The NBA suspended Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Malik Beasley for 12 games without pay Thursday for his recent guilty plea to a felony charge of threats of violence. The league said the punishment will begin with Minnesota’s game Saturday at Washington. Beasley is eligible to return March 27 against Houston. Beasley, in his fifth NBA season, is averaging a career-best 20.5 points. He was sentenced earlier this month to 120 days in jail for the Sept. 26 incident, when he pointed a rifle outside his home in suburban Minneapolis at a family on a house-hunting tour. Police later found weapons and marijuana in the home. As part of Beasley’s plea deal, prosecutors dropped a felony fifth-degree drug possession charge. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said Beasley can serve his stay in the workhouse after his season is over; COVID-19 precautions could require the county to release him on electronic home monitoring for the duration of the sentence. Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said the organization fully supports the NBA’s decision.
NCAA has March Madness contingency plan
Under a contingency plan devised by the Division 1 basketball committees, the four at-large teams that don’t make the original field in the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments will be placed in order and serve as the replacement teams should any conference with multiple bids have a school that is unable to participate due to COVID-19 issues. If the tournament begins without any withdrawals, the four would still be eligible to compete in the NIT. The contingency plan only applies to the short period between the announcement of the brackets — March 14 for men and March 15 for women — and the start of games later that week. Once a tournament begins, any team whose opponent is forced to withdraw would automatically advance to the next round. If there are COVID-19 issues with a qualifying school leading up to the NCAA Tournament selection, conferences get to designate a replacement team and it will be seeded in the bracket based upon its own body of work. Single-bid conferences likewise can choose their replacement provided the team has gone seven days without a positive test.
No. 1 UConn women roll to Big East title
Nika Mühl scored 15 of her season-high 19 points in the first quarter and No. 1 UConn won the outright Big East regular-season women’s basketball championship with an 81-49 victory over Creighton in Omaha. The Huskies (19-1, 16-0) never lost a league game in their seven years in the American Athletic Conference, and now they’re two wins away from being perfect in their return to the Big East. Creighton scored the first basket of the game before Mühl fueled a 22-4 run for the Huskies, making three 3s while scoring 11 of her team’s first 16 points. Christyn Williams had 16 points for the Huskies, Paige Bueckers added 13, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Temi Carda had 24 points and eight rebounds for the Bluejays (7-10, 6-7) … Taylor Soule scored 23 points and Makayla Dickens added 20 points but Boston College (6-11, 2-11 ACC) ended its regular season with a 92-75 loss at Syracuse (12-6, 9-6) . . . In men’s basketball, Corey Kispert scored 25 points, Drew Timme had 16 of his 18 points in the second half, and No. 1 Gonzaga (23-0, 14-0 West Coast Conference) won its 50th straight at home, 89-75, over Santa Clara (10-7, 4-5). The Bulldogs won their 27th straight overall dating to last season, and 20th straight by double-digits, matching the longest streak by a team ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25. UCLA also won 20 straight by double-digits during in 1971-72 … South Carolina was placed on probation for two years by the NCAA for former assistant coach Lamont Evans accepting between $3,300 and $5,800 in bribes from a sports agent … University of Texas System regents approved a six-year, $34.2 million guaranteed contract for new football coach Steve Sarkisian … The Big Ten is adding a 16th trophy game to honor George Jewett, the first Black man to play in the conference. Northwestern and Michigan will meet for the George Jewett Trophy beginning in October, the schools announced Thursday. Jewett played football at both schools in the 1890s.
Bad back forces Nadal to withdraw
Rafael Nadal pulled out of next week’s hard-court ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament at Rotterdam, Netherlands, because of the bad back that bothered him during the Australian Open. The 20-time Grand Slam champion wrote on Twitter that he “found a temporary solution that allowed me to play without pain in the second week” of the Australian Open, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets … Coco Gauff advanced to the Adelaide International semifinals in Australia, beating fellow American Shelby Rogers, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. The 16-year-old will face second-seeded Belinda Bencic, who beat Storm Sanders, 6-2, 6-4. French Open champion Iga Swiatek advanced when American Danielle Collins retired with an undisclosed injury while trailing, 6-3, 3-0.
Sarachan to coach Puerto Rico men
Former United States men’s team interim coach Dave Sarachan was named coach of Puerto Rico’s men’s soccer team. The 66-year-old will lead Puerto Rico in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Puerto Rico is in Group F of the first round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region. It opens March 24 at St. Kitts and Nevis, then hosts Trinidad and Tobago four days later. Sarachan was Bruce Arena’s top assistant with the US team from 1999-2002 and again in 2017. He took over as interim coach when Arena quit in October 2017 and led the US to three wins, five losses, and four ties in 12 exhibitions … Former French World Cup champion striker Thierry Henry stepped down as coach of Major League Soccer’s CF Montreal.
Sabres’ Eichel sits, Ullmark leaves early
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (lower body) was a late scratch for Thursday night’s loss to visiting New Jersey. Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger said Eichel was injured before training camp, sidelining him for multiple weeks. It is unknown if this injury is related. Also, Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark left after the first period with an undisclosed injury … The Tennessee Titans waived wide receiver Adam Humphries after he played only 19 games over the past two seasons. Humphries signed a four-year deal worth up to $36 million with Tennessee in 2019. Injuries limited him to 12 games in 2019, and he played only seven in 2020 … The Broncos released veteran defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, freeing up about $12 million in salary cap space two weeks after the release of veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye saved them a similar amount … Free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a one-year, $2.4 million contract to play for a baseball club in his native South Korea after 16 seasons in the majors..