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Mystics ease past Sparks 96-64 to reach semifinals

Mystics ease past Sparks 96-64 to reach semifinals

WASHINGTON -- Elena Delle Donne had 19 points and 12 rebounds to help the Washington Mystics rout the Los Angeles Sparks 96-64 on Thursday night in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.

Los Angeles and Minnesota -- the past three WNBA champions -- have both been eliminated from the postseason.

Washington (23-12) will open a best-of-five series against Atlanta on Sunday, aiming for its first WNBA Finals appearance.

LaToya Sanders and Ariel Atkins each scored 14 points for No. 3 seed Washington. The Mystics had 28 assists on 37 field goals, leading to six players in double-figure scoring.

Delle Donne made a baseline jumper to close a 15-2 run for a 21-13 lead and the Mystics extended it to 27-16 at the end of the first quarter. It was 50-29 at halftime and 75-46 entering the fourth.

It was a tough travel stretch for Los Angeles to end the year. The Sparks closed the regular season at Connecticut, hosted defending champion Minnesota two nights later and returned to the East Coast in a four-day stretch.

Candace Parker scored 16 points for Los Angeles (19-16). Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray -- part of the Sparks' top-three scorers -- combined for 0-of-9 shooting in the first half.

The game was played at George Washington University's Charles E. Smith Center because the Mystics' regular home, Capital One Arena, is undergoing renovations.

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2.28.20 Rick Horrow sits down with MiLB owner Josh Solomon

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USA TODAY Sports

2.28.20 Rick Horrow sits down with MiLB owner Josh Solomon

Edited by Tanner Simkins

In the latest edition of Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast, Rick Horrow sits down with MiLB owner Josh Solomon and takes you through the top sports business stories of the past week.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

As the NFL Combine gets underway, the NFL Playoffs might get wilder. The NFL and NFLPA are working on an agreement to add one regular game to the NFL season and restructure the postseason to add a seventh team from each conference for a total of 14, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. If finalized as part of the NFL's new CBA, this format change, which would also eliminate one preseason game, would mark the first playoff expansion since 1990, when the league went from 10 teams to 12. The proposal would eliminate the first-round bye for the No. 2 seeds, so the playoff structure would look like this: six wild-card games (up from four), four divisional-round games, two conference championships, and the Super Bowl. Six wild-card games would see the NFL dominating an entire weekend as college basketball does during March Madness, and college football and the NFL combine to do throughout the fall. Last Friday, NFL player reps chose not to vote on a new labor deal approved by the owners. The current CBA expires after the 2020 season, which officially begins March 18. Objections to an expanded regular season are considered the main stumbling block for player approval.

HSBC World Rugby Sevens LA leads off with SportBusiness 50 symposium and luncheon. This weekend, the HSBC Rugby Sevens World Championships return to Los Angeles and Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. But before the action on the pitch kicks off in earnest, World Rugby and local Southern California sports business dignitaries will come together for SportBusiness 50 Los Angeles: Lessons and Leadership from Legends of the Game. Los Angeles is the epicenter of sports innovation, technology, and globalization, providing the newest in entertainment via the $6 billion SoFi Stadium; mega-events like Super Bowl, Final Four, college football National Championship, mega-regional and amateur events, and 2028 Olympics. Accordingly, joining moderator Rick Horrow at the Friday lunchtime event are FOX Sports RSN General Manager and LA84 board member Lindsay Amstutz, Olympic gold medal rugby coach Ben Ryan, Irish national rugby team captain Bryan Driscoll, and SoFi Stadium lead architect Mark Williams of HKS. You might know Dignity Health Sports Park as the home of the MLS Los Angeles Galaxy and the temporary home of the Los Angeles Chargers. After this weekend, with over 40 international games providing more than eight hours of play each day, along with global entertainment and cultural programming, you’ll know it for rugby.

