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Louisville beats NC State 75-65; on to Elite 8

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Montrezl Harrell scored 24 points, reserve Anton Gill keyed a late-game surge, and Louisville beat North Carolina State 75-65 on Friday night in the East Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville (27-8), the fourth seed in the East and seeking to make its third Final Four in four years, will play either No. 3 seed Oklahoma or seventh-seeded Michigan State in the East final on Sunday. The Sooners and Spartans played in Friday's nightcap in the Carrier Dome.

After toppling top-seeded Villanova, North Carolina State (22-14), the eighth seed, saw its postseason run end against a team that refused to quit.

Louisville wasn't given much chance of playing in late March after it lost two of three entering the NCAA Tournament, but gritty wins over UC Irvine and Northern Iowa had the Cardinals brimming with confidence.

Terry Rozier had 17 points and 14 rebounds and freshman guard Quentin Snider added 14 points for the Cardinals.

Trevor Lacey led the Wolfpack with 18 points, while Ralston Turner had 12 and Kyle Washington 11.

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Follow Kekis on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Greek1947

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 01:58:00 +0000
Gonzaga headed to Elite Eight for 1st time since 1999

HOUSTON (AP) Growing up in Poland, Przemek Karnowski had to stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. to watch the NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga's big man got to star in the show in prime time on Friday night, scoring 18 points with nine rebounds to lead the second-seeded Bulldogs to a 74-62 win over No. 11 seed UCLA in the Houston Regional semifinals.

The victory puts Gonzaga (35-2) in the Elite Eight for the second time, its first regional final since 1999. The Bulldogs will play the winner of the Utah-Duke game on Sunday.

UCLA (22-14) opened the second half with a 6-0 run to get within 35-34. Gonzaga got going after that, scoring the next 12 points, thanks to the powerful inside game of the 7-foot-1, 288-pound Karnowski to make it 47-34.

"For me it was always a dream to be here and to play deep into the NCAA Tournament," Karnowski said. "And right now I'm here and I'm trying to enjoy every second of it."

Karnowski helped the Bulldogs grab six more offensive rebounds than UCLA, which Bruins coach Steve Alford believes was the key to the game.

"We didn't rebound the basketball," Alford said. "They got too many second shots."

Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer raved about Karnowski's work.

"He was a beast down there, just gobbling up offensive boards," Wiltjer said. "It's so easy for us, especially when we're on the perimeter, to just throw it down to him and he gets a bucket."

The Bruins, who lost in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year, were done in by a tough shooting night that included long stretches without scoring. They were led by Norman Powell's 16 points.

They quieted doubters who questioned whether they should be in the tournament by winning their first two games, but couldn't stay with the Bulldogs on a night when their shots weren't falling. Powell made just 8 of 19 shots and Bryce Alford was 3 of 11.

It's Gonzaga's second win over UCLA this season after also beating the Bruins in December. Gonzaga's only loss to UCLA in the four-game history of the series came in a 73-71 defeat in the regional semifinal in 2006.

It will be the first trip to the round of eight for Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who took over the season after they last made it.

"The one accomplishment that we haven't done is reach the Final Four and we finally have an opportunity to do that," Few said.

The Bruins couldn't find any offense as Gonzaga built its lead early in the second half.

Domantas Sabonis drew ooh's and ahh's from the crowd when the 6-10 Lithuanian grabbed a bounce pass from Karnowski and sailed over Isaac Hamilton for a one-handed dunk that made it 51-37 with 11 minutes remaining.

Karnowski found Sabonis again a few minutes later, when he passed it behind his back and Sabonis finished with a layup to push the lead to 14 points.

Gonzaga was up 13-10 less than six minutes into the game when both offenses went cold, combining to miss the next 19 shots.

There were missed layups, shots from the outside that clanged off the rim and even a couple of air balls. No matter what either team tried, they simply couldn't make a shot for about 6 1/2 minutes. Gonzaga extended the lead a bit with three free throws.

