Rabb, Bird help push Cal past Washington State

rabb-washington-state-ap.jpg
AP

Rabb, Bird help push Cal past Washington State

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Even as Jabari Bird was mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, California coach Cuonzo Martin encouraged him to keep shooting.

Bird followed the advice and came through with a pivotal 3-pointer to keep the Golden Bears in the thick of things in the Pac-12.

Bird made a key 3-pointer in the final minute, Charlie Moore made two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining and California hung on to beat Washington State 58-54 on Saturday.

"He has to keep shooting because the shots were there," Martin said of Bird, who went 0-for-6 before his clutch shot from beyond the arc. "I don't know if he was necessarily pressing. The shots didn't fall."

Bird made the only one that mattered with 52.9 seconds remaining, although the Golden Bears (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) still had to sweat out the ending.

The game was delayed for several moments with 18.2 seconds left as officials reviewed video following a missed jumper by Washington State's Malachi Flynn. California was initially credited with the rebound but the call was later changed to give the Cougars possession.

Flynn was then called for a charge while driving to the basket. Moore was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and made both free throws to seal the win for the Bears.

"We made plays defensively," said California's Ivan Rabb after scoring 14 points with 12 rebounds. "We did a good job of exploiting matchups on the other end. A win is a win."

Rabb recorded his ninth double-double this season despite an off-night shooting. Rabb made just 4 of 11 shots and missed three free throws over the final 3 1/2 minutes.

Flynn scored 20 points while Josh Hawkinson had seven with 12 rebounds for the Cougars (9-8, 2-3), who have dropped three straight following a season-high four-game winning streak.

"Getting in foul trouble hurt us because I thought they had a hard time guarding us in the first half so we could spread the floor," Washington State coach Ernie Kent said.

Robert Franks made three 3-pointers and Flynn had 10 points to help Washington State to an early 12-point lead before the Cougars went cold, missing their three final shots with two turnovers over the final 3:46.

Rabb, California's leading scorer who had double-doubles in four of his first five conference games this season, didn't make his first basket until banking in a two-footer to jumpstart a 7-0 run that pulled the Bears within 29-28 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE:
Washington State: The Cougars led for much of the game but went cold offensively at the end of each half. Hawkinson remains four double-doubles shy of the Cougars career record of 53 held by Steve Puidokas (1974-77). Hawkinson's 49 double-doubles leads all active Division I players.

California: Yet another game the Bears could have and should have won comfortably. Instead they couldn't get much going offensively outside of Rabb and they couldn't find an answer for Flynn. California did get some big minutes off the bench from Stephen Domingo but Martin's team has to find a complementary scorer to help ease the pressure off Rabb. Bird had four points to go over 1,000 for his career.

BEARS GO ZONE:
Martin rarely takes his teams out of the man-to-man defenses that the Bears have been utilizing most of the season but California's coach switched up and went to a zone at times against Washington State to disrupt the perimeter shooting after the Cougars made five 3-pointers in the first half. "We never know when he's going to go to it but the past couple of games he's been switching defenses a lot to keep the other team off balance," guard Sam Singer said. "It helped us tonight, especially when they (went) small)."

COUGAR SPLASH BROTHER:
A day after having his high school jersey retired in Southern California, Klay Thompson of the NBA's Golden State Warriors - who played three seasons with the Cougars from 2008-2010 - attended the game and sat courtside wearing a WSU shirt.

UP NEXT:
Washington State: The Huskies return to Pullman to host Utah on Wednesday.

California: Goes back on the road and will play at No. 13 Oregon on Thursday.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

josh-jackson-kansas-ap.jpg

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

uncwins-ap.jpg
AP

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.

An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.

"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.

Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.

Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.

"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."

Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

Thank goodness for free throws.

They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.

"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."

Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.

He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.

"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."

The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.

"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."