In Sports from United Press International

March 28, 2003 at 1:04 AM
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First four of Elite Eight determined

ANAHEIM, March 28 (UPI) -- Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas and Marquette all moved within one step of the NCAA Tournament's Final Four Thursday night.

Three of the regional semifinals produced thrilling finishes with the exception coming in Arizona's 88-71 blasting of Notre Dame.

Arizona moved into the final of the West Region, where the Wildcats will take on second-seeded Kansas -- a 69-65 survivor against Duke.

In the Midwest, Kentucky lost its best player but survived against Wisconsin, 63-57. Marquette pulled off the night's biggest surprise by holding off second-seeded Pittsburgh, 77-74.

The evening's big stars were Kentucky's Marquis Estill, Kansas' Nick Collision and Marquette's Dwayne Ward, all whom put on one-man shows.

Estill scored a career-high 28 points while dominating the inside, giving Kentucky an option after star Keith Bogans went down late in the second half with a sprained left ankle.

Bogans is questionable for Saturday's regional final.

Collision scored 33 points and grabbed 19 rebounds to carry Kansas past Duke. His three-point play with 7:10 remaining gave the Jayhawks the lead for good.

And Ward produced 20 of his 22 points in the second half for Marquette, which advanced to a regional final for the first time since Al McGuire coached the school to the 1977 national championship.

Arizona put away Notre Dame with a 22-3 run in the middle portion of the first half.

On Friday night, the East semifinals will find Oklahoma playing Butler and Syracuse meeting Auburn. And in the South, it will be Texas facing Connecticut and Maryland taking on Michigan St.

Kings coast by Clippers

SACRAMENTO, March 28 (UPI) -- Chris Webber scored 23 points and Peja Stojakovic 16 Thursday night to carry Sacramento past the Los Angeles Clippers, 93-83.

It was Sacramento's 12th victory in 13 games at Arco Arena.

Sacramento, which is a league-best 32-6 at home, scored the game's first 11 points and led, 49-32, at halftime. The Kings extended their advantage to 30 points late in the third quarter and took a 75-47 lead into the fourth period.

After Sacramento opened an 80-51 advantage on a basket by Jim Jackson with 9:26 left, the Clippers stormed back against the Kings' reserves, climbing within 89-83 on a free throw by rookie Chris Wilcox with 30 seconds to play.

But it was too little, too late for the Clippers, who lost their 10th straight visit to Sacramento since a 98-85 triumph on Nov. 7, 1997.

Other NBA results: Orlando 110, Minnesota 107, San Antonio 98, Houston 85.

Flames end Turco's streak

CALGARY, Alberta, March 28 (UPI) -- Shean Donovan scored on a breakaway 2:51 into overtime Thursday night to give Calgary a 2-1 victory over Dallas.

Stars goaltender Marty Turco suffered his first loss in more than three months.

Turco was 12

4 since a loss to Nasville on Dec. 26. He was trying to become the fourth goaltender since 1990 to register a 17-game unbeaten streak.

But Donovan spoiled Turco's bid. He gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone and accelerated away from defenseman Sergei Zubov. Donovan had his initial shot from the bottom of the right circle stopped but put home the rebound for his fifth goal.

Turco returned to the lineup earlier this week after missing 18 games with a high ankle sprain.

Scott Nichol scored in the first period for Calgary, which has won three straight games for the first time since early February.

Ulf Dahlen got the lone goal for the Stars, who moved one point ahead of Detroit for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Other NHL results: Tampa Bay 2, New Jersey 2; Colorado 3, Los Angeles 0; Philadelphia 2, Boston 2, St. Louis 2, Florida 1; Chicago 4, Nashville 1; Vancouver 5, Phoenix 1; San Jose 3, Detroit 0.

Gophers reach NIT semis

PHILADELPHIA, March 28 (UPI) -- Ben Johnson scored his only four points in overtime Thursday night to boost Minnesota into the NIT semifinals with a 63-58 win over Temple.

Rick Rickert scored 15 points and Michael Bauer added 12 for the Gophers (19-12), who will meet Georgetown at New York's Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

Johnson gave the Gophers the lead for good, 56-54, on a pair of free throws with 3:28 to play in the extra session. Maurice Hargrow made it 57-54 after sinking the first of two free throws with 1:45 to play, but after he missed the second attempt, Bauer snagged the rebound and made a follow shot to give the Gophers a five-point edge.

The Owls (18-16) got within 61-58 on a three-pointer by Maurice Collins with 33 seconds left, but Johnson capped the scoring with another pair of free throws 11 seconds later.

In Jamaica, N.Y., St. John's defeated Alabama-Birmingham, 79-71. St. John's will play Texas Tech in the semifinals.

Weather disrupts Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., March 28 (UPI) -- Five players shared the lead in the opening round of the Players Championship when play was suspended because of lightning.

Skip Kendall, Jay Haas, Rocco Mediate and Bob Tway all shot 4-under 68 during the morning over the blustery TPC-Sawgrass Stadium Course while Kevin Sutherland was at 4-under with two holes to play when the action was halted.

Tiger Woods, winner of three of his four starts this year, battled to an even-par 72.

