BASKETBALL

Jaysean Paige scored 31 points, including nine straight during a second-quarter surge that propelled the Maine Celtics to their sixth consecutive win Thursday night – 129-103 over Raptors 905 in Mississauga, Ontario.

Maine fell behind 21-9 in the first quarter but cut the deficit to 28-25 by the end of the quarter, then outscored the Raptors 39-25 in the second quarter.

Brodric Thomas added 22 points, Chris Clemons had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Luke Kornet finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

WNBA: WNBA teams will play a record 36 games in the regular season next year.

The season will tip-off May 6 and all 12 teams will play over the opening weekend. The season will end on Aug. 14, followed by the postseason, using a new format that will have the top eight teams seeded one through eight. All 12 teams will play on the regular season’s final day.

SOCCER

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Villarreal secured the final place in the last 16 by holding on for a 3-2 win at Atalanta in a game in Bergamo, Italy, that was postponed a day earlier because of snowfall.

The Spanish side only needed a draw to advance as runner-up from Group F but jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the 51st minute before holding off Atalanta’s comeback attempt.

Atalanta finished third in the group and will enter a playoff to get into the last 16 of the second-tier Europa League, the competition Villarreal won last season.

EUROPA LEAGUE: Leicester was eliminated from the competition with a 3-2 loss at Napoli, which allowed Spartak Moscow to secure the top spot in Group C with a 1-0 away victory at Legia Warsaw.

Also, Eintracht Frankfurt, Galatasaray and Red Star Belgrade made the next round, while Bayer Leverkusen, Lyon, Monaco and West Ham had already qualified with a game to spare.

Only the eight group winners go straight into the round of 16. The runners-up enter a playoff with the eight third-place teams from Champions League groups.

PREMIER LEAGUE: This weekend’s game between Brighton and Tottenham has been postponed because of an outbreak of COVID-19 among Tottenham’s players and staff.

Tottenham’s Europa Conference League game against Rennes had already postponed. Tottenham’s training ground has been closed and Manager Antonio Conte said Wednesday that eight players and five members of staff have tested positive for the coronavirus.

AUTO RACING

XFINITY: NASCAR veteran Landon Cassill will drive for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2022 and is bringing sponsor Voyager Digital with him, which will again pay him entirely in cryptocurrency.

Cassill, who has been avid in the market for several years, pitched NASCAR sponsorship to Voyager CEO Steve Ehrlich when the two met at a crypto conference two years ago and it led to a 19-race deal this past season. It made Cassill the first NASCAR driver to be paid entirely in crypto.

Voyager announced a two-year sponsorship extension with Cassill, who is taking the funding to championship-contending Kaulig to drive the No. 10 Chevrolet. Cassill, who has raced in 510 events across NASCAR’s three national series since 2007, will be teammates with AJ Allmendinger and Daniel Hemric.

TENNIS

FRENCH OPEN: Two-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo was appointed as tournament director of the French Open, replacing Guy Forget and becoming the first woman to hold the position. Forget, whose contract was to expire at the end of the year, resigned this week, citing communication issues with new French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton.

The 42-year-old Mauresmo, who was inspired to play tennis after watching Yannick Noah win the 1983 French Open, became the first player from France – male or female – to reach No. 1 in the modern era, on Sept. 13, 2004. She was No. 1 for 39 weeks.

“This tournament has made me dream since my early days, has created a vocation in me,” Maursemo told a press conference on Thursday. But she was never able to emulate Noah’s feat of winning on the clay at Roland Garros, failing to go beyond the quarterfinals at the Grand Slam tournament in Paris, where she struggled to withstand the pressure in front of her home crowd.

Mauresmo, whose backhand delighted tennis aficionados around the world, also won the Fed Cup with France in 2003 and the WTA Tour championship in 2005. She won the Olympic silver medal in Athens in 2004.

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