Gaels going dancing after beating Gonzaga in WCC tourney

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Gaels going dancing after beating Gonzaga in WCC tourney

BOX SCORE
LAS VEGAS (AP) With the score deadlocked in overtime and the ball bouncing free, opposing guards Matthew Dellavedova and Kevin Pangos collided near the scorer's table.The guy who grew up around Aussie Rules Football made sure he got there first, and it proved critical as Saint Mary's pulled out a 78-74 OT victory Monday night over Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference tournament championship."I was trying to get my body in front of it," said Dellavedova, who led the Gaels with 22 points. "It goes back to Australia Rules footy. I was pretty happy they called the foul on him, but I guess it could have gone either way."Dellavedova would get the call and sink the free throws, and later add two more to secure the win over No. 24 Gonzaga and an NCAA bid.It was Saint Mary's second WCC tourney title in three years. But it was the first time the Gaels (27-5) have won the regular-season title outright and claimed the tourney championship the same year."I'm just a bit relieved that we finally got it done," Dellavedova said. "We'll enjoy this but once we get back (to California), we're going to focus, work hard again to get ready for the (NCAA) tourney because we want to do some things there."The Bulldogs, despite some big wins and a 25-6 overall record, will have to wait for the selection committee to find out if they'll make the NCAA field."It was a great ball game, two high-level tournament teams going at it and battling," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Forty minutes wasn't enough so we needed another five, and in the end they stepped up and made big shots."Elias Harris led Gonzaga with 22 points, including a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left in regulation to force the extra period.Dellavedova, the WCC player of the year, had a chance to win it at the buzzer in regulation but his runner bounced off the rim.The junior point guard also gets plenty of credit for forcing Pangos into a miserable shooting night, just two days after the WCC newcomer of the year lit up Brigham Young for 30 points.Pangos finished with seven points on 3-of-18 shooting. He was just 1 of 10 from 3-point range. Center Robert Sacre finished with 17 points for Gonzaga while Sam Dower added 14 off the bench."Pangos had a really good night the other night and he hurt us up at Gonzaga," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said of a Feb. 9 loss in which Pangos scored 27 points and hit five 3-pointers."He won't go 1 of 10 very often, but Matt did a good job of making him take tough shots."Saint Mary's also got help from Clint Steindl defending Pangos, and had post players rotate over as well.Rob Jones was just as valuable for the Gaels, adding 18 points and nine rebounds, while Jorden Page, another Aussie, added 16 points and Brad Waldow had 13 and eight rebounds."The stars showed up tonight," Bennett said. "It was fun, a little too exciting down the stretch. ... but I'm really pleased."He said it was important no one panicked after Harris forced overtime with the huge 3."People ask what did we say after they hit that shot? We didn't say anything," Bennett said. "We played good defense and they hit a tough shot. I don't have to coach leadership. The leadership is already there."Despite having to go another five minutes, Jones said Saint Mary's players knew they were still the tougher team."In the end, we got it done," Jones said.The teams were meeting for the 12th time in four years in a rivalry that is perhaps the fiercest on the West Coast right now.At least one player called it a "hate-hate" relationship before the game, with Sacre saying it was personal and a matter of pride.It lived up to its billing.There were 14 lead changes and nine ties.Saint Mary's led by as many as eight points early in the second half, but Gonzaga hung tight, pulling within 63-62 on Pangos' only 3-pointer with 3:58 left.The Gaels still led 68-63 with 31 seconds left, but Harris hit a driving layup with 15 seconds remaining then sank the game-tying 3-pointer.Both teams had chances to take command in the overtime.In addition to the collision between Pangos and Dellavadova with 39 seconds left in OT, Page grabbed a key rebound for Saint Mary's then sank two free throws to put the Gaels up 76-72. Dower's layup cut it to two again, but Dellavedova was fouled breaking through Gonzaga's full-court press and converted the free throws for the final margin.Delly Dazzles read the sign in the crowd."He's got it all," Bennett said of Dellavedova, who was born outside Melbourne, Australia, but learned basketball from his father in a Friday night league. "I don't know if I've ever coached a guy's who's as good a leader. He studies it, cares about it. He knows in game like this, he's supposed to step up."Now it's on to the NCAAs, and Bennett believes a game like Monday's can only help the Gaels."We haven't played many close games," Bennett said. "You get confidence playing close games by having success. We probably had 3 all year. ... I think our guys will be even more resilient and tougher and harder to beat."

Lamar Jackson of Louisville wins 2016 Heisman trophy

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USATSI

Lamar Jackson of Louisville wins 2016 Heisman trophy

NEW YORK —  Lamar Jackson leapt over a loaded field of Heisman Trophy contenders early in the season and by the time he slowed down nobody could catch him.

The sensational sophomore quarterback became the first Louisville player to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, beating out preseason favorite Deshaun Watson of Clemson despite some late-season struggles.

Baker Mayfield finished third and Oklahoma teammate and fellow finalist Dede Westbrook was fourth. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was fifth.

Watson, who finished third in Heisman voting last year, led a stacked group of contenders entering this season that included five of the top seven vote-getters in 2015.

