In Sports from United Press International

March 9, 2002 at 1:23 AM
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Top teams avoid upsets in conference tourneys

CHARLOTTE, March 9 (UPI) -- With the naming of the 65-team, NCAA Tournament field fast approacing, there were surprises throughout the array of conference tourneys being played Friday.

The nation's top three teams, however, are still playing.

No. 1 Kansas rolled into the semifinals of the Big 12 Conference event while No. 2 Maryland and No. 3 Duke stayed on collision course in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

There will be 13 conference championship games played today and tonight with one of the biggest coming in the Big East, where Pittsburgh and Connecticut will clash in Madison Square Garden.

Those 13 winners will earn automatic entry into the NCAA Tournament, something Holy Cross managed to do Friday night by downing American, 58-54, in the title game of the Patriot League tourney.

In the Big 12, Kansas reached the semifinals with a 102-73 mashing of Colorado. In today's semifinals, the Jayhawks will take on Texas Tech, which put together an impressive, 73-51 victory over Oklahoma State.

Maryland and Duke both made it into the ACC semifinals. Maryland had a hot second half in disposing of Florida State, 85-59, and Duke overcame North Carolina's slowdown tactics to end the Tar Heels dismal season, 60-48.

The Kentucky Wildcats, however, were knocked out in the Southeastern Conference quarterfinals by South Carolina, 70-57; top-seeded Wisconsin was eliminated in the Big 10 by Iowa, 58-56; and LSU surprised Georgia in the SEC, 78-76.

Portland wins 12th in a row

PORTLAND, March 9 (UPI) -- Bonzi Wells had 21 points and eight rebounds and Rasheed Wallace added 18 and eight Friday night as the Portland Trail Blazers matched the second-longest winning streak in franchise history with their 12th straight victory, an 82-73 triumph over the New Jersey Nets.

Portland spent the first half of the season as one of the most inconsistent teams in the league but have been one of the best since the All-Star break. The Blazers have not lost since Feb. 15, winning 12 consecutive games for the third time in franchise history. The streak is four shy of the team record.

New Jersey is heading in the opposite direction. After playing like the best team in the Eastern Conference for the first four months of the season, the Nets have dropped five of their last six games and fell to 0-3 on a four-game road trip, matching their longest slide of the season.

New Jersey never led in the second half but tied it, 53-53, on Kenyon Martin's dunk with 5:27 left in the third quarter. But the Blazers responded with seven straight points to take the lead for good as the Nets went scoreless for more than four minutes.

Other NBA results: Philadelphia 109, Indiana 100; Boston 117, Detroit 92; Toronto 83, Miami 74; Orlando 99, Washington 96; Cleveland 115, Milwaukee 109 in overtime; Golden State 108, Houston 95; Los Angeles Clippers 94, Chicago 90; Phoenix 81, Minnesota 76; New York 85, Utah 79; Sacramento 99, Charlotte 87.

Wild halts Stars' winning streak

DALLAS, March 9 (UPI) -- A goal by Stacy Roest with 8:03 remaining Friday night lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

With the game tied, Antti Laaksonen took a shot from the slot that was kicked out by goaltender Marty Turco to Roest in the right faceoff circle. Roest wristed the puck just out of the reach of Turco's glove to put the Wild ahead.

Laaksonen, who had three assists, teamed with Roest to set up Pascal Dupuis' empty-netter that sealed the win with 10.5 seconds left.

Minnesota recorded just its third win in 11 games (3-6-1-1) but improved to 10-17-3-2 on the road.

The loss also ended Turco's personal four-game winning streak.

Other NHL results: Buffalo 3, Montreal 0; Columbus 4, New York Islanders 2; Washington 2, Calgary 2; Boston 3, Atlanta 0; Florida 5, Edmonton 4; Philadelphia 4, Tampa Bay 2; Anaheim 2, New Jersey 1.

Agassi nears 50th tournament win

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 9 (UPI) -- Despite being frustrated by his performance in tiebreakers this season, Andre Agassi managed to press forward Friday in a quest for his 50th career ATP title.

After dropping a second-set tiebreaker, the top-seeded Agassi roared past Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, and advanced to his second straight ATP semifinal at the Franklin Templeton Classic.

