Angel McCoughtry scored 16 of her 29 points in the third quarter as Las Vegas took control and the Las Vegas Aces beat the Connecticut Sun, 84-75, on Sunday in Game 4 of the best-of-five WNBA semifinals in Bradenton, Fla. McCoughtry finished with 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Game 5 is Tuesday. “Angel wasn’t ready to go home. That was fun to watch,” coach Bill Laimbeer said. A’ja Wilson, the 2020 league MVP, had 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists for top-seeded Las Vegas and Danielle Robinson also scored 18 points. Las Vegas was without Dearica Hamby, who will likely miss the remainder of the playoffs with a knee injury. Jasmine Thomas made a career-high six 3-pointers on 11 attempts and finished with 25 points for the Sun, while Alyssa Thomas added 15 points and DeWanna Bonner had 10 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
Stewart, Storm advance to finals
Breanna Stewart scored a career playoff-high 31 points — tying Seattle’s franchise playoff record — and Sue Bird had 16 points and nine assists, and the Storm beat Minnesota, 92-71, to sweep the Lynx and advance to the championship round for the second time in three seasons. The Storm won the title in 2018. Stewart, who missed all of last season while recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon added 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Mercedes Russell tied her season high with 10 points for the No. 2 seed Storm. “It’s an amazing feeling to be back,” Stewart said. “Be back with Seattle and be back in the finals and I can’t wait for Game 1 Friday.” Bird and Stewart combined to score or assist on 13 points during a 17-0 run that gave Seattle a 24-8 lead when Sami Whitcomb made a layup with 54.2 seconds left in the first quarter. Napheesa Collier led Minnesota with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Damiris Dantas and Crystal Dangerfield — the 2020 rookie of the year — scored 16 points apiece.
Heavy hitters crack Top 25 without playing yet
No. 6 Ohio State, No. 10 Penn State, and No. 14 Oregon returned to the Associated Press Top 25 poll, weeks before they start playing. At the top of the rankings this week, Clemson remained No. 1 with 55 first-place votes, followed by Alabama at No. 2 with three first-place votes. Florida moved up two spots to No. 3, Georgia held on at No. 4, and Notre Dame moved up to No. 5 without playing. Most voters put the most highly regarded teams from those late-arriving conferences back into their rankings, but not all did. Ohio State got four first-place votes. A few stuck with only teams currently playing. Further complicating voters' task this week: Two top-10 teams lost to unranked teams at home Saturday: No. 3 Oklahoma blew a big lead and fell to Kansas State, and No. 6 and defending national champion LSU was upset by Mississippi State in coach Mike Leach’s debut with the Bulldogs. Oklahoma slipped to No. 18 and LSU dropped to No. 20. Mississippi State jumped in at No. 16 . . . Georgia State says the positive COVID-19 tests that caused Saturday’s football game at Charlotte to be postponed were the result of errors in reading the test results. Georgia State said student-athletes were tested three times last week. All results from tests on Monday and Wednesday were negative, and positive results from Thursday tests became available Friday, just before the team’s scheduled departure to Charlotte. The team will return to practice on Monday as it prepares for this week’s home game against East Carolina.
Wawrinka has Murray feeling his age
Stan Wawrinka, 35, needed just 97 minutes to overwhelm Andy Murray, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, on the opening day of the French Open in Paris. Murray is ranked 111th as he works his way back from two hip surgeries. The six games collected by the 33-year-old Murray equaled the fewest he has managed in any of his 237 career Grand Slam matches; that also happened in a loss at Roland Garros in 2014 against 12-time champion Rafael Nadal. Meanwhile, Venus Williams finished 2020 with an 0-3 record in Grand Slam matches, adding a first-round exit to those she had at the Australian Open and US Open. The 40-year-old Williams lost, 6-4, 6-4, to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in front of a handful of spectators at Court Simone Mathieu . . . Andrey Rublev charged back from 5-3 down in the deciding set of the Hamburg Open final to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, and head to the French Open with his third title of 2020, most of any player on the tour besides Novak Djokovic.
Penalties keep Hamilton from record
Lewis Hamilton’s toughest opponents in the Russian Grand Prix weren’t even on the Sochi track. They were in the stewards' office. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas cruised to the win after Hamilton, who was leading, was penalized 10 seconds for practicing his starts in the wrong place before the race. Hamilton came into the race looking to match Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 wins in Formula One but had to settle for third behind Bottas and Max Verstappen. Bottas built a sizable lead over Verstappen with ease and eased to his first win since the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. Hamilton was already under investigation by the stewards when he started the race from pole position. Before the race he twice stopped to perform practice starts at the exit of the pit lane, rather than in the designated area. That eventually earned him two five-second penalties, dropping him as low as 11th at one stage. Hamilton’s championship lead over Bottas was cut to a still-healthy 44 points with seven scheduled races remaining on a calendar heavily modified because of the coronavirus pandemic. Russia allowed about 30,000 fans, far larger crowds than at any other round of the F1 season to date. Fans wore masks in stands filled to around half of normal capacity and had their temperatures measured when entering the venue.