Spartans outduel Louisiana Tech, await bowl invitation

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Spartans outduel Louisiana Tech, await bowl invitation

The SJSU football team equaled its winningest season in program history Saturday night with a 52-43 win over Louisiana Tech University. The Spartans will now sit by the phone, with their heads held as high as they have been this entire season, awaiting a bowl invitation that is sure to come their way.SJSU outplayed the nation's top offense entering the game by out-gaining the Bulldogs 610-541 in total offense, obtaining the school's 10-win season since 1987.Its a dream, you dream of playing games like this its crazy, said quarterback David Fales, describing the teams second win in a row on national television. Im happy for the seniors to get them out like this. SJSU ends the regular season by handing LA Tech its first road loss of the season and grasping its first six-game winning streak since 1990, breaking records set the last time the Spartans defeated the Bulldogs en route to the accomplishment. The Spartans recorded 610 yards of total offense, the most since they defeated LA Tech 44-10 in 2006.My hats off to our team, to our captains, to our seniors, said head coach Mike MacIntyre. What a way to finish off the regular season, and thats fun to say because we have one more and we cant wait to play that one either.Our team captain said it best. David Quessenberry, he goes Guys, three years ago there were 120 Division I teams and we were probably No. 120. And today we can go out there and win 10 games on national television and show the world how far weve come, and those men have done it.Getting that tenth win was no walk in the park. The game was riddled with offense from both teams throughout, but SJSU (10-2, 5-1 WAC) was able to scrounge up enough defensive effort to stop LA Tech (9-3, 4-2 WAC) from keeping pace with its offense. Spartan defensive back Bene Benwikere intercepted three passes in the second half, the final being a game-sealing pick with just under a minute to play in the game. Coach Mac told us they were going to make plays; they were going make runs so we just had to stay focused and keep playing hard and thats what we did, Benwikere said. He told us dont get down whenever they make plays, make sure you make the play when its most important and I think the whole team definitely did that.MacIntyre said that with the explosive offense from LA Tech all he was hoping for was a turnover by his defense.I thought that if we could keep them from running, like we did, wed eventually pick them off and we did, MacIntyre said about the shootout nature of the football game. I kept thinking Dont turn the ball over and well win the football game because theyre going to turn it over and they did.Both teams offensive engines were set to full bore coming out of halftime, commencing a series of back-and-forth scores between the two teams. LA Tech scored on its first possession of the second half with a 29-yard field goal. SJSU responded about three minutes later with a 4-yard touchdown run by Ina Liaina to set the score at 31-30, SJSU lead.Just over a minute after Liaina found the end zone, LA Techs Myles White caught a 33-yard pass from quarterback Colby Cameron to the Bulldogs back ahead. Cameron finished the game with 468 yards on 38 of 59 passing, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Cameron hadnt thrown an interception all season until throwing two last week.The game saw its final lead change with a 32-yard touchdown run by SJSU running back DeLeon Eskridge, making the score 38-37. Eskridge tacked on another touchdown run of the 1-yard variety in the fourth quarter to pad the Spartan lead. Eskridge finished the evening with a single-game career-high 217 rushing yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns.I just was calm today, Eskridge said. I felt comfortable today. It was my last game, I wasn't overhyped I was just comfortable. The O-line blocks things up real well. Being loose helped be find the right reads but the holes were already there.LA Tech was able to creep back to within two points after the Eskridge 1-yard touchdown run. Cameron found Quinton Patton on a 10-yard pass with 11:37 left in the game but SJSU made sure the Bulldogs wouldnt complete the comeback. The Spartans scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Fales to wide receiver Jabari Carr to complete the games scoring at 52-43.Fales completed 25 of 37 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns in the game. He also broke the SJSU single-season record for completions, which was held by Scott Rislov, who completed 275 passes in 2002. Fales finished the regular season with 294 completions.Both the Bulldogs and the Spartans scored on their first possessions of the second half. LA Tech opened the second half with a 69-yard drive finished off with a 24-yard field goal by Matt Nelson. SJSU took its next drive 57 yards and scored a touchdown on a 4-yard run by Ina Liaina.LA Tech scored twice in rapid succession to end the first half. With 1:57 left in the second quarter, Cameron found Patton without a Spartan within a 5-yard radius for a 52-yard touchdown strike. That deep passing touchdown made the score 24-20 in favor of SJSU.Spartan kick returner Forrest Hightower fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting up LA Tech for a go-ahead drive with 1:46 in the first half. It did not take the Bulldogs long to capitalize, either. Cameron punched the ball into the end zone from a yard out just more than a minute later, sending the game into the half with a 27-24 Bulldog lead. The Spartans were able to make their way to the Bulldogs 28 yard line on their opening drive but were held short on third down, leading to an Austin Lopez 45-yard field goal to open the games scoring.The SJSU defense held LA Tech to just a single first down on its opening possession, returning the ball to the Spartans offense for another score. SJSU covered 88 yards on 8 plays on its second drive, capped by a 45-yard touchdown pass from Fales to Hansel Wilson, who crept out of the backfield and was found in stride.Hansel Wilson was an unsung hero of tonights ballgame, MacIntyre said.SJSUs other first-half turnover an interception by Fales early in the second quarter was turned into a scoring drive by the Bulldogs. A fake field goal shovel pass from David Gru to Malon Lee tricked the Spartan special teams and kept the Bulldogs within reach.As far as which bowl the Spartans will be invited to, the players and MacIntyre have no preference.I just want to be in one, MacIntyre said. I want our kids to in one and enjoy the moment. I dont know where well be, but I tell you what well be happy to be there and play the best we can play.

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.