WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Pelicans edge Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks hobbled into the NBA All-Star break after losing at home to New Orleans last night, 102-to-98. The Bucks were leading by five when Pelicans' All-Star Anthony Davis sat out the final 10 minutes of the third quarter with foul trouble. But Milwaukee could not capitalize, as New Orleans scored 37 points in the third period to take a seven-point lead into the final quarter. The Bucks came back, but Ersan Ilyasova missed an easy dunk with just under two minutes to play. Milwaukee was down by two with 25 seconds left when teammates Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton collided and the Bucks lost the ball. Eric Gordon iced the win by hitting a pair of free throws with eight seconds remaining. Gordon had 21 points, and was one of seven Pelicans in double figures. Knight led Milwaukee with 22 points and nine assists. Ilyasova, who missed two games with back spasms, added 16. The Bucks enter the All-Star break at 9-and-43, and coach Larry Drew says he'll consider the final 30 games as a new season with a focus on the future. Bucks' rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo will be in two events during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans -- the Rising Stars' contest and the Skills Challenge. Milwaukee's next game is next Tuesday night at home against Orlando.
The Wisconsin women's basketball team shot 33-percent -- its second-lowest of the season -- in losing to Minnesota at home last night 63-to-50. The Badgers only scored five points in the first 13 minutes, and were down by nine at halftime. The Badgers had an 11-to-2 run midway through the second half to cut the margin to four, but the Gophers pulled away with a 10-2 run of their own. Wisconsin did not get within seven after that. Minnesota shot 49-percent, while out-rebounding the Badgers 38-29. Rachel Banahm scored 19 for the Gophers, who improved to 5-and-6 in the Big Ten and 16-and-9 overall. Taylor Wurtz was the only Badger in double figures with 15. She also had nine rebounds, as Wisconsin fell to 3-and-9 in the conference and 10-and-14 overall. The Badgers will play at Penn State on Sunday. Tonight, the Wisconsin men host the Gophers. The U-W Green Bay men play at Youngstown State. And the Parkside men-and-women are at Drury.
The U-S men's hockey team is making its Olympic debut this morning against Slovakia. The Americans are loaded with Wisconsin players, led by Madison area native and N-H-L All-Star Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Plover native and ex-Badger Joe Pavelski is also on the U-S squad -- along with Madison native Ryan Suter, former Badgers Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonough, and former Green Bay Gambler Blake Wheeler. Wauwatosa high school grad Sugar Todd returns to speed-skating competition in the women's one-thousand meters. Erika Brown of Madison and Debbie McCormick of Rio will try to give the U-S curling squad its first victory in five matches, when it plays Japan. U-W Oshkosh graduate Allison Pottinger is an alternate who has not seen any action yet. Brown's brother Craig has not played for the U-S men, either. His curling squad will play Great Britain and Germany in round-robin competition.
Jermichael Finley's agent says he's not sure yet whether the Green Bay Packers will want him back. The 26-year-old tight end is recovering from fusion surgery, after he suffered a spinal contusion on a hard hit after a catch last October 20th against Cleveland. His agent, Blake Baratz, said the doctor who performed the surgery told him there's a 99-point-nine percent chance the fusion will fully heal -- and he could be medically-cleared for football activities in the next 4-to-8 weeks. Free agency begins March 11th, and Baratz says he plans to talk to Packers' team officials to find out where Finley stands. Finley is dead set on returning to the game, even though some who've had the injury don't believe he can. Baratz says he expects a number of teams to be interested in Finley, who's been doing rehab and workouts for about six hours each day.
Milwaukee pitcher Donovan Hand has cleared waivers, and is being assigned outright to the Brewers' Triple-"A" club at Nashville. The 27-year-old Hand was designated-for-assignment last Friday, to create a roster spot for the return of free-agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez. The Brewers say they'll invite Hand to Spring Training as a non-roster player. The right-hander pitched in 31 games for Milwaukee last season, with seven starts. Hand went 1-and-5 with a three-point-six-nine E-R-A.
Milwaukee Admirals' forward Colton Sissons did not figure in the scoring last night, as the American Hockey League All-Stars beat the Swedish team of Farjestad B-K 7-to-2 in Saint John's Newfoundland. Sissions had a plus-one rating, although he did not take any shots and was not penalized. Rockford forward Brandon Pirri was the All-Star Game's M-V-P, with two goals and an assist. The Admirals will return to action tomorrow night at home against Iowa.