Defending NCAA champion Baylor is ranked at the top of the preseason women's basketball poll by The Associated Press for the second consecutive year.

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College basketball

Baylor women rule

AP preseason poll

Center Brittney Griner and Baylor are picking up where they finished last season — at No. 1.

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The Bears are ranked at the top of the preseason women’s basketball poll by The Associated Press for the second consecutive year. Baylor had the No. 1 spot for the entire season en route to its second national championship and a 40-0 record.

“It’s a humbling honor, which we’ll embrace. But it’s just that, an honor,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “It doesn’t win basketball games. Our goal every year is to win championships.”

Baylor, led by the 6-foot-8 Griner, received all 40 first-place votes Saturday from a national media panel.

Connecticut is second in the poll, Duke is third and Stanford is fourth.

Stanford and No. 13 California are the lone Pac-12 teams in the Top 25.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma has expressed a lot of optimism about his team that has lost in the Final Four the last two years. He is telling anyone who will listen his team is “really, really, really good,” and said he believes the Huskies can win the title.

“If everyone expected us to go to the Final Four and contend for a national championship without Maya Moore, isn’t the expectation level this year to go undefeated and win every game by 100?” Auriemma said, joking, recently. “So, I might as well say, ‘Yeah, that’s what we’re going to do.’ “


Williams, Sharapova

advance to final

American Serena Williams, who won all three of her round-robin matches at the season-ending WTA Championships in straight sets, powered past Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals in Istanbul, Turkey.

The third-seeded Williams will play second-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia in Sunday’s final.

Sharapova, who also finished 3-0 in round-robin play, defeated top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 6-2 in the second semifinal match.

Figure skating

Osmond, Fernandez

win at Skate Canada

Kaetlyn Osmond, a 16-year-old from Newfoundland, won Skate Canada International in Windsor, Ontario, in her first Grand Prix appearance.

“Not used to it,” Osmond said of being in the spotlight. “But definitely could get used to it.”

Javier Fernandez of Spain won the men’s title, beating two-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada.

Osmond had 176.45 points, compared with 175.16 for runner-up Akiko Suzuki of Japan.

Fernandez had 253.94 points, compared with 243.43 for Chan.


Maze takes Cup opener

Tina Maze of Slovenia lived up to her ambition to become American Lindsey Vonn’s main challenger for the women’s overall World Cup title by convincingly winning the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.

Maze was the runner-up to Vonn in the overall standings last year, but trailed her by 578 points.

Maze had a two-run time of 2 minutes, 31.41 seconds for her 12th career Cup victory.

“In the second run, I was fighting like everybody else as the conditions were not easy,” said Maze, referring to thick fog over the course that forced organizers to delay the start by an hour.

When the final leg started, snow fell and made visibility worse.

Vonn, a four-time overall champion, went out in the second run after hooking a gate with her left arm and sliding off the course.

“That was definitely not the game plan,” she said.


Denny Hamlin won the Kroger 200, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Martinsville, Va.

James Buescher, who started the day a point behind series leader Ty Dillon, moved into the lead with three races left this season. Buescher finished sixth and has 21 points more than Dillon, who cut a tire with 48 laps to go and was 28th of 36.

• Italian Bruno Grandi, 78, was elected to his fifth, four-year term as president of the International Gymnastics Federation.

USA Gymnastics chairman Peter Vidmar, 51, won a seat on the executive committee, FIG’s decision-making body.

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