UCLA’s AD Martin Jarmond faces many challenges with new job

Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Most new athletic directors who take over in July have the luxury of getting acclimated to their new school before things really ramp up in two months. That isn’t going to be the case for the start of Martin Jarmond’s tenure at UCLA.

“You would like have something resembling normalcy, but I have to come in and embrace the challenges,” said Jarmond, who officially took the helm on Wednesday. “I’m not the only one going through what is an uncertain time.”

The 39-year old Jarmond was named UCLA’s first Black athletic director in May. He is also the first AD in the program’s 101-year history who has no prior ties to the university. He replaces Dan Guerrero, who led his alma mater for 18 years.

Jarmond, who was hired in Westwood after three years leading Boston College’s athletic department, has a lot on his plate. Not only is there trying to navigate 23 teams in 15 sports through the coronavirus pandemic, but there is the added challenge of Under Armour trying to terminate its record apparel contract with the university. The company informed UCLA last week of its intentions.

The two sides are four years into a 15-year deal worth $280 million, which remains the highest in college athletics. Under Armour pays $11 million per year in rights and marketing fees as well as contributing $2 million per year to aid in facility improvements. Under terms of the contract, the company is supposed to supply $6.85 million in athletic apparel, footwear and uniforms.

Jarmond reiterated last week’s statement that the matter is being evaluated by the university and its attorneys.

Under Armour cited the team’s struggles in its highest profile sports as a reason for ending the partnership. The football program has had a losing record four straight seasons, including a 7-17 mark in Chip Kelly’s first two seasons, which has led to declining attendance at the Rose Bowl. Men’s basketball struggled the first half of last season but won nine of its last 11 in Mick Cronin’s first season.

On-field performance though will eventually rise on Jarmond’s list of priorities. His first task is trying to make sure UCLA’s teams can return healthy once games begin. The campus started welcoming athletes in football and fall Olympic sports last week, beginning with testing before they could progress to offseason conditioning drills.

The NCAA recently approved a plan allowing for extended football and basketball workouts, but the county has not cleared UCLA for that timeline yet. The university reports that 75 members of the campus community have tested positive, but doesn’t specify whether they are athletes. This past week, 18 students and six staff members had positive tests.

When football players expressed concerns about returning to campus two weeks ago, Jarmond met with the team via Zoom to answer questions along with Kelly.

“I thought it was important to make sure everyone was heard, along with trying to show coaches that things can be addressed head on,” Jarmond said. “I think our safety plan is thorough but we can’t control the spikes going on throughout the country.”

Jarmond is known as one of the country’s best athletic fundraisers, not only at Boston College but when he worked in the athletic programs at Michigan State and Ohio State. That will be needed at UCLA, which ran an $18.9-million deficit during the 2019 fiscal year. That figure could more than double this year.

Jarmond is still doing most of his work from Boston while trying to relocate to Los Angeles. He was on campus last month for the first time after all of his interviews with the search committee were done remotely due to the pandemic.

In order to find out more from students and supporters, he has launched MJ Listens on the athletic program’s website.

“It is critically important to listen and learn from key stakeholders. I have a pretty good idea of where to start but a lot of things will be dictated with what is currently happening,” he said.

Powered by WPeMatico

Former UCLA pitcher Tyson Brummett, 3 others die in plane crash

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) — A former UCLA pitcher and three others died in a plane crash in rural Utah.

Ex-pitcher Tyson Brummett, 35, of Salt Lake City, was flying the small plane, which left from the South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan and crashed near Box Elder Peak in American Fork Canyon just before 8 a.m. Friday, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

A witness said the plane went into a downward corkscrew motion as it crashed.

TV station WPVI reports all four people on board did not survive.

The passengers were identified as Elaine W. Blackhurst, 60, her husband Douglas Robinson Blackhurst, 62; and their nephew Alex Blackhurst Ruegner, 35. The three were from Riverton, Utah.

“The (Philadelphia) Phillies organization sends heartfelt condolences to the family of and friends of former pitcher Tyson Brummett, along with three members of the Ruegner and Blackhurst families, who tragically passed away in a plane crash yesterday morning,” the team said in a statement released Saturday.

Brummett was drafted by the Phillies in 2007 out of UCLA.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the crash.

Powered by WPeMatico

UCLA adds receiver Isaiah Newcombe to 2021 class

UCLA received its ninth commit of its 2021 recruiting class Saturday night.

