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The Sports Report: UCLA women’s basketball team stays alive

The Sports Report: UCLA women’s basketball team stays alive
UCLA guard Lindsey Corsaro, second from right, celebrates with teammates Lajahna Drummer, third from right, and Michaela Onyenwere.

Howdy everyone, my name is Houston Mitchell, proprietor of this here newsletter. Let’s get right to the news.

March Madness

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The UCLA women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament on Monday with an 85-80 upset victory over Maryland at College Park, Md. The Bruins were seeded sixth and Maryland was seeded third.

UCLA, third in the nation in offensive rebounding, grabbed 27 offensive rebounds, compensating for 36% shooting by scoring 27 second-chance points.

"We're not a great shooting team. We don't rely on the three-point shot, we don't have shooters like some of the ones Maryland has," coach Cori Close said. "But you know that if you happen to miss, someone's got your back."

Michaela Onyenwere scored a career-high 30 points and Japreece Dean had 22 for UCLA. Lajahna Drummer snagged eight offensive rebounds and Onyenwere had six.

"We have people who really can get the ball off the rim," Onyenwere said. "It gives our guards confidence to shoot the ball, because they know we're going to get the rebound and have extra possessions."

UCLA will next face second-seeded Connecticut on Friday in the semifinal round of the Albany Region.

"A lot of teams lose to UConn before they even start," Close said. "The reality is we have a lot of confidence in what we have built and what we've earned."

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UC Irvine men’s basketball coach Russell Turner apologized Monday for his actions during Sunday’s loss to Oregon. While shouting instructions to his team from the sideline during the game, he repeatedly referred to the Oregon’s Louis King as “Queen” in an attempt to distract the freshman forward.

Turner was criticized on social media for the comments, with some accusing him of homophobia and sexism.

“I share UC Irvine’s belief that inclusivity and diversity are paramount values,” Turner said in a statement Monday, “and I apologize for not understanding that my actions during the game suggested otherwise.”

Turner was seen talking to King right after the loss on Sunday. When asked later that night what he said to him, Turner said “I was saying, ‘Double team Queen’ to try to see if I could irritate him. And I did. And I kept talking to my team about what we wanted to do. We were calling him ‘Queen’ because I knew it might irritate him, because of how important he is to their team, the queen in chess. It was a play on his name of King.

“And it bothered him, [he] started thinking about me, started thinking about [Irvine guard] Max [Hazzard]. But he came back and finished the game really strong. And he’d had a thing or two to say to me during the game. And I wanted to let him know that what I’d done was out of respect.”

It didn’t bother him too much, since King led the Ducks in scoring. In this day and age, Turner should have known better.

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A look at the Sweet 16 schedule for the men’s tournament:

Thursday’s Sweet 16 TV schedule

All Times Pacific

West Regional

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 Florida State, 4 p.m., CBS

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, 6:30 p.m., CBS

South Regional

No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Purdue, 4:30 p.m., TBS

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 12 Oregon, 7 p.m., TBS

Friday’s Sweet 16 TV schedule

All Times Pacific

East Regional

No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 3 LSU, 4 p.m., CBS

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech, 6:30 p.m., CBS

Midwest Regional

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Auburn, 4:30 p.m., TBS

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Houston, 7 p.m., TBS

Clippers

Lou Williams leads the Clippers in scoring and has scored more points off the bench than any player in NBA history. Most people don’t know much about him though. Our Andrew Grief tries to remedy that in this story. An excerpt:

“When Ivica Zubac first met Lou Williams in 2016, he was in awe.

“Zubac, then 19, was working to transform his 7-foot frame into an NBA-ready body by lifting weights several times a week. Patiently, he waited to see the fruits of his labor.

“So it was with a bit of envy that he watched as Williams, his Lakers teammate and a lithe 6-1, 175-pound guard a decade his senior, barely touched a weight at practice while still being a game-changing scorer.

“He would show up for the game, he would score 20 and then would show up for the next game,” said Zubac, who reunited with Williams in February after a trade to the Clippers. “Man, I wish I can do it like that.”…

“One season after career highs in minutes played and points scored, Williams remains the scorer the Western Conference’s most surprising team could not live without, averaging 20.3 points in 26 minutes a game. On slim shoulders, he has lifted the Clippers and led them to the brink of a playoff appearance while moving closer to securing the honor as the NBA’s top reserve for what would be the third time of his career.

Instead of showing signs of wear and tear, he has instead authored another remarkable season of both durability and productivity.

“I played with a teammate like that in [Houston’s] James Harden, who was durable also,” Clippers guard Patrick Beverley said. “A guy like [Portland’s] Damian Lillard, he’s durable. But you mention these guys and these guys are superstars — and you have to put Lou up there with them.”

Lakers

In the wake of accusing one of his dad’s closest friends of embezzling money from him, Lonzo Ball has distanced himself from the Big Baller Brand, and many speculate he will sign a deal with Nike.

One person who is happy to see Ball taking more control of his life is teammate LeBron James.

“Whatever the kid decides to do, whatever brand he comes with next — if it’s with Nike, obviously we would welcome him,” James told The Times. “I would definitely welcome him. I love the kid regardless of what shoes he had on. But we shall see.

“I love the fact that he’s taking control of his [stuff],” James said. “I mean … that’s what’s really, really dope to me. Once I saw that story I just seen a kid turning into a man. ‘This is my career and I’m taking this. … I done had enough. If I’m not going to be successful, I’m not going to be successful on my terms.’”

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Nike is interested in Ball, but no endorsement deal is imminent because Ball needs to separate himself contractually from Big Baller Brand before he can sign with anyone else.

Odds and Ends

Alex Rodriguez on Mike Trout: 'We still have not seen his best baseball yet'…. Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw making progress in recovering from spring injuries…. Rams’ roster still looks super, so GM Les Snead sees fewer big moves this offseason…. Kings’ handling of Ilya Kovalchuk is beyond bizarre…. Packers at Bears will open 2019 NFL season instead of Super Bowl champion…. Gerardo Torrado: New era under Tata Martino a 'great opportunity' for Mexico…. Chargers owner pleased by leadership coach Anthony Lynn and GM Tom Telesco provide…. Valencia’s Colton Herta becomes youngest IndyCar winner in history…. The Kings defeated the Calgary Flames, 3-0.

Today’s local major sports schedule (all times Pacific)

Washington at Lakers, 7:30 p.m., TNT, 710 ESPN

Clippers at Minnesota, 5 p.m., Fox Sports West, AM 570

Angels at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KLAA 830

Kings at Edmonton, 6 p.m., KCOP Ch. 13

Ducks at Vancouver, 7 p.m., PRIME

Born on this date

1960: NFL player Marcus Allen

1962: NBA player John Stockton

1964: NHL player Ulf Samuelsson

1973: NFL player Marshall Faulk

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.

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