FRISCO, Texas – After a pair of convincing top-tier wins last week, Lamar (15-6, 10-1 SLC) now holds sole possession of first place in the conference standings heading into tonight’s matchups. The Cardinals came out on top against Abilene Christian 77-71 last Wednesday before downing then-undefeated Stephen F. Austin 79-65 on Saturday.Lamar hosts Northwestern State (7-15, 2-9 SLC) tonight at 7 p.m. CT and squares off against Sam Houston State (4-16, 1-10 SLC) on the road Saturday at 3 p.m. Both matchups will broadcast on ESPN3.The Ladyjacks (17-4, 9-1 SLC) also have one loss with a game in hand behind Lamar. They host McNeese (10-11, 6-4 SLC) and Northwestern State this week.Central Arkansas (15-7, 8-3 SLC) and Abilene Christian (14-7, 8-3 SLC) are also in striking distance of the top two teams, both tied for third place in the Southland standings.The Sugar Bears are aiming to right the ship after dropping three of their last five matchups. They host Houston Baptist (6-14, 2-8 SLC) tonight at 7 p.m. in their lone game of the week.The Wildcats have also lost three of five and face Nicholls (9-12, 4-6 SLC) on the road tonight at 6 p.m. before hosting UIW (3-18, 2-8 SLC) on Saturday at 6 p.m. This Week’s Matchups Additional Storylines Cardinal Climb: After Lamar’s two wins to ascend to the top of the Southland leaderboard, the team also staked the highest RPI ranking of any Southland team at No. 103.Weekly Winners: Lamar has now won three straight Southland Conference Player of the Week awards with three different players, most recently with graduate post player Kiandra Bowers. The West Palm Beach, Fla., native registered back-to-back double doubles in last week’s pivotal wins over ACU and SFA.Wright Stuff: Abilene Christian sophomore Breanna Wright sank a career single-game high eight three-pointers in the Wildcats’ 77-71 loss to the Cardinals, including six in the first half.Lions’ Upset: Southeastern Louisiana took the two-time defending Southland champion Central Arkansas to double overtime, winning 78-70 last Saturday. It was the Lady Lions’ first win against the Sugar Bears since the 2012-13 season. Wednesday, Feb. 7 Abilene Christian at Nicholls* – 6 p.m.Houston Baptist at Central Arkansas* – 7 p.m.UIW at Southeastern La.* – 7 p.m.McNeese at Stephen F. Austin* (ESPN3) – 7 p.m.Northwestern State at Lamar* (ESPN3) – 7 p.m.Sam Houston State at A&M-Corpus Christi* – 7 p.m.Saturday, Feb. 10 Houston Baptist at Nicholls* – 1 p.m.Southeastern La. at McNeese* – 1 p.m.UIW at Abilene Christian* – 2 p.m.New Orleans at A&M-Corpus Christi* (ESPN3) – 2 p.m.Lamar at Sam Houston State* (ESPN3) – 3 p.m.Northwestern State at Stephen F. Austin* (ESPN3) – 3:30 p.m.* Southland Conference game
Houston Baptist at A&M-Corpus Christi – 5 p.m. Houston Baptist at A&M-Corpus Christi – 2:30 p.m. McNeese at Lamar – 4:30 p.m. (ESPN+) McNeese at Lamar – 2 p.m. (ESPN+) Saturday’s Men’s Games Women’s Games Southeastern Louisiana at Nicholls – 3:30 p.m. Southeastern Louisiana at Nicholls – 1 p.m. The settled women’s seeds: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi New OrleansIn the running for the eighth and final seed: Central Arkansas and Northwestern State The women’s teams that clinched a place in the eight-team field and will be battling for the Southland Conference Tournament championship and the accompanying automatic berth in the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament: Lamar, Stephen F. Austin, Nicholls, Abilene Christian, Sam Houston, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and New Orleans. Central Arkansas at Northwestern State – 3 p.m. Central Arkansas at Northwestern State – 1 p.m. Lamar and Stephen F. Austin will each receive a tournament double bye, with No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to be determined based on Saturday’s results. Nicholls is guaranteed a single bye and will either land in the No. 3 or No. 4 position, while Abilene Christian can land in either the No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5 position. Sam Houston State can either land in the No. 4 position or No. 5 position. Sam Houston at Stephen F. Austin – 4:30 p.m. (ESPN3) Sam Houston at