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The Sports Report: UCLA gets a three seed in NCAA women’s tournament

UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere in action against Washington during.
UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on UCLA women’s basketball: UCLA is dancing again.

The Bruins are a No. 3 seed in the Hemisfair Region of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, announced Monday, and will face No. 14 Wyoming in the first round on March 22 at 7 p.m. PDT. The four regions of the NCAA tournament are named after San Antonio attractions, honoring the city that will host the entire event during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the pandemic canceled last year’s tournament, the Bruins, who were ranked ninth in Monday’s AP poll, are trying to advance to their fifth straight NCAA regional semifinal. UCLA took it a step further in 2018 with an Elite Eight berth, but the program has never been to the Final Four.

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To do that this year, the Bruins (16-5) will have to overcome a tough region that includes No. 1 seed South Carolina, which won the SEC tournament, and No. 2 seed Maryland, the top scoring team in the nation, averaging 91.3 points per game.

UCLA hopes to make a postseason run with a short roster. Only eight scholarship players have been available for most of the season due to injuries, opt-out outs and a depleted freshman class.

Without much depth, UCLA relies on star senior Michaela Onyenwere, who leads the Bruins with 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and sophomore Charisma Osborne (17.3 points, 3.9 assists). Onyenwere scored 30 points in the Pac-12 championship game, where UCLA lost to Stanford.

Wyoming (14-9) won the Mountain West tournament with a 59-56 win over Fresno State in the final and will be making its second NCAA tournament appearance in program history. Guard Quinn Weidemann led the Cowgirls with 14 points in the championship game. McKinley Bradshaw, who averages a team-high 11.7 points off the bench, had 13 points.

The winner between UCLA and Wyoming will advance to face No. 6 seed Texas or No. 11 Bradley in the second round.

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Check out the women’s bracket here

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT

Ben Bolch on UCLA: Mick Cronin likes to recite random movie lines in practice to make a point and lighten the mood. Most of the quotes go over the heads of players some three decades younger than the UCLA coach, except for senior guard Chris Smith, who has gotten some of the references from having watched older films with his father while growing up.

When it comes to forging the sturdy defense he wants, Cronin uses a line from “Man on Fire,” a 2004 thriller about a U.S. Marine-turned-bodyguard starring Denzel Washington.

“There is no such thing as tough,” Washington says in the film. “There’s trained and there’s untrained.”

Stumbling into its first NCAA tournament under his guidance after four consecutive losses, Cronin acknowledged that his young team hasn’t fully learned how to compensate for its defensive deficiencies in size, length and athleticism, leaving it vulnerable in games when its offense isn’t humming.

“You either need to have so much talent that it supersedes the fact that you’re untrained and you just erase your mistakes because you’re better than the other guy and you can just block the shot,” Cronin told The Times on Sunday after learning that his Bruins (17-9) would face Michigan State (15-12) on Thursday night in a First Four game at Purdue’s Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. “We don’t have that. So we’ve got a lot of four-year players that need training.”

UCLA’s defense has enjoyed a slight uptick in efficiency during Cronin’s second season, but the Bruins are nowhere near the lockdown menace the coach had in his final years at Cincinnati, when the Bearcats’ defense routinely ranked among the best in the nation. The Bruins’ adjusted defensive efficiency is ranked No. 86 nationally, according to the metrics of basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy, an improvement from No. 112 last season.

“We’re not that far off,” Cronin said. “We just don’t have margin for error. We’ve just got to try to get better where we can sustain it.”

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Check out the men’s bracket here

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LAKERS

Dan Woike on the Lakers: Coach Frank Vogel went through the list before Monday’s game with the Warriors, pausing briefly to make sure he got all the names right.

Anthony Davis was out; that’s a given. He hasn’t been on the court in a month. Marc Gasol is still in the league’s COVID health and safety protocols. Kostas Antetokounmpo is also in the health and safety protocols. Jared Dudley has a torn knee ligament. And Alex Caruso has a concussion.

Next man up? It’s hard to keep track when so many keep going down.

But this is the reality for the Lakers now, as the trudge through the middle of a compressed NBA season that simultaneously moves too quickly while taking forever to get to the playoffs.

And if this is the normal, the Lakers better get used to it – and in a 128-97 win against the Warriors, they certainly looked comfortable.

Montrezl Harrell scored 27, four other Lakers had at least 14 and LeBron James was able to spend the end of the game on the bench resting after 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds – the 98th triple-double in his career.

CLIPPERS

Helene Elliott on the Clippers: The Clippers had two nightmares hovering over them Monday.

The first was the 51-point pummeling they absorbed from the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 27, in the third game of the season, a memory that soured as it aged. The second nightmare was of more recent vintage, born during a careless and too-passive loss at New Orleans on Sunday that had coach Tyronn Lue exercising his vocabulary in rarely heard profane directions.

The darkness lifted Monday at Dallas. Although the Clippers let an early 14-point lead slip and the Mavericks moved within four in the fourth quarter, the Clippers held on for a 109-99 victory to open a two-game set that will conclude Wednesday at American Airlines Center. The Clippers improved to 7-0 in the second game of back-to-backs.

Their effort was especially impressive because it so quickly followed a terrible effort at New Orleans, one that led Lue to harshly (but deservedly) criticize his team’s defensive effort. The determination they lacked Sunday reappeared Monday.

CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers continued to bolster their offensive line late Monday afternoon, agreeing to terms with Matt Feiler, according to reports.

A starter the last three seasons with Pittsburgh, Feiler has played tackle and guard and on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He started at left guard last season. His three-year deal is worth up to $21 million.

Earlier Monday, the Chargers agreed to a five-year deal with 2020 All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who spent his first seven NFL seasons with Green Bay.

Feiler, who turns 29 in July, played collegiately at Division II Bloomsburg and has produced quite an NFL career from very modest beginnings. He originally signed with Houston as an undrafted free agent before joining the Steelers as a practice squad player in 2015.

The reported deal for Linsley is for five years and worth up to $62.5 million.

Linsley, who turns 30 in July, was an All-Pro last season with Green Bay. He spent seven years with the Packers, who drafted him in the fifth round out of Ohio State in 2014.

Dan Feeney, who started at center for the Chargers in 2020, is a free agent. He took over after Mike Pouncey was lost during training camp to a chronic hip injury that has since ended his career.

The Chargers lost starting safety Rayshawn Jenkins on Monday to Jacksonville.

He reportedly agreed to a four-year free-agent deal to join the Jaguars, who are undergoing a rebuild with new head coach Urban Meyer.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: Edge rusher Leonard Floyd, who had a career-best 10½ sacks for the Rams last season, has agreed to terms on a new contract with the team, a person with knowledge of the situation said Monday.

The person requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the deal until it becomes official. The contract is a four-year deal that could be worth as much as $64 million.

Floyd, 28, was due to become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL’s new league year begins Wednesday.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Floyd was the ninth pick in the 2016 draft by the Chicago Bears. After the Bears cut him last March, he signed what was essentially a one-year, $10-million deal with the Rams but earned $13.25 million by reaching all incentives.

Safety John Johnson, the defensive signal-caller for the Rams last season, agreed to terms Monday on a free-agent contract with the Cleveland Browns, according to multiple reports.

Johnson, 25, was in line for a huge payday after helping to lead a Rams defense that ranked among the NFL’s best under former coordinator Brandon Staley, now the coach of the Chargers. Johnson had a salary-cap number of $2.3 million last season, according to overthecap.com.

Linebacker Samson Ebukam agreed to terms with the San Francisco 49ers, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The person requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

The Rams made an expected move Monday to keep a key member of the secondary, putting a first-round tender on restricted free-agent cornerback Darious Williams.

ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: As he was preparing for his second start of spring training on Sunday morning, Dylan Bundy was approached by Angels manager Joe Maddon. Maddon told Bundy he would be the team’s opening day starter. Bundy thanked him and the two shook hands.

It was major career news, delivered almost in the blink of an eye.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Bundy said Monday, hours after Maddon announced the decision publicly. “It humbles you. Not many people get that opportunity. You just gotta cherish it, and basically go out there and treat it like an everyday start.”

That’s been Bundy’s approach throughout his Angels tenure. After a roller-coaster start to his career with the Baltimore Orioles, the 28-year-old right-hander’s focus over the last year has been simple.

“Staying not too high, not too low,” he said. “Even though you had one good year, you have to keep posting those starts and keep trying to improve and see how many years you can do that.”