Powell finally ended the field goal drought when he drove into the lane and his layup mercifully fell through the net to cut the lead to 16-12 about eight minutes before halftime. The Bulldogs scored a few seconds later on a jump shot by Karnowski.

Gonzaga led 35-28 at halftime.

VENUE TO BLAME FOR POOR SHOOTING?

With both teams struggling to shoot, many questions were asked about whether the venue caused problems. The games are being played in NRG Stadium, which is home to the Houston Texans, and the setup, with no walls behind either basket, challenges players' depth perception.

Entering Friday's game, teams have shot a combined 39.8 percent in nine NCAA Tournament games at NRG. UCLA shot 38.8 percent on Friday and Gonzaga shot 40.3 percent.

But no one on either team would use that as an excuse.

"We just missed shots," Wiltjer said. "You either make them or you don't. We don't really blame it on the arena or anything like that."

TIP-INS

UCLA: Alford had eight points. ... Looney had nine points and eight rebounds.

Gonzaga: Wiltjer had eight points and 10 rebounds after leading the team in their first two tournament games with 23 and 24 points. ... Sabonis scored 12 points before fouling out late.

UP NEXT:

UCLA: As their season ends they wait to see if Looney will stay or declare for the NBA.

Gonzaga: Faces the winner of the Utah-Duke game on Sunday in the regional final.

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:56:00 +0000
David Ortiz defends his reputation in column

Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is certain on this point: "I never knowingly took any steroids." And this, too: "I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame."

The remarks by the 39-year-old designated hitter came in a column Thursday for The Players' Tribune, a website founded by Derek Jeter that gives professional athletes a platform.

Ortiz also voiced his displeasure that he will "always be considered a cheater" to his detractors. He contends that nobody in baseball has been tested more often for performance-enhancing drugs - more than 80 times since 2004.

"I have never failed a single one of those tests and I never will," Ortiz wrote.

In 2009, the New York Times reported Ortiz was on a list of 104 players who allegedly tested positive during Major League Baseball's 2003 survey of steroid use - results that were supposed to be anonymous. Ortiz later said he wound up on the list because he used nutritional supplements and was careless about their contents.

"Most guys were taking over-the-counter supplements then. Most guys are still taking over-the-counter supplements. If it's legal, ballplayers take it," Ortiz wrote. "Why? Because if you make it to the World Series, you play 180 games. Really think about that for a second. 180 games. Your kids could be sick, your wife could be yelling at you, your dad could be dying - nobody cares.

"Nobody cares if you have a bone bruise in your wrist or if you have a pulled groin. You're an entertainer. The people want to see you hit a 95-mile-an-hour fastball over a damn 37-foot wall."

Ortiz said he had two drug testers arrive early at his house in the Dominican Republic one day over the offseason. His kids are so used to them showing up, he said, they were laughing and taking pictures as the testers drew Ortiz's blood in the kitchen. Ortiz said to them: "Let me tell you something. The only thing you're going to find in my blood is rice and beans."

Added Ortiz: "In some people's minds, I will always be considered a cheater," emphasizing his point with an expletive.

Ortiz is a .285 hitter with 466 career homers and 1,533 RBIs. He believes his numbers are Hall of Fame worthy.

"I've won three World Series since MLB introduced comprehensive drug testing. I've performed year after year after year. But if a bunch of writers who have never swung a bat want to tell me it's all for nothing, OK. Why do they write my legacy?" Ortiz wrote. "In 75 years, when I'm dead and gone, I won't care if I'm in the Hall of Fame. I won't care if a bunch of baseball writers know the truth about who I am in my soul and what I have done in this game. I care that my children know the truth."

Big Papi said his mental preparation was one of his biggest attributes.

"They're only going to remember my power," Ortiz wrote. "They're not going to remember the hours and hours and hours of work in the film room. They're not going to remember the BP. They're not going to remember me for my intelligence.

"Despite all I've done in this game, I'm just the big DH from the Dominican. They turn you into a character, man."

