Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Rainbow Wahine Find Gold as They Advance

Courtesy of Zyaire Porter/T.G.Sportstv1
The University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine led wire to wire to defeat Cal Poly Pomona Mustangs 71-50 in the night cap of opening round of the Big West Women's Basketball Tournament Tuesday.

"We had pretty good energy coming into the game," said Hawaii coach Laura Beeman. "We had good pace on offense and were able to stop them in transition."

There was often gold at the end of the rainbow jumpers when Olivia Crawford shot the ball from behind the arc for Hawaii. In a first half where both teams struggle to make baskets, Crawford made three of her four three-point attempts.

"Once Liv [Crawford] gets going, it's really good for our team," said Hawaii guard Brianna Harris. "She brought the energy from the jump. Her defense led to our offense. I'm glad what she got today."

Cal Poly shot 9-30 and Hawaii was 10-24 in a non descript first half that saw the Rainbow Wahine lead the Mustangs 28-21 at the break. The Mustang's Hannah Gilbert scored 14 of her team's 21 points.

"I think in the first half [Gilbert] got 14 of their points and another person only had four," said Beeman. "If that's going to be their scoring balance, I'm okay with that."

The second half was much more entertaining as both teams increased the tempo, which played to the advantage of Hawaii because they continued to lean on Crawford, who scored 10 points in the third period.

"Once I hit one, then I hit another one... my teammates were giving me a lot of energy," said Crawford.

Cal Poly were outscored 16-23 in the third period and were only able to stay within reach only because of Gilbert's nine points in the stanza. The game got away from them and they were never able to close the margin.

The Mustangs didn't have their lucky horse shoes tonight as they didn't make a single three pointer in the game.

Hawaii plays CSUN in the second round.

Key stat
Three-point field goals: Hawaii 10-22, Cal Poly 0-11

Top performers
Oliva Crawford, Hawaii - Blazing hot shooting stroke all night as she made five of seven three-point attempts. She made eight of eleven overall en route to her 21 points.

Brianna Harris, Hawaii - Efficiently supplemented Crawford by being making a perfect 3-3 from deep en route to scoring 16 points. She also made xx from the charity stripe

Hannah Gilbert, Cal Poly - Gilbert scored a game-high 26 points and single handedly kept the Mustangs in the game until Hawaii went on a run midway through the third quarter. She was 12-23 from the field.

UC Riverside Pummels UC Irvine in Big West Opening Round

Zyaire Porter/T.G.Sportstv1
LONG BEACH, CALIF. -- The number five-seeded UC Riverside Highlanders got off to a slow start but overcame  early jitters to rout the number eight-seeded UC Irvine Anteaters in the opening game of the Big West Women's Basketball tournament Tuesday night.

UC Irvine opened up on 12-2 run with nine of those coming on three three-point baskets by Andee Ritter and the Anteaters were thinking upset. Riverside forced eight turnovers, which led to easy points in transition and helped them settle down and go on a 20-4 blitz to take control of the game and hold  a 22-16 lead after the first quarter.  Riverside defense showed up again at the end of the second period as Irvine didn't make a basket  in the last four minutes. The Highlanders led with a 46-33 score at halftime

In the second half, the Highlanders made things difficult for the Anteaters to score when they held them to only 27 points.  Riverside put away the game with a  23-13 advantage in the third period; the margin was as close as nine points inside the first three minutes of period but the Anteaters were never able to string a solid run together.

Five players scored in double figures for UC Riverside as they advance to play UC Santa Barbara in the second round.

Turning Point
After being down 2-12 to begin the game, UCR scored 14 unanswered points and never looked back.

Key Performers
Simone Decoud, Riverside - Produced a double double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. She did most of the damage when she scored 12 of her points in first half. She made two threes and was 6-7 from the free throw line.
Lauren Holt, Riverside - Had a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Holt got buckets any way you can think of, whether it was driving the lane, shooting a mid range, or from behind the arc, Holt did it all, including two blocks on defense.
Michelle Curry, Riverside - Scored 20 points in the game. She continuously forced the issue by attacking the basket with physicality and caused Irvine to drop in the paint, which opened up shooters on outside.
Andee Ritter, Irvine - She made five three-point baskets in the game. After a hot start, she became the focal point of Riverside's defense. She was 7-15 from the field overall.

Post game quotes
UC Riverside Coach John Margaritas on the slow start:
"Before the game we talked about emotions of the tournament. So when that [slow start] happened, we were prepared to continue playing our game, knowing that it's 40 minutes."

Coach Margaritas on Michelle Curry:
"Her ability to stay on the floor after foul trouble played a huge role in the outcome of the game. I thought 'Either we're going to play without her and not have enough points to win or I can keep her in the game and let things go as they go.' I'd rather lose a game because a player fouled not because I thought she was going to foul out."

Lauren Holt on take away from this game:

"Just confidence... It was a great game to have under our belt. Everyone showed up. We were firing on all cylinders. We started off slow but we were able to come back. We got our nerves to calm down and settle in. The biggest thing going in to tomorrow is knowing we got our jitters out of the way and we don't have to play so tight.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Clippers Escape Sting of Hornets in Overtime

Courtesy of Zyaire Porter/T.G.Sportstv1
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers get their first win after the all-star break with a 124-121 overtime defeat of the Charlotte Hornets on Oscar night in La La Land.

In Hollywood, as the 89th Academy Awards ceremony was taking place and the trophy for best picture was incorrectly given to “La La Land” then swiftly taken away as they began celebrating, the same result almost befit the Clippers a few miles away when they blew a 17-point lead.

“I thought we played a really good offensive first half, a really good offensive third quarter to start,” said Clippers guard J.J. “But they have shot makers on their team, and [Nicholas] Batum and [Kemba] Walker were awesome tonight.”

After the game, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford was visibly upset at a controversial non-foul call with his team in possession, down by one with six seconds left. Trapped on the sideline, Walker appeared to be bumped by Chris Paul and was forced to throw an errant pass as he was falling out of bounds. No whistle was blown on the play and the turnover resulted in Blake Griffin layup to put the Clippers up by three with under four seconds.

“Kemba had the ball at half court and he thought he got fouled,” said Clippers assistant Mike Woodson. “I think he was falling behind the line and he had to get rid of it and we came up with it. It was a big defensive effort coming down the stretch.”

With the Hornets facing a five-point deficit with under a minute remaining in regulation, Walker drained a three then followed up with two free throws to tie with 11.9 seconds on the clock after his team made a defensive stop.

“We just wanted to continue to fight hard, which we did,” said Walker, who led the Hornets with 34 points. “We wanted to make plays and try to make the plays necessary to win the basketball game. Once we got down, we came together and we made a push.”

 The game would go into overtime after Paul missed a jumper at the buzzer.  That’s when Blake Griffin decided enough was enough and scored seven of his game and season-high 43 points.

“Blake and I talked before the game about being aggressive and he could have had more [points],” said Paul. “He could have had 50 points, he is a guy that is capable of that every night, but he is so unselfish, which is why he is the player he is.”

Griffin was on a mission to get buckets any way he could. He dazzled with his usual array of powerful dunks, pull-ups and drives from midrange, and he put on a couple of dribbling exhibitions. Griffin also hit his mark from behind the arc, where he made three of his four attempts.

“He is a monster,” said Clifford. “He’s so skilled and smart and he’s the perfect player.”

CP3 was also impressive for the Clippers in the win as he recorded 17 assists without committing a single turnover. Redick scored 22 for Los Angles and all-star DeAndre Jordan added 20 points plus 19 rebounds.

The Clippers next opponent will be the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

This was Charlotte’s fifth overtime loss of the season. Batum scored 31 points while making eight from downtown. Jeremy Lamb scored 19 off the bench.

The Hornets will play the Lakers on Tuesday night.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ducks get Home Cooking on the Road to Beat Trojans

Jordan Bell looks to drive

William Johnson/T.G.Sportstv1/

LOS ANGELES -- The Oregon Ducks (22-4), with the help of two local players, stymied a comeback from the USC Trojans (21-5) to win 81-70 Saturday night. It was the Ducks' 14th consecutive win over the Trojans.

Looking to rebound after blowing a 19-point lead to UCLA and losing in its previous game, the Oregon Ducks almost wasted another double-digit lead in Los Angeles. Down by 10 with just under six minutes to play, USC cut the deficit to three when Bennie Boatwright sank a pair of free throws following Oregon's All-American candidate Dillon Brooks' fifth foul of the game with just over three minutes remaining.

Los Angles native, Tyler Dorsey, then took over the game for the Ducks by nailing two threes within a two-minute span. The first came as the shot clock ticked to zero after a controversial out of bounds call that kept possession with the visitors. USC's Elijah Stewart, who scored 15 for the Trojans, answered with a deep shot to cut it back to three. Oregon's other Southern California player, Jordan Bell, made a layup then USC called a timeout.

After an empty USC possession, the Ducks found Dorsey in transition, which he pulled up from deep and essentially put the Trojans away.