 

World TeamTennis locked in sponsorship agreements for its inaugural All-Star Weekend February 29-March 1. Deals include a presenting sponsorship from Barefoot Hard Seltzer, the official hard seltzer of WTT. Additional sponsors include official jewelry partner John Hardy, along with partnership agreements with Tennis Clash, Har-Tru Sports Coatings, and PIVOT tennis. “It is a testament to the continued growth of World TeamTennis and the high-level of players committed to compete in our inaugural All-Star match on CBS, that we’ve been able to accrue such a terrific lineup on sponsors, including presenting sponsor Barefoot Hard Seltzer, for this sold-out event,” said WTT CEO and President Carlos Silva. Held at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA, the summer home of the WTT San Diego Aviators, the World Team Tennis All-Star Weekend includes a Saturday night players party and Sunday morning clinics with the pros. Sunday afternoon matches showcase WTA and ATP stars such as the Bryan Brothers, Madison Keys, Sam Querrey, CoCo Vandeweghe, Ryan Harrison, Taylor Townsend, Taylor Fritz, and tennis legend Rod Laver.

Honda Classic kicks off with a huge party, celebrating philanthropy and PGA stars. The biggest golf party of the year in South Florida kicked off last Thursday night with an actual big party. We are just days away from the Honda Classic, with the biggest names in golf teeing off at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. "Florida's always been in my mind the kick-off to golf," Honda Classic Executive Director Ken Kennerly told WPEC CBS 12. "And to lead the Florida swing like we do, it's terrific." With the Honda Classic being awarded the PGA’s Fan First award this past offseason, it’s fitting that the community surrounding PGA National gathered for a pre-party, celebrating the great golf community, and the millions of dollars Honda Classic Cares has raised for South Florida children's charities. "It's all about giving back," said Kennerly. "And we take care of 150 children's charities each and every year. For us, it's a special time of the year. But what's more important to us is how this community rallies around us each and every year."

 

5 things to know about Katie Ledecky before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

5 things to know about Katie Ledecky before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Katie Ledecky established herself as the new face of USA Swimming at 18 years old. 

Now she's back following a successful college career at Stanford and is poised to dominate another Olympic games this summer in Tokyo, Japan. 

In preparation for the games, here are five things you'll want to know about the Washington, D.C. native before she starts lapping her competitors in the pool. 

The youngest US Olympian at the 2012 games

While she dominated in 2016, Ledecky first broke out in 2012 at the London Games. She qualified as a 15-year-old and was the youngest American participant in London that year. 

As if making it to the Olympics at 15 wasn't impressive enough, Ledecky shocked the world when she won the 800m freestyle by more than four seconds and broke Janet Evans' American record set in 1989. 

The performance earned herself the 2012 Best Female Performance of the Year and Breakout Performance of the Year at the Golden Goggle Awards. 

DMV roots

Ledecky was born in Washington, D.C. in March of 1997 and attended school in Bethesda, MD. She graduated from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in 2015 and twice set the American and US Open record in the 500-yard freestyle and set the national high school record in the 200-yard freestyle twice as well. 

Oh, and she grew up a huge Capitals fan.

Ledecky has a "slam" named after her

From 2014 to 2015, Ledecky established herself as the best women's swimmer in the world. In back-to-back years, she swept the 200, 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2014 and the 2015 World Championships. 

Sweeping all four events is now called the "Ledecky Slam." Ledecky wasn't able to complete her slam in the 2016 games, but that's only because the 1500m freestyle wasn't on the docket.

The Tokyo games have added the event, so Ledecky can officially go for her patented slam on the biggest stage. 

2016 dominance

When the 2016 Olympics rolled around, Ledecky was poised to take home multiple gold medals. 

She swept every individual competition she was in, claiming gold in the 200, 400 and 800m freestyle. She also set world records in the 400 and 800m. 

In the team events, Ledecky came away with a gold medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay and a silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay despite setting a new American record. 

Events Ledecky will compete in this summer

As we've stated before, the 1500m meter freestyle is a new addition at this year's Olympic games, and Ledecky plans to swim in it. She'll also compete in the three other freestyle events included in the Ledecky Slam. 

She will also compete in the freestyle relays for the U.S.

Women's swimming events will begin on July 25 in Tokyo and will run through August 5. 

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT US OLYMPIC WRESTLER KYLE SNYDER.