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 01:07:00 +0000
Freshman-led Duke in another regional final, beat Utah 63-57

HOUSTON (AP) Justise Winslow says coach Mike Krzyzewski never treated him and the other Duke freshmen like, well, freshmen.

These young Blue Devils certainly aren't playing like it either - and have Coach K one win away from another NCAA Final Four.

"He gave us his trust and just believed in us," said Winslow, one of the three freshman starters. "When you have that, you play like yourself."

Winslow, playing home in Houston the day after his 19th birthday, had 21 points and 10 rebounds for South Regional top seed Duke in a 63-57 Sweet 16 victory over revived Utah on Friday night.

Freshman guard Tyus Jones had 15 points while standout big man Jahlil Okafor had six points and eight rebounds.

Duke (32-4) will play in its 20th regional final, the 14th under Coach K for the most by any active coach. The last Final Four appearance was in 2010, when the Blue Devils also went through Houston on way to their fourth national title.

"This has been one of my favorite groups. They've been easy to coach and they really get along. There's only a good attitude, only a good attitude and a willingness to learn." Krzyzewski said. "Sometimes freshmen don't learn that until they're older. But these guys knew it from the beginning. That's why they've had a special year."

The Blue Devils play No. 2 seed Gonzaga (35-2) on Sunday in the South Regional final, with the winner going to Indianapolis for the Final Four. The Bulldogs beat 11th-seeded UCLA 74-62 in the earlier game Friday night at NRG Stadium, the home of the NFL's Houston Texans.

Brandon Taylor had 15 points for the Utes (26-9), the No. 5 seed with an at-large berth out of the Pac-12.

Utah and its Coach K, Larry Krystkowiak, got to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005, and only three years after winning six games in Krystkowiak's first season.

Leading scorer Delon Wright was the Utes' only senior starter, and Dallin Bachynski the only other graduating player who played regularly.

Asked where he goes from now, Krystkowiak said it was time to decompress a bit.

"Just enjoyed the experience with these kids, and am going to soak this up and reflect," he said.

Wright, who got his third foul on a questionable call with about 5 minutes left in the first half, finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Dallin Bachynski added 11 points for the Utes, and 7-foot freshman Jakob Poeltl had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Even after Utah didn't score until nearly 5 minutes into the game, Duke was down 8-5 before going ahead to stay with an 8-0 run in just over 2 1/2 minutes when all the Blue Devils freshman starters scored.

Winslow's 3-pointer at 12:36 tied the game 8-8 before Amile Jefferson's tiebreaking layup. Okafor had a jumper before Jones' layup made it 14-8 with 9:54 left.

Another 8-0 run after halftime pushed the Blue Devils to a 49-34 lead with 8:41 left.

That spurt included four free throws by Quinn Cook, the senior guard who also made it to a Sweet 16 in 2013 - but was also part of the Blue Devils squads upset in their NCAA openers last year (Mercer) and in 2012 (Lehigh).

Wright got his third foul with 4:57 left in the first half in a scramble for the ball - under the Duke basket and in front of the Utah bench. Wright and Winslow were both on the floor, the Duke freshman on his back, when the foul was called.

Duke was up 27-17 on a layup by Okafor with 3:04 left, but didn't score again until after halftime.

Wright got back in the game after halftime, making a jumper on the first shot for a 27-24 score. The Utes never got closer.

After Utah had scored nine points in a row to get within 49-43 with 3:42 left, Winslow made a big-time play. He drove into traffic and made a layup while being fouled, then added the free throw.

"He played phenomenal. He was outstanding. He was the best player on the floor." Okafor said. "Maybe because he's in Houston or maybe because he's 19 now. It was fun to watch."

NOT OVER YET

The players had already had their customary postgame handshake, and several Utah players were headed down the steps off the elevated court when officials blew their whistle after reviewing a call. Cook grabbed a rebound of a missed 3-pointer with 6 seconds left, and Utah was trying to foul. They didn't get a whistle until the buzzer sounded. Officials reviewed and determined there was six-tenths of a second on the clock when they called the foul. Cook made one of two free throws.

