PRO BASKETBALL—With Rudy Tomjanovich scoring a total of 100 points, Houston won four straight to move ahead of Washington and take over first place in the Central Division for the first time since Jan. 28. Cleveland dropped two games and continues to lose ground about as fast as San Antonio makes it up. The Spurs stretched their winning streak to six as George Gervin scored 24 and 29 points in wins over Cleveland (106-100) and Phoenix (122-115). The Suns, playoff finalists last year, have lost 12 in a row and are mired in last in the Pacific, seven games behind fourth-place Seattle, which won three of four. Still without Bill Walton, Portland lost three times and fell four games behind division-leading Los Angeles. One of the Trail Blazer defeats was a 108-104 setback in New York in which the Knicks' Earl Monroe scored 24 points, plus two more for Portland. As time ran out, the Pearl shot a 10-foot jumper through the wrong hoop. Although the basket had no bearing on the outcome of the game, the NBA conducted an inquiry into the incident because the shot affected the point spread. Monroe subsequently was cleared of any wrongdoing. Denver's David Thompson outgunned Julius Erving 40-38, but Philadelphia prevailed 129-125 in double overtime.
BOWLING—Top-seeded DICK RITGER of River Falls, Wis., 38, won his 18th PBA title and $14,000, defeating Pete Couture 227-196 in the AMF Pro Classic in Garden City, N.Y.
BOXING—JOSE CUEVAS retained his WBA welterweight title, knocking out Miguel Campanino of Argentina in the second round in Mexico City.
DARTS—Thirty-eight-year-old Rick Wobensmith, of Pitman, N.J., won the ninth annual U.S. Open and $3,500 in New York.
March 21, 1977
GOLF—ANDY BEAN celebrated his 24th birthday by shooting a final-round 72 to win $40,000 and his first tournament, the Doral Eastern Open in Miami. Leading from start to finish, Bean triumphed with an 11-under-par 277, one stroke ahead of David Graham.
GYMNASTICS—Seventeen-year-old KATHY JOHNSON of Shreveport, La. and MITSUO TSUKAHARA, 29, the Japanese Olympic veteran, won the American Cup competition in New York.
HOCKEY—NHL: Off the ice, President Clarence Campbell announced the formation of a fact-finding committee to investigate the possibility of a merger with the WHA. On the ice, the 18 teams settled down to the hard jockeying for playoff positions. In the Adams Division, Buffalo is tied with Boston in the battle for first place—and the accompanying bye in the opening round of the playoffs—by sweeping three games, including a 3-1 triumph at Philadelphia. Toronto also won at Philadelphia, 4-2, then rescued a 2-2 tie with Montreal on Borje Salming's goal with 1:46 to play and routed Detroit 6-0 as Mike Palmateer posted his fourth shutout. Winless in two games, Montreal recovered quickly by pasting Colorado 7-1 and Chicago 5-1, as leading scorer Guy Lafleur picked up eight assists. Pittsburgh, 42 points behind the Canadiens in the Norris non-race, clinched a playoff spot by taking three games, its longest win streak of the season. Philadelphia remained four points ahead of the second-place Islanders in the Patrick, where the real playoff battle was the struggle for third place—and a Stanley Cup berth—between Atlanta and the New York Rangers. The Flames whipped the Rangers 6-3 in Atlanta to open a four-point lead, then extended it to six points by embarrassing the Rangers 5-3 the next night at Madison Square Garden. St. Louis seems assured of a playoff spot in the Smythe, but only 10 points separate second-place Chicago from last-place Colorado. The Black Hawks were fading fast, too, losing three games by a combined score of 17-2.
WHA: Winnipeg's Anders Hedberg scored two goals, raising his league-leading total to 57, as the Jets beat Calgary 4-1. Frank Hughes' third goal gave Phoenix a 7-6 overtime defeat of San Diego, the Mariners' 12th straight game without a victory. Western Division leader Houston downed Edmonton 5-3 and Cincinnati 5-0 to extend its home-ice winning streak to 17 games and its first-place lead to 12 points over Winnipeg. In the East, Quebec's Real Cloutier scored his seventh hat trick of the season as the Nordiques whipped Phoenix 9-2; Cloutier has 53 goals and 61 assists for 114 points, tops in the league. Cincinnati beat Edmonton 5-3 and Calgary 9-2 to remain four points ahead of Indianapolis in the battle for second place.
HORSE RACING—COINED SILVER ($14) and RUTHIE'S NATIVE ($6.80) won the 26th Florida Derby, run in two divisions for the first time. Coined Silver, Buck Thornburg up, took the first division of the 1‚⅛-mile test for 3-year-olds in 1:48⅘ and Ruthie's Native, with Craig Perret riding, was timed in 1:50[1/5].
With Jean Cruguet up, SEATTLE SLEW, last year's top 2-year-old, became an even hotter Kentucky Derby favorite after winning Hialeah's seven-furlong Flamingo Hopeful in a track record 1:20[3/5].
Tudor Tambourine ($52), Angelo Trosclair in the saddle, won the 1‚⅛-mile $110,000 New Orleans Handicap by two lengths over Inca Roca in 1:49[4/5].
MOTOR SPORTS—STEVE BAKER of Bellingham, Wash. won the rain-shortened Daytona 200 on a Yamaha 750 (page 26).
Richard Petty won the Carolina 500, setting a record for the slowest average speed in this event (97.86 mph). Petty finished eight seconds ahead of Darrell Waltrip and picked up $13,555.
TENNIS—The U.S. won the Aetna World Cup for the third time in eight tries, walloping Australia 7-0 in Hartford, Conn. (page 30).
Sue Barker won her second Virginia Slims tournament in a row and $20,000, beating Terry Holladay 6-1, 7-6 in Dallas.
TRACK & FIELD—WASHINGTON STATE edged UTEP 25½ to 25 to win the NCAA indoor championships in Detroit. Two meet records were set: Cougar Henry Rono's 8:24.83 in the two-mile, and the Miners' 9:43.11 in the distance medley.
MILEPOSTS—HIRED: WILLIS REED, 34, as coach of the New York Knicks, effective at the start of the 1977-78 season. In 10 years as the Knicks' center (1964-74), Reed averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. He was the NBA's MVP in 1970, and playoff MVP in the Knicks' championship years of 1970 and 1973. Reed replaces Red Holzman, who will retire as coach at the end of the season.
TRADED: New York Giant Quarterback CRAIG MORTON, 34, to the Denver Broncos for 28-year-old Quarterback STEVE RAMSEY.
DIED: BERNIE BIERMAN, 82, former University of Minnesota football coach; in Laguna Hills, Calif. Bierman led the Gophers to national titles in 1934-36, 1940-41 and his lifetime coaching record at Montana, Mississippi A&M, Tulane and Minnesota was 162-57-11.
DIED: EUGENE CRIQUI, 83, world featherweight boxing champion in 1923; in Paris, France. Criqui, who fought from 1910 to 1928, had a 94-13-8 record.