East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, January 16, 2018, Page Page 2B, Image 10

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    SPORTS
East Oregonian
Page 2B
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Australian Open
Major letdown for US women: Venus, Stephens out in Melbourne
By JOHN PYE
Associated Press
MELBOURNE,
Australia
— U.S. Open champion Sloane
Stephens was first to go, followed
quickly by last year’s Australian
Open runner-up, Venus Williams.
CoCo Vandeweghe went out
next as things really started to go
crazy for the U.S. women, who
eventually lost nine out of 10 first-
round matches on a bleak opening
day of the Australian Open.
Four months after American
women filled all four semifinal
spots at the U.S. Open — for the
first time in 36 years — three of
them are out of contention at the
next Grand Slam.
Monday’s major letdown was
compounded when eighth-seeded
Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner
joined the procession of U.S. first-
round losers.
In her first match at Rod Laver
Arena since a vintage run in 2017
ended in a championship loss to
sister Serena, Venus Williams lost
her opener to Belinda Bencic 6-3,
7-5 to ensure the title won’t stay in
the family.
Serena Williams hasn’t played
a Grand Slam tournament since
winning her 23rd major in Australia
last year because of her pregnancy
and the birth of her first child.
Fifth-seeded Venus was consid-
ered a serious contender in her 77th
AP Photo/Vincent Thian
United States’ Venus Williams makes a forehand return to Switzer-
land’s Belinda Bencic during their first round match at the Austra-
lian Open in Melbourne, Australia on Monday.
major to break a Grand Slam title
drought dating back to 2008.
Bencic, who had never taken
a set off Venus in four previous
matches and had lost to Serena in
the first round last year, had other
ideas.
“I think I had a little bit too much
respect, played a little bit careful
and safe,” Bencic said of her four
previous losses to Venus. “This
time I really tried to come out and
hit it big.”
Bencic saved five break points
in the eighth game before a rain
delay caused an almost half-hour
suspension of play as the roof was
closed on Rod Laver Arena. She
returned on a roll, winning the next
six points to clinch the first set, and
then dominated the second.
Venus had 26 unforced errors
and 22 winners, and said she didn’t
get the luck of the draw by having
to play somebody who has been
ranked as high as No. 7.
“I don’t think I played a bad
match. She just played above and
beyond,” Williams said. “I just have
to give her credit for that.”
The 20-year-old Bencic, who
was born a couple of months after
the last time there was no Williams
in the second round at the Australian
Open (1997), hit 32 winners, had 12
unforced errors and converted five
of 11 break-point chances.
She credited playing with Roger
Federer at the Hopman Cup —
where they teamed up to win for
Switzerland — with helping her
recent improvement. Having Feder-
er’s parents supporting her in the
crowd also helped.
Stephens was the first American
to falter, losing 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2
to No. 34-ranked Zhang Shuai to
extend her losing streak since the
U.S. Open to eight matches.
“Tennis is definitely a roller
coaster,” said the 13th-seeded
Stephens, who was broken while
serving for the match in the second
set. “But I have learned to just not
panic. It will be OK.”
It wasn’t OK for the 10th-seeded
Vandeweghe, a semifinalist in
Melbourne and at the U.S. Open
last year, who was feeling sick and
frustrated in a 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss to
Timea Babos.
She yelled an obscenity late
in the second set, and then got a
time violation for waiting too long
for a banana to be brought to the
court between sets, earning a point
penalty.
“I was just trying to wait for
what I asked for to come and the
chair umpire deemed that it wasn’t
a good enough reason,” she said.
CiCi Bellis, Sofia Kenin — who
lost to No. 12 Julia Goerges, now
on a 15-match winning streak —
Alison Riske, Taylor Townsend and
Jennifer Brady all lost before Nicole
Gibbs beat Viktoriya Tomova 6-1,
6-1 to end the streak of eight losses
for the U.S. women.
Irina Falconi lost 6-1, 6-1 to No.
23-seeded Daria Gavrilova in the
night match, making it 1 for 9.
“Yes we were talking about it in
the locker room and some of them
were ribbing me that I had to carry
the flag for us,” Gibbs said. “It was a
tough day, and this is a tough sport.
This isn’t an indication of anything
except we have a lot of depth and
we had a bad day.”
Sock, the highest ranked of the
American men, lost 6-1, 7-6 (4),
5-7, 6-3 to Yuichi Sugita, while
Isner lost to Australian journeyman
Matt Ebden and qualifier Kevin
King lost to No. 15 Jo-Wilfried
Tsonga.
Ryan Harrison beat Dudi Sela
in a sometimes heated five-setter
in front of a partisan crowd and
qualifier Mackenzie McDonald also
bucked the trend for the Americans.
Not everyone found the going
tough on a mild opening day in
NFL PLAYOFFS: Jaguars stun Steelers at home, Eagles hold off Falcons
Continued from 1B
going to try to stay up and
keep it going.”
Williams, who had a key
interception on a floater to
Diggs in the third quarter,
arrived a tad early. A pass
interference flag would
stop the clock with about
5 seconds left, giving the
Vikings a chance at a field
goal.
Williams
awkwardly
whiffed on Diggs, taking out
cornerback Ken Crawley as
Diggs came down, tucked
the ball in his right arm and
stuck his left hand in the turf
to stay up.
If he stumbles there,
maybe he gets caught and
time runs out. But he kept
his balance, his cool — and
stayed in bounds — shooting
toward the end zone like a
sprinter coming out of the
blocks.
His 61-yard touchdown
catch was one of the NFL’s
all-time last-play stunners
and it erased four decades
of heartache for a franchise
that was victimized by
Drew Pearson’s original
“Hail Mary” catch; Gary
Anderson missing his only
field goal of the season in the
NFC title game; Brett Favre
throwing across his body for
a game-destroying pick in
another NFC championship
contest; and Blair Walsh
shanking a short field goal
against Seattle.
While
the
delirium
echoed, Williams, the 42nd
overall selection in last
April’s NFL draft, sat sobbing
in front of his cubicle in the
Saints’ locker room.
“I’m going to take it
upon myself,” Williams said
after composing himself for
a stand-up performance in
front of the assembled media,
“to make sure nothing like
this happens again to me.”
While the magical ending
in Minnesota dominated the
playoff discussions, there
were other notable calls in
the divisional round:
EAGLES 15, FALCONS
10 — Fly Eagles Fly.
With the wind and against
it.
With Nick Foles engi-
neering several long drives,
Jake Elliott converting three
field goals, and the defense
getting stingy in the tightest
spot, Philadelphia moved
into the NFC championship
game with a 15-10 victory
over the Atlanta Falcons on
Saturday.
Foles directed brilliant
marches of 74 and 80 yards
in the second half — one into
the whipping wind, the other
with it — and Elliott atoned
for missing an extra point by
converting from 53 yards at
the end of the second quarter,
37 and 21 in the second half.
Then the Eagles (14-3) held
when Atlanta (11-7) got to
the 9-yard line with a first
down, and to the 2 on fourth
down.
When Matt Ryan’s final
pass sailed over Julio Jones’
head in the end zone , Philly
could celebrate its first
playoff victory since the
2008 season.
JAGUARS
45,
STEELERS 42 — The
Jacksonville Jaguars, yes
those Jacksonville Jaguars,
are heading to the AFC
championship game.
Rookie running back
Leonard Fournette ran for
109 yards and three touch-
downs, Blake Bortles added
214 yards passing and a vital
fourth-quarter score as the
relentless Jaguars stunned
the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42
on Sunday.
The third-seeded Jaguars
(12-6) will face top-seeded
New England next week in
Foxborough, Massachusetts
after jumping on Pittsburgh
early, then holding on late.
Jacksonville raced to a
21-point lead, fended off a
Steelers rally and responded
every time Pittsburgh (13-4)
challenged.
Ben
Roethlisberger
threw for 469 yards and set
a franchise record with five
touchdown passes, but was
also intercepted once and had
a fumble returned for a score.
All-Pro Antonio Brown
caught seven passes for 132
yards and two touchdowns
in his return from a left calf
injury. Le’Veon Bell had 155
yards of total offense and
two scores.
But Pittsburgh’s vaunted
“Killer Bs” couldn’t keep
pace with Jacksonville, one
of four NFL franchises to
never make the Super Bowl.
Twice Pittsburgh had
fourth-and-1 in Jackson-
ville territory. Twice it did
something other than have
the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger
sneak. The Steelers ran wide
in the first quarter and Bell
was stuffed for a 4-yard
loss. The Jaguars responded
immediately by going 75
yards in 11 plays, the final
one a 4-yard sprint by T.J.
Yeldon that put them up
21-0.
The Steelers were down a
touchdown early in the fourth
quarter and had fourth-and-
inches at the Jacksonville 39.
Roethlisberger checked at
the line of scrimmage, faked
a handoff to Bell and instead
threw incomplete to diving
rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster.
PATRIOTS 35, TITANS
14 — Tom Brady passed for
three touchdowns and 337
yards, and New England
cruised past Tennessee 35-14
on Saturday night to advance
to their seventh consecutive
conference title game.
New England (14-3) will
host the winner of Sunday’s
divisional matchup between
Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.
It was Brady’s 10th career
postseason game with at least
three TD tosses, moving him
past Joe Montana for the
most in NFL history. James
White caught a touchdown
pass and ran for another, and
Danny Amendola had 11
catches for 112 yards.
New England’s victory
came on the heels of a week
filled with turmoil following
reports of discord involving
Brady, coach Bill Belichick
and team owner Robert
Kraft.
None of that showed on
the field Saturday.
“I’ve been around long
enough,” Brady said. “So, 18
years, there’s so many nice
things said about me. It just
goes with the territory.”
The Titans (10-8) took
an early 7-0 lead, but New
England scored 35 straight
points to take control.
Marcus
Mariota
completed 22 of 37 passes
for 254 yards and two touch-
downs, but was under duress
for most of the second half.
He was sacked eight times, a
Patriots playoff record.
New England also held
Derrick Henry to just 28
yards rushing on 12 carries.
The Titans came back
from an 18-point deficit in
the second half to beat the
Chiefs 22-21 in the wild-
card round last week — the
largest comeback on the road
in the Super Bowl era. But
the Patriots didn’t give them
a chance for an encore.
IONESCU: Averaging a stellar 19.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists per game this season
Continued from 1B
before they were ousted by
top-seeded UConn.
Ionescu, who was named
Pac-12 Freshman of the
Year, averaged 14.6 points,
6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists
last season. So far this season
she’s averaging 19.2 points,
7.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists.
But while all her offen-
sive numbers have gone up,
she says she’s been focusing
on defense.
“I think everyone has to
take and extra step in that
direction, defensively. I
think that’s what’s going to
separate us from being an
OK team from a great team,’
she said. Definitely it starts
individually, and I’ve really
tried to do that.”
Nationwide, she’s known
for those eight career
triple-doubles. Ionescu hit
the mark just 48 games into
her college career when she
had 24 points, 14 rebounds
and 10 assists against Pac-12
rival Washington on Dec.
31. She broke the previous
record held by both Penn
State’s Suzi McConnell
(1985-88) and St. Mary’s
Louella Tomlinson (2008-
11).
Ionescu was a standout
at Miramonte High School
in Orinda, California, where
she averaged 25.3 points, 8.8
assists, 7.6 rebounds and 4.5
steals and helped lead her
team to a 32-1 record her
senior season.
Considered one of the top
prospects in the nation, she
hung back while her peers
across the nation committed.
Signing day came and
went while Ionescu took a
thoughtful approach.
“I continued to wait and I
watched the Pac-12 and some
of the teams I was consid-
ering, what their coaches
were telling me and how it
was different or similar to
how they were performing.
And I just decided the day
before
summer
school
started that this was the right
fit for me, and it was,” she
said.
She announced her arrival
in Eugene with no fanfare.
She just showed up one day
and told coach Kelly Graves
she was in.
Graves joked that Ionescu
was like Lenny Dykstra,
the former Major League
Baseball player: “She sets
the table.”
“She’s smart, man, I’ll
tell you,” Graves said. “She
knows when we need her.
She knows what big games
are about. She always seems
to step up and play her best
in those moments.”
Ionescu — who says she
personally admires John
Stockton — is always quick
to point to her teammates,
including fellow sophomore
Ruthy Hebard, last season’s
top scorer, and fellow guard
Maite Cazorla.
Arizona State coach
Charli Turner Thorne called
the Ionescu and Cazorla
“arguably the best backcourt
in the country.”
Ionescu said she’s getting
a little more attention this
season from opposing teams,
especially in the Pac-12
play where teams are more
familiar with her, but she
appreciates the challenge.
“You really have to
adjust to what teams throw
at you, because they know
your plays, they know your
personnel. So I think that
makes it difficult. You have to
fight adversity in the Pac-12.
They might take away your
strength and you have to
play to your weaknesses
and perform every night or
you’re gonna get beat.
“That’s what I like
because it really tests me.
Players take away my shot,
or something, and I have to
figure out a different way to
score or help my team.”
SCOREBOARD
Local slate
PREP BOYS BASKETBALL
Tuesday
Baker at Pendleton, 7 p.m.
DeSales (WA) at Mac-Hi, 7 p.m.
La Grande at Hermiston, 7:30 p.m.
Stanfield at Riverside, 7:30 p.m.
Ione at Mitchell/Spray, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday
Heppner at Culver, 4:30 p.m.
Pendleton at Hood River, 7 p.m.
Friday
The Dalles at Hermiston, 7 p.m.
Pilot Rock at Weston-McEwen, 7 p.m.
Joseph at Nixyaawii, 7 p.m.
Nyssa at Umatilla, 7:30 p.m.
Vale at Riverside, 7:30 p.m.
Burns at Irrigon, 7:30 p.m.
Ione at Condon/Wheeler, 7:30 p.m.
Arlington at Mitchell/Spray, 7:30 p.m.
Echo at Cove, 7:30 p.m.
Pine Eagle at Helix, 7:30 p.m.
PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL
Tuesday
La Grande at Hermiston, 5:45 p.m.
DeSales (WA) at Mac-Hi, 6 p.m.
Stanfield at Riverside, 6 p.m.
Ione at Mitchell/Spray, 6 p.m.
Pendleton at Baker, 7 p.m.
Weston-McEwen at Waitsburg (WA), 7:30 p.m.
Thursday
Heppner at Culver, 6 p.m.
Hood River at Pendleton, 7 p.m.
Friday
Pine Eagle at Helix, 5 p.m.
Burns at Irrigon, 6 p.m.
Vale at Riverside, 6 p.m.
Nyssa at Umatilla, 6 p.m.
Ione at Condon/Wheeler, 6 p.m.
Arlington at Mitchell/Spray, 6 p.m.
Joseph at Nixyaawii, 6 p.m.
Echo at Cove, 6 p.m.
Hermiston at The Dalles, 7 p.m.
Pilot Rock at Weston-McEwen, 7:30 p.m.
PREP WRESTLING
Tuesday
Irrigon at Riverside
Wednesday
Pendleton at Hood River, TBD
Hermiston at The Dalles, TBD
Thursday
Mac-Hi at Baker, 5 p.m.
Friday
Heppner at Grant Union Tournament
Echo at Padilla Invite (ID)
Hermiston at Liberty Invitational
PREP SWIMMING
Saturday
Pendleton, Hermiston at Hood River
COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL
Friday
EOU at Corban, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday
BMCC at Walla Walla CC, 4 p.m.
EOU at Northwest Christian, 7:30 p.m.
COLLEGE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Friday
EOU at Corban, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday
BMCC at Walla Walla CC, 2 p.m.
COLLEGE WRESTLING
Saturday
EOU at. Warner Pacific/Embry-Riddle, 1 p.m.