A pre-dawn thunderstorm delayed the start of play by 30 minutes and another storm halted play for the day at 5 p.m. EST. The first round will resume Friday at 7:30 a.m.

Forecasts call for improving weather on Friday.

Stewart Cink was the only one in the clubhouse at 3-under 69, but Fred Couples, Tom Lehman and Jim Carter were all at 3-under late in their rounds.

John Daly was in the group at 2-under 70 and defending champion Craig Perks was 2-under through 13.

Woods was tied for 36th place after his 72. He was 2-over through 15 holes, but birdied both the 16th and 17th.

Harrick out at Georgia

ATHENS, Ga., March 28 (UPI) -- Georgia basketball coach Jim Harrick resigned Thursday night after an academics scandal rocked the school.

Harrick had been suspended with pay since March 10, when Athletic Director Vince Dooley announced the Bulldogs would not participate in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. That ended the season for a team almost certainly headed for the NCAA Tournament.

The drastic move came amid allegations of academic fraud and improper benefits that prompted an investigation by the school, SEC and NCAA. That investigation is ongoing.

"Based upon the facts discovered in the investigation to date, his resignation is appropriate and we accept it," said school president Michael Adams.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Harrick had three years remaining on a six-year contract that pays him $600,000 per season. The deal reportedly called for Harrick to receive a settlement of as much as $2.1 million if the school could not directly link him to alleged NCAA violations.

But a statement from the school said the agreement goes into effect immediately and will pay Harrick a total of $254,166, a figure that combines remaining base pay, radio and television payments and a sneaker contract payment.

Plushenko wins world title

WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) -- Evgeni Plushenko of Russia won the men's title at the World Figure Skating Championships Thursday night.

He claimed the gold medal with a program that featured two quads and six triples.

Earlier, Russians Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh won the original dance program to pull ahead of Canadians Shae-Lynne Bourne and Victor Kraatz in the ice dance competition.

Plushenko's most spectacular move was a quad toe-triple toe-double loop combination. He won all three components of the men's competition this week.

Timothy Goebel of the United States earned his second consecutive silver medal and Japan's Takeshi Honda settled for his second straight bronze.

Goebel performed the "American in Paris" routine with which he also won a silver medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Hull signs contract extension

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 28 (UPI) -- Detroit Red Wings right wing Brett Hull signed a one-year contract extension Thursday worth $5 million.

Last month, Hull became the sixth 700-goal scorer in NHL history.

Hull, who turns 39 in August, would have received an automatic $4.5 million extension if he scored 35 goals this season. He has 33 with six games remaining.

Serena reaches title match

MIAMI, March 28 (UPI) -- Serena Williams remained undefeated this year by advancing to the final of the Nasdaq-100 Open Thursday.

Despite committing 37 unforced errors, the top seed rolled past Kim Clijsters, 6-4, 6-2, and will defend her title against No. 6 Jennifer Capriati or Chanda Rubin.

The all-American semifinal was postponed to Friday due to heavy rain.

Williams split the first eight games before reeling off six in a row to take control. The American has won seven of eight meetings with Clijsters.

Clijsters is the last player to have beaten Williams, winning the final last November at the season-ending WTA Championships in Los Angeles.

Capriati is trying to make the final of this event for the third consecutive year. She was a runner-up the past two years to Venus and Serena Williams, respectively.

On the men's side, one of two remaining quarterfinals got under way but also was postponed.

Ninth seed Albert Costa of Spain saved two match points against No. 4 Roger Federer of Switzerland and had a 6-5 lead in the decisive set when play was halted. After dropping the opening set, 6-7 (4-7), Costa bounced back in the second, 6-4.

Federer has been the hottest player on the ATP Tour the past month, winning an indoor title at Marseille and on a hardcourt in Dubai. He leads the ATP with 24 match wins and is trying to improve to 3-0 lifetime against Costa.

In the other quarterfinal, second-seeded American Andre Agassi will take on Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco.

Don Baylor diagnosed with multiple myeloma

PORT ST LUCIE, Fla., March 28 (UPI) -- New York Mets coach Don Baylor has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

The 53-year-old Baylor is scheduled to undergo four consecutive days of oral and intravenous chemotherapy during the Mets' first homestand, which begins Monday against the Chicago Cubs at Shea Stadium.

"I know what I have to do and I plan to do it," said Baylor, who is in his first season with the Mets. "One thing for certain, I don't plan to miss any games. I'll get my chemo done and go to work."

Pacers sign Tim Hardaway

INDIANAPOLIS, March 28 (UPI) -- The Indiana Pacers added some insurance in the backcourt on Thursday by signing five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway.

Hardaway was signed for the remainder of the season. Financial terms were not disclosed.

He last played in the 2001-02 season with the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets, but brings 13 years of NBA experience to a team that was looking for help at point guard. Jamaal Tinsley missed Wednesday's game against Philadelphia due to the death of his mother and the Pacers also have used Erick Strickland and Ron Mercer at the position.

The Pacers are fourth in the Eastern Conference, but have lost 15 of their last 19 games. Hardaway would eligible for the playoffs because he has not played for another team this season.

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