Stanford's defense lifts Cardinal past Spartans 20-17

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Stanford's defense lifts Cardinal past Spartans 20-17

STANFORD (AP) -- David Shaw has never been one to show too much emotion, keeping his cool no matter the circumstances. He heaps praise on players but isn't afraid to call out poor performances, either.Late Friday night was different.Following No. 21 Stanford's season-opening 20-17 victory over San Jose State, the second-year coach had little patience trying to explain one of the most frustrating games of his tenure. At one point, a reporter asked him if this season might be more fun without No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, considering the room for growth his young team could make."Fun?" Shaw asked. "For whom?"Certainly not for the coach.The post-Luck era got off to a disappointing debut, with former backup Josh Nunes throwing for 125 yards and a touchdown, and struggling to move the offense in the running game before getting bailed out by Jordan Williamson's rejuvenated right foot.Williamson kicked a career-long 46-yard field goal and the go-ahead score from 20 yards to save Stanford from what would've been a stunning start to this season."It was real close," senior running back Stepfan Taylor said. "But close will get you beat in a heartbeat."Almost did.Williamson, who missed three field goals - including a potential game-winner in regulation - in a 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2, might have been the only one with a reason to hold his head down following that fantastic effort from both sides.Now he might be the only Stanford player who should hold his head high after a shaky start this season.Nunes finished 16 for 26 with no interceptions in place of Luck, but the offense stalled when it counted most - and it almost cost the Cardinal (1-0) dearly against the Spartans (0-1)."We were close to doing a lot of really good things tonight," Nunes said. "But close doesn't always win football games."It usually loses them.The David Fales-Blake Jurich quarterback combo gave Stanford fits until De'Leon Eskridge fumbled in Spartans territory late in the third quarter. That set up Williamson's tiebreaking kick, giving the redshirt sophomore a small stroke of redemption after months of public silence and tissues and tears back home."That shows the kind of person he is," said Taylor, who ran for 116 yards and a touchdown. "That's a lot of pressure, and missing them in the Fiesta Bowl you know all the pressure is going to be on him. He's cold blooded."So was San Jose State's passing game.Fales threw for 216 yards with one touchdown and an interception that landed in the hands of Ed Reynolds with 71 seconds remaining to seal Stanford's victory. Jurich ran for 32 yards and a score.The fight Stanford showed so many times behind Luck dissolved.With the two-time Heisman Trophy finalist now with the Indianapolis Colts, the Cardinal converted only 2 of 13 third downs (although it was 2 for 3 on fourth downs) and allowed the Spartans to move methodically at times down field. San Jose State outgained Stanford 288 to 280 in total yards.Stanford beat San Jose State 57-3 last year and has won five straight meetings."Since we got our butts kicked here last year, we could have won every game since," third-year San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre said. "So we're making progress. We're getting bigger, stronger and faster. We're making strides. But in no way, shape or form is this a moral victory. We're a better football team, but we have to finish it off."Taylor ran for 38 yards almost untouched until a defender tackled him on the game's first drive. Remound Wright converted a fourth-and-1 from the 10-yard line, and Taylor dived over the pile for a 1-yard TD on fourth down to give Stanford a 7-0 lead.Nunes quickly led Stanford down field again and tossed a perfect ball in the corner on a stop-and-go route by Drew Terrell for an 11-yard score and his first career touchdown pass.The first-game hiccups eventually surfaced, though, and bubbling later than expected until they almost completely popped Stanford's season.Game-clock management became an issue on Stanford's final drive of the first half, tossing a short pass over the middle to tight end Zach Ertz, then throwing incomplete and running on third down to settle for a field goal. Williamson, who tore a groin muscle last October and was never the same when he returned, made his career-high 46-yarder as time expired to extend Stanford's lead to 17-3."I feel like I finally put everything from the past in the past and now I can focus on the future," a smiling Williamson said. "It was a tremendous feeling."All the same problems that plagued the Cardinal defense in losses last year to Oregon and Oklahoma State - no cornerback coverage, poor open-field tackling and quarterback pressure when it counts - looked even worse with two new starting safeties.Jurich ran for a short touchdown on San Jose State's first possession of the third quarter and Fales floated a 21-yard touchdown pass to Noel Grigsby to tie the score at 17-all late in the third quarter.Fales, who transferred from Monterey Peninsula Community College in the spring, redshirted at Nevada in 2009 but quickly had San Jose State in position for the season's first shocking upset.One mistake ended all that.Reynolds stripped Eskridge on a pitch play, and Usua Amanam recovered the fumble at San Jose State's 38-yard line. Stanford's offense stalled again, and Williamson made his second field goal.San Jose State stuffed Taylor on fourth-and-1 with fewer than 7 minutes to play, sending MacIntyre jumping and high-fiving all over the sideline and on the field. Fales and the offense failed to even get a first down on the next two possessions and Reynolds stepped in front of his final pass to close out San Jose State's rally.

