In Sports from United Pres International

May 10, 2002 at 11:57 PM
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Boston-Detroit set low-scoring record

BOSTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Jerry Stackhouse's potential game-winning 3-pointer was a fraction of a second too late Friday night as the Boston Celtics won the lowest scoring game in playoff history, 66-64 over the Detroit Pistons to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.

Detroit and Boston shattered the lowest combined score in postseason history, falling 10 points shy of the previous mark of 170, which was reached three times.

Paul Pierce scored six of his 19 points in the final two minutes and sank a pair of free throws to give the Celtics a 66-62 lead with just 5.9 seconds left.

But Kenny Anderson inexplicably fouled Chucky Atkins on a 3-point attempt with 2.8 seconds to go. Atkins made the first two free throws but intentionally missed his final attempt. The rebound bounced high of the floor before Stackhouse corralled it behind the 3-point line on the right wing. He turned and banked a 3-pointer over a pair of defenders, but the shot left his hand just after time expired.

The officials immediately waved off the shot and Boston survived a scare to take the edge in the best-of-seven series.

Maruyama has 63, leads Byron Nelson

IRVING, Texas, May 11 (UPI) -- Shigeki Maruyama of Japan matched the best round of his PGA Tour career Friday when he fired a 7-under-par 63 to climb into the lead at the midsway point of the Byron Nelson Classic.

A week after Korea's K.J. Choi ran away with the Compaq Classic title in New Orleans, Maruyama built a two-shot lead over Jim Carter and Paul Stankowski at 10-under 130, moving closer to his second win in 90 PGA Tour starts.

Maruyama won in Milwaukee last year and, like Choi, has grown more comfortable in the United States, recording a pair of top-10 finishes in his last six starts. He tied for fourth six weeks ago in Houston.

There have been just three Asian winners in PGA Tour history. Japan's Isao Aoki was the first, claiming the 1983 Hawaiian Open.

Carter, who has just three top-10 finishes the past four seasons, followed a 65 with a 67 to tie Stankowski for second at 132. Stankowski has just one top-10 finish in 2002.

Phil Mickelson nearly kept pace with Maruyama, shooting a 64. The second-ranked player in the world is tied for fourth with Lee Janzen, Bryce Molder and Jeff Maggert at 133.

Tiger Woods, returning to the tour for the first time since his third Masters triumph, got back into contention with a 65. He opened with a 1-over 71 but is just six strokes back at 136.

Ottawa has 3-2 edge over Toronto in NHL

TORONTO, May 11 (UPI) -- Daniel Alfredsson scored a controversial goal with 2:01 remaining Friday night to snap a tie and lead the Ottawa Senators to a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs and a three games to two advantage in their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series.

In a series that has had its share of controversy, the Senators were the beneficiaries of a non-call, leading to the game-winning goal.

As Ottawa was applying pressure in the Toronto zone, Alfredsson checked Darcy Tucker from behind, sending the Maple Leafs right wing shoulder-first into the right wing boards.

With Tucker lying on the ice in pain, Alfredsson stationed himself on the doorstep. Juha Ylonen fed the Senators' captain from behind the net and Alfredsson fired the puck past goaltender Curtis Joseph into the upper part of the net for a 3-2 lead.

Defenseman Wade Redden and Hossa also scored for the Senators, who have a chance to advance to the conference finals for the first time with a win Sunday when they host Game Six.

Montgomerie shares midway lead

SUTTON COLDFIELD, England, May 11 (UPI) -- Colin Montgomerie earned a share of the lead midway through the European PGA Tour Benson and Hedges International Open Friday by posting a bogey-free, 5-under-par 67 at The De Vere Belfry.

The famed Belfry is the host of this year's Ryder Cup. While he is on the downside of an outstanding career, Montgomerie will be a part of the European team that will try to take back the title from the United States.

"I want to prove to myself and the team that I can compete and am not out to make up the numbers," the 39-year-old Scot said. "My ambition is as great as it ever was, and any member of the Ryder Cup team winning here would be a huge boost for him and his teammates."

Searching for his 27th European title, Montgomerie reached 6-under 138, tying him with Greg Owen of England and Roger Wessels of South Africa--both of whom are winless on the tour.

Five golfers are within a shot of the leaders, including John Daly, who suffered a mini-stroke last Saturday, reacting adversely to diet pills. Also at 137 are Ian Woosnam of Wales, Michael Campbell of New Zealand, and the English duo of Peter Baker and Anthony Wall.

Montgomerie, with new South African caddie Jason Henning, had five birdies Friday on a course where he has never tasted victory. He chipped in at the 18th.

Agassi, Roddick reach semifinals

ROME, May 11 (UPI) -- Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick continued their quests Friday to become the first American champion at the $2.33 million Tennis Masters Series--Rome in eight years.

Agassi, the ninth seed, cruised into the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Albert Costa of Spain. The 13th-seeded Roddick got past another Spaniard, Tommy Robredo, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), to advance to the final four in his debut at the Foro Italico.

Saturday, Agassi faces a semifinal clash with Czech Jiri Novak, the 14th seed, who saved three match points and rallied past American James Blake, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4. Roddick awaits the winner of Friday night's quarterfinal between Germany's Tommy Haas, the seventh seed, and Spain's Carlos Moya.

An American has not even reached the Rome final since 1994, when Pete Sampras prevailed over Boris Becker in the title match.

Agassi recorded his third win in four career meetings with Costa. The Las Vegas native defeated the Spaniard twice on hard courts in 1998, but Costa won their previous claycourt encounter at the 1996 Monte Carlo event.

The owner of 13 Tennis Masters Series titles, Agassi is looking to become the first player to capture six different ones. His most recent came earlier this year at Miami against fellow American Jan-Michael Gambill.

Defending champ Dougherty shares Senior lead

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 11 (UPI) -- Defending champion Ed Dougherty earned a share of the lead in the first round of the TD Waterhouse Championship on Friday with a 4-under-par 68.

Dougherty, who matched the Senior PGA Tour 54-hole scoring record here last season, had six birdies and two bogeys at the Tiffany Greens Golf Club, giving him a piece of the lead with Bob Eastwood and John Schroeder.

Eastwood had an eagle, five birdies and three bogeys during a roller-coaster round that has him in contention for his first title since 1997.

Schroeder totaled five birdies and just one bogey in breaking 70 for the first time in his last eight rounds. He has yet to crack the top 10 this season after winning once in 28 starts last year.

Twenty-one other players broke par Friday, and eight shot 69, including Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson and Bruce Fleisher. Tom Kite was one of six players to card a 70. Allen Doyle and Jim Thorpe were another two strokes back.

Hmiel on pole for Saturday's Busch 200

LOUDON, N.H., May 11 (UPI) -- Rookie Shane Hmiel claimed his second pole position Friday, turning in the best time in qualifying for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Grand National series Busch 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Hmiel was the only driver to crack 129 miles per hour, racing his Chevrolet around the 1.058-mile oval at 129.405 to bump points leader and defending race champion Jason Keller from the top spot.

Keller ended up fifth at 128.610 in his Ford. Hmiel had to wait as Bobby Hamilton Jr. in a Ford (128.989 mph) and Todd Bodine in a Chevrolet (128.828) made charges before qualifying second and third, respectively.

Randy Lajoie and Greg Biffle will round out the top six spots.

The Busch 200, which takes place a day before Mother's Day and is the only NASCAR race of the week, is the 11th of 34 events on the circuit this season.

Burton takes lead at rainy LPGA event

FRANKLIN, Tenn., May 11 (UPI) -- Brandie Burton shot a 3-under-par 69 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Swedish star Annika Sorenstam during the second round of the rain-plagued LPGA Electrolux Championship.

Rain forced suspension of play for nearly two hours on Friday and the round was halted by darkness with 24 golfers still on the course. It will be completed at 8 a.m. EDT Saturday morning with the third round to follow later in the day.

One of the players to finish early was Burton, who birdied the final two holes to finish at 8-under 136. Burton bogeyed Nos. 13 and 15 before bouncing back on the last two holes.