Agassi meets seventh seed Xavier Malisse on Saturday. The Belgian posted a 7-5, 6-2 victory over South African Wayne Ferreira, who was coming off an upset of Pete Sampras.

Friday's match dropped Agassi's 2002 tiebreak record to 0-4. But the seven-time Grand Slam champion still has won seven of eight matches this year.

A three-time winner at Scottsdale, Agassi wasted two match points Sunday and suffered a 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) defeat at the hands of Lleyton Hewitt in the Siebel Open hardcourt final in San Jose.

John Riegger leads Honda Classic

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla., March 9 (UPI) -- Surprising John Riegger completed a 9-under-par 63 early Friday, then shot a 3-under 69 to grab a two-stroke lead in the Honda Classic when second-round play was suspended by darkness.

A 17-year pro seeking his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, Riegger missed the cut in his previous three tournaments this season. But his first round set a course record at the TPC at Heron Bay and his second round was good enough to keep him on top. Half the field, however, had not completed play and 24 had not even started the second round.

"It was a very long day, especiallly with the delay this morning," Riegger said. "I've been on my feet since 5 o'clock this morning."

Riegger finished 36 holes at 12-under 132. England's Paul Casey, one of Europe's rising stars who was strongly considered as a wild card pick last year for the Ryder Cup team, completed 14 holes in his second round and was two shots back at 10-under. Joey Sindelar played 36 holes without a bogey and was another stroke behind at 9-under 135.

Neal Lancaster, J.L. Lewis and Mike Sposa were tied at 136.

Packers trade for Terry Glenn

GREEN BAY, Wis., March 9 (UPI) -- Disgruntled wide receiver Terry Glenn has found a new home with the Green Bay Packers.

The New England Patriots received a fourth-round pick in the 2002 draft and a conditional pick in 2003 for Glenn, who will be introduced at a news conference today.

It will be a much-needed fresh start for Glenn, who was suspended on three separate occasions last season and kicked off the team by coach Bill Belichick in the playoffs. But Glenn opted to just focus on his new team and his new quarterback.

The trade had been rumored for the past week and apparently came to fruition when Glenn reduced his contract demands with Green Bay. Seeking to recapture lost wages from 2001, Glenn reportedly was seeking a $7 million bonus.

Bill Elliott wins NASCAR pole

HAMPTON, Ga., March 9 (UPI) -- The past and the future of NASCAR Winston Cup racing formed the front row Friday for Sunday's MBNA America 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bill Elliott, who is attempting to recapture some of his past glory, won the pole with a lap at 191.542 miles per hour in his Dodge Intrepid.

Ryan Newman, a rookie for Penske Racing South, will start on the outside of the front row after qualifying his Ford Taurus at 191.463 mph.

Newman was on the pole for most of Friday's qualification session but was unable to withstand a late speed onslaught by the native of Dawsonville, Ga. It was the 52nd career Winston Cup pole for Elliott while Newman was denied his first.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. put his Chevrolet Monte Carlo third at 191.337 mph, followed by Kurt Busch's Ford at 190.745. Jimmy Spencer's Dodge rounded out the top five at 190.620 mph.

Dolphins acquire Ricky Williams

MIAMI, March 9 (UPI) -- The Miami Dolphins acquired running back Ricky Williams from the New Orleans Saints Friday for a first-round pick in 2002 and a third-round pick in 2003 that can escalate to a first-rounder based on performance clauses.

The teams also swapped their fourth-round selections in 2002 as part of the deal.

The Saints surrendered all of their draft picks in 1999 and a first-rounder in 2000 to Washington for the right to select the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas with the fifth overall pick. That deal was orchestrated by former Saints coach Mike Ditka, who was fired after the 1999 season.

The Dolphins just had to part with the 25th overall pick in the 2002 draft and a third-rounder in 2003 that can turn into another first-rounder, contingent on Williams' performance this season.

After missing eight games due to injuries in his first two seasons, Williams rushed for a career-high 1,245 yards in 2001 and caught 60 passes for 511 yards. But he is considered somewhat of an eccentric and was arrested last month for driving 126 miles per hour.

That did not stop the Dolphins, who ranked 23rd in the league in rushing, from making an offer to New Orleans for the 24-year-old Williams.

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