Santa Clara tops SJSU in South Bay showdown

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Santa Clara tops SJSU in South Bay showdown

SAN JOSE -- Santa Clara University’s lead in the second half never dipped below 16 as the Broncos cruised to their ninth win in the last 11 meetings against SJSU, defeating the Spartans 75-54 and ending their three-game win streak.

Twice the Broncos’ second-half lead was cut to 16 by the Spartans but the Broncos were just too much as they outscored SJSU in both halves Tuesday night at the Event Center.

“They outplayed us, simple as that,” said SJSU head coach George Nessman. “They showed more poise and showed more mental sharpness than we did and that’s how they got the victory.”

Santa Clara was led by guard Evan Roquemore, who racked up 16 points and 5 assists while converting 3-5 from beyond the arc, and also received substantial contributions from several members of the team. Broncos guards Raymond Cowells III and Kevin Foster added 13 and 11 points, respectively, to help earn the Santa Clara victory.

For the game, SJSU collectively shot 25 percent (15-60) from the floor. Guard James Kinney, who entered the contest averaging 23 points per game, was limited by the Santa Clara defense, scoring just 19 points.

“We had to keep Kinney somewhat limited, make him earn it and he had to earn those I thought,” said Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating. “He made some really tough shots. We started to frustrate them a little bit and disrupt their flow and it really helped our pressure in other places as well.”

Nessman called the loss a lesson learned for the Spartans.

“We played a really good team and we didn’t play with a level of concentration that you need to,” he said. “We certainly had a lot of intensity but we didn’t do a good job focusing. We made a lot of careless mistakes and Santa Clara punished us for almost every one of them.”

While Santa Clara outscored SJSU 17-14 in points off turnovers both Nessman and Kinney said it felt like the spread was larger. Ten of SJSU’s 18 turnovers came in the first half, digging a hole the Spartans wouldn’t be able to climb out of.

“They counted on our mistakes, that’s pretty much the game right there,” Kinney said. “We didn’t execute offensively. We broke down on many of our sets and that leads to bad shots, poor decisions overall and transition points for Santa Clara going the other way.”

Santa Clara began to build a lead from the early minutes of the first half. Within the first five minutes the Broncos took a 14-5 lead and it became clear that Santa Clara was the more aggressive team.

SJSU’s defensive intensity showed promise later in the first half when it held Santa Clara scoreless for nearly four minutes, bringing the score to 16-12 in favor of the Broncos with 11:14 left in the first half.

A three-pointer from guard Brandon Clark, however, ignited the Santa Clara offense once again and sent the Broncos on a run that opened the game up early on. Over the next five minutes Santa Clara went on a 15-2 run, capped by a three-pointer from Roquemore, to give the Broncos a 31-14 lead with just less than seven minutes to play in the first.

Another 13-4 Bronco run to end the first sent the game into halftime with the score at 44-25. Roquemore led Santa Clara in scoring with 13 points and in assists with 3 at halftime.

“We didn’t function very well the first ten minutes of the game and that put us in a hole and then we played like we were in a hole and I think it affected out sharpness and Santa Clara took advantage of it,” Nessman said. “It wasn’t an effort issue, they were just playing a higher quality basketball in the first half and I think that’s why they got the lead they got.”

Nessman added that the team will now be able to take its time on the practice court and improve on many things — the team’s next game is not until Dec. 22 against James Madison.

“We need the time, clearly,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of games int he last two weeks and we’re a little worn down. We need to get back to the practice floor where we can have extended practices over a four day stretch where we don’t have to worry about an opponent. We have a lot of time now to focus on San Jose State and what we need to do.”

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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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

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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."