- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

COLLEGE

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The NCAA faces a decision about whether to call for next year’s women’s Final Four to find a new venue as pressure builds for repeal or revision of Indiana’s new religious objection law.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has indicated the Indianapolis-headquartered organization would consider relocating all types of college sports events out of state if the law doesn’t change. But none on the calendar is quite as urgent as next year’s women’s championship.

Indiana’s capital city, which has built an economy and reputation as an attractive base for major sports events, is being watched carefully as fallout swells about the law, which opponents say amounts to legalized discrimination. The NCAA was among the first sports organizations to express concern with the law when it was signed by Gov. Mike Pence last week, and many others have followed, including the NFL, the NBA and NASCAR.

The men’s Final Four is in Indianapolis this weekend and could not have been moved on short notice. But officials have made it clear there is enough time to consider relocating future events, and that they want an environment welcoming to all athletes and fans.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas athletic director Steve Patterson is scheduled to travel Thursday to meet with Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart to make an offer to coach the Longhorns, a person with knowledge of the trip told The Associated Press.

Texas hopes to introduce Smart as its new coach as early as Friday, according to the person who requested anonymity because the talks with Smart are considered private.

Patterson has zeroed in on Smart since firing Rick Barnes last weekend after 17 seasons. Smart, 37, has been among the hot candidates for several high-profile jobs since leading VCU to the 2011 Final Four.

Smart’s teams have won at least 26 games each of the past six seasons.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - The woman who said former Alabama football player Jonathan Taylor assaulted her has recanted the allegations and was arrested.

The 24-year-old woman, who has not been identified, was charged with False Reporting to Law Enforcement, Tuscaloosa police said Wednesday in a release. She was released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on bond.

The charges will be reviewed by the court system, said Lt. Kip Hart, assistant commander of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide unit, which oversees domestic violence cases.

Taylor was arrested on Saturday and coach Nick Saban dismissed the defensive lineman the following day. He was charged with domestic violence third-degree assault and domestic violence third-degree criminal mischief after the woman reported injuries to her neck and damage to her apartment. She had said a verbal argument allegedly turned physical.

GOLF

HOUSTON (AP) - Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, Texas-born golfers and Ryder Cup partners, are part of a strong field at the Shell Houston Open with one eye toward next week.

The 21-year-old Spieth and 24-year-old Reed have combined for eight wins around the world in the past three years. That doesn’t include a major just yet, though they figure to have a reasonable chance at Augusta National next week.

Both are in good form.

Three weeks ago, Spieth and Reed were part of a three-man playoff in the Valspar Championship that showed plenty of grit, clutch short-game shots and a determination not to lose until Spieth wound up winning with a 30-foot birdie putt.

Spieth is coming off a runner-up finish in the Valero Texas Open that moved the Dallas native to No. 4 in the world.

When asked Wednesday how he felt he was playing, Spieth said, “Like a top-five player in the world.”

That phrase is often associated with Reed, who proclaimed himself just that when he won a World Golf Championship at Doral in 2014. Reed is No. 15 in the world and doesn’t back down.

BASEBALL

BOSTON (AP) - Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

The Red Sox said Dr. James Andrews will operate Thursday in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

Vazquez had been expected to do much of the catching for the Red Sox this season. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list on Monday, when the Red Sox acquired Sandy Leon from the Washington Nationals.

Vazquez hit .240 with nine doubles, one homer and 20 RBIs in 55 games for Boston last season.

NHL

WASHINGTON (AP) - Alex Ovechkin is 29, and his hair is flecked with gray nowadays. His coaches and linemates keep changing, as have the ways opponents try to stop him.

After 10 years in the NHL, one thing that stays the same about the guy known as Alex the Great: He can get the puck in the net.

Putting his name in the company of such past hockey superstars as Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux, Ovechkin is now one of only six players with at least a half-dozen 50-goal seasons. The Russian wing reached that milestone for the sixth time Tuesday night by scoring in the first period of the Washington Capitals’ 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

“We’re sort of immune to it now, really,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green said with a chuckle. “We don’t expect it, but it’s amazing how he does it every year. It’s one of the most difficult things to do, and he seems to find a way to accomplish that, season after season.”

TENNIS

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) - Serena Williams abused her racket, scolded herself and even made angry faces at the sun.

In the end, as usual, she took out her frustration on the ball.

The seven-time Key Biscayne champion overcame her annoyance and shaky play Wednesday for her 700th career victory, beating Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open.

Williams won despite an unreliable serve, a poor second set and 51 unforced errors. She looked flatfooted and listless at times, and seemed especially vexed when playing on the side looking into the sun.

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