Gonzaga snaps Saint Mary's perfect WCC record

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Gonzaga snaps Saint Mary's perfect WCC record

BOX SCORESPOKANE -- Gonzaga was blown out last month in its first game against No. 16 Saint Mary's, and center Rob Sacre said the Bulldogs did not want that to happen again."We played our game, our tempo," Sacre said Thursday night after Gonzaga beat Saint Marys' 73-59 night to avenge the earlier loss to the West Coast Conference leader.Kevin Pangos scored 27 points for Gonzaga, and Sacre added 12 points and nine rebounds."We were hungry to get back at them," Sacre said of the 83-62 loss to the Gaels on Jan. 12.

The win kept alive the hopes of Gonzaga (19-4, 9-2) to win its 12th consecutive regular season title, the second-longest streak in Division 1 history after UCLA's 13 straight.But the Zags will need somebody to beat Saint Mary's (22-3, 11-1), which saw its 12-game winning streak snapped. Their last loss was Dec. 22 to No. 6 Baylor."I told them before the game, Everybody in the building needs to know who the toughest guys were,'" Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Our bigs played tough. Our guards played tough."Gary Bell Jr. scored 12 points and Elias Harris had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Gonzaga, which shot 52 percent while holding Saint Mary's to 38 percent. They dominated the rebounding 40-26.Few was impressed with the play of Pangos and Bell, freshmen guards who both played more than 30 minutes."They have big wills, big hearts," Few said.The game was a back-and-forth battle until the final 13 minutes, when Gonzaga outscored the Gaels 28-14."I think it's always defense," Pangos said of the late rally. "You start runs by getting stops."Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said the rebound difference was a key."They were just more aggressive there," Bennett said. "Eventually that paid off big dividends for them."Matthew Dellavedova had 20 points for Saint Mary's, which was just 5 of 21 from 3-point range.
RELATED: Dellavedova relishing leadership role"For the first 25 minutes, our defense was like good to OK," Dellavedova said. "But we broke down and they were getting lots of penetration and hitting a lot of open 3s."Gonzaga was 7 of 15 on 3s.Trailing by three points at halftime, Saint Mary's opened the second half with a 9-4 run to take a 40-38 lead. But consecutive 3-pointers by Pangos and Bell put Gonzaga ahead 44-40.The teams traded baskets until Pangos hit a 3-pointer with 8 minutes left to extend Gonzaga's lead to 56-49. Bell added another 3 a minute later and Gonzaga led 59-49.After two free throws by Dellavedova, Pangos hit his fifth 3-pointer in as many attempts for a 62-51 lead with 6 minutes left.Gonzaga jumped to a 14-8 lead, but Brad Waldow's basket put Saint Mary's up 17-16 with 10 minutes left. Pangos hit two 3-pointers as Gonzaga built a 26-21 lead.Dellavedova scored six points as Saint Mary's got within 30-29, but baskets by Sacre and Pangos staked Gonzaga to a 34-31 halftime lead.Gonzaga has won or shared the WCC regular season title every year since 2000-01.Gonzaga is 101-7 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

Local college players turn heads at respective Pro Days

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AP

Local college players turn heads at respective Pro Days

Last week both Stanford and Cal held “Pro Day,” an annual showcase where each school’s departing players audition for NFL scouts. 

To those unfamiliar with Pro Days, these events typically feature lots of men with stopwatches, a few TV news crews, and a group of players running 40-yard dashes, cone drills and 20-yard shuttles. The objective is to give NFL teams an opportunity to evaluate prospects up close and personal.

Since 1982, the top 300 or so prospects in the country have been invited each year to the NFL Scouting Combine, a centralized evaluation for all pro teams. Subsequent Pro Days held by individual schools provide a stage for players who weren’t invited to the combine. They also offer participants a chance to improve their combine performance or give interested teams another look.

At Cal’s Pro Day on Friday, Khalfani Muhammad turned a lot of heads with a 4.35 40-yard dash, faster than any running back recorded at the combine earlier this month. In fact, Muhammad’s time would have tied for fourth best overall. Wide receiver Chad Hansen also impressed with a 4.45 in the driving rain. Quarterback Davis Webb, who had some accuracy issues at the combine, had a good outing despite throwing a wet ball for much of the day. His predecessor, Jared Goff, was the No. 1 pick in last year’s NFL draft.

Stanford’s “Pro Timing Day” on Thursday attracted a lot of attention because of the presence of two projected first round draft picks — running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Over 40 NFL representatives were on hand, including 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Carolina Panthers head man Ron Rivera. Several sportswriters and local TV anchors covered the proceedings, which were also streamed live on ESPN3.

