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Timme’s 22 lead No. 2 Zags past Spartans on carrier deck

Source image: https://apnews.com/article/sports-mens-college-basketball-michigan-state-spartans-f5f92a7ad1833a9dc4e0dea20550658c

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) — Drew Timme likened it to the feeling of playing hoops in a park as a kid, only this time it was on the flight deck of one of the world’s most powerful warships.

Timme led No. 2 Gonzaga in a spirited comeback from a 12-point deficit, finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds as the Bulldogs beat Michigan State 64-63 Friday night on the USS Abraham Lincoln at North Island Naval Air Station.

“It’s definitely something different. It’s something you don’t experience every day,” Timme said. “I think growing up playing in the park is something that helped us. And look, they had to play on it too. … It wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but it was just put your nose in the dirt and keep going and don’t stop and I thought it was a true test of our grit and heart and I think we did a good job of answering the bell today.”

Timme twice gave the Zags the lead in the final 2:27. His inside shot made it 63-61 before Malik Hall answered with a hook to tie it. The Zags scored just one more point, when Timme made the second of two free throws with 1:51 left.

Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther was called for traveling with 31 seconds left and Michigan State’s Jaden Akins missed a desperation 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

“Gonzaga is who Gonzaga is because they’re really good,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “But they’ve got a go-to guy. Down the stretch that guy he just rose up. That’s what he’s supposed to do.

“I want to feel so good about the setting, our fans, the veterans, the way our team played, but how do you feel good when you lose a game when you led for 30 minutes?” Izzo said. “It’s hard to do.”

Timme had tied the game at 55 with a 3-point play and Bolton tied it again at 59 with a big 3-pointer.

Strawther had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Nolan Hickman scored 10 for Gonzaga (2-0).

Michigan State big man Mady Sissoko scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half but committed his third foul early in the second half and didn’t have much of an impact the rest of the way.

The Spartans (1-1) led 45-33 three minutes into the second half before Timme and the Zags went on an 11-0 run to pull to 45-44. Timme made a spin move layup, was fouled and made the free throw, and then fed Rasir Bolton for a baseline jumper to close within three points. Efton Reid III’s slam dunk got the Zags to 45-44.

Tyson Walker made a layup with 12:10 left to break MSU’s five-minute scoring drought.

Timme’s 3-point play tied it at 55-55 and then Bolton hit a 3-point shot for a 59-59 tie with 3:54 left.

As impressive as he was overall, Timme made just four of 10 free throws and could have given the Zags a cushion late in the game.

The game was played 11 years to the day after North Carolina beat Michigan State on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson at North Island NAS, with then-president Barack Obama and wife Michelle watching from courtside.

The teams wore camouflage uniforms with U.S.A. on the back. Just before the second half began, the crowd rose for the retiring of the flag at sunset. The crowd of 3,000 was made up mostly of sailors from the aircraft carrier as well as fans of both teams.

Michigan State led 38-31 at halftime largely on the strength of the powerful inside game of the 6-foot-9 Sissoko. Sissoko had three slam dunks in the final 5 minutes of the half, including on an alley-oop pass from A.J. Hoggard. His final two dunks helped the Spartans take control. Michigan State had consecutive steals, which had coach Tom Izzo emphatically pumping his fist.

Neither team was afraid to hoist 3-pointers and each team made a shot from behind the arc in the first two minutes. The wind appeared to affect just one 3-point shot as the six-level conning tower and the scoreboard blocked most of the wind off the Pacific Ocean.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: Coach Tom Izzo dropped to 0-2 in aircraft carrier games on San Diego Bay. His unranked Spartans certainly got Gonzaga’s attention with some tough defense.

Gonzaga: Timme returned for his senior season to take a final shot at bringing an elusive national title to Spokane.

UP NEXT

Michigan State plays No. 4 Kentucky at Indianapolis on Tuesday night.

Gonzaga plays at No. 12 Texas on Wednesday night.

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More 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

Source: https://apnews.com/article/sports-mens-college-basketball-michigan-state-spartans-f5f92a7ad1833a9dc4e0dea20550658c

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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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