Prep Standings
Through Jan. 14
PREP BOYS BASKETBALL
5A COLUMBIA RIVER CONFERENCE
Lg Ovr PF PA Rnk
Pendleton
0-0 7-6 682 668
1
The Dalles
0-0 7-6 782 772 20
Hood River
0-0 5-9 805 827 33
Hermiston
0-0 4-9 752 807 19
4A GREATER OREGON LEAGUE
Lg Ovr PF PA Rnk
La Grande
2-0 10-6 974 871
6
Baker
1-1 8-8 953 934 23
Ontario
1-1 6-10 796 884 18
Mac-Hi
0-2 10-6 761 714 26
3A EASTERN OREGON LEAGUE
Lg Ovr PF PA Rnk
Nyssa
2-0 10-4 722 711 13
Burns
2-0 9-6 792 743 24
Irrigon
2-1 13-2 941 657 18
Umatilla
1-1 13-4 1013 716 15
Riverside
0-2 7-8 692 728 26
Vale
0-3 4-11 634 741 33
2A COLUMBIA BASIN CONFERENCE
Lg Ovr PF PA Rnk
Heppner
2-0 7-6 665 686 13
Pilot Rock
1-0 10-6 925 768 11
Stanfield
1-1 8-9 810 984 17
Weston-McE.
0-1 5-11 810 907 26
Culver
0-2 4-14 773 979 40
1A BIG SKY CONFERENCE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
Sherman
4-0 12-1 862 541
2
Condon/Wheel. 4-1 10-5 966 823 13
Horizon Christ. 3-1 9-4 672 610 17
Arlington
2-2 6-7 682 660 25
Ione
1-2 3-10 568 754 48
Dufur
1-3 4-9 585 632 37
South Wasco
1-3 3-11 510 781 51
Mitch./Spray
0-4 2-10 401 697 59
1A OLD OREGON LEAGUE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
Nixyaawii
6-0 13-2 1090 685
8
Powder Valley
5-1 10-4 942 760 15
Joseph
4-2 8-4 672 538 22
Wallowa
3-3 8-7 678 699 41
Echo
3-3 6-11 838 940 36
Cove
3-3 5-10 680 802 39
Pine Eagle
0-6 3-10 406 698 50
Helix
0-6 1-15 492 869 63
PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL
5A COLUMBIA RIVER CONFERENCE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
Pendleton
0-0 8-5 656 669 12
Hood River
0-0 8-5 554 597 11
The Dalles
0-0 5-8 560 540 30
Hermiston
0-0 3-11 570 684 22
4A GREATER OREGON LEAGUE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
Baker
2-0 14-1 898 557
4
La Grande
2-0 7-8 705 693 24
Ontario
0-2 6-11 678 714 32
Mac-Hi
0-2 2-14 471 854 31
3A EASTERN OREGON LEAGUE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
Burns
2-0 10-5 703 573 14
Irrigon
2-1 13-2 754 497 16
Vale
2-1 5-9 492 598 11
Nyssa
1-1 7-7 600 532 10
Riverside
0-2 11-4 624 450 20
Umatilla
0-2 3-13 468 717 36
2A COLUMBIA BASIN CONFERENCE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
Culver
2-0 11-5 651 570 18
Weston-McE.