It was a far cry from the pre-Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw days, when Stanford had few pro prospects and Pro Days drew sparse turnouts. However, 31 Stanford players have been drafted in the last seven years, including four in the first round and six in the second. McCaffrey and Solomon will boost those numbers.

McCaffrey has been the Cardinal’s marquee player for the past two seasons. He set an NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards in 2015, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, and then rushed for 1,639 yards in ’16. Thomas had 25 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in the last two seasons and was named the Pac-12’s defensive lineman of the year last fall.

Surprisingly, most pundits now believe Thomas will go higher than McCaffrey in the draft. McCaffrey is currently projected to go middle or late first round. Thomas is expected to go in the top five. In fact, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper now has Thomas being taken with the No. 2 pick in the draft by that team down the road in Santa Clara.

NFL teams are split as to whether McCaffrey can be an every down back. Some see him as more of a complimentary, third-down type. At the combine, he excelled in the 40-yard dash (4.48), vertical jump (37.5”), cone drill (6.57) and both 20 and 60-yard shuttles (4.22 and 11.03), but did only 10 reps in the bench press. His overall rating at the combine was 5.99 (out of a possible 8.0). At Pro Day on Thursday, he put on a brilliant display in a number of receiving drills, showing off the versatility that many teams crave.

Thomas was one of the top performers at the combine, registering a 4.69 40, 30 reps in the bench press, a 126” broad jump, 6.95 cone drill and 4.28 shuttle. His overall rating was 6.85. On Pro Day, he did a number of position specific drills.

Unlike McCaffrey, who elected to skip the Cardinal’s post-season game, Thomas played in the Sun Bowl and elevated his pro stock with several game-changing plays. The NFL’s post-combine analysis noted: “Thomas' bowl performance against North Carolina opened a lot of eyes, as he was all over the field in the Cardinal's win in a way that isn't even reflected in an impressive stat line (seven tackles, two for loss, sack).”

According to one NFL observer at Pro Day, “In the bowl game, Thomas went from the second round to maybe the second pick in the draft.”

Stanford coach David Shaw, understandably, is a huge fan of both players. He chafes at the suggestion McCaffrey can’t be an every down back.

“People may not want to talk about it, but race is a component in that discussion,” he told me at Pro Day. “Some teams want to put Christian in a box. ‘He’s a white running back, another Danny Woodhead.’ Well, he’s not. If you look at the film, what he did at the combine, and here today, he’s more of a Reggie Bush or a Ladainian Tomlinson. He’s a difference maker.”

Shaw also marveled at Thomas’s rise up the draft boards since his Sun Bowl performance.

“That’s the beauty of bowl games,” Shaw said. “What might seem meaningless to one guy can make 10 million dollars for another.”

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame, punches ticket to Final Four

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USATSI

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame, punches ticket to Final Four

BOX SCORE

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Alanna Smith's jumper with 23 seconds left capped Stanford's rally from a 16-point deficit in the second half, Erica McCall blocked a last-second shot and the Cardinal edged top-seeded Notre Dame 76-75 Sunday to reach its first Final Four since 2014.

Brittany McPhee scored 27 as the second-seeded Cardinal (32-5) won its eighth in a row overall. This was the third straight year Stanford and Notre Dame have met in the NCAA Tournament, with the Cardinal winning twice.

Down 47-31 in the third quarter, Stanford surged to end Notre Dame's 17-game winning streak. The Irish (33-4) had a final shot, but McCall blocked Arike Ogunbowale's drive near the basket.

The win in the Lexington Regional gives Stanford a chance to pursue its third national championship under coach Tara VanDerveer.

Among those in the crowd at Rupp Arena was Jon Samuelson, whose daughter, Karlie, scored 15 for Stanford. A day earlier, he was at the Bridgeport Regional to see another daughter, UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson, help the Huskies win their 110th straight game.

Smith finished with 15 points.

Ogunbowale had 25 and Marina Mabrey 20 for Notre Dame, which had sought its sixth Final Four in seven seasons.

After driving for a basket with 51 seconds left, Smith added her biggest shot for the go-ahead score. Stanford then denied Notre Dame's Lindsay Allen and Ogunbowale on successive attempts in the final 15 seconds to spark a wild celebration.

THE BIG PICTURE:
Stanford once again proved no deficit was too big to overcome. The Cardinal shot 12 of 26 on 3-pointers, Samuelson and McPhee each making five. Not bad, considering Stanford shot 2 of 15 overall in the second quarter while getting outscored 23-7. ... McCall had 15 rebounds.

Notre Dame seemed to do everything right for most of the game but couldn't stop Stanford's perimeter game in the second half. The Irish also made just 11 of 31 shots after halftime and were topped 33-32 on the boards.

UP NEXT:
Stanford faces the South Carolina-Florida State winner in the Final Four in Dallas next weekend.