NCAA

Stanford women oust South Carolina, move to Elite 8

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Stanford women oust South Carolina, move to Elite 8

FRESNO -- Dawn Staley tried having her South Carolina team defend Nnemkadi Ogwumike every which way from fronting the Stanford star, to double-teaming her, playing her straight up and pushing her out to the perimeter.

Nothing worked. No doubt, this was Nneka's night.

Ogwumike had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and top-seeded Stanford moved one win away from a fifth straight Final Four with a 76-60 victory over the No. 5 seed Gamecocks on Saturday night to reach the Fresno Regional final.

Now, Duke is all that stands in the way for Stanford to get to Denver.

Ogwumike shot 14 for 22 and made 11 of 12 free throws, and Toni Kokenis added 12 points and seven boards as the Cardinal (34-1) ran their school-record winning streak to 31 games with a hard-fought victory.

"I don't want any game to be my last, except for next weekend," she said. I play for my teammates. I play for my coaches. It's been one crazy journey. To be out there and know how bad teams want to beat us, that's motivation enough."

Markeshia Grant scored 14 points and made four 3-pointers and La'Keisha Sutton had 18 for scrappy South Carolina (25-10), which hung tough in its first regional semifinals since 2002 despite a significant height disadvantage.

Stanford will play Monday night against the second-seeded Blue Devils, who beat St. John's 74-47 in Saturday's first game at the Save Mart Center. The Cardinal have a large contingent of fans who made the three-hour drive from the Bay Area.

"Nneka just would not be denied," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.

The Hall of Fame coach topped her former U.S. Olympic star, Staley. The two captured a gold medal together in the 1996 Atlanta Games, with VanDerveer taking a year off from Stanford to coach the Americans.

But it wasn't as easy as Stanford usually has it South Carolina's guards regularly answered on the offensive end after baskets by Stanford. The Cardinal received their biggest push since a 74-71 overtime victory over rival California at home in Maples Pavilion on Jan. 28.

"I thought we played as well as we could play considering who we were playing and the type of night Nneka Ogwumike said," Staley said. "My hat goes off to our players who fought so hard and gave all they had."

Nneka Ogwumike took over down the stretch, even playing with three fouls for the final 17:20.

She scored on a leaping layup off a reverse pivot with 9:23 left to put her team up 56-48. She hit one free throw with 8:54 to play, then drew a charge on Ashley Bruner moments later before scoring over Bruner for an 11-point lead of 59-48. Staley quickly called timeout.

South Carolina tried to mix it up defensively against Ogwumike to get her out of sync.

"Looking at the stat sheet it doesn't look like anything worked," Staley said. "She had a tremendous night. We made her work for every 39 of her points. When someone has it going on like that there's not much you can do but give her different looks."

Kokenis had a steal in the backcourt and drove the full length of the floor for a three-point play with 5:10 remaining to make it 68-54 and cap a 9-0 Stanford run.

Joslyn Tinkle banked in a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the first half with Stanford leading 36-30 despite getting points from only four players. Nneka Ogwumike shot 7 for 12, while the rest of the team went 7 of 20.

The Cardinal got a couple of scares with Chiney Ogwumike going down twice. She hit the ground awkwardly on her braced right knee on a first-half rebound attempt. She was undercut by South Carolina's Courtney Newton, but the sophomore stayed in the game after being helped up by her big sister.

With 15:11 remaining, she drove the lane and was bumped by Ebony Wilson. She lay on the ground in pain, grabbing to stretch her troublesome right knee while holding her sister's hand. Chiney Ogwumike sat down and iced the knee before returning less than a minute later.

"They were relentless inside. They outrebounded us, which isn't very common. It's something we'll have to watch tape about," Nneka Ogwumike said. "I knew in my heart we were going to win. I could see it in our eyes."

The talented Ogwumike sister tandem combined to score their team's first 10 points, and the Cardinal led by as many as 10 in the first half.

South Carolina advanced to the NCAA's round of 16 for the third time in program history and first under fourth-year coach Staley. And this group looked drastically different from the Gamecocks team that took a 70-32 whipping on Stanford's home floor in Maples Pavilion on Nov. 26, 2010. That day, Staley asked VanDerveer to spend a few minutes with the South Carolina players in the locker room after the Hall of Famer earned career victory No. 797.

The Gamecocks beat six ranked opponents this season but couldn't pull off the upset this time.

"I think we were a resilient group just coming in four years ago from our 10-18 season to the Sweet Sixteen," Sutton said. "I definitely feel this is something special at the University of South Carolina. I definitely think we'll be back every year from now on."

VanDerveer eliminated Staley from the NCAA tournament again. The Cardinal beat Staley during her college career at Virginia in the NCAA semifinals in both 1990 and '92, and Stanford went on to win it all both times. But VanDerveer's teams haven't captured a title since '92.

Likely WNBA No. 1 pick Nneka Ogwumike hopes to do her part to change that.

"Whoever has the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, they're going to get a nice solid player who's going to help them right away," Staley said.

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

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AP

Pac-12 basketball teams near Barcelona terrorist attack safe

Men's basketball teams from Oregon State, Clemson and Arizona were staying at a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, near where a van drove into pedestrians on Thursday, but team officials said everyone was safe.

Spanish police have confirmed they are investigating the bloodshed in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district as a terror attack. The area is a popular summer tourist spot.

Tulane also was playing in Barcelona, but it was unclear if they were staying in the same hotel as the other teams.

Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb posted to Facebook: "We are all luckily ok. Our hotel/restaurant is located right on Las Ramblas. This tragedy happened right in front of us as our team just sat down for pregame meal. Thoughts and prayers for all those that are were hurt."

The Beavers' game Thursday night was canceled. It was supposed to be the first of a five-game tour.

Clemson was scheduled to play Thursday night against a Spanish All-Star team.

"We've been in contact with our men's basketball program currently in Barcelona and the entire travel party is safe and secure. Their exhibition game for tonight has been cancelled and the team will return to Clemson as previously scheduled tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the people of Barcelona," the South Carolina school said in a statement.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that the three teams were staying in the same hotel.

"We are fine. Thankful to be safe and together," Brownell wrote.

Tulane athletic director Troy Tannen confirmed via social media that the Green Wave players and staff were safe.

Replying to a Twitter inquiry from a Portland television about whether the team was OK, Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle responded: "Yes we are, happened directly in front of our hotel while we were having a team meal in the restaurant, so senseless and sad! All accounted4."

Oregon State said it has not yet determined the remaining schedule for the team, which was supposed to be on the exhibition tour until Aug. 25.

A spokesman for Arizona said the Wildcats have canceled their third and final exhibition of their tour and "are currently working on travel plans to return home."

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

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USATSI

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
 
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
 
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
 
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
 
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
 
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans.