In Sports fromUnited Press International

Hot playoff duels in NBA, NHL

By United Press International


The Dallas Mavericks sought to get even with the Sacramento Kings Monday night in Game Two of a Western Conference playoff series matching the NBA's highest-scoring teams.

The Mavericks averaged nearly 113 points per game in sweeping

Minnesota in the first round but were held to 39 percent

shooting in Saturday's 108-91 loss to the Kings.

Meanwhile, in the NHL, two tie-breaking games were on tap.

After playing two unusually high-scoring games in California, the defending champion Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks resumed their Western Conference semifinal series at Colorado's Compaq Center.

And, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators

continue the "Battle of Ontario" with Game Three at the Corel


Both of the best-of-seven series are tied at 1-1.

Paralyzed football player dies

SEATTLE, May 6 (UPI) -- Former University of Washington safety Curtis Williams, paralyzed from the neck down after a helmet-to-helmet hit in a game against Stanford in October 2000, died Monday. He was 24. Williams died at his brother's home in Fresno, Calif., according to Washington media relations director Jim Daves.

Cause of death has not yet been announced.


"We are all devastated to hear that Curtis passed away today. This is a complete shock," said Washington Athletic Director Barbara Hedges, who is in Spokane for the Alumni Association's annual Coaches Tour golf tournament. "Our condolences go out to the members of Curtis' family and we will continue to support them in any way that we can."

Williams suffered a severe spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed from the neck down after a helmet-to-helmet hit with Stanford running back Kerry Carter in the third quarter of an Oct. 28, 2000 game at Stanford Stadium.

"Everyone in the Husky family, the coaches, the players, our staff and our fans, we are all deeply saddened by Curtis' death," said Washington Coach Rick Neuheisel, who also is in Spokane for the Coaches Tour golf tournament. "This has been a real tragedy, from that late October day until today, when he passed away.

"Although he was confined to his wheelchair, Curtis taught all of us associated with Husky football the true meaning of the word courage. I think anyone who met or was associated with that kid, they will find it hard to ever feel sorry for themselves."


Four Irish players expelled

SOUTH BEND, Ind., May 6 (UPI) -- Four football players recently accused of rape by a campus coed have been expelled from Notre Dame for misconduct, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune.

The expulsions, coming in the wake of a disciplinary hearing held on April 25, affect Donald Dykes, 22, a senior from Hammond, La., who had been scheduled to graduate in two weeks; Lorenzo Crawford, 19, a sophomore from Prospect Park, N.J.; Abram Elam, 20, a sophomore from Riviera Beach, Fla.; and Justin Smith, 22, a fifth-year student from St. Petersburg, Fla., who already has graduated and was taking graduate courses. His eligibility expired at the end of last season.

Smith had been a backup safety last year, and the other three were expected to play prominent roles next fall for new Coach Tyrone Willingham. Dykes and Elam were safeties, and Crawford was a wide receiver.

The Tribune report said according to an attorney for one of the four, the men were told last Thursday they had been expelled by the school and have until Tuesday to appeal. The attorneys for all four say appeals will be filed.


Hewitt, Agassi, Safin advance in Rome

ROME, May 6 (UPI) -- First round results offered few surprises Monday in the $2.33 million Tennis Masters Series claycourt event in Rome.

Top seed Lleyton Hewitt of Australia cruised into the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden.

Hewitt, who reached the quarterfinals here two years ago, lost in the first round in Monte Carlo but advanced to the semifinals at Barcelona on clay last month. He has not lost to Bjorkman in four career meetings.

The sixth seed, Marat Safin of Russia, cruised past Spain's Alberto Martin, 6-2, 6-2. Safin is still seeking his first title of the year, but has appeared in the quarterfinals in his last three ATP events, including the Tennis Masters Series tournament at Monte Carlo two weeks ago.

Ninth-seeded Andre Agassi, who has two tournament victories on the year, defeated Germany's Nicolas Kiefer, 6-3, 6-2, for the fifth time in as many meetings. Agassi improved to 15-8 at this event, one of four TMS titles he has not won. Although a finalist here in 1989, Agassi has not passed the third round in three tries during the past three years.


Early surprise in German Open

BERLIN, May 6 (UPI) -- No. 12 Elena Dementieva of Russia suffered a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 loss to German qualifer Angelika Roesch Monday in the first round of the $1.22 million German Open.

Dementieva has appeared in one semifinal and four quarterfinals in her last seven tournaments, but has not won two matches in a row since Amelia Island in early April.

No. 14 Iroda Tulyagonova of Uzbekistan, who has lost in the first round four times this year, advanced with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Spain's Gala Leon Garcia. The match between 10th-seed Silvia Farina Elia of Italy and Slovakia's Katrina Srebotnik was suspended because of darkness after the players split the first two sets.

The top two seeds are American Jennifer Capriati and Belgium's Kim Clijsters, while American Serena Williams is the fourth seed, followed by Belgium's Justine Henin, Yugoslavia's Jelena Dokic, France's Amelie Mauresmo and France's Sandrine Testud.

Third seed Martina Hingis of Switzerland withdrew from the tournament on Sunday due to a pulled ligament in her left foot.

Chargers give return specialist another chance

SAN DIEGO, May 6 (UPI) -- The San Diego Chargers Monday added a talented but troubled return specialist to their arsenal when they signed veteran wide receiver Tamarick Vanover to a one-year contract. It is believed he signed for the one-year minimum of $525,000.


The 28-year-old Vanover played four seasons for the Kansas City after being chosen in the third round in the 1995 NFL draft. In his last season with the Chiefs in 1999, he ranked third in the NFL with a 12.3-yard punt return average and scored two touchdowns, and also averaged 20.1 yards on kickoff returns.

Vanover's NFL career was cut short when he was sentenced to four months in jail for his part in separate drug and car-theft rings. In February 2000, he pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the sale of a stolen sport utility vehicle that crossed state lines and later acknowledged supplying friends with money for a drug buy.

Indy 'safe walls' put to early test

INDIANAPOLIS, May 6 (UPI) -- Heavy rain and windy conditions cast a gloomy atmosphere over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, closing the track until late in the day, but Robby McGehee's participation in this year's Indianapolis 500 took a dark turn. Although the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) wall barrier may have saved McGehee from serious injury when he crashed at the Speedway on Sunday, the Indy Racing League driver suffered small fractures in his upper spine and lower left leg. That will keep him from practicing for the May 26 Indianapolis 500, according to Dr. Henry Bock, the IRL director of medical affairs.


Wearing a soft cast on his left leg, McGehee was released Monday from Methodist Hospital and will undergo further evaluation in the next few days, Bock said.

McGehee, the 1999 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, became the first driver to hit the new SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction) barrier.

"It's a shame," McGehee said. "I'm sore as hell, but I'll be fine. It hit backward and then flipped on its right side. They say I was in the air, but I can't remember that because it all happened so fast. The fact that I hit the wall that hard, and I don't have a head injury is a testament that the SAFER wall worked."

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