URI loses in overtime in N.I.T. semis

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URI loses in overtime in N.I.T. semis

Associated PressNEW YORK -- North Carolina wrappedup last season by cutting down the nets during a championshipcelebration, and the goal all along has been to do it again this year.
Box score
The Tar Heels will have their chance Thursday night, under much different circumstances.Deon Thompson had 16 points and 13rebounds, helping North Carolina survive a frantic final few secondsand defeat Rhode Island 68-67 in overtime Thursday night in the NITsemifinals.Will Graves added 14 points and TylerZeller had 13 for the Tar Heels (20-16), who will try to makebittersweet history against Dayton by becoming the first school tofollow a national title with an NIT championship at Madison SquareGarden."We enjoyed playing the last Mondaynight last year, and you know, we play the last Thursday night thisyear," coach Roy Williams said. "Playing the last Monday night isbetter, there's no question about that. But I do believe that if you'replaying - if they keep playing until there's only one team standing -it's very important to be that one team."The Tar Heels have played with asense of desperation during the NIT, almost as if they have a chip ontheir shoulder, and that was borne out when they scored the final fivepoints of regulation to force overtime.In the extra session, North Carolinahad possession with about 5 seconds left and the shot clock about toexpire when Larry Drew II forced up a shot. The rebound eventuallywound up in the hands of Rhode Island's Lamonte Ulmer, who lost controlof the ball as he rushed up court moments before the buzzer sounded,never coming close to getting off a shot.Rhode Island coach Jim Baron thoughthe had been tripped and a foul should have been called, an opinion thatNorth Carolina coach Roy Williams readily supported."We got the rebound and we wereaiming to push it down the other end," Baron said. "I thought there wassome contact and he tripped."Ulmer finished with 18 points and 10rebounds for Rhode Island (26-10), which was trying to reach the NITchampionship game for the first time since the 1945-46 season. KeithCothran scored 23 points and Delroy James finished with 13."Those guys played with a tremendousamount of heart," Baron said. "That's why I told them how proud I was,they put it all out there."The final seconds of overtime mirrored a frenetic end to regulation.The game was tied 59-all when Jamesmissed two free throws with 28.6 seconds left. North Carolina trackeddown the rebound and, after a timeout, Drew allowed the shot clock torun down to 6 seconds before taking a closely guarded 3-pointer thatnever had a chance."One of the players said in the locker room, 'Sometimes it helps to win ugly,' " Williams said, "and we did win ugly today."Defense played a big part in it.The Tar Heels ended up with 27offensive rebounds and 60 total, compared to 45 for the Rams. RhodeIsland also turned the ball over 18 times, including that criticalmiscue with the seconds ticking down in overtime."We didn't execute very well and youhate to end the game like that in such an ugly way," Drew said, "butsometimes that's how it is in the game of basketball."It sure was a strange sight to seeNorth Carolina, the bluest of the bluebloods, playing on a Tuesdaynight at Madison Square Garden - especially when the most importantgames are being played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.Injuries and inexperienced combinedto send the Tar Heels' season spiraling out of control, and they didn'trecover until their chances of making the NCAA tournament - anddefending the title they earned by beating Michigan State last March -had disappeared entirely.Relegated to playing in a tournamentfor also-rans, the Tar Heels went on the road to defeat MississippiState and Alabama-Birmingham before knocking off a Rhode Island teamthat had the best RPI of any program that failed to make the NCAAtournament.The season still ended up being asuccess for Rhode Island, which could have matched the school recordfor wins in a season had it won the NIT championship.The Rams' faithful certainly turnedout in droves for the semifinals, easily outnumbering the Tar Heelsfans clad in baby blue. They kept cheering until the final turnover inovertime, imploring a veteran team for one more night in the spotlight.Instead, it will be North Carolina playing for yet another championship.Even if it's not what anybody expected."You know, I have a greatappreciation of this tournament, I have a great appreciation of thetradition, the history of the NIT," Williams said. "If you win thistournament, you have to feel good about it."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

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Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats. 

As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions. 

The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around. 

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“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”

In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game. 

If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone. 

Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016. 

With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1. 

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