Blazers complete season sweep of Bulls, 99-89
CHICAGO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points, Damian Lillard added 24 and the Portland Trail Blazers completed a season sweep of the Chicago Bulls with a 99-89 victory on Thursday night.
Portland improved to 10-25 on the road to take the season series with the Bulls for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Blazers beat Chicago 102-94 on Nov. 18 in their other meeting this season.
Joakim Noah had 18 points and Carlos Boozer added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which shot 44 percent.
Chicago led 21-20 after the first quarter before Portland outscored the Bulls 32-16 in the second period for a 52-37 halftime lead.
Portland extended its lead to 28 in the third quarter before the Bulls made a late charge, cutting the Blazers' lead to 10 with 34 seconds left.
Gonzaga pulls out 64-58 win over Southern
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A March Madness warm-up turned into a great escape for Gonzaga.
The Zags got pushed to the limit by Southern on Thursday, pulling out a 64-58 victory in the closing minutes to avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 in the NCAA tournament.
Kelly Olynyk led the Zags (32-2) with 21 points. They play No. 9 Wichita State on Saturday.
But it was a pair of 3-pointers — one by Gary Bell Jr., the next by Kevin Pangos — that staked the Bulldogs to a 62-58 lead only moments after the game was tied at 56 with 3:45 left.
Derick Beltran had 21 points to lead Southern (23-10) and his 14-foot baseline jumper tied it at 56. But the Jaguars from the Southwestern Athletic Conference didn't make another field goal.
No. 1 seeds are now 113-0 against 16s.
No. 12 seed Oregon knocks off Oklahoma St. 68-55
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help 12th-seeded Oregon extend a run that began in the Pac-12 tournament by beating fifth-seeded Oklahoma 68-55 in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.
Dominic Artis scored 13 points and helped frustrate Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart on the defensive end to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.
Oregon advanced to play fourth-seeded St Louis (27-6) on Saturday for a spot in the Midwest regional in Indianapolis next week. The Billikens beat New Mexico State 64-44.
Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5 for 13 shooting for the Cowboys (24-9).
Stability creates success for mid-major programs
(Stations: Note Gonzaga interest.)
(AP) — Coaching stability has helped several mid-major women's basketball programs make going to the NCAA tournament almost an annual tradition.
Schools such as Marist and Liberty often keep their staffs intact and run the same system each year. While they can't recruit a Brittney Griner or Skylar Diggins, they recruit players who fit their systems — and who run them effectively.
Marist is making its eighth straight appearance. Liberty is making its 15th trip in the last 17 seasons, while Gonzaga is making its fifth straight appearance. Middle Tennessee is back for the ninth time in the last 10 years. Chattanooga earned its ninth bid in the last 13 years.
And these schools are not just happy to there.
They occasionally do some damage.
Samardzija hits 2nd HR, pitches Cubs over Mariners
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Pitcher Jeff Samardzija (suh-MAR'-juh) hit his second home run this spring and also threw six innings Thursday night to lead a split squad of Chicago Cubs over the Seattle Mariners 7-4.
Samardzija, set to be the Cubs' opening day starter, struck out seven. He allowed four runs and nine hits.
Samardzija hit a solo homer and an RBI single. Alfonso Soriano (al-FAHN'-soh sohr'-ee-AH'-noh) and Brad Nelson also homered for Chicago, and David DeJesus had two hits and drove in a run.
Justin Smoak homered and had a sacrifice fly for the Mariners. Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez added RBI singles.
Jon Garland, bidding to win a spot in the Seattle rotation, went six innings and gave up two runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
Sinclair, Buehler, LeBlanc join Portland Thorns
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Olympians Christine Sinclair, Christina LeBlanc and Rachel Buehler have joined the Portland Thorns during a break from national team duty.
Sinclair and LeBlanc both recently wrapped up Canada's second-place finish in the Cyprus Cup.
Buehler was on the U.S. team that won the Algarve Cup earlier this month in Portugal. Teammate Alex Morgan, who scored both goals in the 2-0 Algarve final against Germany, is expected to join the Thorns next week.
U.S. Soccer and Women's National Team Players Association agreed recently to a new collective bargaining agreement, which allowed the U.S. players to train with their teams in the new National Women's Soccer League.
The eight-team NWSL begins play next month.
The Thorns open the season on April 13 at FC Kansas City.
US sets venues for home World Cup qualifiers
(Stations: Note Seattle interest.)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. has announced the venues for its final four home World Cup qualifiers.
The Americans, who lost 2-1 to Honduras on Feb. 6, play their first home match of qualifying against Costa Rica on Friday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
The other U.S. home games are against Panama on June 11 in Seattle; against Honduras on June 18 in Sandy, Utah; against Mexico on Sept. 10 in Columbus, Ohio; and against Jamaica on Oct. 11 in Kansas City, Kan.
The men's national team also will play Germany on June 2 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., as part of U.S. Soccer's 100th anniversary celebration.
The women's national team is to play Canada at BMOM Field in Toronto the same day.
Iditarod musher's lawyer mulls lawsuit vs. PETA
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A lawyer for a musher whose dog died after being removed from Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race plans to sue People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals unless the organization retracts public statements blaming his client.
Attorney Myron Angstman says he sent a letter to PETA Thursday on behalf of musher Paige Drobny, whose 5-year-old dog, Dorado, was buried in snow in extreme winds at a checkpoint and suffocated Friday. Drobny had left the dog in the care of Iditarod representatives and continued the 1,000-mile race.
Angstman's letter seeks a retraction from PETA for "unfounded allegations that (Drobny) left her dog unattended, that she is to blame for the death of the dog, and that she should be criminally prosecuted."
The letter says Drobny has suffered personal attacks as a result of PETA's misrepresentations.
PETA spokeswoman Colleen O'Brien says the organization has not received the letter so it can't comment on it specifically. She says her group is "calling for those held responsible for Dorado's death to be appropriately charged."
UAA arena to be called Alaska Airlines Center
(Stations: Note Seattle interest.)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The new arena at the University of Alaska Anchorage will be called the Alaska Airlines Center.
University officials announced the name Thursday afternoon. In return for the naming rights, the Seattle-based airline has pledged to denote $6.3 million to the university over 10 years — including a $1 million scholarship endowment.
But the bulk of the money will help UAA fly athletes to away contests.
The 5,600-seat, $109 million arena is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
Ex-NFL star Bledsoe seeks change in Mass. wine law
(Stations: Note Washington state interest.)
(AP) — Former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe is urging Massachusetts lawmakers to end a ban on direct wine shipments to consumers.
Bledsoe now operates a winery in Washington state. He said Thursday the prohibition on direct wine shipments has prevented him from selling his wine to fans in the Bay State.
A bill has been field that would allow licensed out-of-state wine producers and distributors to ship to consumers. Massachusetts is among a handful of states that ban direct shipments.
Bledsoe says he hopes his presence at the Statehouse will help "make some noise" on behalf of the legislation.
A group representing package stores in Massachusetts opposes the bill, saying consumers can easily purchase wine at their local outlets.
Bledsoe opened the winery in 2007 after retiring from the NFL.