Other Sports

Sports briefs: April 22

College basketball

UConn's Calhoun stays positive after another player's transfer

Connecticut's men's basketball team continues to be struck by defections, but Coach Jim Calhoun remains defiantly upbeat.

"For 25 years we haven't had a losing season and we're not going to start now," Calhoun told The Hartford Courant on Saturday, after the news of Roscoe Smith's intention to transfer became public. "We're having bumps in the road. We have work to do."

Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward and a key member of the Huskies' national championship team in 2011, requested and was granted his release on Friday and he is now free to transfer. Barring an unforeseen change of policy by the NCAA, UConn will not be eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2013, and since the end of its season on March 15, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond have left to enter the NBA Draft and Alex Oriakhi, Michael Bradley and now Smith are transferring, although it's possible Bradley might stay.

"Roscoe's a great kid," Calhoun said. "He helped us win a national championship. I wish him the best."

Bradley, a sophomore who has never played in a game at UConn, is considering a move to Western Kentucky or Georgia State. But Calhoun, who likes Bradley and his work ethic, is looking to work something out to keep him.

"Michael can play here next year," Calhoun said.

LCA's Barnette reopens recruitment

Lexington Christian senior Taylor Barnette, who signed to play college basketball at Central Florida last fall, asked for and received his release from Knights Coach Donnie Jones. Barnette reopened his recruitment, and is in the process of determining which schools he will visit on this second go-around.

"There's been a lot of interest. I've gotten a lot of phone calls," Barnette said. "I'll take this weekend and early next week to figure things out and narrow things down.

"It's a stressful process, but it's fun and exciting, too."

Barnette, a 6-foot-2 left-hander, averaged 20.5 points and 6.6 rebounds before suffering an ankle injury and missing the last 15 games of the season. He said he's "110 percent" healthy again."

■ New Western Kentucky women's coach Michelle Clark-Heard got a verbal commitment from Perry County Central's Kendall Noble, WYMT reported. The 5-foot-11-inch guard averaged 14.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 5.7 steals and 2.5 blocks last season, helping the Lady Commodores reach the state tournament.

UK Sports

UK men's tennis advances to SEC finals

Kentucky's men's tennis team rolled into the Southeastern Conference Tournament finals with a 4-0 win against Mississippi in Starkville, Miss. It's the second consecutive finals appearance for the Cats (26-4). UK, the tournament's top seed, will face second-seeded Georgia in the title match at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Cats defeated the Bulldogs 4-3 earlier this season in Athens, Ga.

■ Alabama shot 6 under as a team to take a commanding 11-stroke lead on the field at 14-under par at the Southeastern Conference men's golf tournament at St. Simons Island, Ga. The Tide's Justin Thomas, a freshman who starred at St. Xavier, was at 5-under overall and was one shot off the lead held by teammate Bobby Wyatt and Tennessee's Rick Lamb. UK was tied for ninth at 18 over with Joseph Barr its top player on the leader board at even par. ... UK's women's team was tied for eighth, 21 shots behind leader Auburn, at the SEC tournament in Fayetteville, Ark. Ashlee Rose was in sixth place on the individual leader board at 6 over.

■ UK's softball team lost 2-1 at Mississippi State in extra innings. The Bulldogs got a one-out RBI-single from Sam Lenahan in the home half of the eighth inning to prevail.

Golf

Curtis trying for first win since 2006

Ben Curtis was one round from his first PGA Tour victory since 2006 in what has been his most humbling year as a pro. Curtis finally made his first stumbles at the Texas Open — once holding up a group playing six holes back when hacking the ball into the neighboring fairway was his only escape from under a tree — but his 1-over 73 was enough to stay atop the leader board at 9 under Saturday in San Antonio.

The Texas Open is only the fourth PGA Tour stop this year for Curtis, whose tournament invitations are no longer a sure thing after his status plummeted near the bottom rungs of the tour.

Ai Miyazato won the LPGA LOTTE Championship for her eighth career LPGA Tour title, birdieing three of the last six holes for a four-stroke victory in Kapolei, Hawaii. Meena Lee, tied for the lead after a birdie on No. 15, tied for second with Azahara Munoz.

Nick Rousey shot a 4-under 67 in the third round of the Mountain Lakes Classic to take a three-shot lead at 13-under overall in the NGA Tour event in Seneca, S.C. Rick Cochran III of Paducah shot a 1-over 73 and was six shots back in third place. Four-time 2011 NGA Tour winner Brandon Brown of Shelbyville shot his third straight 69 and was at 6-under overall.

David Frost and Michael Allen made nine birdies in the first 13 holes and tied for the lead with Tom Purtzer and Brad Bryant after two rounds of the Legends of Golf in Savannah, Ga. Kentuckians Kenny Perry and Russ Cochran are two shots back.

NHL playoffs

Blues eliminate Sharks in Game 5

Jamie Langenbrunner and David Perron scored in a 45-second span in the third period, and St. Louis put away the visiting San Jose Sharks 3-1 to wrap up the first-round series in five games.

Kris Versteeg scored a goal and set up another, Jose Theodore made 30 saves for his second post-season shutout, and the host Florida Panthers moved a win away from their first series win in 16 years with a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

■ The NHL suspended Raffi Torres 25 games for a late hit that injured Chicago's Marian Hossa, ensuring that the Phoenix forward will miss the rest of the playoffs.

NBA

Wade hurt as Heat lose to Wizards

LeBron James and Chris Bosh sat out the game, resting for the postseason. Dwyane Wade played and got hurt. Wade lasted less than three minutes before dislocating his left index finger, and without their three stars, the Heat lost 86-84 to the woeful Washington Wizards. Wade appeared to get his finger caught in another player's jersey and immediately went to the locker room grimacing in pain.

Ty Lawson went 5-for-5 on three-pointers and had 29 points and 10 assists to lead Denver to a 118-107 victory at Phoenix that clinched a playoff berth for the Nuggets. Former Morehead State star Kenneth Faried added 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.

Gymnastics

Alabama wins 2nd straight NCAA title

Ashley Priess closed Alabama's decisive balance beam rotation with a 9.950 and the Crimson Tide edged top seed Florida 197.850-197.775 to win its second straight NCAA women's gymnastics championship on Saturday in Duluth, Ga.

The last word

As far as driver status goes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. recognizes he might not have the longevity or accomplishments at Hendrick Motorsports of four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon or five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, but Earnhardt told NASCAR.com he doesn't think his teammates are better drivers than he is:

"There is a bit of a pecking order, and it really comes down to what you've done lately. ... but I feel like I'm the best. I think that's the way you have to feel. I feel like I'm smarter than everybody, and I can drive better than everybody, and I know a lot of people ain't going to agree with that, but I feel pretty strong about it."

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