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Taurasi’s late steal, basket quiet Storm

Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi drives past Swin Cash for a basket. (Associated Press)
Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi drives past Swin Cash for a basket. (Associated Press)

WNBA: Diana Taurasi picked off an errant pass by Sue Bird and made a driving shot with 6.3 seconds left Tuesday to lift the Phoenix Mercury past the visiting Seattle Storm 81-79.

Swin Cash missed an 8-footer and Taurasi knocked the ball out with 0.1 seconds left to preserve the win, which snapped Phoenix’s nine-game losing streak to the Storm and completed the second-biggest comeback in franchise history.

The Mercury trailed by 18 in the first half, but Taurasi helped them chip away, and scored nine of her 24 points in the fourth quarter.

Bird had 23 points and eight assists for the Storm, which has lost four of five.

Sun blaze past Lynx: A sellout crowd came to see Maya Moore return to Connecticut.

Tina Charles stole the show.

She had 18 rebounds and scored 16 points to help the Connecticut Sun send the Minnesota Lynx to their most lopsided loss of the season, 108-79 at Uncasville, Conn.

It was the largest margin of defeat for the Lynx (18-6) this season, who own the WNBA’s best record with rookie Moore, who played at the University of Connecticut. Connecticut set a franchise record for regulation scoring.

Ex-Miami booster claims illegal gifts

College sports: Nevin Shapiro, a former Miami booster who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme, has told Yahoo! Sports he provided impermissible benefits to 72 of the university’s football players and other athletes between 2002 and 2010.

Shapiro said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a list of players including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor. Shapiro also claimed he paid for nightclub outings, sex parties, restaurant meals and in one case, an abortion for a woman impregnated by a player. One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college.

“Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami,” Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. “With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We’re talking about high school football players.”

Miami officials began cooperating with NCAA investigators not long after Shapiro made claims about his involvement with players last year. University president Donna Shalala and athletic director Shawn Eichorst were questioned by the NCAA this week.

Meanwhile, two first-year Alabama assistants have been accused by Shapiro of steering recruits to him.

Yahoo! quoted Shapiro as saying that Jeff Stoutland was among coaches who brought prospects to his home or luxury suite for recruiting pitches. The story also said Joe Pannunzio was involved, citing unnamed sources.

Stoutland is the Crimson Tide’s offensive line coach after holding that position at Miami from 2007-10. Pannunzio is director of football operations. He spent the previous five years as the Hurricanes’ tight ends coach/special teams coordinator.

An Alabama spokesman declined comment.

Friend says Rypien appeared happy

Hockey: Rick Rypien was scheduled to fly to Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Sunday night to have his knee checked out.

He left a message for a Jets official that morning asking whether there was ice he could skate on.

But he never boarded the flight.

Rypien had been dealing with depression for at least a decade, said Jets assistant general manager Craig Heisinger, who was the GM of the Manitoba Moose when Rypien played for the AHL team. The 27-year-old former Vancouver Canucks player was found dead in his Alberta home Monday.

Longtime friend and former teammate Jason Jaffray said Rypien, cousin of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, seemed happy in the days before his death and was eager to join a new team in Winnipeg.

Anderson runs top time in prelims

Track and field: Jeshua Anderson, who just completed his senior season at Washington State University, ran the fastest time among 33 competitors in the men’s 400-meter hurdles preliminaries today at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China.

Anderson finished in 49.78 seconds.

The semifinals are set for Thursday.