No. 1 Stanford routs No. 6 Arizona 81-54, win streak hits 8

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Stanford had a difficult trip to the desert last season, losing in overtime at Arizona’s McKale Center in front of a massive crowd.

When the Cardinal returned, the fans weren’t there, but their motivation sure was.

Haley Jones had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Lexie Hull added 13 points and top-ranked Stanford overwhelmed No. 6 Arizona early in an 81-54 rout Friday night.

“We came down here last year and it was really tough for us,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “Our players didn’t forget that, I think. I know I didn’t forget it.”

The Cardinal (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) took care of No. 10 UCLA on Monday and kept rolling in their second top-10 showdown in four days.

Stanford raced past the Wildcats with a 15-2 run in the first quarter and had a 24-point lead by halftime. The Cardinal kept up the pressure and finished with a 51-32 rebounding advantage to avenge the loss to the Wildcats a year ago.

“This is a really fun group,” Stanford guard Anna Wilson said. “It’s obviously an interesting time we’re going through and I’m really glad to be with this group of girls.”

Arizona (7-1, 5-1) pulled off one of the biggest wins in program history by knocking off then-No. 4 Stanford at McKale Center last season, but had trouble at both ends of the floor in its first game against a No. 1 team since 2006.

The Wildcats had a long scoring drought in the first quarter to fall in a big early hole and shot 26% – 6 for 25 from 3-point range – to remain winless (0-5) all-time against top-ranked teams.

Sam Thomas led Arizona with 14 points and Aari McDonald added 12, but shot 3 of 18.

“We had a tough time running offense. Nothing was really working,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “It was our worst game of the season and they had a lot to do with that. They’re the No. 1 team for a reason.”

Stanford passed its first big test of the season on Monday, knocking off the Bruins 61-49.

The Cardinal’s next challenge came against an Arizona team with its highest ranking ever and off to its best conference start.

Stanford was up for this one, too.

The Cardinal made 7 of 12 shots in the first quarter and held Arizona without a field goal the final 5:55 to lead 20-13. Stanford kept pushing in the second quarter to stretch the lead to 44-20 by halftime.

The Wildcats started the game well to take an early lead, but shot 6 of 32 in the first half, missing 21 of their final 23 shots.

Arizona was more aggressive to start the third quarter and finally got some shots to fall, but only managed to cut Stanford’s lead to 20.

“I don’t think they were really rattled at any point,” said Arizona’s Bendu Yeaney, who had 10 points. “We had an early lead, but they never got rattled and stuck to what they do..”

BIG PICTURE

Stanford looked every bit the No. 1 team in the country with a dominating performance.

Arizona has made huge strides in recent years, but was no match for the overpowering Cardinal.

HARASSING MCDONALD

McDonald was named the Pac-12 player of the week on Dec. 21 and came into the showdown with Stanford averaging 20.1 points.

After hitting a 3-pointer early in the first quarter, the senior guard spent the rest of her night being surrounded by Stanford defenders. A 35% shooter from 3-point range, she finished 1 of 6 from beyond the arc.

“Obviously, she’s a tremendous player and really great,” Wilson said. “Tara always says tag teaming and our team did really great on defense.”

WILSON’S LIFT

Wilson has given Stanford a little bit of everything so far in her senior season.

She provided a scoring lift early against Arizona, hitting three 3-pointers in the first half, played stellar defense all night and had nine rebounds.

“She really got us going,” VanDerveer said. “I think that’s where it started.”

UP NEXT

Stanford plays at Arizona State on Sunday.

Arizona hosts California Sunday.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.