Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, March 30, 2003

Bennett is new Washington State men's coach

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Dick Bennett was hired as Washington State's men's basketball coach on Saturday.

Bennett, 59, succeeds Paul Graham, who was fired this month after four losing seasons. Bennett's 25-year collegiate career is notable for turning around three Wisconsin teams, culminating in an NCAA Final Four appearance by the Badgers in 2000.

He has a career record of 453-258 with Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin.

Bennett said he is returning to coaching because he missed the game and the interaction with players, both in winning and losing.

''Of course, I'd like to die an old man, but I pray I die a passionate old man,'' he said. ''I was starting to worry because I was beginning to enjoy golf on television.''

Nemechek wins caution-filled Busch race at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Joe Nemechek won his second Busch Series race of the season Saturday, fittingly crossing the finish line under caution in an event marred by two red flags and eight other caution periods at Texas Motor Speedway.

Nemechek was in front on the restart on the 196th of 200 laps in the O'Reilly 300 after the second red flag, brought out by a chain-reaction accident that involved 15 cars and caused a 22-minute stoppage.

On the second lap after the restart, Hermie Sadler spun and hit the wall after being bumped from behind by Regan Smith. That brought out the final caution and Nemechek's Chevrolet beat Scott Riggs' Ford to the line.

''It was definitely a wild finish,'' said Nemechek, who had to start from the back in just his third Busch race of the season and led only the last eight laps. ''You have to have luck on your side. We dodged the big one.''

Rahman, Tua fight to draw; Hopkins stops Hakkar

PHILADELPHIA -- Former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman fought David Tua to a draw in an IBF elimination bout Saturday night.

Rahman, who's winless since he shocked WBC champion Lennox Lewis nearly two years ago, effectively neutralized Tua's knockout power for most of the night and recovered quickly when he did get tagged.

But Rahman was unable to do any damage himself, although he bloodied Tua's nose early on. That left the judges to decide who won, but they couldn't.

Judge Bill Clancy had it 116-112 for Rahman, while Bob Grasso had it 116-112 for Tua and George Hill had it 114-114. Rahman won 116-112 on The AP's card.

In the main event, held after Tua-Rahman, undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins stopped European champion Morrade Hakkar after eight rounds of a scheduled 12-rounder.

Hopkins, defending his title for the 16th time, spent the first couple of rounds chasing the Frenchman. In the first, Hakkar (29-4) circled the ring and Hopkins pursued him, leaving referee Frank Cappuccino to stand in the center of the ring, hands clasped, looking amused as he watched the chase.

Hakkar eventually began fighting, but he couldn't compete with Hopkins (42-2-1), who overpowered him with punches from all angles. Hopkins hit him so hard with a right in the sixth that Hakkar went down to one knee to stop the beating, standing up when Cappuccino reached an eight count.

But Cappuccino stopped the fight after the eighth round, on the request of Hakkar's corner.

''I was a little rusty,'' Hopkins said afterward. ''I carried him. I needed the rounds. I got rounds and I didn't get cut.''

Hopkins said he wants to drop down in weight to fight Fernando Vargas or Oscar De La Hoya, if possible.

Rahman, meanwhile, who lost a disputed fight to Tua five years ago after a late hit by Tua, said he got robbed again.

''It's the same old stuff,'' he said. ''I can't beat this David Tua. I beat him twice and I don't have a win on my record. I'm speechless.''

Tua (42-3-1) fought his customary fight, peppering Rahman (35-4-1) with jabs and trying to set him up for a knockout. He landed a few hard shots to Rahman's head, but Rahman managed to get out of trouble every time.

In the seventh round, Tua staggered Rahman with an overhand right to the head that prompted Rahman to step back and gather himself. Tua backed him into the ropes and unloaded four more punches, but Rahman blocked the hardest ones and got away unscathed.

''I just waited too much,'' Tua said. ''I was looking to counterpunch. I was working on setting it up. I hit him with everything I had. I think maybe I was admiring my work too much.''

Usually, Tua's haymakers end fights. Last August, he finished off former champion Michael Moorer in 30 seconds. But Rahman, fighting at a career-high 259 1/2 pounds, used his 13-inch reach advantage to keep Tua at bay.

Rahman said he was confident he could go the distance with Tua if he could avoid the Samoan's powerful left.

''I twisted my ankle this summer playing softball, and I blew up,'' Rahman said. ''My body fat was down. I knew I could go 12 rounds.''

Tua thought he won, but he immediately talked about a rematch.

''It was a close fight. I thought I landed the bigger and harder punches. I thought I did enough to win. Let's do it again,'' he said.



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