Stephen F. Austin – 2 p.m. (ESPN3) Incarnate Word at Abilene Christian – 3:30 p.m. CT Incarnate Word at Abilene Christian – 1 p.m. CT Women’s Breakdown:For the women’s conference tournament, seven competing schools are known with seeding to be finalized based on the results of Saturday’s six games. FRISCO, Texas – Here are the remaining scenarios for for the 2019 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament:Men’s | Women’sThe documents outline the possibilities for both men’s and women’s competition heading into the final slate of conference games Saturday.The tournament, which features the top eight teams from the regular season in each bracket, commences Wednesday (March 13) in Katy, Texas, at the Leonard E. Merrell Center. This year’s tourney will mark the 12th consecutive year the Southland tournament is in Katy.Men’s Breakdown:On the men’s side, five schools have secured spots and three have cemented seeds for the tourney: Sam Houston State – 2018-19 Regular-Season Champion (outright) Abilene Christian Southeastern Louisiana (Seeds TBD) New Orleans LamarBy virtue of their regular-season records, the Bearkats and Wildcats receive double byes in the single-elimination tourney that will determine the Southland’s automatic qualifier for the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship field.Meanwhile, six schools are vying for the three remaining slots: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Houston Baptist, Stephen F. Austin, Central Arkansas, Nicholls, and Northwestern State. Idle: New Orleans Idle: New Orleans
FRISCO, Texas – Nicholls’ Loan-Anh Johnson is the Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league announced Monday.Johnson pushed the Colonels (4-11, 1-5 SLC) to a 1-1 week following an extremely efficient shooting performance that featured a 77.2-percent field goal mark for the sophomore. The Wichita, Kan., native averaged 21.5 points per game for Nicholls and converted all 17 of her field goals from inside the three-point arc.Basketball Player of the Week – Loan-Anh Johnson, Nicholls – So. – Guard – Wichita, Kan.Johnson put together a solid week, averaging 21.5 points on 77.2-percent shooting to go along with 6.5 rebounds in the Colonels’ two games last week. The sophomore began with six rebounds and a career-high 22 points Thursday evening against Lamar. She then followed up with 21 more points, seven rebounds and three assists in the Colonels’ 67-65 buzzer-beating victory over rival Southeastern Louisiana Saturday afternoon.Honorable Mention: Makayla Mabry, Abilene Christian; Angel Hastings, Lamar; Damilola Balogun, McNeese; Whitley Larry, New Orleans; Jaylonn Walker, Sam Houston State; Emma Coleman-O’Bryan, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.Southland weekly award winners are nominated and voted upon by each school’s sports information director. Voting for one’s own athlete is not permitted. To earn honorable mention, a student-athlete must appear on 25 percent of ballots.
JOCKEY QUOTESMARIO GUTIERREZ, LEMOONA, WINNER: “I think getting back on the grass helped her. Last time she was well back and made one run and that’s what Richard told me to do today. I was able to get her to relax and just kick at the end and she gave me a helluva kick.”TRAINER QUOTESRICHARD BALTAS, LAMOONA, WINNER, AND PANTSONFIRE, THIRD: “Getting back on the grass was good for her, but it was a slow pace. Pantsonfire was good but she was a little bit rank and I think it cost her. She hadn’t run for a while, but they both ran great races. I’m very happy with both horses.“A couple of races ago she was dead last, then she made this move, it was really surprising. We have been running her on the dirt and the turf. She has won on both surfaces, so we are just trying to figure out what she wants to do. I think she’s better on the grass, a one run type of filly. I saw Mirth who just kept kicking in and it was opening up because Pantsonfire was making a run at him and then Lemoona just kicked in and we got lucky.“She went a mile an eight pretty impressively so I think it’s probably more grass and more that she wants to be taken back.”NOTES: The winning owner is Ahmed Zayat.