1-0 9-6 797 702 14
Heppner
1-1 9-4 665 558 21
Pilot Rock
0-1 10-6 699 565 16
Stanfield
0-2 2-13 496 777 33
1A BIG SKY LEAGUE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
South Wasco
4-0 11-3 692 483 10
Dufur
3-1 7-6 536 547 20
Horizon Christ. 3-1 6-7 518 511 30
Sherman
3-1 5-7 436 592 33
Condon/Wheel. 2-3 2-13 488 729 53
Ione
1-2 2-11 433 675 39
Mitch/Spray
0-4 5-7 286 492 54
Arlington
0-4 1-6 174 290 57
1A OLD OREGON LEAGUE
Lg Ovr PS PA Rnk
Nixyaawii
6-0 15-0 1121 418
3
Powder Valley
5-1 15-1 815 536
2
Joseph
5-1 11-2 668 412
4
Helix
3-3 9-7 684 669 17
Cove
2-4 6-9 513 593 28
Wallowa
2-4 4-11 604 719 41
Echo
1-5 6-11 684 769 36
Pine Eagle
0-6 2-11 306 592 52
Football
NFL
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sunday
Jacksonville at New England, Noon (CBS)
Minnesota at Philadelphia, 3:40 p.m. (FOX)
Basketball
NBA
EASTERN CONFERENCE
Atlantic Division
W
L
Boston
34 10
Toronto
29 13
Philadelphia
20 20
New York
20 24
Pct GB
.773 —
.690
4
.500 12
.455 14
Brooklyn
16 28 .364 18
Southeast Division
W
L Pct GB
Miami
25 18 .581 —
Washington
25 19 .568
½
Charlotte
17 25 .405 7½
Atlanta
12 31 .279 13
Orlando
12 31 .279 13
Central Division
W
L Pct GB
Cleveland
26 17 .604 —
Indiana
24 20 .545 2½
Milwaukee
23 20 .535
3
Detroit
22 20 .524 3½
Chicago
17 27 .386 9½
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Southwest Division
W
L Pct GB
Houston
30 11 .732 —
San Antonio
29 16 .644
3
New Orleans
22 20 .524 8½
Dallas
15 29 .341 16½
Memphis
14 28 .333 16½
Northwest Division
W
L Pct GB
Minnesota
29 16 .644 —
Oklahoma City
24 20 .545 4½
Portland
22 21 .512
6
Denver
22 21 .512
6
Utah
17 26 .395 11
Pacific Division
W
L Pct GB
Golden State
36
9 .800 —
L.A. Clippers
21 21 .500 13½
Phoenix
16 28 .364 19½
L.A. Lakers
15 28 .349 20
Sacramento
13 30 .302 22
———
Monday’s Games
Charlotte 118, Detroit 107
Philadelphia 117, Toronto 111
Milwaukee 104, Washington 95
Atlanta 102, San Antonio 99
New York 119, Brooklyn 104
Chicago 119, Miami 111
Memphis 123, L.A. Lakers 114
Oklahoma City 95, Sacramento 88
Golden State 118, Cleveland 108
Indiana 109, Utah 94
Houston at L.A. Clippers, late finish
Tuesday’s Games
Minnesota at Orlando, 4 p.m.
New Orleans at Boston, 4:30 p.m.
Dallas at Denver, 6 p.m.
Phoenix at Portland, 7 p.m.
NCAA Men’s Basketball
Top 25 Schedule
Monday
No. 5 Duke 83, No. 25 Miami 75
Boston College 81, Florida State 75
No. 10 Kansas 71, No. 6 West Virginia 66
Tuesday
No. 12 Cincinnati at UCF, 4 p.m. (CBSSN)
No. 20 Clemson at No. 15 North Carolina,
4 p.m.
Wisconsin at No. 3 Purdue, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 18 Kentucky at South Carolina, 6 p.m.
(ESPN)
No. 4 Oklahoma at Kansas State, 6 p.m.
(ESPNU)
NCAA Women’s Basketball
Top 25 Schedule
Monday
No. 1 UConn 75, No. 9 Texas 71
No. 25 Green Bay 60, IUPUI 34
Tuesday
Indiana at No. 14 Maryland, 4 p.m.
No. 19 Michigan at No. 8 Ohio St., 4 p.m.
No. 20 Iowa at Nebraska, 5 p.m.
Hockey
NHL
Monday’s Games
Dallas 3, Boston 2, OT
Colorado 3, Anaheim 1
San Jose 4, Los Angeles 1
N.Y. Islanders 5, Montreal 4, OT
Tuesday’s Games
St. Louis at Toronto, 4 p.m.
New Jersey at N.Y. Islanders, 4 p.m.
Philadelphia at N.Y. Rangers, 4 p.m.
Dallas at Detroit, 4:30 p.m.
Vegas at Nashville, 5 p.m.
San Jose at Arizona, 6 p.m.