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BYU LB Van Noy scores 2 TDs in Poinsettia Bowl win

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BYU LB Van Noy scores 2 TDs in Poinsettia Bowl win

SAN DIEGO (AP) The Poinsettia Bowl was ponderous, even boring, until Brigham Young linebacker Kyle Van Noy took over.

Van Noy scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone and then on an interception return to lead Brigham Young to a 23-6 victory over San Diego State on Thursday night.

``Turnovers were huge for us,'' said Van Noy, who had two of BYU's five takeaways. ``I think that when we got that first turnover, I think that changed the momentum of the game.''

With San Diego State pinned on its 3 thanks to terrific punt coverage by BYU, Adam Dingwell dropped back to pass in the end zone.

Van Noy broke free from the outside and knocked the ball out of Dingwell's hand and jumped on the fumble for the game's first TD.

The play was upheld after video review.

``I wouldn't make those plays if all 11 guys weren't doing what they were doing,'' Van Noy said. ``The ball just happened to land in my lap.''

Dingwell fumbled the snap on SDSU's next play from scrimmage and it was recovered by Jordan Johnson at the 14. Jamaal Williams scored on a run up the middle on the next play, BYU's second TD in 17 seconds.

With 6:09 left, Van Noy intercepted Dingwell's pass and weaved 17 yards through traffic and into the end zone. Van Noy was selected the game's defensive MVP.

``He's a fantastic football player,'' BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. ``He changed the game for us and was the reason we won.''

The Cougars (8-5) won for the sixth straight time against SDSU, a former rival from the Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences. BYU went independent after the 2010 season, when it beat SDSU thanks to a controversial fumble. BYU was making its 12th bowl appearance in San Diego. The first 11 were in the Holiday Bowl, big brother to the Poinsettia Bowl.

San Diego State (9-4), playing in the hometown bowl for the second time in three years, missed the chance for its first 10-win season since 1977 and had its seven-game winning streak snapped.

Dingwell finished with five turnovers, including three interceptions. Four of his turnovers were in the fourth quarter.

As big as the defensive plays were for the Cougars, their punt unit came up huge in pinning down the Aztecs four times in the second half. They downed two punts by senior Riley Stephenson at the 1, one at the 2 and another at the 3. They were among the six punts inside the 20.

Stephenson ``changed the game,'' Mendenhall said. ``And he could have easily been the MVP.''

SDSU coach Rocky Long agreed.

``I don't know who got the Most Valuable Player, but I'll tell you who I thought the Most Valuable Player was, their punter,'' Long said. ``Field position made it tough on the offense.''

Stephenson said the Cougars practice pooch punts all the time.

``I get more excited when I launch one 60 yards or so,'' he said. ``But with a defense like we've got, we're going to smash any team we go against.

``A lot of times when you're inside the 50 you can't get ahold of it, you just have to drop it down in the corner and hopefully it stays inside the 10,'' he said. ``It's not much of a kick, but look what it did tonight.''

Until Van Noy and Williams scored, the game was a field position struggle.

San Diego State led 6-3 at halftime thanks to Chance Marden's field goals of 27 and 23 yards. Justin Sorensen kicked a 23-yarder for BYU.

San Diego State's Eric Pinkins intercepted Riley Nelson's pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter but the score was negated by a penalty for blocking below the waist. SDSU ended up punting from the BYU 36.

``I thought blocking below the waist on an interception for a touchdown was the key to the game,'' Long said. ``I really believe if we had scored that touchdown, the momentum would have been in our favor the rest of the night.''

James Lark, who started at quarterback for BYU, completed 23 of 42 passes for 244 yards and was intercepted twice.

BYU's Cody Hoffman caught 10 passes for 114 yards and was named offensive MVP.

Dingwell completed 12 of 29 for 144 yards. Adam Muema ran 26 times for 103 yards.

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WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

As Rui Hachimura continues to grow and take his lumps at the NBA level, one important point of development for the Wizards' rookie will be finishing through contact at the rim. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

On Wednesday night against the Spurs, Hachimura hit a nice hook shot over LaMarcus Aldridge and then finished through traffic after attacking a closeout a few plays later. He entered the game shooting nearly 70 percent at the rim, a major reason why he's one of the top-scoring rookies this season. 

Then at the end of the first half, Isaiah Thomas found Hachimura on a back-door cut for the easy slam. Well-timed cuts are a great source of points for young players. 

After the break, the ninth-overall pick flashed a little finesse at the rim for another pretty finish. 

His three-point shooting will have to improve at some point down the line and learning better positioning as a defender is something every rookie has to go through. 

Both of those skills can be improved in the practice gym or in the film room. Finishing at the basket through contact is learned by repetition in-game, so it's a promising sign to see Hachimura take the ball to the rim. 

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When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

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When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosting the Spurs on Wednesday night brought together two of the 11 NBA teams that currently employ a female assistant coach. The Wizards have Kristi Toliver on their bench and the Spurs have Becky Hammon.

That confluence prompted a question to San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich on the future of women in the NBA coaching ranks and whether a head coaching hire could happen sometime soon. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Though it has been five years since he hired Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in league history, Popovich is uncertain on exactly when a team will make the leap to hiring a woman to run their operation.

"That depends on people and organizations," he said. 

"It's a process and it doesn't happen quickly. But I think the more women there are [in the game] and as it becomes more commonplace and more the rule, it will then depend on an organization realizing there are women that can do this. Every woman can't, every man can't. But the point is there gotta be enough to choose from and it's gotta be pretty commonplace before I think somebody's gonna pull the trigger."

Popovich believes it will happen, he's just not sure when. The Wizards hiring Toliver last summer was another step in that direction and he believes she and others are showing the basketball world what they are capable of.

"There's no difference between a woman who knows the game and a man who knows the game. It's just another prejudice that probably has to be overcome just like a lot of other prejudices in the world have become less and less as people paid attention to them," Popovich said.

Hammon made the news over the weekend when Popovich was ejected from the Spurs' loss to the Kings and a committee of assistants coached the rest of the game. Popovich was asked why he didn't appoint Hammon to serve in the role for the rest of the game and he told reporters he was "not here to make history." 

Still, though there has never been a female head coach in any of the four major U.S. sports, it seems like the NBA is by far the closest with people like Hammon and Tolliver already knocking on the door.

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