Three-star wide receiver Isaiah Newcombe, from Arizona, announced his commitment to the Bruins’ program via Twitter. He is UCLA’s fourth commitment in the last eight days.

Man!! Words can’t describe how excited I am right now!!🤩@CoachNewcombe @MsRachelN @UCLAFootball @GeoffreyLeins @CoachJimmieD @EthanYoungFB @CasteelFootball pic.twitter.com/rjL3pVo82z

— Isaiah Newcombe (@IsaiahNewcombe) June 14, 2020

“I would like to thank my family, friends, and coaches for supporting me throughout this whole process,” Newcombe tweeted. “I would also like to thank my dad for everything. You’ve helped in so many ways, you’ve pushed me to be the best. I would also like to thank all my teachers for helping and guiding me. After weeks of talking and praying over this, I’m excited to announce my commitment to the University of California, Los Angeles.”

Newcombe, 6-1, 185, is the third receiver committed to the Bruins’ 2021 class, joining Ezavier Staples and DJ Justice. According to 247Sports.com, Newcombe is not nationally ranked but the site lists him as the No. 10 prospect out of the state of Arizona.

With his addition, UCLA’s class falls to No. 5 in the Pac-12 and No. 58 nationally after rising to No. 4 in the conference and No. 54 earlier in the week with Deshun Murrell’s commitment.

The Arizona native chose UCLA over offers from Washington, Utah, Boise State and Fresno State.

Read more about UCLA adds receiver Isaiah Newcombe to 2021 class This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

NCAA clears way for football, basketball individual workouts

The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts by football and basketball players effective June 1 as a growing number of college leaders expressed confidence that fall sports will be possible in some form despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

This decision clears the way for individual workouts by athletes, mostly on their own, subject to safety and health protocols decided by their schools or local health officials..

NCAA officials noted that the workouts could go on as long as all local, state and federal regulations are followed. The status of voluntary workouts for other sports will be determined later.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” Penn athletic director and council chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

From Notre Dame to LSU and more, a number of schools have announced plans to reopen campuses for the fall semester and conferences have begun setting up plans for how to play football amid the pandemic. The latest came this week with the Florida State system announcing plans for its 12 schools and more than 420,000 students.

Many questions remain, including specific safety protocols and whether fans would be allowed if games proceed.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in conference call Wednesday that he believes the Buckeyes could safely play home games with 20,000 to 30,000 fans in its 105,000-seat stadium.

“I think we can get there,” Smith said.

Smith said he hadn’t figured out yet how those 20,000 to 30,000 spectators would be chosen. He said masks and other precautions would be required to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Smith added that Ohio State is ready to open the 15,000-square-foot Woody Hayes Athletic Center to athletes starting June 8 if the NCAA allows it. About 10 players at a time would be allowed to work out on staggered scheduled with social-distancing and other hygiene precautions in place. Some coaches returned to the complex on a limited basis this week.

Other schools also are looking into ways they can hold workouts as safely as possible.

Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro said his school plans to take the temperature of players daily and make sure they are wearing masks. Massaro has even discussed moving some equipment from the weight room to the Red Floyd Stadium concourse to make sure workouts allow social distancing.

“We’re a little bit kind of almost like guinea pigs,” Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. “We’re the ones that are coming back first, football’s coming back first all across the country. So we’ve got to make sure we’re doing our part so there’s not a setback, and it’s going to take all of us buying in and doing whatever we can to keep everybody else healthy and safe.”

The presidents of Miami and Notre Dame said in separate interviews they expect the football season to be played.

Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins told MSNBC he expects to have clarity on how — or if — the football season can happen in the next few weeks.

“The team itself, I feel we can manage that one,” Jenkins said. “Then the question is people in the stands. We have an 85,000-person stadium. Can we get 85,000 people in there? That will be a big challenge to do that. But could we get a smaller number — 10,000, 15,000, 20,000? I don’t know.”

Miami President Julio Frenk told CNN he hopes the Hurricanes can play this fall and that safety would be the top priority.

“They will probably play in empty stadiums, like so many other sports,” Frenk said.

Scott Woodward, the athletic director at defending national champion LSU, has said that his school was preparing to welcome back its athletes after the Southeastern Conference’s closure of athletic facilities to students is slated to end May 31.

LSU will offer summer classes online and doesn’t have plans to reopen its campus to the general student population at least until the fall semester.

The Division I Council also passed a series of waivers that included suspending the minimum football attendance required of Football Bowl Subdivision members for two years.

Most athletic departments need the revenue generated from football to fund their other sports. Hundreds of schools are reeling financially from the effects of the pandemic. Athletic departments, particularly at smaller schools and in Division II, have already cut a number of sports.

The NCAA this week lowered the minimum and maximum number of games Division II schools are required to play in all sports next year. The move includes a 33% reduction in the minimum number of games needed for sponsorship and championship qualification in most sports.

Under the plan, D-II schools must play at least five football games to maintain NCAA sponsorship and at least seven games to be eligible for playoff consideration. The maximum number of allowable games is 10.

The requirements would return to normal in 2021-22.

Read more about NCAA clears way for football, basketball individual workouts This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 88

Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers died Thursday after reportedly being hospitalized for injuries suffered in a fall at his home in Reston, Va., last week. He was 88.

A statement about his passing from his alma mater, Georgia Tech, did not give a cause of death.

Rodgers coached the Bruins for three seasons from 1971-1973. After a 2-7-1 record his first season, he turned the program around for winning seasons of 8-3 and 9-2 his last two years. He was named the Pac-8 Coach of the Year after the 1972 and 1973 seasons.

Under head coach Tommy Prothro, Rodgers was also an assistant coach for the Bruins during the 1965 and 1966 seasons. Prior to that he held assistant coaching positions at Air Force (from 1958-1959) and at Florida (1960 to 1964). His first head coach role came in 1967 for Kansas, where he led the Jayhawks to a Big Eight Championship during his second season.

He followed his time at UCLA by returning to Georgia Tech to coach his alma mater. In his six seasons with the Yellow Jackets, he led the team to four winning seasons and was twice named the Southern Independent Coach of the Year.

“I am devastated to learn of the passing of Pepper Rodgers,” Georgia Tech Athletics Director Todd Stansbury said in a release. “He was a Georgia Tech legend, having won a national championship as an outstanding player and going on to compile four winning seasons in six years as head coach.

“On a personal note, he was the coach that recruited me to Georgia Tech, and I am eternally grateful to him for bringing me here. If it weren’t for Pepper, I would have never had the opportunity to live out my dreams as a Tech student, football player, alumnus and, now, athletics director. He has also been a mentor and friend throughout my professional career and I will miss him greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Livingston, his family and his many, many friends. We have lost a great Tech man.”

Rodgers had two professional coaching roles, first in the United States Football League with the Memphis Showboats (from 1984 to 1985), and with the Memphis Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League in 1995.

He served as vice president of football operations for the Washington Redskins from 2001-2004.

As a quarterback for Georgia Tech in the 1950s, Rodgers led the Yellow Jackets to two conference championships, two Sugar Bowl victories and a share of the 1952 national championship with Michigan State. He was named the MVP of the 1954 Sugar Bowl and inducted into the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 2018.

After his collegiate football career came to a close, he spent five years in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot.

Rodgers is survived by his wife, Livingston, his daughters, Terri and Kelly, and his sons, Rick and Kyle.

Read more about Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 88 This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

UCLA forward Jalen Hill withdraws his name from NBA Draft

Jalen Hill is returning to Westwood.

The UCLA forward has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft, a school spokesperson said, to return to the Bruins for his redshirt junior season. Hill’s name was on a list of players who declared early for the draft released by the NBA this week.

Hill started in 25 of 30 games for UCLA as a sophomore, averaging nine points and 6.9 rebounds per contest, leading the Bruins in the latter category while also pacing the team with 1.1 blocks per game.

He earned honorable mention on the Pac-12’s all-defensive team as a sophomore.

With the former Corona Centennial standout returning to UCLA, leading scorer Chris Smith is now the lone Bruin still testing the NBA waters.

Read more about UCLA forward Jalen Hill withdraws his name from NBA Draft This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

4-star RB Brandon Campbell commits to USC

USC’s 2021 recruiting class picked up a big addition Saturday night.

Running back Brandon Campbell committed to the Trojans, making him the fifth member of USC’s upcoming recruiting class. A four-star prospect according to 247Sports.com, the Lamar Consolidated (Tex.) back made the announcement via his Twitter account.

Campbell picked USC over Penn State, LSU, Texas and Oklahoma, among others. He fills a big need for the Trojans, who did not receive a running back commit in their small 2020 class.