Rahon's season-high paces Saint Mary's rout of Pepperdine

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AP

Rahon's season-high paces Saint Mary's rout of Pepperdine

BOX SCORE

MORAGA -- Saint Mary's guard Joe Rahon shook his head in disbelief and shrugged his shoulders while running back on defense after getting blocked by Pepperdine's Chris Reyes midway through the second half.

It was one of the few things that didn't go Rahon's way in the Gaels' second straight blowout win.

Rahon scored 17 of his season-high 22 points in the first half and No. 23 Saint Mary's beat Pepperdine 85-65 on Saturday night.

"Our team's all about the open guy takes the shot and tonight I was able to get in the lane and make a few layups to get a rhythm going," Rahon said after shooting 9 of 13 with three 3-pointers. "That's kind of what makes us good offensively. We're unselfish and we don't really care who gets all the credit."

Rahon had plenty of support while helping Gaels coach Randy Bennett to his 350th career win.

Calvin Hermanson added 19 points and Jock Landale had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Gaels (17-2, 7-1 West Coast Conference) led by double figures nearly the entire second half.

It was also a nice bounceback for Saint Mary's, which lost to Pepperdine twice during the regular season in 2016 before knocking the Waves out of the postseason conference tournament.

"Our guys definitely knew that," Bennett said. "We respected them because they'd gotten us three times in the last three years. Not many teams have. They have."

It wasn't as close this time around despite another big night from Pepperdine's Lamond Murray Jr., who scored 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. It's the fifth consecutive game in which Murray has had at least 23.

The Waves (5-15, 1-7) couldn't keep pace with the Gaels' big three of Rahon, Hermanson and Landale. The trio accounted for 66 percent of Saint Mary's points and teamed for 18 rebounds and 11 assists.

After Pepperdine pulled within 72-63 on Murray's basket with 4:48 remaining, Rahon made one of two free throws, Emmet Naar had a 3-pointer and Rahon scored on a driving layup to help the Gaels to the win before a packed house at McKeon Pavilion.

"That's where playing together all last year helps," Rahon said. "You've been in the situation so many times that you look around and no one's rattled, no one's losing their confidence. We just have a lot of composed guys on our team."

Rahon, whose previous season high was 14 points, made seven of his first nine shots to eclipse that mark before halftime. Hermanson added 15 points, including an emphatic dunk on a baseline drive while Landale scored 11 points to give Saint Mary's a 47-33 lead.

MURRAY'S GROWTH:
Bennett has never coached Murray, only against him, but the Gaels coach sounded like a proud father after watching the Waves' leading scorer repeatedly torch his team's defense. "He's a really good player now," Bennett said. "He's as good a scorer as there is in our league. I think he's the best scorer in the league. It's just fun to see guys improve like that. He's made a big jump."

BIG PICTURE:
Pepperdine: The Waves have lost five straight and 14 of 15. ... Nolan Taylor's 3-pointer in the first half was the first of the season for the 6-foot-7, 250-pound freshman forward. ... Two days after becoming the school's career assists leader, Major was held without one for the first 14 1/2 minutes against Saint Mary's.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels responded to last week's loss to No. 4 Gonzaga with a pair of blowout wins at home, exactly the way Bennett expected. They have one more home game before playing four straight on the road. ... The 85 points are the Gaels' second-most this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS:
Saint Mary's is likely to move up a few spots after three of the eight teams in front of the Gaels lost at least once this week.

