UCLA women’s soccer to meet nemesis Stanford in College Cup semifinal

LOS ANGELES — The last time UCLA met Stanford in an NCAA Tournament women’s soccer match was in the 2017 national championship game in Orlando, Fla.

Stanford defeated the Bruins 3-2 and took home the trophy.

Two years later, the Pac-12 powers have found their way through the 64-team bracket to meet again, but this time it’s in a semifinal.

“It still stings from my freshman year, a lot,” junior midfielder Viviana Villacorta said. “This is it, we have to leave everything out on the field because when can we get a chance like this again.”

The second-seeded Bruins (18-4-1 overall, 8-3 Pac-12) and the top-seeded Cardinal (22-1, 11-0) will face each other Friday at 6:30 p.m. in a College Cup semifinal at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. The winner faces either unseeded Washington State or top-seeded North Carolina in Sunday’s 5:30 p.m. title match.

This is the 11th time UCLA has made it to the College Cup, with the Bruins’ only national title coming in 2013 against Florida State.

“That’s big motivation for us,” Villacorta said about facing a familiar foe in Stanford. “It’s definitely something where we know we can do it, but we have to work extremely hard and together, that’s our mentality.”

Since meeting in the 2017 NCAA final, Stanford has defeated UCLA in each of their regular-season meetings the past two seasons, including a 1-0 decision on Oct. 19 at Stanford. UCLA is 0-4 all-time against Stanford in NCAA Tournament matches.

The Cardinal are currently on a 17-game winning streak and lead the nation with 98 goals. In tournament play, Stanford has outscored its opponents 26-1, including a 15-0 blowout of Prairie View A&M in the first round. Junior forward Catarina Malatskey leads the nation with 38 goals and 23 assists.

“As a group, we’re all really excited,” senior midfielder Jessie Fleming said. “We’ve played Stanford before, and we know it’s going to be a good game. Playing against good players has the tendency to bring out the best in us. We’re pumped for the matchup and excited for a (battle).”

The Bruins are confident last week’s 4-0 upset victory over top-seeded defending champion Florida State will carry over into this week. UCLA was just the second team in 10 years to take down the Seminoles in Tallahassee during the postseason. It was the second time this season the Bruins defeated Florida State, after beating the team 2-1 in Westwood in August.

“It’s a hard place to go win in the postseason, so doing that and also having to beat them twice this year, I think we’ve proven ourselves to be the team we are and the team to look out for,” UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell said.

The Bruins, who finished second in the conference, behind Stanford, have won nine in a row and 12 of their last 13 matches. UCLA has outscored its four postseason opponents 15-1.

“I just feel like the team is really coming into our own, and we’re just peaking right at the good time,” Villacorta said. “We found this confidence because we’re getting comfortable playing with each other. Playing in this formation too, we’re just really confident knowing that it’s going to work.”

The Pac-12 made conference history last week when four teams made it to the tournament’s quarterfinals for the first time (UCLA, Stanford, Washington State and USC). USC was eliminated by North Carolina 3-2.

“We have two California teams in one of the semifinals and three Pac-12 teams in the Final Four. That’s what really makes it special this year because of how well the whole Pac-12 has done,” Cromwell said. “I’m excited about that. It gives us confidence because we know the level of play that we had all season prepared us for this moment.”

On the other side of the bracket, Washington State (16-6-1, 5-5-1) will be making its first-ever appearance in the College Cup after upsetting No. 1 seed Virginia in the second round and No. 2 seed South Carolina 1-0 in overtime in a quarterfinal last week.

North Carolina (23-1-1), meanwhile, is playing for its 22nd national title. The two meet in the early semifinal on Friday at 4 p.m.

🎶 U-C-L-A 🎶

FINAL. 👏 FOUR. 👏 BOUND. 👏#WCollegeCup | @UCLAWSoccer pic.twitter.com/lVicIJcZjM

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 29, 2019

For the 1⃣1⃣th time in program history, the @UCLAWSoccer team is headed to the College Cup! 🥅

They beat defending National Champs with 4 Bruin goals. 🐻🐻🐻🐻#WCollegeCup | #Pac12Soccer pic.twitter.com/wPbsyW2dmL

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 29, 2019

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UCLA football’s underclassmen step up and show depth in season finale

PASADENA — In a night most often reserved for the celebration of seniors, a handful of UCLA underclassmen stepped up during Saturday’s season finale when the team needed them most — proving the Bruins’ depth is well prepared to take over for its departing seniors.

“That group took advantage of the opportunities that they had, and they’re excited to come back when we get a chance to get to spring ball and coach these guys up,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “I know that through the experience that they’ve had and how they really progressed during the season, that I’m excited about what the future is.”