He is the fourth four-star recruit to commit to USC for the 2021 cycle. The Trojans only added two such prospects for 2020.

USC’s 2021 class is currently ranked 13th nationally and second in the Pac-12, according to 247Sports.com.

Read more about 4-star RB Brandon Campbell commits to USC This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Cal State Fullerton women focus on future after Big West tourney loss to Hawaii

  • After finding the lane blocked by a Hawaii defender, Cal State Fullerton forward Amiee Book passes the ball off during a Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinal game on Wednesday night at Long Beach State. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton guard Raina Perez #2 takes a shot in the first half against Hawaii in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • CSU Fullerton guard Raina Perez #2 works her way to the basket in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Hawaii guard Julissa Tago #0 stretches for a rebound against CSU Fullerton in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton guard Raina Perez #2 finds her shot blocked by a Hawaii defender in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton forward Amiee Book #13 tries to work her way to the basket against Hawaii in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Hawai’i head coach Laura Beeman chats with guard Nae Nae Calhoun #24 in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • A lone credentialed spectator watches the game from the upper row of the Walter Pyramid in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • Hawaii forward Amy Atwell #25 takes a shot in the Walter Pyramid empty of fans in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton head coach Jeff Harada gets frustrated after a turnover in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton guard Raina Perez #2 runs the offense in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton guard Raina Perez #2 drives the ball to the basket around Hawaii guard Nae Nae Calhoun #24 in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton forward Carolyn Gill #23 loses the ball under her basket in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton head coach Jeff Harada watches from his bench in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton bench erupts after a 3-pointer in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton guard Raina Perez, right, has the ball stripped away by Hawai’i forward Myrrah Joseph #5 in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton forward Madison Freemon #22 reaches for a rebound against Hawaii in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton and Hawaii in a spectator free area in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

  • CSU Fullerton guard Taylor Turney #21 scores on a layup in the Big West Conference women’s tournament quarterfinals in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

of

Expand

LONG BEACH — The revival of women’s basketball at Cal State Fullerton took a pause Wednesday night. But Coach Jeff Harada says that is all it will be.

The Titans posted their first winning season since 1991 then won their first Big West Conference Tournament game since 2015 on Tuesday, but they were beaten by Hawaii 72-59 in their quarterfinal game at the Walter Pyramid.

They finish the season 17-14, return everyone for the 2020-21 season, and have learned a lot about winning games and handling adversity.

“I’m extremely proud of what they have accomplished this season,” said Harada, in his third season. “They put up with me every day, and I can be tough and don’t let them slide. But all that is why we are where we are.

“This doesn’t take away anything we accomplished this season.”

“We’ve gained so much confidence this season,” junior Taylor Turney said. “We were picked to finish ninth in the league, and we almost finished second and we got to the quarterfinals.

“We’ve already talked about what we can do next season, how we can take this further.”

The Titans were playing for the second time in as many days while Hawaii finished its season Saturday. The Rainbow Wahines have one of the deepest benches in the league; nine players rotated into the game and seven finished with seven points or more.

The score was tied at 6-6 when Hawaii went on a 12-1 run to take an 18-7 lead after a quarter, basically putting a hold on the game and allowing the Wahine to dictate the pace and keep Fullerton chasing.

The Titans made just two of 13 shots in the first quarter.

“They sped us up early and threw off our timing,” Harada said. “When we did get opportunities, we kind of rushed our shots. That was basically the game. The margin the last three quarters was just two points.”

Hawaii did whatever it could to take Big West Player of the Year Raina Perez out of the game, crowding her regardless of where she was on the court.

“They switched screens and built a wall around her so that she couldn’t even kick a pass out,” Harada said.

Perez scored 10 points and made just four of 20 shots for 10 points. Julissa Tago led Hawaii with 15 points, and Nae Calhoun had 10. Turney led the Titans with 16 points and Aimee Book added 14.

Hawaii coach Laura Beeman said the Wahine’s depth was a factor.

“We have two or three players on the bench who are good enough to start, but no one feels entitled because we use everyone,” she said. “We pick each other up knowing we have that much bench.”

The women’s tournament continues with semifinals on Friday afternoon at the Honda Center. Eighth-seeded Cal Poly, which defeated No. 3 seed UC Irvine, will face top-seeded UC Davis at noon and Hawaii will face No. 2 seed UC Santa Barbara at 2:30 p.m. The championship game is Saturday at 3 p.m.

