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No. 19 Arizona State women finish with 20-0 run to beat Utah 60-58

Tempe, Ariz. • Courtney Ekmark’s two free throws with under a second remaining capped a 20-0 run and No. 19 Arizona State stunned Utah 60-58 on Sunday.

Andrea Torres’ 3-pointer with 8:09 left extended a Utes lead to 18 points but those would be the only points scored by Utah in the final period. Robbi Ryan, who scored 10 of her 11 points in the quarter, tied the game on a 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds left. Torres was called for an offensive foul and Ekmark was then fouled on a 3-point try by Dru Gylten. Ekmark made the first two free throws and Utah ended the game with its ninth turnover.

Arizona made its first five shots in the fourth quarter, finishing 8 of 13 in the period. Utah was 1 of 10.

Utah scored the first seven points of the game and led until Ekmark’s game-winning free throws.

Ekmark finished with 15 points and Kianna Ibis 10 for the Sun Devils (18-6, 9-4 Pac-12), who won their fifth straight game. They won at Utah, 65-63, on Jan. 4.

Megan Huff scored 15 points, Gylten 12 and Kiana Moore 10 for Utah (18-7, 7-7), which lost its sixth straight.

Denny Hamlin avoids carnage to notch his second Daytona 500 victory

Daytona Beach, Fla. • Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 for the second time in four years, leading a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing.

The victory Sunday honored J.D. Gibbs, who died last month after battling a degenerative neurological disease. J.D. Gibbs co-founded the race team with his father and discovered Hamlin.

Hamlin drives the No. 11— J.D. Gibbs’ number when he played football — and his name is on the Toyota. Hamlin said when he arrived at Daytona International Speedway that both the 500 and this season were dedicated to J.D. Gibbs.

Kyle Busch finished second and Erik Jones was third as the Gibbs drivers held off Ford driver and reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano’s frantic push in overtime.

The race was stopped twice for nearly 40 minutes for a flurry of late accidents — there were five wrecks in the final 20 laps of regulation — and only 14 cars finished on the lead lap.

Logano was fourth, followed by Michael McDowell. Ty Dillon was sixth in the highest-finishing Chevrolet.

Hamlin last year suffered through his first winless season in the Cup Series and made a crew chief change during the offseason. When he won the 500 in 2016 it was his debut race with crew chief Mike Wheeler, and this victory came in his first race with Chris Gabehart.

E.J. Dionne: The real national emergency is the triviality of our politics

Washington • When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi learned that President Trump would declare a national emergency to shift around money to finance his border wall, her denunciation was predictable. But her way of expressing outrage was not. The issue she used to make her point was important on many levels.

Observing the “unease” even among many Republicans over Trump’s abuse of his power, she noted that “if the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency — an illusion that he wants to convey — just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people.”

And then she recalled the slaughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018, when 14 students and three staff members were gunned down. "You want to talk about a national emergency?" Pelosi asked. "Let's talk about today, the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That's a national emergency. Why don't you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would."

Our nation's deadly permissiveness toward firearms was very much on Pelosi's mind because the House Judiciary Committee had voted 21-to-14 the night before to send a bill requiring background checks for all gun sales and most gun transactions to the House floor.

It was the first serious vote on a gun-reform measure since 2013, when the Senate fell six votes short of the 60 needed to advance a background-checks bill proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. It was also the most significant gun-sanity measure to move though the House Judiciary Committee since 1993.

Yet as important as this step was, it received scant media notice. The drowning out of news that mattered tells us a great deal about our political moment. It also underscores the challenge confronting those speaking for the vast majority of Americans who want action in the face of what Pelosi was right to call a national emergency on gun violence.

In counting the many costs of the Trump era, we focus too rarely on the president's success in pushing divisive trivialities and self-interested contrivances to the center of national concern. He manufactures crises, and then uses his manufactured crises to create new ones.

There is no crisis at our nation’s border. To the extent that there are border problems, his wall would do little or nothing to set things right. And Congress’ decision not to finance Trump’s monstrous waste of money in no way justifies his seizing of national emergency powers. His vast overreach really does create a crisis, which dominates the news and shoves aside all other concerns. But it is all part of the Triviality Feedback Loop that is the Trump presidency.

In the meantime, problems that should engage our energy are forced to the back of the queue of public attention. The normal constitutional approaches to governing — bills passed through committees, compromises reached in conferences involving both parties and both houses of Congress — are no longer respected.

And no matter how much journalists investigate and expose Trump's misconduct (we should be grateful for this), his I'm-The-Only-One-Who-Matters approach to politics fits well with the needs of modern media, both social and traditional. Clicks and page views and ratings encourage everyone to dwell on individuals more than on issues.

This aggravates a profound pre-existing cynicism about the possibilities of political action. And defeatism is especially damaging when it comes to guns.

For decades, as one massacre cascaded into another, the gun lobby beat back even the most modest efforts to control access to firearms. The sense of doom about any progress is so deep that it obscures overwhelming evidence that the politics of guns has changed. Even the most moderate Democrats made opposition to the gun lobby a key component of their campaigns in 2018 — and in district after district, they prevailed.

These victories led directly to last week's Judiciary Committee vote. Organizing worked. Elections mattered. Public sentiment prevailed. Democracy made a difference.

This is why what happened in the House last week on guns deserved far more coverage than it got, and why Pelosi was right to use Trump's phony emergency to highlight a real one. The only cure for political cynicism is to show that the steady and painstaking work of grassroots action can bear fruit. And the only alternative to a politics of spectacle is for elective officials and the media to lift up problems that actually need solving.

E.J. Dionne
E.J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column for The Washington Post. He is a government professor at Georgetown University, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio and MSNBC. He is most recently a co-author of “One Nation After Trump.”

@EJDionne

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