With three of the Bruins’ six starting seniors either sitting out the game with a previous injury, or suffering one during Saturday’s 28-18 loss to Cal, the Bruins’ underclassmen stepped up on both sides of the ball.

Prior to kickoff, senior inside linebacker Krys Barnes was dressed in full pads as he walked through a tunnel of cheering teammates toward his family during the team’s pregame senior celebration. His right ankle was taped, while his left leg sported a brace. Barnes did not play in the game, instead finding his place along the sideline and on the outside of huddles.

In his place was sophomore Bo Calvert, who made his season debut after missing the rest of the season due to serving an academic suspension. Because of the suspension, Calvert will not be given the option to redshirt the season.

However, he made his one-game season count as he earned the starting position in Barnes’ place and finished with 7 tackles.

“It was tough not having Krys out there, but he was in my ear the whole game, and I felt like I was really playing with him even though we weren’t out on the field together,” Calvert said. “I was able to make some plays for him and it felt good.”

Another underclassman filling in for an injured senior was redshirt sophomore Sam Marrazzo at center for Boss Tagaloa. Tagaloa left the game with less than a minute left in the first quarter with an injury. He was seen walking with a slight limp as he left the field into the players’ tunnel before halftime. He did not return to the game as Marrazzo played the remainder of the game.

As UCLA lost its lead at the end of the first quarter, it was the underclassmen that continued to play through the game without a sign of giving up. Some played through injury, as others took any small window of opportunity to leave an impact and help the team.

Junior defensive back Quinten Lake made his return after missing the past eight games due to a wrist injury. He ended Saturday’s game with four tackles while playing with a cast.

While senior running back Joshua Kelley had a historic night, redshirt junior running back Demetric Felton showed what he’ll bring in Kelley’s spot as he finished the night with 65 total yards.

Sophomore wide receiver Delon Hurt also made his name known, celebrating his first career reception on a two-point conversion to get UCLA within three points of Cal at 21-18 with about two-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter.

It’s this sense of grit that Calvert believes is the biggest impact this year’s senior class has left on the younger Bruins.

“The seniors have taught us all throughout this year to just be able to put your head down and work,” he said. “To not let the things around you distract you from what’s your ultimate goal and to keep moving forward. Those guys have faced a lot of adversity in their time here, but they were able to push forward and that’s really inspiring and makes you want to work harder.”

Seniors, like Kelley, believe it’s what will help propel next year’s team to successful heights.

“I have no doubt in my mind that they’re going to be [a contender in the conference],” Kelley said. “I know so. UCLA is going to be great these next two years, and I just know it without a doubt.”

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UCLA football ends season with third straight loss

PASADENA >> UCLA’s senior night ceremony may have been the only thing worth celebrating, as the Bruins fell to the Cal in the season finale 28-18 at the Rose Bowl Saturday. The Bruins’ season ends on a three-game losing streak, which was the same way it started.

Running back Joshua Kelley wrapped up his UCLA career with 19 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown, becoming the eighth Bruin to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

Kelley hurdled a Cal defender on the way to a 20-yard first quarter run to surpass the 1,000-yard mark.

The senior joined a list of running backs that includes Paul Perkins (2014-15), DeShaun Foster (2000-01) and Skip Hicks (1997-98), who all reached the same mark.

The Bruins cut Cal’s lead to three after Kelley’s 1-yard touchdown run and a successful two-point conversion with 2:26 left in the third quarter.

Cal running back Christopher Brown Jr. answered with a 10-yard touchdown run with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 10, following the PAT.

Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson relied on tight end Devin Asiasi to get the offense moving in the first half. As Thompson-Robinson endured his third sack, for a loss of 10 yards by Lone Toailoa of Cal, in the final 50 seconds of the first quarter, the Bruins also lost starting senior center Boss Tagaloa for the game.

Starting left guard Duke Clemens also went down in the third quarter with an injury.

Thompson-Robinson would head into the locker room with two minutes left to play after he was slow to get up off the field. Backup quarterback Austin Burton came into the game and led the Bruins down the field only to be stopped at the 2-yard line on 4th-and-1.

