A man was sentenced to four months in federal prison yesterday for leaving a profanity-laced death threat on the answering machine of the woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape.

John Roche, 23, had pleaded guilty to making a threatening telephone call across state lines. He faced up to six months in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Instead, Roche was fined $1,000 and will be under two years of supervised release when he leaves prison.

Roche was a student at the University of Iowa at the time. A friend has said Roche had been drinking all day at a golf tournament when he made the call.

* BASKETBALL: Deanna Jackson had a season-high 19 points and teammate Tamika Catchings also scored 19 in the Indiana Fever's 85-73 victory over the visiting Detroit Shock. Indiana hit a season-high nine three-pointers, shot a season-high 54 percent and its point total was six higher than its previous best.

* AUTOS: Buddy Rice grabbed his second straight pole and fourth this year with a lap of 201.231 mph at Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville, Tenn., edging Vitor Meira by an even smaller margin than he needed to beat his teammate at Kansas on July 4 in the second-closest finish in IRL history.

That victory by 0.0051 second measured about seven inches. Rice plans to enjoy starting on the pole for tonight's Firestone Indy 200 in search of his third victory this year. . . .

A single series would be best for open-wheel racing, but Champ Car and the Indy Racing League believe this is not the right time for a merger. But a future resolution remains a possibility, both sides.

Representatives from both series met in person at least twice earlier this week with team owner Roger Penske, who last month urged them to consider unification, spokesmen for Champ Car and the IRL said.

Champ Car and the IRL said in a joint statement Friday that no more meetings were planned though "both parties believe that each has a better understanding of where common ground exists."

* TENNIS: Seven ATP tennis players who tested positive for steroids were let off on "unsustainable grounds," a World Anti-Doping Agency report concluded.

The 21-page report said the players' defense -- the nandrolone found in their urine samples came from supplements provided by ATP trainers -- was unfounded.

Mark Young, the ATP's general counsel, disagreed with the report's conclusion, saying the "decisions applied sound legal principles to the evidence that was presented."

* BASEBALL: Westfield All-Met shortstop Brandon Snyder has been selected to play for the USA Baseball junior national team, which will travel to Taiwan for a series of exhibition games next month before competing in the International Baseball Federation's AAA World Junior Championships, Sept. 3-12, in Taipei City.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports