NCAA

Saint Mary's blows first half lead to Utah State

Saint Mary's blows first half lead to Utah State

Feb. 19, 2011BOXSCORE NCAASCOREBOARDSAINT MARY'SPAGE

MORAGA (AP) Tai Wesley and Brockeith Pane scored 22 points apiece to help No. 25 Utah State bolster its position for an NCAA tournament bid by beating Saint Mary's 75-65 Saturday night in a BracketBuster game.The Aggies (25-3) rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the second half by the strong inside play of Wesley and a tight defense that forced the Gaels (23-6) to miss 16 of their first 20 shots in the second half for their first home loss of the season.Brady Jardine put the exclamation point on the victory with an emphatic dunk over Mitchell Young for a three-point play that made it 68-59 with 2:26 to go.Utah State accomplished exactly what it wanted in the BracketBuster, earning its first win all season against a team currently in the top 100 of the RPI. That's exactly the credential that was missing for the Aggies and could become crucial if they lose next month's WAC tournament in Las Vegas and need an at-large bid to the tournament. Utah State has already won at least a share of the regular-season conference title.Utah State fell behind by 12 points in the first half and trailed 39-29 early in the second before Wesley took over despite a broken nose that he re-aggravated a couple of times during the second half. He scored 10 points during a 19-2 run that gave the Aggies a nine-point lead as Saint Mary's struggled to get anything going offensively.Saint Mary's lost second leading scorer Rob Jones, who fouled out with 8:56 to go, and fell behind 59-49 on a deep 3-pointer by Pane with just under 7 minutes to go.Back-to-back 3-pointers by Clint Steindl got the crowd back into it for the Gaels before Jardine silenced them with his dunk.The second-half collapse was all-too familiar for the Gaels, who blew an 11-point second-half lead at San Diego on Wednesday before falling to a team that had only beaten three other Division I teams this season.
RELATED: USD KOs Gaels 74-66
The two losses have put the Gaels' hopes of making it consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history in peril. They now might need to win the WCC tournament in Las Vegas next month to feel secure heading into selection Sunday. Saint Mary's can still clinch the regular season conference title by beating Gonzaga at home Thursday night, ending the Bulldogs' 10-year run as WCC champs.Mickey McConnell scored 16 points and Young added 11 to lead the Gaels, who have dropped consecutive games for the first time all season.The Gaels got in trouble early when they fell behind 20-14 and had Jones sent to the bench with his third foul midway through the first half.But McConnell picked up his game from there to help Saint Mary's take control with a 20-2 run as the Aggies went nearly 9 minutes without a basket. McConnell got his first points of the game on an off-balance 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired to give Saint Mary's its first lead of the game. He hit a 32-footer the next trip down the court and added a difficult jumper from the foul line during the spurt.Young scored eight points during the run, capping it with a layup off a nice feed from Matthew Dellavedova and then a putback that made it 34-22. The Gaels led 36-27 at the break.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

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AP

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”