 

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Wooden Legacy: Arizona edges Pepperdine on Nico Mannion’s late layup

  • Arizona guard Josh Green, left, shoots as Pepperdine forward Kessler Edwards defends during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Pepperdine center Victor Ohia Obioha, left, competes for a rebound with Arizona forward Stone Gettings during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

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  • Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji, right, pulls down a rebound and is fouled by Pepperdine forward Jan Zidek during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Arizona guard Josh Green, left, dunks next to Pepperdine center Victor Ohia Obioha during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Pepperdine guard Jade Smith, left, gets the ball over Arizona guard Nico Mannion during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Arizona forward Ira Lee, center, splits the defense of Pepperdine forward Kessler Edwards, left, and guard Skylar Chavez, right, and another defender during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji, right, drives to the basket as Pepperdine forward Jan Zidek defends during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Pepperdine guard Darryl Polk Jr., left, grabs the ball as Arizona guard Josh Green, right, dives for it during the second half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji, right, dunks next to Pepperdine forward Kameron Edwards during the second half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar reacts to a referee’s call during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game against Arizona on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Pepperdine forward Kessler Edwards, left, reaches for the ball as Arizona guard Josh Green, right, closes in during the second half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Arizona head coach Sean Miller directs his players during the second half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game against Pepperdine on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Pepperdine guard Skylar Chavez, left, competes for a loose ball with Arizona guard Josh Green during the second half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Arizona forward Ira Lee, left, blocks a shot by Pepperdine forward Kameron Edwards during the second half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar, a former Arizona assistant, hugs Arizona guard Josh Green during the first half of their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. Arizona won 93-91. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

  • Arizona guard Nico Mannion, left, makes the go-ahead basket as Pepperdine guard Jade’ Smith defends late in their Wooden Legacy first-round game on Thursday night at Anaheim Arena. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

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ANAHEIM — There aren’t many freshmen who have the confidence this early in the season to drive the length of the floor for the game-winning shot. Fortunately for Arizona, it has one in Nico Mannion.

Mannion went coast to coast and made a running layup that banked in high off the glass with four seconds remaining to lift the 14th-ranked Wildcats to a 93-91 victory over Pepperdine on Thursday night in a Wooden Legacy first-round game at Anaheim Arena.

“Before I pushed it I was looking up the floor to Josh (Green) or Dylan (Smith) on the wing,” said Mannion, who finished with 16 points and 11 assists. “Once I got down there I was thinking it was going to be a shot or a quick kick out. I kind of floated it up and it went in.”

Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross hit an off-balance jumper to tie it at 91 before Mannion drove the floor for the winning basket. Ross’ heave from midcourt went off the glass as time expired.

One person who wasn’t surprised by Mannion’s aggressiveness was his coach, Sean Miller, who saw the 6-foot-3 point guard make those types of plays when he was recruiting him.

“He’s made a lot of game-winners in his day. That’s who he is as a player,” Miller said. “He’s poised for a freshman. That was an old-school hook off the glass.”

The game featured 24 ties and 13 lead changes as both teams shot 50 percent or better from the floor and combined for 24 3-pointers.

Green led the Wildcats (7-0) with 24 points, while Zeke Ninaji had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Smith added 16 points.

Kameron Edwards was Pepperdine’s leading scorer with 21 points. Skylar Chavez and Ross had 20 apiece.

Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar, an assistant on Miller’s staff at Arizona for one season after he was fired at Washington, said the Waves gambled by attempting a tying shot with seven seconds left and lost.

“What we didn’t want to happen is take the last shot and if we didn’t make it the game was over,” Romar said. “Nico hit a big-time shot that was pretty well defended.”

The Wildcats had won their first six games by an average of 30.3 points, the largest margin in the nation, but this was their first game away from the McKale Center.

The score was tied 42-all at halftime before Arizona opened a 69-57 lead midway through the second half with a 13-2 run keyed by three consecutive 3-pointers from Green.

Pepperdine (3-4) got back into the game with nine straight points, including six by Chavez. The Waves tied it at 74 on Edwards’ fast-break dunk off a steal with 6:47 remaining.

“I thought we would be able to hold steady on that gap after our run. I didn’t think they would punch it back to tie it,” Miller said.

Arizona shot 60.7 percent for the night and went 18 of 25 in the second half. The Wildcats did not miss consecutive shots over the final 24 minutes, but they went 14 for 24 from the free-throw line (58 percent) for the night, which helped Pepperdine stay in the game.

Three of the Waves’ four losses are to Pac-12 teams.

Arizona will face Penn in a semifinal on Friday at 8:30 p.m., while Pepperdine will meet UCF in a consolation game at 6 p.m.

In other first-round games …

Penn 68, UCF 67: AJ Brodeur had 23 points 9-of-12 shooting, Devon Goodman had 19 points, and Penn edged past UCF. Ryan Betley added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Quakers (4-2).