TIP-INS

Utah: The Utes missed their first nine shots before Poeltl scored inside with 15:19 left in the first half. And they trailed only 3-2, before Bachynski scored six points in a row for an 8-5 lead.

Duke: Krzyzewski has a record 85 NCAA Tournament wins, 20 more than Dean Smith and Roy Williams.

UP NEXT

Utah: Season Over.

Duke: Play Gonzaga in South Regional final Sunday.

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 05:26:00 +0000
Aaron Hernandez fiancee discusses money, gun at murder trial

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez and his fiancee traded expressionless glances Friday as she took the witness stand to testify in his murder trial.

Shayanna Jenkins was called by prosecutors after being granted immunity, which means she was ordered to testify by the court or face time behind bars.

Jenkins, Hernandez's high school sweetheart and the mother of his 2-year-old daughter, appeared to be a reluctant and careful witness, pausing for long periods before answering and saying she couldn't remember details of the time surrounding the June 17, 2013, killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating her younger sister. Lloyd's bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park near the home Hernandez and Jenkins shared.

But some of what Jenkins said could hurt Hernandez, including that minutes after she dropped him off at a police station to be questioned about Lloyd's death he directed her to give money to one of his co-defendants.

"He told me to meet up with Bo and give him money," Jenkins said, referring to Ernest Wallace.

Wallace and a third man, Carlos Ortiz, have pleaded not guilty in the killing and will be tried later.

Hernandez, 25, watched Jenkins intently during her testimony, which lasted much of the day. She will return Monday to continue testifying. She previously pleaded not guilty to perjury in connection with the case. Prosecutors say she lied to a grand jury investigating the killing.

Jenkins, also 25, mostly avoided looking at Hernandez while she testified. During a sidebar, she looked at jurors and around the courtroom but not in his direction. It was a change from earlier in the trial, when she would sit behind Hernandez, whispering "I love you" and joking with him.

But she had not appeared in court for the past three weeks. On Friday, she was wearing the large diamond engagement ring she typically wears on her left ring finger.

She first appeared in court Friday morning outside the presence of jurors and was asked about what she would say on the witness stand. She indicated then that she would say that it was important to Hernandez for her to get rid of a box from the basement and that she took efforts to conceal it as she took it out of the home, contradicting testimony she made before the grand jury. Prosecutors have indicated the box held evidence or even the weapon used to kill Lloyd, which has never been found.

Jenkins wasn't asked in detail about the box on the witness stand Friday but is likely to be asked about it on Monday.

As she walked away from the stand following questioning, she mouthed something to Hernandez as she passed the defense table, her face looking ashen.

Later, in front of the jury, she said she once saw a gun in a junk drawer in the kitchen. When shown an example of a Glock .45, the kind of gun prosecutors say was the murder weapon, she testified it was the same color and shape but she was unsure if it was the same size.

Police went to the home the night of June 17, 2013, after finding Lloyd's body with a key to a Hernandez rental car in his pocket.

Jenkins said she asked Hernandez what was going on.

"Do you recall what he said to you?" prosecutor William McCauley asked.

"He didn't know," she replied.

Jenkins testified she put their daughter in the car and drove Hernandez to the police station that night. Soon after, she said, he asked her to meet Wallace and give him money. She drove to Rhode Island and met him early on June 18.

"He asked me if I was OK," Jenkins said. "He let me know that everything is going to be OK."

She said he then asked her for a certain amount of money, although she didn't remember how much. She said she gave him $500, the maximum she could withdraw from an ATM.

"I remember telling him to be safe," she said. "That's about it."

Among the people in the courtroom was her younger sister, Shaneah Jenkins, a 23-year-old law student, who sat next to Lloyd's mother.

Shayanna Jenkins, when asked by the prosecutor if she is close with her sister, took a long pause, then shook her head, saying they are "estranged, kind of."

Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:36:00 +0000

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