This day in sports: Isiah Thomas leads Indiana to NCAA title

Former Indiana coach Bob Knight and former Indiana star Isiah Thomas during a game against Purdue on Feb. 8.
Former Indiana coach Bob Knight, left, and former Indiana star Isiah Thomas during a game against Purdue on Feb. 8.
(Justin Casterline / Getty Images)

A nine-person committee from the NCAA decided on this date in 1981 to go ahead with the national basketball championship game between Indiana and North Carolina after an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. When the committee learned that Reagan would recover, the game was on at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

Sophomore All-American Isiah Thomas scored 23 points to lead the Hoosiers 63-50, a win that avenged an earlier loss to the Tar Heels at Chapel Hill, N.C.

In games canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lakers were to play at Minnesota, a team they had beaten 142-125 on Dec. 8 at Staples Center. The Clippers had a game scheduled at home against the Indiana Pacers, whom they beat 110-99 on Dec. 9 at Indiana.

Here is a look at memorable games and outstanding sports performances on this date:


1986 — Texas ends a perfect season (34-0) by winning the women’s NCAA basketball title 97-81 over USC. The Trojans’ Cheryl Miller, in one of her worst games, scores just four of her 16 points from the field before fouling out with over seven minutes to play.

1987 — Keith Smart’s 16-foot jump shot gives Indiana a 74-73 victory over Syracuse in the NCAA title game. Steve Alford scores 23 points and Smart adds 21 for the Hoosiers. It is coach Bob Knight’s third and last national championship.

1991 — Darryl Plandowski scores at 1:57 into the third overtime to lift Northern Michigan to its first NCAA hockey title with an 8-7 win over Boston University in the second-longest championship game .

1997 — Betsy King overcomes a three-shot deficit on the back nine on the Mission Hills Country Club course to win her third Kraft Nabisco Championship. King, 41, finishes two strokes ahead of Kris Tschetter and Amy Fruhwirth. It is the last of the LPGA great’s six major titles.

2001 — Michael Phelps becomes the youngest American swimmer to set a world record, winning the 200-meter butterfly at the national championships in 1 minute, 54.92 seconds. Phelps, 15, breaks the mark of 1:55.18 set by Olympic gold medalist Tom Malchow in June. Phelps would hold the record for 18 years.

2003 — Martin Brodeur becomes the first NHL goaltender with four 40-win seasons when New Jersey beats the New York Islanders 6-0. It is Brodeur’s league-leading ninth shutout of the season. Jacques Plante and Terry Sawchuk are the only other goalies with three 40-win seasons.

2006 — Lorena Ochoa birdies her final hole to tie an LPGA major championship record at 10-under par 62, giving her a four-shot lead over Michelle Wie at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Ochoa breaks the tournament record set by Mary Beth Zimmerman at Mission Hills Country Club in 1997. The 62 also ties the record in a major set by Minea Blomqvist in the 2004 women’s British Open.


2009 — Dwight Howard scores 22 points and grabs 18 rebounds in Orlando’s 101-95 win over Miami. Howard’s 11th rebound of the game puts him ahead of Wilt Chamberlain as the youngest NBA player to reach 5,000 rebounds. Howard is 23; Chamberlain set the mark when he was 25.

2013 — Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, ridden by Joel Rosario, pulls away from Red Cadeaux in the stretch to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup by two lengths. The 5-year-old chestnut is the first American horse to win in the world’s richest race since 2009.

2014 — Aaron Harrison makes a three-point shot from about 24 feet with 2.3 seconds left to lift Kentucky to a 75-72 win over Michigan. The win ensures the Wildcats a 16th trip to the Final Four and the first for an all-freshman starting lineup since Michigan’s Fab Five in 1992.


Sources: The Times, Associated Press