CLUB BRUGGE are on the brink of completing the signing of Victor Wanyama for £12million.Tottenham have reportedly accepted a fee for the midfielder that is set to end his thee-year stint at the club.1 Victor Wanyama has seen his first-team opportunities limitedCredit: Getty – ContributorThe powerhouse midfielder has fallen down the pecking order at Spurs with new signing Tanguy Ndombele making a strong impression and Harry Winks starring.And Brugge boss Philippe Clement has admitted that the Kenyan, 28, is a cracking player.He said: “Of course, the Champions League can be a decisive element for every player during the final days of the transfer period, but it is not that they only come to Club Brugge for that.”He’s not the only guy we’re working on. Whether Wanyama is my favourite egg in the basket?”I know Wanyama fairly well and I don’t think he likes being compared to an egg.”We know his quality and mentality. Whether or not he comes is not only in his hands, but also in Tottenham’s hands.”Brugge have until September 2 to get the deal over the line, with Spurs reportedly wanting £11million.And Clement will hope not to have egg on his face after talking up the ace.THROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticREF RELEASEDChampions League ref Vincic released by cops after arrest in prostitution raidKEANE DEALEx Man United youth ace David Jones says Roy Keane negotiated a contract for himNICE RONCristiano Ronaldo goes on family bike ride with partner Georgina Rodriguez & kidsREF RAIDChampions League ref Vincic ‘arrested in raid into drugs and prostitution ring’Spurs have already offloaded Georges-Kevin Nkoudou after Turkish side Besiktas paid £4.6million to sign him permanently on Thursday.Nkoudou bid a fond farewell to Spurs with a statement on Twitter.He wrote: “It’s not time for me to leave this great club. Even though our story wasn’t one I hoped for, I still feel I learned a lot.”Arsenal manager Unai Emery says that Mesut Ozil is fit to face Tottenham
JOSE MOURINHO is looking to sign Leicester star Ricardo Pereira to replace Kieran Trippier, according to reports.The full-back fuelled speculation as he admitted the new Spurs boss is “one of the best coaches in the world”.2 Ricardo Pereira joined the Foxes from Porto for £22million last summerCredit: Getty – ContributorThe Express claim Mourinho could pursue the 23-year-old to fill the void left by Trippier – who joined Atletico Madrid for £20million in July.Pereira, who was heavily linked to Juventus in the summer, is delighted to see The Special One back in the Premier League.He told Portuguese publication Record: “He’s been missed. He’s one of the best coaches in the world.”It’s always good for us Portuguese people to get back to work here in England. He’s one of the big names in Portuguese football.”He’ll be able to show his value again, he’ll be back in the spotlight. It’s more of a challenge for him.”The league is very balanced. The points between 14th and fifth place is quite short. In addition, there’s a lot of competition still to come.”Therefore, he has more than enough time and conditions to succeed.”ACCA WITH LADBROKES Pick up a whole load of acca features to help you land the big oneMOST READ IN SPORT THROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battle’I ACCEPT’McGregor accepts Silva fight at UFC catchweight of 176lbs in huge super-fightTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramPicturedA CUT ABOVEMike Tyson shows two-inch cut ‘picked up in training’ ahead of boxing returnExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticIT’S…NOT TOMMY BOWETommy Bowe discovers someone has been impersonating him on TinderMAC DADDYTriple H wants McGregor v McMahon with winner getting rights to billionaire strutMourinho has already set his sights on a handful of players since he was appointed to replace Mauricio Pochettino earlier this week.He is keen to start his Spurs revolution by making a move for former Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.Nemanja Matic, Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandes have also emerged as targets.2Jose Mourinho asked Dele Alli ‘are you Dele or his brother-’ as he bids to get Spurs star firing again
MANCHESTER UNITED remain top of the Premier League’s annual turnover list despite not winning the title since 2013.Figures reveal the Red Devils raked in a whopping £581million – the most in 2017-18 – with lowly Sheffield United sitting bottom of the list after pulling in just £20m.1The Blades, along with Wolves, Norwich and Aston Villa who make up the bottom four, can be excused their feeble numbers as they were not in the Premier League at the time.But the Deloitte list shows the Old Trafford giants top by some distance, nearly £80m ahead of bitter rivals City in second whose income for the period was £503m.Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – in that order – make up the financial big six with revenues between £455m (Liverpool) and £379m (Spurs).MAN UTD NEWS LIVE: Follow for the latest United newsAnd then comes a significant drop.Everton, Newcastle, West Ham and Leicester make up the top ten but the Toffees at £189m in seventh pulled in nearly £200m less than Tottenham one spot above them.MOST READ IN FOOTBALLTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’ExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidNEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticREF RELEASEDChampions League ref Vincic released by cops after arrest in prostitution raidKEANE DEALEx Man United youth ace David Jones says Roy Keane negotiated a contract for himPremier League regulars Southampton, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Burnley, Bournemouth and Watford complete the contingent of teams who were in the league during the relevant period.With another drop again after 16th place Watford on £127m to Villa on just £69m – showing the financial power of England’s most prestigious league.In February, it was predicted Liverpool would knock United off their financial perch when figures for 2018-19 are released.Solskjaer asks Man Utd Wags to help train their other halves by whipping in crosses during coronavirus self-isolation
Kicking the game-winning field goal in a man-of-the-match performance to guide his side to a stirring 23-22 extra-time win without their Origin stars over a gutsy North Queensland Cowboys, there were no words for Croft and his parents to explain the moment either.In the sheds after the game, the three of them took turns tightly embracing each other in stunned silence as Croft enthusiastically nodded his head, as if he were saying ‘yes we did it, we made it and this is our moment to share’.Croft’s parents flew down from Queensland to cheer their son on proudly but only in their dreams could they have expected a fairytale finish that they will be boasting to friends and family when they return home.”Mum was stoked and seeing them off the field was one of the proudest moments of my career so far,” Croft said. “I was thinking the other day that it has been 364 days since my last NRL game. “It’s a fairly long time between drinks but I kept slogging away and the coaches gave me belief that my time would come and to be ready to put both feet forward. “When it went into golden point I though this is definitely that moment I’ve been practicing all week and it was my time to shine.”You visualise it, you dream about it and to go out there and put it into practice was an incredible experience.”What makes it all even more remarkable for the 19-year-old is the stunning resemblances to NRL superstar Cooper Cronk on and off the field.Despite a 14-year age gap, Cronk and his protégé are virtually doppelgangers. They share the same position and play the same style. They share a similar poise and maturity and even sound the same with deep insight and thoughtfulness. And for intrigued NSW fans, he is a Queenslander too.There’s little wonder Croft is known as Cronk’s clone in rugby league circles.”Early on I didn’t know how to take it as it’s a positive but you want to make a name for yourself,” Croft said.”It’s not a bad nickname to have, the boys give me a bit for it but that’s one of the prime reasons I came down to Melbourne in the first place, to learn off someone like that and certainly with how things have unfolded for next year I’m certainly pushing my case and doing what I can to build up to the player I want to be.”He is definitely my mentor and the main reason I came down here was to learn under him and hopefully one day possibly take his place.”In the meantime, I want to learn as much as I can from him as statistics show he got the golden boot last year and is the best player in the world. There is no better player to learn off both on and off the field.”He’s been great guidance to me.”Croft’s feats to date are impressive and why so many are excited by the blossoming youngster who captained the Junior Australia Kangaroos against New Zealand earlier this year. Before he was named in the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines Team of the Tournament, Croft moved through the Queensland ranks, representing the Maroons under-18s and -20s sides.Storm coach Craig Bellamy shared his excitement for Croft after the match for his game and hard work in his preparation.”We don’t just give a jersey to everyone, they’ve got to earn it,” Bellamy said.”After tonight Croft will be hungry to play a lot more I’d imagine.”He’s been playing Queensland-Cup, playing against men and handling it really well.”Croft’s field goal never looked like missing, he has been working hard on that at training all week.”There is one more trait that Croft’s parents hope their son continues with: that he decides against any impulses to get a tattoo, body piercing or other flamboyant item.”Mum wouldn’t approve of that so I’ll keep to the clean boy image,” he joked.But there’s definitely no joking Croft has serious game as he continues to follow in Cronk’s footsteps and is destined to make his own name.
