NCAA

Saint Mary's overwhelmed, loses WCC title game to Gonzaga

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USATSI

Saint Mary's overwhelmed, loses WCC title game to Gonzaga

BOX SCORE

LAS VEGAS -- Nigel Williams-Goss scored 22 points, Przemek Karnowski added 15 and No. 4 Gonzaga won its fifth straight West Coast Conference Tournament title by beating No. 19 Saint Mary's 74-56 Tuesday night.

Gonzaga (32-1) was not particularly sharp in the WCC semifinals, beating Santa Clara by nine to reach the title game for the 20th straight season.

The Zags got their mojo back in a dazzling first half against Saint Mary's, then had to hold on after a shaky start to the second.

Gonzaga shot 50 percent and had a 38-22 advantage inside, staking claim to a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Saint Mary's (28-4) fought back after an ugly first half, but couldn't overcome a 21-point deficit for its third loss to the Zags this season.

Calvin Hermanson had 14 points and Jock Landale 10 for the Gaels, who must wait out selection Sunday for the second straight season.

Gonzaga and Saint Mary's in the WCC final has become an annual tradition.

The conference's top two teams have met in the title game seven of the past nine years, with the Zags winning six titles, including the past four.

Gonzaga won the two regular-season meetings this year fairly easily, beating the Gaels 79-56 in Spokane, 74-64 in Moraga.

The Zags won their first 29 games of the season before a home loss to BYU, which Saint Mary's beat by 31 after hitting 13 3-pointers in the WCC semifinals.

The Gaels didn't have the same shooting touch against Gonzaga's smothering defense, needing nearly 11 minutes just to crack double figures scoring. Saint Mary's was discombobulated offensively throughout the first half, hitting 6 of 28 shots and turning it over 10 times while scoring 18 first-half points.

Gonzaga turned the missed shots and turnovers into baskets in transition, using a 12-0 run to build a 39-18 halftime lead.

The Gaels were better to start the second, shutting the Zags down while trimming the lead to 51-46 midway through.

They got no closer. Landale had to leave after picking up his fourth foul and Gonzaga took advantage, stretching the lead back to double digits.

BIG PICTURE:
Gonzaga will likely contend for No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament's West Regional with the Pac-12 Tournament winner.

Saint Mary's should have a good enough resume to make the NCAA Tournament despite the loss, but could have some anxious moments on selection Sunday after being left out last season.

UP NEXT:
Saint Mary's will likely play in the NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the 19th straight season.

Ex-Cal football player Eric Stevens fighting for ALS cure after diagnosis

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AP

Ex-Cal football player Eric Stevens fighting for ALS cure after diagnosis

Former Cal Bears fullback Eric Stevens now is a Los Angeles City firefighter. He knows what it's like to put others' lives ahead of his own. 

Now, his family hopes those will return the favor.

Stevens was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 29, soon after getting married to the woman of his dreams.

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Let’s help Eric #axeALS!!!! #TeamStevensNation

A post shared by Stevens Nation (@teamstevensnation) on

"The diagnosis and subsequent education they received about the horrific disease was the worst news one could ever imagine," a Facebook post dedicated to "Team Stevens Nation," described.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a debilitating and incurable disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. With a life expectancy between two and five years, paralysis comes much quicker. And there is much unknown about it. 

While there are many treatments going through clinical trials that are showing promise, there is still a 50 percent chance those could receive a placebo over the actual treatment.

"There is NO reason why a person with a terminal diagnosis should receive placebo over the actual treatment," the Facebook page explains. "Another downside to these clinical trials is they are a year-long process, and time is the one thing ALS patients don't have. Every single day without treatment is a day lost."

Those can donate to and share the family's GoFundMe page here

Stevens, now 30, totaled 14 carries for 53 yards, and 13 catches for 82 yards and one touchdown in his career at Cal that spanned from 2008-2012. But despite playing sparingly, he was voted team captain.

He was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013, but never played a snap in the NFL.

[RELATED: A's Piscotty accepts prestigious Hutch Award]

"Given his strong determination and success in anything he puts his mind to, Eric has chosen to fight and advocate for getting drugs and treatments available to patients NOW," the Facebook group wrote. "Eric's goal with the help of his family and friends is to raise awareness for ALS and act now toward getting treatments available."

Gavin Newsom signs 'Fair Pay to Play' act with LeBron James on 'The Shop'

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USATSI

Gavin Newsom signs 'Fair Pay to Play' act with LeBron James on 'The Shop'

Monday was a monumental day in college athletics.

California Governor Gavin Newsom went on HBO and Uninterrupted's "The Shop" to formally sign California's "Fair Pay to Play" act alongside Lakers star LeBron James.

The law will allow college athletes in the state of California to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness, and will make it illegal for universities to revoke a student's scholarship for accepting money. The bill will not pay athletes to play, but it will allow them to sign agents and seek out business deals.

"[Signing the bill] is going to initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation," Newsom said on "The Shop" prior to signing the bill. "And it’s going to change college sports for the better by having now the interests, finally, of the athletes, on par with the interests of the institutions. Now we’re rebalancing that power arrangement."

The bill will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

Warriors forward Draymond Green has been a vocal proponent of the bill, and he gave Newsom props after the signing.

Newsom's bill has faced blowback from both California schools and the NCAA, as it would make it impossible for those schools to follow the NCAA's amateurism rules. The NCAA has called the bill unconstitutional and will challenge it in court.

The NCAA responded with a statement.

The Pac-12 also issued a statement. 

[RELATED: Draymond supports California bill for NCAA athletes]

The signing of the bill is expected to cause an avalanche of states to pass similar legislation and fundamentally change how amateurism and college athletics are viewed.

Well done, Gov. Newsom.