Timbers hold off Sounders 3-2 to advance
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Diego Valeri blew kisses to the crowd after his goal in the 44th minute and the Portland Timbers held off the late-charging Seattle Sounders 3-2 Thursday night to advance to Major League Soccer's Western Conference finals.
The Timbers, who won the semifinal series against the rival Sounders 5-3 on aggregate, will face Real Salt Lake in the first of the two-leg conference final on Sunday in Salt Lake. RSL defeated the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 Thursday night to win the series 2-1 on aggregate.
The victory extended Portland's winning streak at Jeld-Wen Field to 16 games. The Timbers went 11-1-5 at home in the regular season with their lone loss on March 9 to Montreal. They had an MLS record 11 shutouts at home this season.
No. 6 Stanford holds off No. 2 Oregon 26-20
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Tyler Gaffney ran for 157 yards and No. 6 Stanford hammered No. 2 Oregon for three quarters, then held off a furious rally by the Ducks to crush their national title hopes for a second straight season, this time with a 26-20 victory Thursday night.
Kevin Hogan ran for a touchdown and played a mistake-free game for Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12). The Cardinal put on a clinic in how to play keep away from a team that was averaging 55.6 points. Stanford ran for 274 yards and held the ball for 42½ minutes.
Heisman Trophy contender Marcus Mariota was inaccurate and under pressure much of the night, but he threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, sandwiched around a blocked field goal return for a score by Rodney Hardrick, to pull the Ducks (8-1, 5-1) to 26-20 with 2:12 left.
Oregon couldn't recover a second onside kick and Stanford ran out the clock.
Canucks snap 9-game skid vs. Sharks with 4-2 win
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Chris Higgins had a goal and an assist and Roberto Luongo made 22 saves to help the Vancouver Canucks snap a nine-game losing streak to the San Jose Sharks with a 4-2 victory on Thursday night.
Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli and Zack Kassian also scored for the Canucks, who had lost all five regular season meetings between the teams the past two seasons and were swept by San Jose in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
Joe Thornton and Mike Brown scored for the Sharks, who lost their fourth straight game, but just the second in regulation all season.
Antti Niemi allowed four goals on 12 shots before being replaced early in the second period as the Canucks controlled the play for much of the first 40 minutes and weathered a strong push from San Jose in the third.
Artis and Carter will miss 9 games for the Ducks
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter have each been suspended by No. 19 Oregon for the season's first nine games for selling team apparel.
The length of the suspension was announced Thursday, two days after the school revealed the NCAA violations. Artis and Carter did not accompany the team on its trip to South Korea for the Ducks' opener against Georgetown on Friday.
Oregon did not provide details about what the players sold. Both must donate the value of the apparel to charity.
Artis, a sophomore, averaged 8.5 points and 3.2 assists last season. He was projected as a potential starter at guard with Johnathan Loyd.
Carter, also a sophomore, averaged 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds. His absence will leave the Ducks thin in the frontcourt.
McClendon finally lands managerial job in Seattle
SEATTLE (AP) — Lloyd McClendon wanted to be in Seattle three years ago, when he finished as a runner-up to Eric Wedge for the Mariners' managerial opening.
Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik was impressed that every time he crossed paths with McClendon in the time that passed, there was no sulking or no hard feelings about losing out.
Their paths circled back around when McClendon was named Seattle's new manager earlier this week. He was introduced on Thursday, showing a mix of quiet intensity, a sense of humor and a belief that Seattle can finally return to winning after a dozen years without a postseason appearance.
McClendon replaces Wedge, who walked away at the end of the season citing differences with the front office. It's McClendon's second managerial job.
Falcons' WR White says he's ready to go vs Seattle
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White feels better than he has all season.
He has no doubt that he'll be playing Sunday when the struggling Falcons (2-6) host first-place Seattle (8-1).
White looked like his old self Thursday as he held court in front of his locker. He has been plagued since the preseason by a sprained right ankle, and he made things worse with a hamstring injury in Week 5.
After sitting out the last three games, White finally feels like he's fully recovered. He also concedes he probably would've been better off sitting out a game or two at the start of the season so his high ankle sprain could fully heal.
White has struggled even when he's been on the field, with only 14 receptions and no touchdowns.
Huskies believe they're ready to join Pac-12 elite
SEATTLE (AP) — After a career as an assistant coach, it's probably not surprising that Mike Neighbors has walked into the wrong office a time or two since becoming the head man at Washington.
Other than that, not much has changed since Neighbors took over as the Huskies head coach replacing Kevin McGuff.
For the first time in close to a decade, Washington enters a season where an NCAA tournament trip is expected and the Huskies could become Pac-12 contenders. They have quality depth and talent, and an offense that could be difficult to stop.
The question for Washington is will it be able to take that talent and move from the middle of the Pac-12 to join the likes of Stanford, California, UCLA and Colorado as the elite of the conference.
Nebraska to retire Kelsey Griffin's No. 23 jersey
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Former Nebraska women's basketball star Kelsey Griffin will have her No. 23 jersey retired in January.
Griffin, from Eagle River, Alaska, was a first-team All-American, national player-of-the-year finalist and Big 12 player of the year in 2010. She led the Cornhuskers to 30 straight wins before their first loss, the Big 12 regular-season championship and Nebraska's first appearance in the NCAA regional semifinals. She also led the Huskers to the NCAA tournament in 2007 and 2008.
Griffin and Karen Jennings are the only players in program history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Jennings' No. 51 and Maurtice Ivy's No. 30 are the other jerseys retired by Nebraska.
Nebraska announced Wednesday that Griffin, who plays in the WNBA and Australia, will be honored Jan. 29 when the Huskers host Michigan.