Photo: PHOTOSPORTCrusaders first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga (right) tries to prevent James Lowe offloading during the Super Rugby semifinal at AMI Stadium. The Crusaders first five-eighth embarrassed the Chiefs winger when he dislodged the ball from his grasp in the 49th minute of the Super Rugby semifinal at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium, forcing it to ping into the hands of Israel Dagg and guaranteeing him one of the easiest tries of his career.Some commentators suggested Mo’unga, having failed in his first attempt to tackle Lowe a split-second earlier, had timed his second lunge to perfection because he instinctively knew his opponent was going to shape to kick off his powerful left foot.Not exactly, admits Mo’unga.”I just went to tackle him – I just hit the ball,” he said following the 27-13 victory. “Some of those moments went our way. Things could have been different if Tim (Chiefs wing Tim Nanai-Williams) had scored that try, it was a big momentum change.”Closely-fought matches are often decided by freak incidents.A horrified Lowe immediately launched a protest to referee Glen Jackson following the gaffe near his own line, but his argument was full of holes. He had simply been surprised by Mo’unga’s decision to attack his blind spot.It was a crucial moment in the game. Dagg’s five-pointer pushed the Crusaders out to a 15-6 lead, helping set-up the victory in front of a paltry crowd of around 13,000 fans.Earlier Nanai-Williams thought he had scored, only for TMO Glenn Newman and Jackson to rule he had lost possession as he slid across the line.Now Mo’unga is shaping for one of the biggest games of his career. Although he has won provincial titles with Canterbury, trying to stick it to the Lions at altitude in front of their own supporters at Ellis Park is in a different ball park altogether.The Lions impressed with the way they reversed a lacklustre start to beat the Hurricanes 44-29 at Ellis Park in their semi; they tapped into their forward drives to swing the momentum and were cunning enough to go wide and exploit the depleted defence when Beauden Barrett was controversially yellow carded.The Crusaders will have studied footage of the second semi while flying to Johannesburg, and the fact the Canes wilted so badly in the second 40 minutes emphasises how much the long flight from Down Under can affect players’ energy levels in such high-intensity fixtures.Mo’unga will again be loaded with the responsibility of kicking for field position, and varying the tactics will be vital if the Crusaders struggle as they did against the Chiefs; because too many kicks were simply gifts for fullback Damian McKenzie, whose running game was again a feature of the visitors’ game plan.”We sort of thought we could do what we did last week, and kick the ball and build pressure,” Mo’unga said in reference to the 17-0 win over the Highlanders in terrible weather in the quarterfinal.”What they (the Chiefs) did was hold on to the ball for long periods of time and we actually felt under pressure, defending for long periods. So, we changed that in the second half and held on to the ball a bit more.”Mo’unga wants to be a part of history. He could recall the evening when the Crusaders last won a title, beating the Waratahs 20-12 at Lancaster Park in 2008.”I was working for Vbase and got a photo with Dan Carter as he was walking out of the stadium. That was pretty special. It is pretty surreal to be in a good position to be in … to be able to make the final and give something back to the city is pretty important for me.”
Up-and-comer Brodie Croft looks set to beat a host of worthy candidates to the vacant No.7 jersey while returning fan favourite Ryan Hoffman looks a straight swap for Harris.NRL.com expert Jamie Soward says:”This could be the year we finally see someone go back-to-back. Everyone will talk about the change from Cooper Cronk to Brodie Croft but you’ve still got Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, around them guys like Will Chambers and Ryan Hoffman coming back, and they pick up a guy like Sam Kasiano. There’s no real weakness in this side.”The only change from week to week is around the bench if someone’s not performing. Croft will obviously have questions asked of his early on in the year but from everything we’ve seen of him he’s a Cooper Cronk clone. Melbourne are looking formidable heading into the 2018 season.”This year they handled the Origin period really well – can they handle that again? I know Slater isn’t playing but these young guys will be playing a full season this time, not just coming in for three or four games.”NRL.com’s predicted Round 1 team:1 Billy Slater, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Curtis Scott, 4 Will Chambers, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Brodie Croft, 8 Jesse Bromwich, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Tim Glasby, 11 Ryan Hoffman, 12 Felise Kaufusi, 13 Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 15 Kenny Bromwich, 16 Sam Kasiano, 17 Christian Welch. Reserves: 18 Joe Stimson, 19 Patrick Kaufusi, 20 Cheyse Blair, 21 Tui Kamikamica.