Saint Mary's, Purdue with something to prove

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Saint Mary's, Purdue with something to prove

NCAA scoreboard

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- No one is more excited about Purdue's NCAA tournament game against Saint Mary's than Robbie Hummel.

The Boilermakers' star is right back where he wants to be after missing the tournament the past two years because of two anterior cruciate ligament tears in his right knee.

No. 10-seeded Purdue (21-12) meets the No. 7 Gaels (27-5) on Friday in the Midwest Regional. Hummel is looking for a big finish to his career after returning to average 16.7 points and 7.1 rebounds this season while making first-team all-Big Ten.

"Sitting out the last two years, it's been frustrating," Hummel said Thursday. "It's made this time all the more special for me. When you miss something like that - where you've grown up watching the tournament and always wanting to play in it - it's disappointing to not be with your team."

RATTO: Saint Mary's no longer a Cinderella

Hummel and the Boilermakers are playing some of their best ball lately. The 6-foot-8 senior forward scored better than 21 points per game last month and the Boilermakers won six of eight before losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

"He's had a long road and didn't get into rhythm shooting the basketball until February," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "You see all his hard work paying off and you feel good about him. He deserves to have this opportunity."

Hummel and his teammates will be facing a motivated Saint Mary's team. The Gaels reached the round of 16 two years ago but had to settle for an NIT bid last season.

"Our guys took that pretty hard," coach Randy Bennett said.

The Gaels, who swept the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles, are among only five teams to have won at least 25 games each of the last five years. They still have seven players from the 2009-10 team that put the school on the college basketball map.

"I think that experience will definitely help us down the stretch," senior forward Rob Jones said. "We need leadership, and also when it comes down to a tight game, we will have a lot of confidence in ourselves."

Purdue and Saint Mary's have never met. The Gaels, in fact, haven't played an opponent from the Big Ten since 1976.

RATTO: No 'chip' on shoulder of Gaels

Hummel earned all-Big Ten honors his freshman and sophomore seasons and was averaging 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds as a junior before he tore his ACL the first time on Feb. 24, 2010. Purdue still made it to the regional semifinals.

The Boilermakers figured to be a national-title contender in 2010-11, but Hummel tore the ACL again and missed the entire season.

Bennett gushed at his news conference Thursday when Hummel's name was brought up.

"First of all, he's a legend," Bennett said. "He must have a big heart. I don't know him that well. I just watch him compete. For him to come back and get his team back in the NCAA tournament ... he's got what you want and what it takes to be a special guy. I've heard about him for years and to finally see him up close is kind of fun, until tomorrow."

There were times earlier this season when Hummel let doubts creep into his mind about whether he would be as effective as he used to be.

"Will I be able to play at a high level again? Will I be able to just shoot the ball?" he said. "There were times that I was asking myself if I'll be on the court, or will our team be in (the NCAA tournament)?"

Hummel scored a season-high 29 points against Nebraska on Feb. 22, three nights after grabbing a season-high 15 rebounds against Michigan State.

There was no doubt Hummel had made it all the way back.
RATTO: NCAA Tourney denies SMC, Cal a Bay Area showcase

"Most guys will quit," Purdue point guard Lewis Jackson said. "You had to guess if he's going to be the same player, or does he want to get back out there? When I'm tired, if I'm nicked up, I look at what he's been through and tell myself you need to be out there giving your heart just because he's out there giving his, too."

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

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Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

PROVO, Utah — Saint Mary's knows all about the raucous atmosphere at BYU. The Gaels hadn't won in Provo since 2013 and had only come out on top in three of their previous 12 trips.

Make it four out of 13.

Calvin Hermanson scored 17 points and No. 22 Saint Mary's cruised to a 70-57 victory over BYU on Saturday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak to its West Coast Conference rival.

"It's definitely one of the tougher places to play for us," Hermanson said. "Coming in here we know it's a huge crowd and we know they can get riled up on any 3-point shot or any run they make. We wanted to try to limit their runs and their big plays.

"The second half was pretty unbelievable how quiet the crowd was. It felt great for us."

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Gaels (24-3, 14-2) clinched a second-place finish in the conference standings behind top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga.

Saint Mary's controlled the game most of the night, riding its staunch defense on one end and running efficient offense on the other. The Gaels were able to get to the rim consistently, but also knocked down 10 3-pointers.

BYU (19-10, 10-6) shot 39.7 percent from the field and connected on four 3s.

Evan Fitzner had 15 points for Saint Mary's, including 11 in the second half.

"We didn't turn the ball over and we shot the ball well," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said, "and were able to get some separation and then it made it tough on them. We kind of just wore them out after that.

"We're a little different team with Fitzner out there. He spaces the floor," Bennett added. "We just play a little different with Fitzner out there versus Jock (Landale). It's nice to have a Plan A and Plan B."

Saint Mary's took a 41-30 lead into halftime thanks to Hermanson's hot shooting and plenty of that trademark defense. The Gaels began the day ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, then held the Cougars to 37.9 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Saint Mary's shot 57.1 percent at the other end, including a 3-for-4 effort from Hermanson from behind the arc.

"I feel like we're better than we showed tonight," BYU guard TJ Haws said. "That team made a lot of runs on us. Tough defensive and offensive team. Very poised and disciplined.

"I want our team to just fight. When they punch us in the face, I want us to punch them right back."

BYU kept Landale under control in the half — and in foul trouble throughout — but Saint Mary's scored 22 of its 41 first-half points in the paint.

Eric Mika had 18 points for BYU, and Yoeli Childs added 13.

"The key to the game was that they were comfortable the entire time in our gym," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "That's on us. We need to be ahead. We need to get them to speed up a little bit because they're a little bit uncomfortable.

"But the game went pretty much exactly how they wanted it to go and we couldn't flip it. We couldn't get on top."

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary's: The Gaels will be the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament. No. 1 Gonzaga secured the regular-season title Saturday with a win over Pacific. An early December defeat to UT-Arlington is the Gaels' only bad loss this season, with the other two coming against Gonzaga.

BYU: The Cougars likely needed a win against the No. 22 team in the country to make an argument for the NCAA Tournament off their regular-season credentials. BYU has lost all three games against ranked opponents by double digits, including to Saint Mary's twice, and doesn't have a signature win. The Cougars get one last chance against Gonzaga next Saturday.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 22 Saint Mary's might find itself moving up a bit after No. 17 Florida State and No. 21 South Carolina lost on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary's: Travel to face Pepperdine on Thursday.

BYU: Play at Portland on Thursday.

Pickens, Travis rally Stanford past rival Cal for upset win

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Pickens, Travis rally Stanford past rival Cal for upset win

BOX SCORE

STANFORD -- Dorian Pickens scored 23 points, Reid Travis had 19 with nine rebounds and Stanford held on to beat California 73-68 on Friday night.

Marcus Allen added 11 points for the Cardinal, who overcame an early 12-point deficit to beat their cross-bay rivals for the 21st time in the last 24 meetings between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (13-13, 5-9 Pac-12) won for only the second time in seven games and split the season series with California.

Pickens had nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as part of a 20-5 run in the second half when the Cardinal pulled away.

After California closed within 62-56 on Grant Mullins' 3-pointer with 4:54 remaining, Allen made two free throws and Pickens scored on a jumper from the free-throw line as he was falling backward onto the court.

Jabari Bird scored 23 points and set a career-high with seven 3s for the Golden Bears (18-8, 9-5). Ivan Rabb added 16 points and 13 rebounds after being slowed by foul trouble in the first half.