Powered by WPeMatico

Cal State Fullerton women avenge earlier losses to CSUN in Big West tourney opener

LONG BEACH — Cal State Fullerton junior Taylor Turney had to make a frantic phone call a few hours before Tuesday’s Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament game against Cal State Northridge.

She had to call her parents, who were driving into Southern California from their home outside of Las Vegas. The conference decided Tuesday afternoon to prohibit spectators at all of this week’s men’s and women’s tourney games because of the coronavirus threat.

“I heard at practice,” she said. “What? No fans? My family was driving in. They were in Barstow and turned around. My mom was crying, but I think she’ll be OK.”

No doubt. Turney had a brilliant effort in the sixth-seeded Titans’ 67-52 first-round win at the Walter Pyramid, scoring 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting with three 3-pointers and nine rebounds to advance the team to a Wednesday quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Hawaii.

It was the first tourney win for Fullerton since 2015, on the heels of the program’s first winning season since 1991. The Titans snuffed out a seventh-seeded CSUN team that had swept the two regular-season meetings, this time holding the Matadors to 31 percent shooting and forcing 13 turnovers.

Turney stepped up on a night when Big West Player of the Year Raina Perez had shooting issues early but finished with 14 points, 11 assists, four steals and seven rebounds.

“It’s another step in learning how to win,” Fullerton head coach Jeff Harada said. “We lost the last two regular-season games and missed a chance to lock up the No. 2 seed, but it says a lot about the maturity of this team in learning how to win big games and put losses behind you.”

Fullerton (17-13) scored 32 of its 67 points in the paint and turned the ball over just seven times. Forwards Aimee Book (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Carolyn Gill (10 points, 3 blocked shots) also contributed.

Meghann Henderson led CSUN with 15 points and seven rebounds.

“They did a very good job tonight,” CSUN coach Justin Flowers said. “We had some defensive breakdowns and gave up too many easy field goals. It was different than the first two games.”

Perez and Turney have made a huge impact on the Titans’ program. Harada had to build a team from scratch and hit the transfer portal to find Perez, who started her career at Northern Arizona, and Turney, who started at San Jose State.

“They put a lot of emphasis on me tonight,” Perez said, “but you can impact the game in other ways. I started looking for my teammates instead of worrying about my shot. It was great to see the team pick me up.”

The conference decision to shutter the game from fans was a response to the growing number of coronavirus breakouts in Southern California. Only team personnel, game management, the media and a handful of ancillary personnel were in the Pyramid.

The first game between host Long Beach State and Cal Poly had an unusual feel. The second game, which didn’t start until nearly 9 p.m., was a bit more eerie, with the voices of coaches and the ESPN broadcast team the dominant sounds.

“It made it easier for me to talk to the defense,” Harada said. “I’m not sure if it help or hurt. I’m sure we had some fans who were sad because we’ve drawn a nice following this season.”

“It was awkward not having fans at the game, but in the end, the game’s the same,” CSUN’s Henderson said.

“I’m a coach. It didn’t affect me at all,” Flowers said. “I’m really not sure it was a big deal. It’s not a completely foreign thing for us when we play home games like this when (no) students are in school.”

Eighth-seeded Cal Poly will meet third-seeded UC Irvine in the first quarterfinal on Wednesday at 6 p.m. followed by Fullerton and Hawaii at approximately 8:30 p.m. The semifinals are Friday afternoon at the Honda Center, with the championship game scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m., also at the Honda Center.

Read more about Cal State Fullerton women avenge earlier losses to CSUN in Big West tourney opener This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Elijah Harkless, CSUN rally past UC Irvine, spoil Anteaters’ Senior Night

  • UC Irvine’s John Edgar Jr. dribbles past CSUN’s Darius Brown II during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Evan Leonard pushes past CSUN’s defense and scores two during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • CSUN’s Lamine Diane tries to score two against UC Irvine but is fouled during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Eyassu Worku maneuver’s past CSUN’s defense and scores during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • CSUN’s Darius Brown II handles the ball against UC Irvine during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • CSUN’s Brendan Harrick passes the ball to Lamine Diane who scores two against UC Irvine during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s John Edgar Jr. pushes past CSUN’s defense during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • CSUN’s Lamine Diane drives toward the basket as UC Irvine’s Collin Welp defends during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. CSUN won 72-70. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

of

Expand

IRVINE — It’s true that UC Irvine entered its Big West Conference men’s basketball game against visiting CSUN on Wednesday having clinched the outright championship and top seed for next week’s conference tournament.

