Spartans mount second-half comeback to top Sac State


Spartans mount second-half comeback to top Sac State

Ron Gleeson

The SJSU men’s hoops team did not take a lead in Saturday night’s game against Sacramento State until the 9:35 mark of the second half but it did not look back once it found itself ahead.

“When you’ve been losing the whole game and you finally overcome, that point in the game where you take the lead is kind of a relief and a confidence booster,” said forward Chris Cunningham, who led all players with 17 rebounds. “It definitely helped us pick up and told us ‘Let’s really take care of business now, let’s end this game.’”

The Spartans outscored the Hornets 22-17 from that point on to claim the 62-57 win, the team’s third win in a row.

SJSU out-rebounded Sacramento State 59-34, including 24-12 on the offensive glass, but were unable to capitalize on many second-chance possession throughout the game, narrowly outscoring the Hornets 9-8 on second-chance points.

“When you get 24 offensive rebounds, you should convert a lot of those into points — 9 points on second chance and that’s not enough,” said coach George Nessman. “You can’t play artfully every game out. You have to be able to win a variety of wins if you’re going to be a good team and I think through these first games this season we’re starting to show that.”

The Spartans’ leading scorer James Kinney, who sat for 10 minutes of the first half with two personal fouls, led the SJSU comeback in the second half. Kinney scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and hit the go-ahead three-point shot to give SJSU its lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Guard D.J. Brown scored all of his seven points in the second half and converted seven of eight free throw attempts in the final two minutes to help seal the Spartan victory.

SJSU trailed 28-22 heading into halftime and Nessman said his message to team during the break was no remain focused on the game and to not let frustration get in the way.

“Mental challenge of don’t get frustrated, don’t get caught up in what just happened,” Nessman said, “pick something from it and just go forward, that’s all you can do. We did not play well in the first half but don’t come into the locker room and fret about it. Be resolved to go out there and play better and I think our guys got behind that spirit.”

SJSU played tough on the glass in the first half but was plagued by poor shooting and inability to capitalize on offensive rebounds. SJSU shot 25 percent from the floor in the first half while the Hornets outscored the Spartans 6-5 in second-chance points despite being out-rebounded 12-6 on the offensive glass.

Sacramento State saw its largest lead of the first half at the 10:52 mark. The Hornets finished a 11-0 run to make the score 20-8, causing those missed opportunities of converting offensive rebounds hurt even more for the Spartans.

“We weren't putting enough effort,” said guard Louis Garrett. “We’re accustomed to playing a style with a certain amount of energy and we felt that we didn’t have that in the first half.”

The Spartans’ next game is scheduled for Tuesday night against Santa Clara University.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset


Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset


BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.


A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find


From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”