"When Dillon fouled out, we still had the confidence that we would find a way to win," said Dorsey. "We had a next-man-up mentality."

Both teams started this game off cold from the field. Oregon was 5 for 19 and USC was 3 for 15 with 10:36 left in the 1st half. Then the Ducks proceeded to make seven consecutive shots to give them the largest lead of the game, 26-15, at the 6 minute mark. However, the Trojans closed the half strong and trailed 35-33 at the break.

Both teams decided to push the tempo and run at the outset of the second half. Oregon struck first with a three by Brooks. The tide turned for USC when McLaughlin threw an incredible lob from half court to Stewart, who caught it, stuffed it, and threw the crowd into a frenzy. Back-to-back threes from Stewart and McLaughlin gave the Trojans a lead they would have for a short while.

Bell scored 10 points in the second half for the Ducks, doing what he can to prevent his team's first losing streak of the season as he finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

"It was very important to get a win," said Bell. "We took an 'L' against UCLA so we wanted to bounce back. We didn't want to leave with a two-game road trip loss."

Brooks led the Ducks in scoring with 21 points. Dorsey scored 19, including four makes from downtown. Oregon trails Arizona by one game in the race for the Pac-12 regular season title, they host Utah on Thursday.

Chimezie Metu led the way for the Trojans with 16 points, Boatwright and Stewart both chipped in with 15 each. USC is in the midst of its toughest stretch of the season. They go on the road for the next two games to play UCLA and Arizona, respectively.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Zags Remain Undefeated With Win over LMU

Zags frosh Zach Collins goes up for hoop

Courtesy of Zyaire Porter/T.G.Sportstv1/

LOS ANGELES -- College basketball’s top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-0) defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions (11-13) 90-60 on Thursday night to remain the only undefeated team in division I. The difference was clear on the box score as Gonzaga made 30 more free throws than LMU.

It was the first time ever that the top ranked team in the nation played in Gersten Pavilion. The home crowd filled the gym known as Hank’s House with energy as they were hoping to see an upset.

After two easy buckets inside by Przemek Karnowski opened the game for Gonzaga and they jumped out to a 7-2 lead, the adrenaline filled Lions went on an 8-0 run. A Trevor Manuel layup and back-to-back threes by Brandon Brown and Steven Haney gave LMU a 10-7 lead at the first timeout.

“I think we gave up one three that was a little out of character for us, especially with our attention to detail in the scouting reports,” said Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few. “We talked about that, and just had one turnover that we talked about. Just take care of the ball and settling in.”

As expected, Gonzaga wouldn't be down for long, as they immediately responded with a 9-0 run of their own out of the break to go up 16-10. They never looked back as they continued to attack the basket. That aggressiveness earned the top ranked team 21 free throw attempts in the first half.

“Our turnovers led to a lot of fouls in transition,” said LMU Head coach Mike Dunlap. “Turnovers led to easy baskets. The disparity in free throws was huge as far as what gave them that bump at halftime.”

The Bulldogs ended the first half on a 19-6 run and held a 50-28 lead at halftime. The visitors made 17 free throws and shot 58 percent from the field in the first stanza. Gonzaga’s French freshman Killian Tillie led the scoring at the half with 11 points while Bob Cousy Award Finalist Nigel Williams-Goss had 10 points and nine rebounds.

In the second half, the Bulldogs kept the Lions at bay with the margin never getting lower than 17 points. Gonzaga freshman big man Zach Collins, who finished with 11 points, flashed some nice footwork in the post and altered shots on the defensive end. Native Angelino Jordan Mathews also scored 11 points and was the vocal leader on the floor for the Bulldogs.

“Our Freshman are very good,” said Few. “It's crazy the youthful enthusiasm we draw off our freshman is almost as important as the calmness and steadiness we get from Nigel or Jordan.”

Goss-Williams finished with an efficient 19 points and added 11 rebounds; he shot 5-8 from the field and made nine of 10 from the charity stripe. Johnathan Williams was the second leading scorer for Gonzaga with 13 points, including seven makes from the free throw line.

Gonzaga attempted 44 free throws in the game compared to just eight for Loyola Marymount.

For the Lions, Haney scored 12 points and Brown had 11. After the game coach Dunlap pointed to Petr Herman’s efforts on the defensive end with five blocks as something his team can build on. LMU will look to right the ship versus Portland on Saturday.

Gonzaga will travel north to the Bay Area for a nationally televised prime time matchup against conference-rival Saint Mary’s College (22-2).  The Gaels will be looking to avenge their 23-point loss to the Bulldogs on January 14.