NCAA

Cal drops heartbreaker to UNLV

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Cal drops heartbreaker to UNLV

BERKELEY -- Less than two seconds were on the clock when the ball took flight with Cal clinging to a one-point lead.

"I saw it was going to be an air ball," said UNLV senior forward Quintrell Thomas, "so I just tried to go get it as fast as I could."

Indeed, Anthony Marshall's shot was short and an entire Haas Pavilion held its collective breath.

"I should have went out and got that rebound," said Cal junior forward Richard Solomon. "I was boxing out and I should have went for it. We have to be more physical on the defensive end. We have to get the ball out of the air."

Instead, Thomas plucked the ball and went up immediately, laying it on off the glass for the go-ahead basket…and Solomon was called for the foul. The air went out of the announced gathering of 8,724.

"I saw the guy was in his face so I assumed that if it was going anywhere, it was going short," Thomas added. "I was surprised I beat the…clock, though."

There was 1.2 seconds left to play and Thomas wisely missed the free throw, eating up half of one second by the time Cal rebounded the miss, so by the time the Golden Bears could inbound there was .7 of one second to play. Ballgame. After 13 ties and seven lead changes.

"Sometimes you've just got to escape, and that's what we came out here and did. Of course, it was a big one for us."

No. 21-ranked UNLV 76, Cal 75.

"Found a way," said Runnin' Rebels coach Dave Rice. "Sometimes, basketball just comes down to one play, period. We were fortunate, but at the same time we made our luck and we were at the right spot at the right time."

For UNLV (7-1), it was gut-check time, considering the Rebels lost preseason All-American junior forward Mike Moser to a dislocated right elbow in a scrum for a loose ball less than five minutes into the game.

Forward Anthony Bennett, who might be the best freshman in the country and who flashes 21-year-old glimpses of former UNLV Wooden Award winner Larry Johnson, stepped up with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes. His baseline dunk late in the game shook the rafters and harkened not only L.J. of old but a more recent vintage of Blake Griffin.

"He's pretty good, 25 and 13 speaks for itself," Solomon said. "We could have done a better job on him. He made a lot of plays by out-hustling us, and he was more physical."

Bennett was complimentary of Solomon was well after he tied a career high with 14 points and added eight rebounds. Solomon, though, missed all four of his free-throw attempts.

"He's real nice," Bennett said of Solomon. "He has nice post moves, has a great shot. He's a real nice player."

UNLV sophomore guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, meanwhile, added a career-high 22 points, including a pair of rally-stemming three-pointers.

For Cal (6-2), it was a learning experience. Had the Bears beaten the Rebels, Cal would have made a push toward the rankings.

Instead…

Cal was just 15 of 28 from the free-throw line and, at one point, was a backbreaking 3-14.

"We got to the line and didn't get anything out of it," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery. "That's hard psychologically. Free throws killed us. We just missed free throws and we can't afford to do it in a game like that."

Nor could they afford three fouls on leading scorer Allen Crabbe in the first half. Crabbe, who finished with a Cal-high 18 points, did not play the final 6:49 of the first half after picking up foul No. 3 on a flagrant 1 for throwing an elbow at Marshall's head.

The game was tied at 28-28 at the time and UNLV closed the first half on a 17-10 run with Crabbe on the bench.

"He flopped," Crabbe said. "I didn't even touch him. If I did it wasn't much. He came up into me and I tried to swing around and he was right there. I feel like it was a bad call but I can't do anything about it now."

Rather, Crabbe carried the Bears in the second half. His free throw with 38.9 seconds to go gave Cal a brief 73-72 lead.

Then came Bennett's monster dunk before junior guard Justin Cobbs drove to the hole, stopped in the key, fired up a shot that missed and was fouled by Marshall with 11.4 seconds to play.

Cobbs drained both and Cal had a fleeting lead. All of which set up the final, harried play with Marshall bringing the ball up court and shooting short from the key. Enter Thomas, who could not remember what play was actually called.

"We didn't run the play, that's for sure," said Thomas, who had all of four points, but six rebounds. "But it ended up working out fine."

At least, it did for UNLV.

"One of our Achilles' heel is giving up offensive rebounds," Montgomery said. "We're not reacting all the time. Defensively we got what we wanted. We got an air ball, in fact.

"Either we fell asleep or we were mismatched."

Said Crabbe: "It hurts because we had made a big defensive play and we were right there. There were so many other things that could have happened. It was a perfect day to show what we could do and it came down to one play."

It just went the other way.

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

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From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

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USASTI

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

LOS ANGELES  — Steven Mitchell and Deontay Burnett caught two touchdown passes apiece from Sam Darnold, and No. 6 Southern California extended its winning streak to 11 games with a bruising 42-24 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Saturday night.

Darnold went 21 of 26 with 316 yards passing for the Trojans (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12), who snapped their three-game losing streak in this California private-school rivalry. USC racked up 623 total yards and won the first Pac-12 game of the new season by beating the hard-nosed Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) at their own physical game.

Ronald Jones II rushed for 116 yards and scored a touchdown in his ninth consecutive game as USC excelled at Stanford's traditional strengths, running the ball for 307 yards and controlling both lines of scrimmage. Turnovers and penalties by the Trojans kept it fairly close, but freshman Stephen Carr added 119 yards rushing, and Jones cartwheeled into the end zone with a clinching 23-yard TD run with 4:15 to play.

Keller Chryst passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Bryce Love had a 75-yard TD run among his 160 yards rushing for the Cardinal, who hadn't played since their season-opening win over Rice in Australia last month.

After a scoreless third quarter, USC made a 90-yard scoring drive capped by Mitchell's second TD on a feathery 11-yard TD pass by Darnold with 9:42 to play. Stanford stayed close with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's TD catch with 6:41 to play, but Jones' incredible second TD run capped a smooth 75-yard drive in USC's 11th consecutive win at the Coliseum.

Stanford had won eight of its last 11 meetings with USC in a dominant stretch that began with its historic 2007 upset victory at the Coliseum.

After USC scored 49 points in its season opener, Darnold's offense again was in fine form from the start. USC scored four touchdowns on five lengthy drives in the first half, with Darnold hitting Burnett for two of his three TD passes.

USC moved 74 yards on two plays late in the half to take a 28-17 lead on Burnett's leaping 25-yard TD grab.

THE TAKEAWAY

Stanford: That 62-point performance in the season opener Down Under was impossible to replicate against a top Pac-12 defense, and the Cardinal's offense will know it must add versatility to the attack. Stanford's defense also had big problems at the line of scrimmage, and that isn't a problem with which the Cardinal have much experience.

USC: This talent-laden offense has appeared to have the makings of a juggernaut so far. Darnold returned to 2016 form with a smooth, poised performance against a vaunted conference opponent, while the Trojans' receivers appear to be much more reliable than coach Clay Helton feared. USC's defense also stepped up after halftime and shut down one of the Pac-12's best.

UP NEXT

Stanford: The Cardinal's three-game stretch away from home to open the season concludes at San Diego State.

USC: The Trojans welcome Texas to the Coliseum for a meeting of two powerhouse programs.