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New baby in tow, Chiefs’ Mahomes turns attention to Bengals

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/kansas-city-chiefs-los-angeles-rams-cincinnati-bengals-nfl-sports-03f552de5182a6d386236b8c9eace194

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes showed up bright-eyed and energetic for practice on Wednesday.

Perhaps the adrenaline was still flowing from the birth of his baby boy.

Or his wife was handling all the late-night diaper changes.

“Brittany is a champ,” said Mahomes, who along with his wife welcomed Patrick “Bronze” Mahomes III on Monday night, and gave 1-year-old daughter Sterling a little brother. “Everything went great and everything went smooth.”

Great. So how about that nickname?

“When we had Sterling,” Mahomes explained, “we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, so we thought of a name that could be a boy or girl. And we wanted them to have a connection. I always wanted to do Patrick Mahomes III, every since I was a kid. I always thought it would be ‘Trey,’ you hear that a lot. So when me and (brother) Jackson were trying to think of something unique, he thought of ‘Bronze.’ It fit perfectly with Sterling. They can have that connection moving forward.”

Mahomes said the addition to the family — his father, Pat Mahomes Sr., and many other family members happened to be in town for the birth — won’t affect his preparation for one of the marquee games on the Chiefs’ remaining schedule.

They’re headed to Cincinnati on Sunday for a rematch of the AFC championship game, when Kansas City jumped out to a 21-3 lead and still led 21-10 at halftime before its offense collapsed and the Bengals rallied for a 27-24 victory.

It’s a game that has stuck with everyone in the Chiefs locker room for the past 11 months.

“I think you have to keep it in perspective. It’s a brand-new season,” Mahomes said. “But any time a team beats you before, you want to beat them, especially when they beat you in a game like they did to go to the Super Bowl.”

Mahomes acknowledged his play went downhill in the second half that night, his fundamentals going awry as the lead shrunk and the pressure mounted.

It’s something he worked on throughout the offseason, and weekly during the season, and those finely tuned fundamentals have put him in the conversation for a second MVP award.

He leads the league in passing by a wide margin — Mahomes has thrown for 3,585 yards while the Bills’ Josh Allen is next with 3,183. Ditto for touchdowns with Mahomes throwing 29 to Allen’s 23. He’s throwing for more yards per game (325.9) than any point in his career, his yards-per-attempt is the highest in three years, and Mahomes is completing better than two-thirds of his throws for a third consecutive season, all despite an injury-riddled wide receiver group.

It helps that Travis Kelce is having a similar stupendous season. The three-time All-Pro tight end already has 12 touchdown receptions, which is tied with the entire rosters of the Browns, Texans and Rams and more than seven other teams.

“A quarterback like him, he’s a special guy man. Those don’t come around very often,” Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “You look at Tom Brady — Tom played with how many receivers? And you can’t name them all? Same thing with Pat, man. He threw to 10 different guys (last week against the Rams) and was just making plays.”

Smith-Schuster has missed time with a concussion and was out of practice Wednesday with an illness. Mecole Hardman is on injured reserve with an abdominal injury and Kadarius Toney is still out with a hamstring issue.

Yet with Mahomes under center, the Chiefs offense keeps on humming. It has eclipsed 400 yards seven times this season, and five straight, which is tied for the longest streak in franchise history.

“He stays pretty focused on the task at hand,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, when asked whether the arrival of Bronze this week has caused any wrinkles in their preparation for Cincinnati.

“He has a great wife that takes care of a lot of that,” Reid said. “Bronze, man, I love it. Patrick Mahomes III. I think Bronze is in good hands. The players all got on Patrick: ‘If he plays long enough, we’ll have another quarterback here.’”

NOTES: WR Jerick McKinnon (hamstring) also missed practice Wednesday. … The Chiefs made official the signings of ex-Broncos RB Melvin Gordon, former Raiders WR Bryan Edwards and longtime Ravens DT Brandon Williams to the practice squad. Reid was unsure what to expect of Gordon, but he adds depth after the Chiefs put RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire on IR with a high ankle sprain. “We’ll just see. That’s kind of the way we explained it to him,” Reid said. “We’ll see where this thing goes and where he’s at and where the running back situation goes.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Source: https://apnews.com/article/kansas-city-chiefs-los-angeles-rams-cincinnati-bengals-nfl-sports-03f552de5182a6d386236b8c9eace194

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Report: NWSL to expand in Boston, Utah and California

The National Women’s Soccer League is close to expanding by three teams, which will be in Boston, Utah and the San Francisco area, according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The women’s pro league previously indicated it would add at least two teams by 2024. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the franchises in northern California and Utah are set to start play next year, with Boston to join at a later date.

The NWSL did not confirm the report in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, saying: “We remain engaged in our expansion process and are excited about our prospects. When we have news to share, we will do so.”