Jackson outdid them all in his first season as Louisville's full-time starter, accounting for 51 touchdowns and averaging 410 yards per game in total offense. He ultimately won going away, with 2,144 points to Watson's 1,524. By percentage of possible points received, Jackson's victory was the sixth largest in Heisman history, and he became the youngest winner at 19 years, 352 days.

Jackson is the first Heisman Trophy winner to play on a team that lost its last two games of the regular season since Tim Brown of Notre Dame in 1987. He's the first to enter the postseason without a chance to win the national title since Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M in 2012.

No matter. Jackson did so much before November it was difficult to deny him the award because of a couple of missteps at the end.

He provided a signature moment against Syracuse, hurdling a defender on his way into the end zone, and then played his best against Louisville's toughest competition.

In a romp over Florida State and a close loss at Clemson, Jackson threw for 511 yards, ran for 308 and accounted for eight touchdowns. After ripping apart Florida State in September, he earned the stamp of approval from his idol, former Virginia Tech and NFL star Mike Vick.

Jackson left that Oct. 1 game in Death Valley as a threat to run away with the Heisman, but losses to Houston and Kentucky, when he committed four turnovers, in late November provided an opportunity for others to sway voters.

Watson made the biggest surge, but ultimately fell short.

Jackson continues a recent trend of breakout stars winning the Heisman. He is the sixth player to win the award as either a redshirt freshman or sophomore, all since 2007, joining Manziel (redshirt freshman), Jameis Winston (redshirt freshman), Mark Ingram (sophomore), Sam Bradford (sophomore) and Tim Tebow (sophomore).

Jackson came to Louisville as a three-star recruit from Boynton Beach High School in Florida. Some colleges were not sold on him as a quarterback, but Jackson was such a dynamic talented Louisville coach Bobby Petrino altered his offense to accommodate Jackson's speed and elusiveness.

Jackson flashed brilliance as a freshman and showed what was to come in the Music City Bowl against Texas A&M. He had 453 total yards and led Louisville to a victory.

Still, with so many well-established stars from Watson and Mayfield to running backs Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Leonard Fournette of LSU, Jackson entered the season without much fanfare.

Just the way he likes it.

Jackson spent this season adjusting to newfound fame, growing into the role of face of the team and trying to stay out of the spotlight. He said he cut down on trips to the mall to avoid the inevitable crowds he drew.

He is about to become even more popular. Especially back in Louisville, where he has another year before he can even consider his next big jump — to the NFL.

Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final

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USATSI

Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final

HOUSTON — For the second straight season, Stanford found itself depending on penalty kicks to advance to the College Cup final.

Like last season, the Cardinal came out on top. After each team converted its first nine attempts in the tiebreaker, Amir Bashti made it 10-for-10 for Stanford. Tar Heels defender Alex Comsia then sent his try over the crossbar to end it, giving Stanford a 10-9 win.

"They had just as many good chances as us, and it could have been a 1-0 game either way," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said.

Stanford (14-3-5) will face Wake Forest in the College Cup final on Sunday in search of its second straight national championship.

"It's not his fault. We could have done things in the game to have his back," North Carolina defender Colton Storm said of Comsia's miss. "It could have been any of us."

"It's the nature of the game," North Carolina coach Carlos Somoano said. "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Sometimes there's moments you seize the moments, and sometimes it runs away from you."

North Carolina (14-3-4) had the two best chances of the game. Late in the second half, forward Alan Winn was denied by goalkeeper Andrew Epstein, who made a nice save with his legs.

Later, Epstein made the best save of the match in the final seconds of the second overtime on a shot from forward Tucker Hume. After gaining possession in the right side of the 18-yard box, Hume unleashed a shot that Epstein deflected wide with his legs.

"He made the plays to keep the game at 0, and he deserves credit," Somoano said.

After a flurry of corner kicks and a free kick in an attacking area, Stanford had the best opportunity to score in the first overtime on a header from Drew Skundrich, but he put if over goalkeeper James Pyle, who had six saves. Foster Langsdorf, the Stanford goal leader who scored in the team's first three tournament games and has 15 on the season, had three shots and two on goal but was unable to break the deadlock before the game went to penalty kicks.

"Any result like that is going to be tough to swallow," Storm said. "Stanford's a really good team. We each had our chances. National semifinal, it's going to be tough to swallow no matter what."

While Epstein was unable to stop any of North Carolina's penalties in the shootout, his saves late in the game enabled Stanford to continue its quest for a repeat.

"Andy's never really attracted much attention, but when you're his coach you appreciate him," Gunn said. "You can depend on him."

Stanford has won 15 of its last 18 games after starting the season with three ties and a loss. The Cardinal have yet to concede a goal through four tournament games, while North Carolina's season ends after a third consecutive tournament shutout.

After winning the first national championship in program history last season, Gunn praised his team for continuing to push forward this season.

"It's incredible," Gunn said. "You've always got to be optimistic. There's no point in being anything else. We started the year so well in January. I thought, 'These players are so hungry.'"