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Boston College men’s basketball suffers first loss under new coach Earl Grant

Earl Grant and BC took their first loss of the season Wednesday night.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Ishmael El-Amin scored 12 points, Makhel Mitchell blocked a career-high eight shots and Rhode Island beat Boston College, 57-49, on Wednesday night in Kingston, R.I. The teams combined to make nine field goals in the second half — and BC made just 14 baskets in the game, shooting 25 percent. Mitchell led the defensive effort for Rhode Island, finishing two blocks shy of the program record. His brother, Makhi Mitchell, helped on the offensive end with 10 points for Rhode Island (3-0). It was a game of runs in the first half. Rhode Island scored the opening 8 points, Boston College answered with 10 straight and the Rams scored the next 9 for a 17-10 lead. Rhode Island led, 35-26, at the break behind 9 points from Makhi Mitchell. Quinten Post also had a team-high 9 points for BC at the break. T.J. Bickerstaff scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Boston College (3-1), which lost for the first time under coach Earl Grant. DeMarr Langford Jr., averaging 17.3 points per game, was held to 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting and Makai Ashton-Langford, 13.0 points, scored 5 points.

NCAA expands women’s basketball tournament

The NCAA women’s basketball tournament is expanding from 64 to 68 teams beginning with the current season, giving it an equal number of participants as the men’s tournament as part of a concerted effort at gender parity. The men’s tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011 with four first-round games traditionally played in Dayton, Ohio. The first four for the women’s tournament will take place on the campuses of teams seeded in the top 16 this season, but they will move to a to-be-determined neutral site beginning with the 2023 tournament. ESPN will broadcast the first four games along with the rest of the women’s tournament.


Wimbledon unlikely for Federer

It sounds doubtful that Roger Federer will play Wimbledon in 2022.Dita Alangkara/Associated Press

Roger Federer does not expect to return from his latest knee surgery in time for Wimbledon next June, the tennis great said in an interview published by Swiss media. ‘’The truth is that I’d be incredibly surprised to play Wimbledon,” the 40-year-old Federer told the Tribune de Geneve daily. Wimbledon starts June 27, and Federer has not played on tour since a straight-set loss at this year’s Wimbledon in the quarterfinals in July. Within weeks he underwent his third knee surgery in 18 months. Federer said there was never a question of playing at the Australian Open when the first Grand Slam of the season starts in January. “And that’s no surprise,” Federer said. “We knew before the operation that this type would require a months-long break.’' … Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals of the ATP Finals by beating Andrey Rublev, 6-3, 6-2, in Turin, Italy. Djokovic is attempting to match Federer’s record of six titles at the season-ending event for the top eight players in the world.


WTA concerned about Chinese player

The head of the women’s professional tennis tour questioned the legitimacy of what Chinese state media said was a retraction by a Grand Slam doubles champion who has accused a former top government official of sexual assault. WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said that a statement attributed to Peng Shuai and tweeted out by CGTN, the international arm of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV — which said it contained the contents of an email she wrote to Simon — “only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts.” Peng is a 35-year-old from China and a former No. 1-ranked player in women’s doubles who won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She wrote in a lengthy social media post earlier this month that a former vice premier and member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals. The post was removed from her verified account on Weibo, a leading Chinese social media platform, and the country’s state-controlled media has suppressed all reporting on the case.



Panthers’ Barkov has knee injury

Florida's Aleksander Barkov suffered the knee injury in Tuesday's win over the New York Islanders.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Florida Panthers captain and leading scorer Aleksander Barkov will be week-to-week with a knee injury but will not need surgery, Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette revealed Wednesday. Barkov was injured in a knee-to-knee collision with Scott Mayfield of the New York Islanders in the second period of their game Tuesday night, won 6-1 by Florida. Mayfield was called for a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Barkov remained down on the ice for a few moments, then was helped to the locker room and seemed unable to put any weight on his left leg. But teammates said he was moving around a bit after the game, and tests ruled out major damage …The players hoping to make China’s men’s hockey team for next year’s Beijing Olympics lost a second trial game against a Russian club as uncertainty builds over whether they will be allowed to play at the Winter Games. International Ice Hockey Federation officials observed Kunlun Red Star’s 4-1 loss to Avangard Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League. The Chinese team’s 5-4 overtime loss to Amur Khabarovsk in another KHL game two days earlier was also used to assess the competitive strength of the team. Kunlun has a 7-22 record in the Russia-based league. Kunlun coach Ivano Zanatta said the games were evidence his team meets the Olympic standard. China is using Kunlun as a proxy for the national team. Most of the roster consists of North American-born players who league records list as having taken Chinese nationality. More players could be naturalized in time for the Olympics. The IIHF and the International Olympic Committee are expected to decide next week whether China can play.



Soccer referee suspended

Uruguayan soccer referee Andres Cunha and video assistant Esteban Ostojich were suspended for an indefinite time after failing to give a red card to Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi during a men’s World Cup qualifying match against Brazil. Otamendi hit Brazil forward Raphinha with his elbow in the 35th minute of Tuesday’s match in San Juan. The Brazilian needed five stitches at halftime and still continued to bleed in the second half. CONMEBOL also suspended Chilean referee Roberto Tobar for not punishing Neymar and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Colombia last Thursday. Neymar put his chest close to Tobar’s during that match in Sao Paulo, but the Brazilian wasn’t booked. Cuadrado illegally used his arm later in the game and also wasn’t carded .… Russia’s doping suspension from track and field was extended into a seventh year, with cautious praise for reformers and a warning that not everyone supports their changes. World Athletics voted to maintain the suspension, which was first imposed in November 2015, at its congress. The sport’s governing body said 126 national federations voted for the extension, with 18 against and 34 not voting. The vote followed a presentation from the head of World Athletics’ task force supervising Russia’s reforms, Rune Andersen. He wrote in a report that there is a “new culture” at the troubled Russian track and field federation … Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard received a contract extension amid Washington’s fast start to the season. Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced that Sheppard and Sashi Brown signed multiyear extensions and received promotions. Sheppard now becomes president and GM of the Wizards. Brown, who has served as a chief planning and operations officer, is now president of Monumental Basketball and special advisor to the office of the CEO at Monumental Sports & Entertainment …Staples Center is getting a new name. Starting Christmas Day, it will be Arena. The downtown Los Angeles home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the NHL’s Kings and the WNBA’s Sparks will change its name after 22 years of operation, arena owner AEG announced Tuesday night. A person with knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press that is paying $700 million over 20 years to rename the building. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the parties aren’t publicly announcing the terms of what’s believed to be the richest naming rights deal in sports history.