But the Matadors entered as one of the conference’s top teams – tied for second with two others – so the last thing the Anteaters wanted was to go into the conference tournament on a losing note against a quality team they could soon see again.

But that’s what happened as CSUN upset UC Irvine 72-70 before 2,954 at Bren Events Center.

The score was tied 68-68 with 2:18 to play, but the Anteaters’ only points the rest of the way came on a basket by Brad Greene with 55 seconds left. But that only pulled them within 72-70 because by then the Matadors had made four free throws – two each by Terrell Gomez and Elijah Harkless – on one-and-one opportunities for a 72-68 lead.

UCI (21-11 overall, 13-3 Big West) had a shot at the end after CSUN’s Lamine Diane missed the front end of a one-and-one with 30.3 seconds to play. But 3-point attempts by Evan Leonard (with about seven seconds left) and John Edgar Jr. (at the buzzer) did not fall.

The score was tied 35-35 at halftime, which was something for the Anteaters because they trailed 20-4 less than seven minutes into the game.

Although UCI already sealed its No. 1 spot in the conference tournament, the Matadors are battling to get the No. 2 seed.

UCI’s regular season is over, but CSUN has a home game left Saturday against Hawaii.

Harkless led the Matadors (14-17, 9-6) with a game-high 30 points and was thrilled to play such a big role in a huge win.

“I just think it was big for us to come in here and beat them in their place,” he said.

It’s also something the Matadors can take with them into the conference tournament.

“Yeah, I definitely agree,” said Harkless, who also grabbed seven rebounds. “I think just don’t get too high, don’t get too low; that’s with us. They’re another team, just like us. We don’t get afraid of nobody. We came out and beat them and that showed that we have courage.

“They came and put it on us by 30 the first time.”

UCI defeated the Matadors 87-64 on Feb. 22 at CSUN.

Anteaters coach Russ Turner was displeased, to be sure. He gave credit to the Matadors, but …

“We got out-played on our court on Senior Night,” he said. “That’s on us, that’s on me and that’s on all of us. And that’s disappointing. But that’s why you play the games and that’s why the games are interesting.

“We gave in to softness and I thought selfishness tonight and that’s disappointing at this stage for this group who’s been so good throughout their career.”

When the Anteaters bolted to a nine-point lead early in the second half, they had all the momentum. UCI was still ahead by nine at 55-46 with 12:54 to play before the Matadors began their comeback with a 3-pointer by Gomez (12 points) and a put-back by Harkless. A 15-footer by Harkless gave CSUN a 63-61 lead with 5:42 left.

Harkless was 12 for 19 from the field.

Greene led UCI with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Evan Leonard and Collin Welp scored 13 apiece and Tommy Rutherford had 12 points.

Welp didn’t like the way his team came began.

“We came out slow and we didn’t come out doing what Coach Turner coached us to do,” he said. “And it showed, I thought.”

Leonard said when his team took a nine-point lead in the second half, it might have been guilty of taking its foot off the gas.

“Yeah, we definitely let up, I feel like, as a team,” he said.

He also noted his team struggled to defend Harkless.

Turner had an interesting thought when he was asked if his team was not ready to play.

“I think we were probably too ready, if there is such a thing,” he said. “We were maybe over-stimulated or something, I don’t know. It’s not easy to come and perform on Senior Night.

“I think we had such an easy performance against (CSUN) the first time we played them, that maybe there was an expectation that tonight would be a celebration and not a competition. And credit to Northridge, they were good.

“But the formula when we’ve looked really poor is that we settle for jump shots early in possessions that put our transition defense in peril and that’s exactly what we did tonight early in the game and then again when we allowed them to make a big run on us in the second half after we had built a lead doing what we prepared to do.”

Diane contributed 18 points and eight rebounds for CSUN.

Eyassu Worku was held to eight points on 3-for-15 shooting, including a 2-for-8 mark from 3-point range. UCI missed five of its last six shots from the field, four of them from beyond the arc.

Read more about Elijah Harkless, CSUN rally past UC Irvine, spoil Anteaters’ Senior Night This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico