NCAA

Saint Mary's drubs BYU, sets up showdown vs Gonzaga for WCC title

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AP

Saint Mary's drubs BYU, sets up showdown vs Gonzaga for WCC title

BOX SCORE

LAS VEGAS -- Jock Landale had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 19 Saint Mary's never trailed in an 81-50 victory over BYU on Monday night in the West Coast Conference semifinals.

Calvin Hermanson added 14 points and Emmett Naar had 12 points and 11 assists for the Gaels (28-3), who hit 13 3-pointers and earned a third chance to play nemesis Gonzaga in the title game Tuesday.

The fourth-ranked Bulldogs, who beat Saint Mary's twice in the regular season, held off Santa Clara 77-68 in the first semifinal.

T.J. Haws scored 13 points for the cold-shooting Cougars (22-11), who handed Gonzaga its only loss but faces long odds to reach the NCAA Tournament.

With third-seeded BYU missing 22 of 32 first-half shots, second-seeded Saint Mary's raced to a 36-20 lead. Hermanson then hit a 3-pointer as the Gaels scored the first five points in the second half, and they led by as many as 35 points in their sixth straight win.

BYU's Eric Mika was held to 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting after scoring 25 in Saturday's quarterfinal win over Loyola Marymount. BYU shot 32 percent from the field in bowing out in the WCC semifinals for the second straight year after reaching the final in 2014 and 2015.

It was another efficient offensive outing for Saint Mary's. Landale hit 8 of 12 shots from the field and all eight free throws while securing his 15th double-double of the season. The Gaels shot 56 percent from the field and went 13 of 25 from 3-point range.

Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett rested most of his regulars over the final 5 minutes ahead of Tuesday's championship game. The Gaels lost at Gonzaga 79-56 on Jan. 14 and 74-64 at home to the Zags on Feb. 11.

They haven't lost since.

BIG PICTURE:
BYU: The Cougars eclipsed 20 wins for the 12th straight season, but an RPI of 63 entering the game hurts their NCAA hopes despite the stunning win at Gonzaga on Feb. 25. BYU has losses to Utah Valley (210 RPI) and San Diego (203).

Saint Mary's: The Gaels came to Las Vegas with one goal: get another crack at Gonzaga. The only other team they lost to was Texas-Arlington on Dec. 8.

UP NEXT:
BYU: The Cougars will await their postseason fate amid optimism for a team that didn't start a senior over their final eight games. BYU has played in the postseason 11 straight years.

Saint Mary's: Beating Gonzaga on Tuesday night would give the Gaels their first WCC title since 2012.

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.