Last year, Bundy accomplished that mission. After being traded to the Angels in the offseason, he posted a career-best 3.29 ERA and 6-3 record over 11 starts, striking out 72 batters and finishing ninth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

KINGS

The Kings’ game against the St. Louis Blues on Monday was postponed because of weather conditions that kept the Kings in Denver on Sunday.

The NHL didn’t immediately announce a makeup date.

The Kings’ plane couldn’t leave after their 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche because of a blizzard.

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

All times Pacific
Thursday
Play-in round

No. 16 Texas Southern vs. No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s, 2 p.m., TruTV
No. 11 Drake vs. No. 11 Wichita State, 3:25 p.m., TBS
No. 16 Appalachian State vs. No. 16 Norfolk State, 5:30 p.m., TruTV
No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 11 Michigan State, 6:45 p.m., TBS

Friday
First round
South Regional
No. 7 Florida vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech, 9:15 a.m., CBS
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 14 Colgate, 9:45 a.m., TBS/TruTV
No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Utah State, 10:45 a.m., TBS/TruTV
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts, Noon, CBS
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Hartford, 12:30 p.m., TruTV
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Wisconsin, 4 p.m., CBS
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 13 North Texas, 4:25 p.m., TNT
No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 12 Winthrop, 6:45 p.m., TNT

Midwest Regional
No. 1 Illinois vs. No. 16 Drexel, 10:15 a.m., TNT
No. 8 Loyola Chicago vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech, 1 p.m., TBS
No. 5 Tennessee vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 1:30 p.m., TNT
No. 4 Oklahoma State vs. No. 13 Liberty, 3:25 p.m., TBS
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 15 Cleveland State, 4:15 p.m., TruTV
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Rutgers, 6:15 p.m., TBS
No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 Syracuse, 6:30 p.m., CBS
No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 14 Morehead State, 6:50 p.m., TruTV

Saturday
First round
West Regional
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 14 Eastern Washington, 10:15 a.m., TBS
No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 12 UC Santa Barbara, 12:30 p.m., TruTV
No. 6 USC vs. Drake or Wichita State, 1:30 p.m., TNT
No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon, 3:25 p.m., TBS
No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 Ohio, 4:15 p.m., TruTV
No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Missouri, 4:25 p.m., TNT
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. App. State or Norfolk State, 6:15 p.m., TBS
No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth, 6:45 p.m., TNT

East Regional
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 Georgetown, 9:15 a.m., CBS
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 UNC Greensboro, 9:45 a.m., TruTV
No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure, 10:45 a.m., TNT
No. 1 Michigan vs. Texas Southern or Mount St. Mary’s, Noon, CBS
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Iona, 1 p.m., TBS
No. 7 Connecticut vs. No. 10 Maryland, 4 p.m., CBS
No. 6 BYU vs. UCLA or Michigan State, 6:30 p.m., CBS
No. 3 Texas vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian, 6:45 p.m., TruTV’

NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

All times Pacific
Sunday
First round

River Walk Regional
No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Central Michigan, 9 a.m., ESPN
No. 7 Virginia Tech vs. No. 10 Marquette, 9 a.m., ESPNU
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Idaho State, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Middle Tennessee, 11 a.m., ABC
No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida Gulf Coast, Noon, ESPN2
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 15 Jackson State, 1 p.m., ABC
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 South Dakota State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 16 High Point, 5 p.m., ESPN

Alamo Regional
No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Wake Forest, 10 a.m. ESPN2
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 16 Utah Valley, 7 p.m., ESPN

Mercado Regional
No. 1 North Carolina State vs. No. 16 North Carolina A&T, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 9 Washington State, 6:30 p.m. ESPN2

Hemisfair Regional
No. 5 Georgia Tech vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, 1:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 16 Mercer, 3 p.m., ESPN
No. 8 Oregon State vs. No. 9 Florida State, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
No. 4 West Virginia vs. No 13 Lehigh, 5 p.m., ESPNU

Monday
First round

Alamo Regional
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 14 Drexel, 9 a.m., ESPN2
No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Wright State, 11 a.m., ESPN
No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Central Florida, 1 p.m., ESPNU
No. 5 Missouri State vs. No. 12 UC Davis, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU
No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 15 Marist, 5 p.m., ESPN
No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 11 South Dakota, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Mercado Regional
No. 6 Rutgers vs. No. 11 BYU, 9 a.m., ESPNU
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 VCU, 11 a.m., ESPNU
No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 14 Stony Brook, 11 a.m., ESPN2
No. 5 Gonzaga vs. No. 12 Belmont, 1 p.m., ESPN2
No. 7 Iowa State vs. No. 10 Michigan State, 3 p.m., ESPN
No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 15 Troy, 3 p.m., ESPN2

Hemisfair Regional
No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 10 North Carolina, 9 a.m., ESPN
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 15 Mount St. Mary’s, 1 p.m., ESPN
No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Bradley, 5 p.m., ESPN2
No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 14 Wyoming, 7 p.m., ESPN

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1938 — Temple defeats Colorado 60-36 in the first National Invitation Tournament and the first major postseason basketball tournament.

1947 — Billy Taylor of the Detroit Red Wings sets an NHL record with seven assists in a 10-6 triumph over the Chicago Black Hawks.

1961 — Montreal’s Bernie Geoffrion becomes the second player to score 50 goals in a season in a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Maurice Richard was the first to do it, in 1945.

1989 — Denver’s Michael Adams surpasses his own NBA mark of 379 3-point attempts in a season when he fires six 3-pointers in a 119-102 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Adams finishes the season with 466 attempts.

1990 — Philip Hutcheson of David Lipscomb University hits a running 5-foot hook shot in the NAIA Tournament to become the all-time scoring champion of college basketball. The 6-foot-8 Hutcheson, who scored in double figures in every college game he played, breaks the record of 4,045 set in 1969-72 by Travis Grant of Kentucky State.

2001 — A record number of low-seeded teams advance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Indiana State, Butler, Temple, Charlotte and Fresno State join 12th-seeded Gonzaga in advancing, meaning 13 of the tournament’s 32 first-round games were won by underdogs.

2003 — Svetlana Feofanova reclaims the pole vault world record from Stacy Dragila by clearing 15 feet, 9 inches at the World Indoor Championships at Birmingham, England. The Russian betters the mark of 15-8 1/4 Dragila set at the U.S. Indoor Championships on March 2.

2005 — Norway’s Robert Sorlie wins his second Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in one of the closest races in years. Sorlie completes the 1,100-mile race across Alaska in nine days, 18 hours, 39 minutes and 31 seconds. He’s still in the winner’s circle when Ed Iten of Kotzebue crossed the line 34 minutes later.

2006 — The U.S. squad loaded with All-Stars loses 2-1 to Mexico to be eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.

2007 — Kobe Bryant scores 33 of his 65 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 116-111 win over Portland.

2008 — Denver sets NBA season highs for points in a half with 84 and points in a game with a 168-116 rout of the Seattle SuperSonics.

2009 — Kevin Durant scores 25 points and Oklahoma City spoils Gregg Popovich’s 1,000th game as San Antonio’s coach with a 78-76 victory over the Spurs. Popovich becomes the 24th coach to reach 1,000 games and only the seventh to do it with one team.

2010 — Lance Mackey wins the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to become the first musher in the event’s 38-year history to win four consecutive races. He finishes the race in eight days, 23 hours and 59 minutes — the second-fastest finish in race history.

2012 — Kyle O’Quinn has 26 points and 14 rebounds to help No. 15 seed Norfolk State stun second-seeded Missouri 86-84 in the West Regional of the men’s NCAA tournament. C.J. McCollum scores 30 points and Lehigh upsets Duke 75-70 in the South Regional to become the second No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 during a wild day in the NCAA tournament.

2013 — Mikaela Shiffrin delivers an astonishing second run to overtake Tina Maze and clinch the World Cup slalom title with an improbable come-from behind victory at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. The American teenager trailing Maze by a massive 1.17 seconds after the first leg, finishes ahead of the Slovenian in the second run to win the slalom title in her first full season on the circuit.

2013 — Ted Ligety caps his dominant season in giant slalom with a sixth World Cup win at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. The American skier joins Ingemar Stenmark as the only men in the 47-year World Cup history to get six GS victories in a season. Stenmark’s 10-race sweep in 1978-79 is the record.

And finally

A great Vitalis commercial featuring Don Drysdale. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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