they ruined the going-away party in his final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
So, instead of Krzyzewski going for his sixth title, on Monday, Carolina will try to win its seventh. It will be coach Hubert Davis, Love, who led the Tar Heels with 28 points, and R.J. Davis, who scored 18, going against Kansas.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — David McCormack muscled his way to 25 points, Ochai Agbaji was nearly perfect from the field and added 21 points, and hot-shooting Kansas raced to a big early lead before withstanding every Villanova run for a 81-65 victory Saturday night that sent the Jayhawks back to the national title game.
Christian Braun also had 10 points, including a key 3-pointer to ward off a comeback late in the game, as the Jayhawks exacted a measure of revenge for a Final Four beatdown by the Wildcats four years ago in San Antonio.
Now, they hope to follow a familiar pattern against North Carolina on Monday night. The last three times that the Jayhawks and Wildcats have met in the tournament, the winner has gone on to cut down the nets.
Playing without injured guard Justin Moore, Villanova (31-7) watched the lone No. 1 seed to reach the semifinals score the game’s first 10 points and eventually build a 19-point cushion. And despite big nights from Collin Gillespie, Brandon Slater and Jermaine Samuels, the short-handed and undersized Wildcats never made it all the way back.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Denny Hamlin ran down William Byron with five laps to go Sunday and ended the slowest start to his career with a victory in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
In a race that featured four sets of green-flag pit stops and a whole lot of tire strategy, Hamlin closed a huge gap between Byron and teammate Martin Truex Jr., passing Truex on the outside and Byron shortly thereafter. He then held off a challenge from Kevin Harvick, a three-time winner at Richmond.
Hamlin’s 47th career victory was his first at his hometown track since 2016, the first for Toyota in the Next Gen car and gave NASCAR seven different winners in seven races. Harvick was second, followed by Byron, Truex and Kyle Larson.
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Jennifer Kupcho took the last victory leap into Poppie’s Pond late Sunday afternoon, ending a half-century run of the tournament best known as the Dinah Shore at Mission Hills.
Six strokes ahead entering the round, Kupcho shot a 2-over 74 for a two-stroke victory over Jessica Korda in The Chevron Championship. The 24-year-old from Colorado finished at 14-under 274 for her first LPGA Tour title.
The event that started in 1972 as the Colgate-Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle and became a major in 1983 is moving to Houston next year after failing to attract a sponsor willing to keep it in the California desert.
Seven strokes ahead of Korda and defending champion Patty Tavatanakit at 18 under after holing birdie putts over 30 feet on the par-4 fourth and par-3 fifth, Kupcho played the final 13 holes in 4 over. Pia Babnik of Slovenia closed with a 66 to finish third at 11 under.
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).
Adam Hadwin (67), Beau Hossler (72), Charles Howell III (69) and Troy Merritt (69) tied for fourth at 10-under.
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — Steven Alker cruised to his second victory on the PGA Tour Champions, shooting a final-round 7-under 65 to win the Rapiscan Systems Classic by six shots.
Alker’s 18-under total was a record at the event, which moved to Grand Bear Golf Club this year after 10 editions at Fallen Oak.
Padraig Harrington shot 65 to surge into a tie for second with Alex Cejka. Bob Estes, who started the day one shot back, slipped to third after shooting 71.