Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Colleges

Gators' Sloan wins three NCAA gymnastics titles

FORT WORTH, Texas — Florida gymnast Bridget Sloan likes to talk about going "four for four" — hitting all the routines in one meet.

On Saturday, the senior went for another "four for four" — four consecutive NCAA titles with the Gators. And that's after adding three individual national championships to give her six for her college career.

Sloan won the all-around and carried her team to the top score in the first semi­final session at the NCAA women's championships last Friday. The team competition on Saturday was not completed by press time. Go to tampabay.com/sports for the result.

The Gators, with a score of 197.475, qualified for the Super Six finals along with SEC rivals LSU and Georgia. Top-ranked Oklahoma, which shared the 2014 title with UF, had the highest score in the second semifinal session at 197.7125. Alabama was second at 197.3875, reaching the finals for a ninth straight year and giving the SEC four teams in the Super Six finals Saturday night. UCLA (196.7) took the last spot.

Sloan, who won the all-around as a freshman in 2013, posted a 37.9 that held up through the evening session. She was co-champion on uneven bars and balance beam with a score of 9.95 on both, tying Georgia's Brittany Rogers on bars and UCLA's Danusia Francis on beam.

Florida is trying to become the third team to win at least four straight titles. Georgia took five straight from 2005-09, and Utah won the first five NCAA meets from 1982-86.

COACH COULDN'T SAY NO TO 'MOMMA' TEXAS TECH: Texas Tech basketball coach Chris Beard says returning to the school he considers home was too great to resist. So goodbye Las Vegas, hello Lubbock.

"It's like when Bear Bryant left Texas A&M for Alabama," Beard said at his first campus news conference. "He said, 'When momma calls, you've gotta go home.' Texas Tech is my momma, and I'm home."

Beard bolted for Texas Tech a week after signing a five-year contract with UNLV. He called leaving Las Vegas a "difficult situation" but said, "I walked away with the utmost respect for the character and class of that university."

Beard coached Arkansas-Little Rock last season to a school-record 30 wins in his first year as a Division I coach. He drew national praise, with the 12th-seeded Trojans upsetting Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That success propelled him to UNLV. But Texas Tech called when Tubby Smith left to coach Memphis.

Meanwhile, UNLV moved swiftly to hire a coach, agreeing with New Mexico State's Marvin Menzies on a five-year contract. Menzies, 54, a former UNLV assistant, spent the past nine seasons at New Mexico State, leading the Aggies to four straight WAC tournament titles and NCAA Tournament berths from 2012-15. He spent the 2004-05 season with Lon Kruger at UNLV and also served as an assistant to Louisville's Rick Pitino, USC's Henry Bibby and San Diego State's Steve Fisher.

GENO HOSPITALIZED: UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma has been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. The school released a statement saying the 62-year-old had boarded a plane at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., but decided to deplane because he wasn't feeling well. The school said the Hall of Fame coach, coming off a record 11th national championship, was resting comfortably. Auriemma missed the victory parade in Hartford last weekend and did not accompany the team when it was honored by lawmakers at the state Capitol this week because he was feeling ill.

LoyOla investigation: Loyola plans to investigate its women's basketball program after allegations of player mistreatment on the team coached by Sheryl Swoopes. The investigation will be conducted by the university, team spokesman Leo Krause said. Details of the allegations have not been released, but Krause confirmed that 10 of the 12 players who were expected to return from the current team have been granted or asked for releases to transfer from the private Chicago university. Deputy director of athletics Jermaine Truax said Swoopes is aware of the investigation. Swoopes, 45, is 31-62 in her three seasons at Loyola. She was elected as a player to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this month.

RECORD CROWD: Ohio State set a national record for spring football game attendance, becoming the first team to go over 100,000 fans. The Buckeyes posted an announced attendance of 100,189 at Ohio Stadium, breaking their record of 99,391 set last year.

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