Tennis: Li Na used the heat to her advantage and worked No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova around Rod Laver Arena in a 6-2, 6-2 win on Thursday at Melbourne, Australia, that put her in the Australian Open final for the second time in three years.
Sharpova was the heavy favorite after conceding only nine games in her first five matches, a record at the Australian Open since it expanded to a 128-player draw in 1988.
But the semifinal started badly for the 25-year-old Russian, serving double-faults to lose the first two points and conceding a break in the first game.
Li had the backing of the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, where dozens of red-and-white Chinese flags swirled in a light breeze, and where the temperature topped 93 degrees during the first of the semifinals.
She will now play top-ranked Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion, who defeated 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4.
La Salle beats Butler on buzzer-beater
College men: Ramon Galloway went the length of the court for the winning basket with 2.7 seconds left to send La Salle (13-5, 3-2 Atlantic 10) to a 54-53 victory over No. 9 Butler (16-3, 3-1) at Philadelphia.
Butler had lived on last-second victories this season, including a buzzer-beater Saturday against Gonzaga. La Salle hadn’t beat at Top 10 team since 1980.
• Northwestern downs No. 12 Minnesota: Jared Swopshire scored 16 points to lead Northwestern (12-8, 3-4 Big 10) to a 55-48 victory over No. 12 Minnesota (15-4, 3-3) at Evanston, Ill.
• Drake knocks off No. 17 Creighton: Richard Carter scored 20 points and Drake (9-10, 3-5 Missouri Valley) stunned No. 17 Creighton (17-3, 6-2) 74-69 at Des Moines, Iowa, handing the Bluejays their first consecutive losses of the season.
Curry leads Warriors past Oklahoma City
NBA: Stephen Curry had 31 points and seven assists, David Lee finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds and the Golden State Warriors outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-99 at Oakland, Calif.
Curry matched Kevin Durant’s spectacular scores all game, stole a pass from the Thunder’s leading man in the final seconds and hit a pair of free throws to seal Golden State’s third straight victory.
Durant had 33 points.
• Blazers snap losing streak: LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and the host Portland Trail Blazers beat the Indiana Pacers 100-80 to snap a six-game losing streak.
• James notches 34th triple-double: Dwyane Wade scored 35 points, LeBron James got his 34th career triple-double and the Miami Heat rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors 123-116 in overtime.
James finished with 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
• Lakers lose fourth straight: Darrell Arthur scored 20 points and Mike Conley added 19 as the Memphis Grizzlies beat visiting Los Angeles 106-93, handing the Lakers’ their fourth straight loss and 10th in 12 games.
Rangers win in OT on Gaborik’s hat trick
NHL: Marian Gaborik scored twice in the first period and then completed his hat trick 27 seconds into overtime as the New York Rangers overcame a pair of blown leads and beat the visiting Boston Bruins 4-3 for their first win of the season.
Hazard ejected; Chelsea eliminated
Soccer: Chelsea star Eden Hazard was ejected for kicking at a ball boy who didn’t give him the ball quickly enough as the Blues were eliminated from the English League Cup with a 0-0 tie at Swansea in the semifinals at London.
Swansea won the total-goal series on 2-0 aggregate and will play fourth-tier Bradford in the final at Wembley on Feb. 24.
• South Africa wins: South Africa beat Angola 2-0 to take the Group A lead at the African Cup of Nations as Cape Verde held former champion Morocco to a 1-1 tie.
Griner shoots, blocks, dunks in Baylor win
College women: Brittney Griner scored 22 points, blocked six shots and dunked for the 11th time in her career in leading top-ranked Baylor (17-1, 7-0 Big 12) past No. 24 Iowa State (13-4, 4-3) 66-51 at Ames, Iowa.
• Kansas State upsets No. 12 Oklahoma State: Brittany Chambers scored 26 points, and Kansas State (12-7, 3-4 Big 12), rode its 3-point shooting to a 76-70 overtime upset of No. 12 Oklahoma State (14-3, 3-3) at Manhattan, Kan.