Sorenstam, the first-round leader, was among the last group of golfers to finish on Friday evening, completing a 72 after a 65 on Thursday.

Laura Diaz and Danielle Ammaccapane finished the second round at 138. Pat Hurst, Natalie Gulbis, Wendy Ward and Australia's Wendy Doolan all completed play on Friday three shots back at 5-under.

John Cuniff dies of cancer at 57

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 11 (UPI) -- John Cuniff, who spent 13 seasons in the New Jersey Devils' organization and was a long-time assistant coach for the United States international team, died of cancer Thursday night at age 57.

Cuniff most recently was a special assignment scout for the Devils. His 13-year tenure with the organization included two seasons as coach of the NHL club (1989-90 and 1990-91) and five with its top minor-league affiliate in Albany.

Devils coach Kevin Constantine named Cuniff an assistant in January, but Cuniff was forced to step down after the 2002 Olympics when he suffered a recurrence of his illness.

Cuniff underwent surgery for throat cancer last July and received radiation treatment and chemotherapy until his cancer was deemed to be in remission in October. He died at Albany (New York) Memorial Hospital near his home.

Cuniff's stint as an assistant with the U.S. was his 11th. He worked the last three Olympics, four World Hockey Championships, a pair of World Cups and two World Junior Championships.

As a player, Cuniff participated for the U.S. in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. He earned First Team All-America honors at Boston College in 1965 and 1966 before playing 12 seasons in the minor leagues.

Cuniff also was head coach of the Hartford Whalers for 13 games during the 1982-93 season and was an assistant with the Boston Bruins for three seasons prior to joining the Devils.

Capriati, Serena Williams in semifinals

BERLIN, May 11 (UPI) -- Americans Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams appear to be on course to meet in another final on the 2002 WTA Tour.

Capriati, the top seed, held off France's Sandrine Testud, the eighth seed, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the $1.22 million German Open.

The fourth-seeded Williams also moved into the final four at the claycourt event when defending champion and seventh-seeded Amelie Mauresmo of France withdrew due to a sprained neck.

The reigning French Open champion, Capriati takes on No. 5 Justine Henin of Belgium in Saturday's semifinals. Williams battles unseeded Anna Smashnova of Israel.

The runner-up here a year ago, Capriati needs to capture the Berlin title to edge ahead of Williams' sister--Venus--for the top spot in the rankings. But the 26-year-old Capriati first will have to deal with a rematch of last year's semifinal with Henin, who reached the last four on Friday with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Nathalie Dechy of France.

Williams, who also is seeking a 14th career title, has won 16 of her 18 matches in 2002. After retiring in the Sydney semifinals in January with a sprained right ankle, the 20-year-old posted a 12-match winning streak before falling in the quarterfinals at last month's Charleston claycourt tournament.

Smashnova upset No. 11 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, to become the first Israeli to reach the semifinals of a WTA Tour event.

Panthers fire GM Fletcher

SUNRISE, Fla., May 11 (UPI) -- The Florida Panthers shook up their front office Friday, firing interim general manager Chuck Fletcher and replacing him with Rick Dudley.

Fletcher had taken over for Bill Torrey on Dec. 3, and was instrumental in trading superstar right wing Pavel Bure from a team that finished 28th in the NHL at 22-44-10-6.

Dudley was general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning for three seasons before resigning in February. He acquired goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin from Phoenix, but was strapped by a limited payroll and watched the team go 63-123-21-14 during his stint.

In Florida, Dudley will have to decide on the future of Mike Keenan as coach. He also has the top choice in the 2002 draft and the job of turning around a franchise that has gone 44-82-23-15 the past two seasons.

Dudley played six NHL seasons, then coached the Buffalo Sabres to an 85-72-31 record from 1989-92. But he has made his mark in hockey as a GM, leading teams to the finals eight times in 12 years in three different minor leagues. In 1998, Dudley got his first NHL front office job as GM of the Senators. He helped build a team that went 44-23-15, a 20-point improvement, during the 1998-99 season. Dudley took over in Tampa Bay the following year, and retooled the Lightning back to respectability, thanks in part to the acquisition of Khabibulin.

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