UP NEXT:
Pepperdine: Returns home to host Portland on Thursday night.

Saint Mary's: Closes out its three-game homestand against San Francisco on Jan. 26. The Gaels won the first matchup between the two teams earlier this season 63-52 at Memorial Gym.

Rabb bounces back, leads Cal past Oregon State

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AP

Rabb bounces back, leads Cal past Oregon State

BOX SCORE

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- California sophomore Ivan Rabb rebounded from a disappointing game against Oregon with 18 points against Oregon State.

Rabb added eight rebounds and the Golden Bears handed the Beavers their seventh straight loss with a 69-58 victory Saturday night.

Rabb, who had been averaging 15.4 points in conference play, was held to an uncharacteristic four points in Cal's 86-63 loss to the No. 11 Ducks.

"Shots weren't dropping and I wasn't getting to the free-throw line," Rabb said. "But tonight I made an effort to get to the line, knock down shots, and just be more patient on the block. Overall, my teammates played better, I played better and we were way better as a team."

Charlie Moore added 15 for Cal, (14-6, 5-3 Pac-12), which led the Beavers by as many as 14 points after a close first half. Jabari Bird and Grant Mullins each added 12 for the Bears, who were coming off the loss to the Ducks but have won four of their last five games.

Drew Eubanks had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Oregon State (4-16, 0-7). Stephen Thompson Jr. added 19 points for his 13th straight game in double figures.

The Beavers have struggled without top scorer Tres Tinkle, who was averaging 20.2 points a game before he broke his right wrist on Nov. 25 against Fresno State. Tinkle has missed 14 games.

"I just think we have more bodies with more experience," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Not that they didn't play hard - they have a lot of talent, they have young talent. Of course they're missing key players - probably one of the best players in our league in Tres - but we knew they'd make plays. We knew Stevie as well as Drew were good enough to carry those guys. We just had to utilize our experience, our older guys and also our bodies, try to run in transition and ultimately get to Ivan Rabb to make plays."

Cal led most of the first half but the Beavers kept up. Thompson's layup and free throw pulled Oregon State within 15-14 before Moore answered with a layup for the Bears on the other end.

Mullins' 3-pointer and Kingsley Okoroh's dunk put the Bears up 20-16. Bird's 3 extended the lead to 34-25 but Oregon State closed the gap late in the half and trailed 34-29 at halftime. Eubanks led all scorers at the break with 12.

The Beavers got within 38-34 on JaQuori McLaughlin's layup and free throw. It was as close as Oregon State would come and Bird made a 3-pointer that pushed California's lead to 48-36 with 12:42 to go.

"It's tough to say we're making strides, but we did some positive things," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. "I'm proud of the guys for their effort but I've got to do some searching here because I'm having a hard time getting these guys to focus for 40 minutes. That's on me. I've got to do a better job, because we're still continuing to shoot ourselves in the foot, and we're a ways in the season."

The two teams split the regular season series last year, and Cal beat Oregon State 76-68 in the Pac-12 tournament last season. Cal had won eight of the last 12 meetings going into Saturday's game.

BIG PICTURE:
California: With his first 3-pointer early in the opening half, Bird upped his career total to 154, surpassing Randy Duck (1994-97) for 10th place on Cal's all-time list.

Oregon State: Oregon State players have missed 42 games due to injuries this season. In addition to Tinkle, center Cheikh N'diaye is out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury. Eubanks has a sore thigh that's bothering him. ... Oregon State was coming off a 62-46 loss at home to Stanford on Thursday.

BREAK TIME:
Cal has eight days off before they host rival Stanford. While the break is nice, Rabb was already eager to play the Cardinal.

"Yeah, we're looking forward to it," Rabb said. "It's a rivalry game. It's going to be a high energy game. It's going to be a great atmosphere at Hass Pavilion."

UP NEXT:
California: The Golden Bears return home to face rival Stanford next Sunday. The Cardinal fell 69-52 to Oregon earlier on Saturday.

Oregon State: The Beavers visit Colorado on Thursday.