The NWSL has 12 teams, after Angel City in Los Angeles and the San Diego Wave joined the league last year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Boston and Bay Area groups will pay about $50 million in franchise fees. The Utah team will pay a reduced fee because of a previous agreement struck when the Utah Royals folded in the 2020 season.

Before the NWSL draft earlier this month, league commissioner Jessica Berman said it would be “somewhere between days and months, more like weeks, when we’ll be in a position to share information” about an expansion.

“What I can say is that I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we have in front of us,” she added.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Former MVP Candace Parker to sign with champion Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former two-time MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Parker spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown Sky, leading Chicago to the WNBA championship in 2021. She also won the 2016 title playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

She posted on Instagram that Chicago would always be her home, but “my family’s home is on the west coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday, and the Aces can’t comment until then.

Parker, a 6-foot-4 forward/center, adds to an already loaded lineup that includes reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who also won the league’s top award in 2020. Wilson also was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chelsea Gray was MVP of the WNBA Finals and Kelsey Plum MVP of the All-Star Game. Wilson, Plum and Jackie Young were All-Star starters.

Parker and Gray were teammates on Los Angeles’ 2016 title team.

The Aces traded one of their key pieces, two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, to the Sparks on Jan. 21, creating speculation Las Vegas was creating salary cap room to sign a big-name player.

Parker, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2016 Finals MVP, certainly fits that bill. Even at 36 last season, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Chicago coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

Losing her is a big blow to the Sky, who made the semifinals in last season’s playoffs before losing in five games to the Connecticut Sun. Kahleah Copper is the only starter under contract for next season, so the Sky could head into a rebuild.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker posted.

Parker joins the Aces at a time the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said it wanted that organization investigated regarding allegations that Hamby made after being traded. She posted on Instagram she was “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” because she is pregnant with her second child.

The Aces still have not commented on Hamby’s allegations.

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AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Estrada, Hofstra end No. 18 Charleston’s 20-game win streak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — This season, Hofstra has been a one-man show. This time, Aaron Estrada had some help as the Pride ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

Estrada scored 25 points, but just two in the second half, while Darlinestone Dubar added 18 as Hofstra had four players in double figures to knock off No. 18 College of Charleston 85-81 on Saturday — ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.

“That’s a really big for our program,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said. “To beat a nationally ranked team on their home court when they’ve got it rolling like they do speaks volumes about our kids.”

Claxton saw a team effort to take down the hottest team in the country.

“It wasn’t just Aaron,” Claxton said. “He had a great first half, but we had other guys step up and make baskets or get rebounds when we really needed them.”

The loss ended Charleston’s spotless run that began after losing to then-top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Hofstra, the CAA’s leader in field-goal shooting, used that to move past Charleston in the second half as it made 18 of 32 attempts. The Pride led 76-69 with 6:10 to play before the Cougars cut it to two points on Ryan Larson’s foul shots with 2:02 to play.

But Charleston managed just two free throws after that and missed all four 3-pointers they tried.

This is the second straight season the Pride have beaten a Top 25 team. A year ago, Hofstra defeated then No. 24 Arkansas 89-81. The Pride’s only other victory against a Top 25 team came against Southern Illinois in 1976.

Hofstra (15-8, 8-2 Colonial Athletic Association) beat the Cougars (21-2, 9-1) at their own game — 3-point shooting. The Pride were 11 of 22 from 3-point range and overall shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half.

Estrada, who had 23 points in the opening half, shredded the Cougars defense at will. Estrada was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

“Estrada is a great player, hit a bunch of tough shots, especially in the first half,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. “Hofstra is a very, very talented team. It’s not just Estrada. They were better than us tonight.”

Then Estrada took over. The CAA’s leading scorer at 21.1 points a game scored 16 of the next 24 points for the Pride, including four 3-pointers.

Ante Brzovic’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage at halftime.

Tyler Thomas had 17 points and eight rebounds for Hofstra.

Brzovic finished with 18 points to lead the Cougars.

BIG PICTURE

Hofstra: The Pride are on a roll in 2023. winning seven of their past eight games, including three in a row.

College of Charleston: The Cougars chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid took a major blow with the loss to the Pride. Despite having the nation’s longest win streak for three months, Charleston will most likely have to win the CAA Tournament in March to advance to the NCAAs.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

The Cougars’ 20-game win streak wasn’t the only streak to end on Saturday. College of Charleston played 14 of its first 23 games at TD Arena to start the season and were a perfect 13-0 at home before facing the Pride. Charleston’s 13-game home win streak included three wins in the Charleston Classic. The Cougars became the first mid-major program to win the ESPN event, beating Virginia Tech 77-75 in the championship game. Charleston will finish the season playing four of their final eight games on the road.

POLL POSITION

Charleston’s first loss in nearly three months might drop the Cougars from the national rankings. They have been part of the last four rankings, entering at No. 23 before reaching No. 18 this past week.

UP NEXT

Hofstra returns home to play Towson on Thursday night.

College of Charleston starts a two-game road trip at Drexel on Thursday night.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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