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The Sports Report: UCLA's run comes to an end

The Sports Report: UCLA's run comes to an end
UCLA guard Kiara Jefferson (3), guard Chrissy Baird (32), forward Lauryn Miller (33) and guard Kennedy Burke (22) leave the court after losing to Connecticut. (Kathy Willens / AP)

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 team run in the NCAA tournament came to an end on Friday when they lost to Connecticut, 69-61. The sixth-seeded Bruins led in the third quarter, but couldn’t hold off second-seeded UConn.

“If I had told them that if they would stay focused on the process… that they could end up playing at this level… possession-by-possession with UConn, would they have thought that was possible?” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “I’m not sure they would’ve been able to dream that big at that point.”

“Nobody thought we would be here, except the people in our circle,” sophomore Michaela Onyenwere said. “And that just shows… how much we are for each other.”

After congratulating Connecticut, the Bruins huddled around center court, eyes growing redder, arms folding around each other, and exchanged whispers. They were apart from the noise, one final time, in a season that lasted longer than anyone had expected.

“They didn’t let anyone on the outside define who they could become,” Close said. “It takes a lot of guts… and I’m really proud of how they learned to define who they wanted to be.”

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Columnist LZ Granderson has a question for you: Should Zion Williamson be paid for all the attention CBS is paying him?

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Donny Daniels has no regrets about decision to leave UCLA for Gonzaga

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A look at the Sweet 16 results and Elite 8 schedule for the men’s tournament:

Friday’s Sweet 16 results

East Regional (read game stories here)

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No. 2 Michigan State 80, No. 3 LSU 63

No. 1 Duke 75, No. 4 Virginia Tech 73

Midwest Regional (read game stories here)

No. 5 Auburn 97, No. 1 North Carolina 80

No. 2 Kentucky 62, No. 3 Houston 58

Today’s Elite Eight TV schedule

All Times Pacific

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Texas Tech, 3 p.m., TBS

No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 3 Purdue, 5:45 p.m., TBS

Sunday’s Elite Eight TV schedule

All Times Pacific

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 5 Auburn, 11:15 a.m., CBS

No. 1 Duke vs. No. 2 Michigan St. 2 p.m., CBS

Horse racing

Racing returned to Santa Anita on Friday, and the good news is no horses died. You know it has been a tough time for a track when that’s the good news of the day.

Friday was also the first day of new medication rules that reduced and eventually will eliminate race-day medication including Lasix, a drug used to help horses who bleed from their lungs to breathe easier.

Another rule that was provisionally passed was eliminating use of the riding crop, or a whip, except in matters where a horse or jockey’s safety is involved.

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, owner of Santa Anita, is aware of the challenges that lie ahead. He hopes to convince the public, which does not necessarily think like the regular racegoers he calls customers, that the sport is headed toward positive reform.

“[The public are] the ones that go to Sacramento, and they are the ones that come out and vote and can end our sport,” Ritvo said. “There are more of them than there are customers, unfortunately. … [If there is ever a ballot initiative], the people who do want to end us will come out and vote in droves and the ones that don’t care just won’t show up at the ballot box.

“We need to do a really good job of getting into that outside bubble [of the public] and tell people the truth of how people really love and care for these horses.”

Read more about this by clicking here.

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Bill Plaschke was also at Santa Anita on Friday, here’s an excerpt from his column:

“For now, there is relief. In eight races, there were no fatalities, which brought a giant collective sigh. But everyone agrees that the healing of what’s arguably Southern California’s most picturesque sporting venue is just beginning.

“This is going to take a while,’’ said horse owner Samantha Siegel, sitting in a near-empty terrace section. “The public is probably a little shell-shocked at what’s going on. We’ve gotten a lot of bad exposure from everywhere. We’re going to need to go a long time without having something horrible happen.’’

“The crowd was reminded of the trouble before even entering the track, as several dozen protesters stood on a grassy area outside the front gate waving signs and chanting.

“You say the track was safe to use but nothing’s changed, you bet, they lose,’’ they sang.

“One of the signs read, “Stop Killing Horses.’’ One of the protesters was dressed in a horse’s head, and the message was clear.

“Horse racing needs to be abolished’’ said Heather Hamza, leading what she called a group of concerned citizens backed by the group known as Horseracing Wrongs. ‘’The world is watching this track. Every horse that is killed here will make big headlines. We need to be part of those headlines because we’re telling them to stop it.”

Dodgers

Joe Kelly wasn’t a hit in his Dodger debut, but he did get hit as he coughed up a 3-0 lead by giving up a three-run homer in the seventh inning. The game kept going and going (really, Energizer should buy ad time for extra inning games, with their little pink bunny and “Still going” catch phrase) until Arizona scored in the top of the 13th in a 5-4 win over the Dodgers. A.J. Pollock, signed by the Dodgers from Arizona in the offseason, drove in the first three runs for L.A.

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You can read more about the game by clicking here.

Angels

The Angels evened their record at 1-1 by breaking out of an offensive funk to defeat the Oakland A’s, 6-2, over Oakland. After not scoring in the first 16 innings of the season, they scored four runs in the top of the eighth and coasted from there.

Justin Upton out at least eight weeks because of toe injury

Your vote

Before we get started, I’d like your help as to what local team or sport we should focus on in our next newsletter. Currently, we have newsletters for the Dodgers, Lakers, horse racing, soccer and boxing/MMA. What would you like to see next? Click here to vote, or email me here with the team or sport you would like to see.

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Horse racing newsletter, written by John Cherwa. Subscribe here.

Boxing/MMA newsletter, written by Lance Pugmire. Subscribe here.

Soccer newsletter, written by Kevin Baxter. Subscribe here.

Odds and Ends

USC women’s water polo team makes the best of ‘worst-case’ scenario after firing of coach…. Wilson Chandler on what finally clicked for him with Clippers…. LeBron James, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope push Lakers to 129-115 victory over the Hornets…. Ducks get roasted in 6-1 loss to Flames…. United Airlines offers to withdraw from Coliseum naming rights deal with USC…. LAFC will try to stop Earthquakes from reaching a pair of milestones today…. Lindy Duncan dukes it out at Kia Classic, five strokes behind leaders…. LeBron James’ off-court moves are making him a major Hollywood player. How he does it…. Ryan Garcia faces Jose Lopez fight after biggest event of his young life

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

Cleveland at Clippers, 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Arizona at Dodgers, 6 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Angels at Oakland, 6 p.m., KCOP Ch. 13, KLAA 830

Chicago at Kings, 7:30 p.m., FSW

Ducks at Edmonton, 7 p.m., PRIME

LAFC at San Jose, 12:30 p.m., Univision, 710 ESPN

Born on this date

1940: NBA player Jerry Lucas

1960: Skier Bill Johnson

1970: Race horse Secretariat

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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