SJSU linebacker Keith Smith wins WAC defensive honors

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SJSU linebacker Keith Smith wins WAC defensive honors

Spartan junior linebacker Keith Smith was given the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors Monday for his prime-time performance helping the SJSU defense stop BYU in Saturday nights 20-14 win.
RELATED: SJSU's Fales breaks three school records in win over BYU
Smith tied a career high with 19 total tackles two for a loss and none more significant, impressive or timely than his final tackle, a nine-yard sack and forced fumble of Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson with 1:16 left in the game.The fumble was recovered by fellow linebacker Vince Buhagiar and stopped a forceful fourth-quarter BYU drive, which reached the Spartan 21-yard line before the turnover. It prevented the Cougars from creating some late-game heroics and led to a set of kneels from quarterback David Fales to secure the 20-14 win. In order to get to Nelson, Smith hurdled Cougar running back Jamaal Williams, who was blocking out of the backfield.Our whole motto all week was play harder for longer than they do, and we did, head coach Mike MacIntyre said Monday. When it looked like everything was falling apart, they rose to the occasion. His play, in that circumstance that late in the game, playing linebacker, playing every snap, 19 tackles, rushing the passer, running all around ... I cant explain what a Herculean effort that was.Most people would just run into the guy because theyre tired he hurdled the guy, pogo-stick jumped about four yards in the air, hits him hard, knocks the ball loose and we win the game.Smith, a native of Covina, Calif., is the fifth different Spartan defensive player to receive this award, joining Buhagiar, defensive end Travis Johnson (twice), safety Cullen Newsome and defensive back Bene Benwikere.Smith also received National Linebacker Performer of the Week honors by College Football Performance Awards for his stellar game on Saturday. SJSUs regular season will conclude this Saturday at Spartan Stadium when it faces Louisiana Tech. The game will be aired on ESPN2 with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. NATIONAL RECOGNITION SJSU received votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls in the same week for the first time this season.The Spartans were given eight votes in the AP poll, slotting them 33rd in the nation. They are ranked 32nd nationally according to the USA Today poll, which yielded seven votes for SJSU.Its a great acknowledgment for our coaching staff and our kids, they deserve that, MacIntyre said. If we keep winning, at the end of the day, it would be fun to stay there permanently.In addition to the team appearing in both polls, coach MacIntyre was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year, announced by Ron Jaworski, the clubs president.Im humbled by it, but the credit really goes to all of our players and coaching staff for their tireless efforts and work and the young men making the plays out there, MacIntyre said in reaction to his recognition. This is representation of the David Fales; the Ryan Ottens; the Noel Grigsbys; the Travis Johnsons; the Keith Smiths; the Vince Buhagiars its them doing it. Its a great honor to be able to honor them with it.The Spartans' nine wins this season exceeds the win total from the 2009 (2), 2010 (1) and 2011 (5) seasons combined.

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.