Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Olympic sports highlights: Day 14

A golden first for U.S. women

It took a moment for Helen Maroulis' accomplishment to sink in. The American (right) defeated Japan's Saori Yoshida 4-1 in the 53-kilogram freestyle final Thursday to win the first gold medal for a U.S. female wrestler and derail Yoshida's quest for a fourth straight gold. "At the end of it, I was like, 'Really, I just did this?' " Maroulis said. "Like, oh my gosh!" Yoshida was trying to become the second woman to win four Olympic gold medals in a single event across four Summer Games and the second wrestler to win four Olympic golds. Yoshida's teammate Kaori Icho accomplished the feats Wednesday by winning the 58-kilogram gold. Yoshida is a 16-time world champion who hadn't lost in a major tournament in years, but she had been less dominant in recent tournaments, and Maroulis was on a two-year winning streak of her own. Maroulis said her coach, Valentin Kalika, played a key role in the victory. But even with the game plan in place, she became a bit tense before the start. "I'm like, stepping on the mat, and I'm thinking, 'I don't even know how this is going to get done. I don't know. I'm just going to trust, and I just want to give my all,' " Maroulis said.

U.S. women get rare close win to go for gold

The U.S. women will play for a sixth consecutive gold medal after beating France 86-67, the closest contest of the Games for the Americans. They play Spain, which they beat by 40 in group play, in the final Saturday. Diana Taurasi scored 18 points as the United States won without the services of point guard Sue Bird, who was sidelined with a sprained right knee. The United States turned up its defense to make up for not being as crisp offensively after routing opponents by an average of 41.7 points. The Americans led only 40-36 at halftime but outscored France 25-8 in the decisive third quarter to finally get some separation from the team they beat in the 2012 gold-medal game. Spain defeated Serbia 68-54, and the Spaniards were barely able to contain their excitement as the final minutes ticked off the clock, dancing and hugging before running on the court to celebrate.

U.S. bantamweight Stevenson in final

American Shakur Stevenson reached the bantamweight final after Russian semifinal opponent Vladimir Nikitin was ruled out with an injury. Stevenson, 19, who hasn't lost an international bout in his amateur career, fights in Saturday's final against Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez, the defending gold medalist. "I came up watching Robeisy in the Olympics," Stevenson said. "It's work time, just me and him, mano y mano." Stevenson's gold or silver medal will be the first of either kind for American men since Andre Ward's gold in 2004. Combined with light flyweight Nico Hernandez's bronze medal, the U.S. men will leave the Olympics with two medals for the first time since 2004. Nikitin suffered heavy damage in three consecutive brutal fights, culminating in a pounding Tuesday by Irish world champion Michael Conlan. Nikitin received the decision, prompting an outraged Conlan to denounce the International Boxing Association and Russia as conspirators in corruption.

Record score moves Lewis up board

American Stacy Lewis made 11 birdies to match the low score at Olympic Golf Course with 8-under 63, putting her right in the mix for a gold medal. She had no complaints about her golf or her position at the halfway point of the first Olympic women's competition since 1900. Lewis, at 9-under 133, was one shot behind Inbee Park of South Korea, who birdied her last two holes for another 66 and the 36-hole lead. Marcus Fraser of Australia also shot 63 in the opening round of the men's competition last week on a course set up about 900 yards longer. Lewis' round could have been even more special, but she dropped a shot at No. 7 and made double bogey at the par-three 14th hole before bouncing back with birdies on her final four holes of the day. First-round leader Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand struggled off the tee and with her ball striking, shooting 71 to remain 6 under.

Serbia stuns No. 1 U.S. women in semis

The top-ranked American women fought back to force a fifth set against Serbia before falling short of the gold-medal goal that had driven many of them back to the national team for one more Olympic cycle. Serbia's players cried in triumph after the biggest win in their program's history. They reached the gold-medal match, guaranteeing the country's first women's volleyball medal with a 20-25, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13 victory. "Right now this loss is deeply disappointing," U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. "It cuts deep. It's very painful, and that's okay. We signed up to do difficult things with USA, and we're going to come back harder the next 48 hours to fight for the bronze medal." U.S. star Foluke Akinradewo was sidelined by an apparent left knee injury late in the opening set after beginning the match brilliantly. She was expected to have tests to determine whether she might play Saturday against either China or the Netherlands, which played late Thursday.

Comments
Winter Olympics: U.S. women end speed-skating medal drought

Winter Olympics: U.S. women end speed-skating medal drought

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Mia Manganello crossed the finish line, glanced at the video board and yelled. She then grabbed hands with American teammates Heather Bergsma and Brittany Bowe, and the trio thrust their arms in the air. The Americans had re...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Winter Olympics: U.S. wins first gold medal in women’s cross-country skiing

Winter Olympics: U.S. wins first gold medal in women’s cross-country skiing

DAEGWALLYEONG, South Korea — The unattainable had become inevitable, and Kikkan Randall started screaming at the top of her lungs. She was standing under the lights, at the finish line of Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Center, imploring her team sprin...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
USF women top Houston, clinch AAC tourney’s No. 2 seed

USF women top Houston, clinch AAC tourney’s No. 2 seed

Initially flustered by Houston's pressure and pace, the 18th-ranked USF women rallied Wednesday night in two simple steps.First, they settled themselves down, then shut the Cougars down.Down by 10 in the first half, the Bulls stormed back for a criti...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hey Rays, this is no way to build a ballpark

Hey Rays, this is no way to build a ballpark

PORT CHARLOTTE _ It was another morning after at Charlotte Sports Park and Rays Bargain Clearance Barn.  This time it's Steven Souza, man of a thousand faces. He gone.What else is new at the incredible shrinking baseball team?It's spring trainin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

This isn't the first time Brentson Buckner has wanted to get closer to the Bucs defensive line.As a defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers, Buckner's team went 7-9 in 2002, the inaugural season for the NFC South.Tampa Bay won the division, and wh...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

PORT CHARLOTTE — Going against popular opinion, here's an odd thought to ponder:What if the Rays actually know what they're doing?The deal agreed to Wednesday afternoon with veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez — one year for a, hefty for them...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The entire Lightning team was sent to Syracuse late Tuesday. Really

The entire Lightning team was sent to Syracuse late Tuesday. Really

On Tuesday night, the entire Lightning team was reassigned to Syracuse.Well, more like re-directed.The team's charter flight from Washington D.C. was diverted around midnight Tuesday night due to fog in Ottawa, where the Lightning was headed for a Th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

PORT CHARLOTTE — 2B Nick Solak reported to camp Wednesday, while LHP Anthony Banda, the other player acquired in the Steven Souza Jr. trade, is on his way.Banda, whose fastball hits the mid-90s, pitched in eight games last season with the Diamo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

PORT CHARLOTTE – Dick Vitale, the Rays most visible and, as of late, vocal fan, took to Twitter and the 620-AM airwaves Wednesday morning and later in the day in a phone call to the Times to blast his local baseball team.ESPN's lead college bas...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays moved quickly to fill the void created by Tuesday's trade of RF Steven Souza Jr., agreeing to a one-year deal Wednesday afternoon with veteran OF Carlos Gomez.The deal, pending a physical, will pay Gomez $4-million...
Updated: 6 hours ago