Sports briefs 4-10-14: "Princess Lacey" succumbs to cancer


DETROIT -- When Michigan State was fighting to stay afloat despite a succession of injuries to key players, Lacey Holsworth was there.

When the team rebounded to win the Big Ten tournament, the 8-year-old from St. Johns, Mich., was there.

And as the cold-shooting Spartans bowed out of the NCAA tournament at the hands of eventual champion Connecticut one win short of the Final Four, she was there.

Now, Lacey is gone.

The little girl affectionately known as "Princess Lacey" finally succumbed to the cancer that she battled since 2011. Her father, Matt Holsworth, said Lacey died at their home late Tuesday "with her mommy and daddy holding her in their arms."

Lacey met Michigan State star Adreian Payne during one of her hospital stays, and their friendship quickly blossomed. The little girl became known to legions of basketball fans, cheering on Payne and the Spartans on Twitter as they became a popular pick to win it all this season.

"Words can't express how much I already miss Lacey," Payne said in a statement released by the school. "She is my sister, and will always be a part of my life. She taught me how to fight through everything with a smile on my face even when things were going wrong. I'm a better man because of her."

• Basketball

Embiid leaving: Kansas freshman Joel Embiid will enter the NBA draft after a breakthrough season that ended with a stress fracture in his back that kept the 7-footer out of the NCAA tournament.

The native of Cameroon is still raw, having only picked up the game a few years ago.

Milwaukee banned: The NCAA has banned Wisconsin-Milwaukee's basketball team from postseason play next season for failing to meet academic standards.

Milwaukee's men's basketball score for the current four-year 2012-13 cycle was 908, which fell below the mandated minimum of 930.

BG donation: A Bowling Green State University fan's donation to the men's basketball program and his hometown of Findlay has grown to $20 million.

Findlay native Bill Frack said Wednesday that a series of trusts has doubled in value.

Most of the earnings from the trusts go to the Bowling Green basketball team while the rest goes toward community programs in Hancock County.

Jasick hired: Jacksonville University has hired Tony Jasick as its men's basketball coach.

Jasick spent the last season as the head coach at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.

• Hockey

Jackets clinch: Columbus had a little head start with a chance to clinch just the second playoff berth in franchise history.

The Blue Jackets took advantage right away Wednesday night.

Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu added first-period goals to the one Columbus already had when the puck dropped in a makeup game with Dallas, and the Blue Jackets withstood a frantic third period for a 3-1 victory over the equally playoff-hungry Stars.

Wings fall to Pens: Jussi Jokinen scored in regulation and then got the game-winner in the shootout, lifting the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the playoff-bound Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

• Elsewhere

Mack in limbo: Alex Mack is still floating in free-agency limbo, but the Browns remain confident the Pro Bowl center will land back with them.

Mack visited last weekend with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have not yet offered him a contract and don't have imminent plans to make one. The Browns, who placed a transition tag on Mack, would have five days to match any offer and owner Jimmy Haslam said the team wants to keep him at all costs.

Cleveland moves: The Indians have optioned struggling reliever Vinnie Pestano to the minor leagues.

He had a 13.50 ERA in three appearances.

The Indians recalled starter Trevor Bauer and reliever Chen-Chang Lee.

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