Goodman hit two free throws to give Penn a 68-65 lead with 27 seconds left. UCF missed three shots on its ensuing possession and a tie-up gave Penn possession of the ball with 3.4 seconds remaining, but an errant inbound pass gave it back to the Knights. Darin Green Jr. then hit what was originally called the tying 3-pointer at the buzzer but, after a video replay review, it was ruled a 2-point basket and the Quakers escaped with the win.

Collin Smith tied a career-high with 22 points and had 12 rebounds for UCF (3-2). Dazon Ingram added 17 points and 13 rebounds and Green finished with 11 points.

Wake Forest 65, Charleston 56: With an offense stuck in neutral, Wake Forest used its size advantage and turned up the defensive pressure late to pull out a victory.

The Demon Deacons got 14 points and 14 rebounds from 7-foot reserve center Olivier Sarr and another 10 points and 10 rebounds from 6-8 forward Isaiah Mucius to win for the fourth time in their past six games.

Torry Johnson had 13 points and Brandon Childress added 10, with six assists, as Wake Forest (4-2) earned its first victory on California soil since winning the 2008 version of this tournament, then known as the 76 Classic.

“We had to guys in Olivier and Isaiah that had a double-double and that’s big for us, cleaning up the glass,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “That’s something that we work on. Making sure we had contested shots and rebounding the basketball was the focus down the stretch.”

Zep Jasper scored 13 points and Grant Riller added 11 as Charleston (3-3) lost for the third time in its past four games.

Wake Forest shot just 19 of 53 (35.8 percent) from the field in the victory while Charleston was 21 of 55 (38.2 percent). The Demon Deacons ended up going 21 for 27 from the free-throw line, including 14 for 17 in the second half. Charleston was 7 for 14 from the line.

“That was the emphasis for us – to drive the ball, and I thought we drove it; we didn’t get the call,” Charleston coach Earl Grant said. “That’s life. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. It was plus-13 at the free-throw line in terms of the number of attempts they took and that’s a big number.”

Wake Forest scored 11 of its last 13 points from the free-throw line over the final 5:16 after going 1 for 8 from the field down the stretch.

It was just the fourth time in 46 games Wake Forest came away with a victory after shooting 35.8 percent or lower from the field. Two of those victories have come this season.

“There were a few shots we would like to take back, but a lot of those were good looks for us, we just didn’t knock them down,” Manning said.

Sarr was the exception field-goal-percentage wise. He was 4 for 6 from the field.

“Coming off the bench is bringing energy to the team and doing a lot of talking on defense,” Sarr said. “It was just being a presence in the paint.”

Wake Forest pushed a two-point lead at halftime to 10 points at 43-34 with 14:25 left, and the Demon Deacons held on from there, despite shooting just 38.5 percent from the field in the second half.

Charleston cut its deficit to 56-53 on a 3-pointer by Jasper with 3:29 left, before Sarr scored four points in a 7-0 run for Wake Forest to push the lead back to 10 at 63-53 with 1:16 remaining.

Brevin Galloway and Jaylen McManus scored 10 points each for Charleston.

Wake Forest will take on Long Beach State, which rallied to beat Providence, in a semifinal on Friday at 11 a.m., while Charleston will face Providence in the consolation bracket at approximately 1:30 p.m.

WOODEN LEGACY (Friday schedule)

Semifinal: Long Beach State vs. Wake Forest, 11 a.m.

Consolation: Providence vs. Charleston, approx. 1:30 p.m.

Consolation: Pepperdine vs. UCF, 6 p.m.

Semifinal: No. 14 Arizona vs. Penn, approx. 8:30 p.m.

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Chris Smith leads UCLA basketball to fourth straight home victory

LOS ANGELES — UCLA Coach Mick Cronin wanted junior guard Chris Smith to be more aggressive, and Smith delivered.

Smith led all scorers with a career-high 20 points as the Bruins extended their season-opening winning streak to four games with a 76-61 victory over Southern Utah Monday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Sophomore forward Jalen Hill had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Bruins. Smith and Prince Ali (10 points) have finished in double-digits in each of the Bruins’ first four games.

Cronin revealed after the game that he was not happy with his team’s overall performance despite double-digit scoring from multiple players in the victory.

He was pleased with the Bruins’ defense early in the game with a 25-6 lead over the Thunderbirds 25-6 but was disappointed with the remainder of the game.

“We were sloppy,” Cronin said about the Bruins’ 15 turnovers. “We have to quit turning the ball over. I have to get the job done with our team as far as how we take care of the basketball or we’ll have no chance of being a real team.”

Smith admitted that the Bruins got complacent and lost sight of the team’s goals defensively after building up the early lead.

“I think we lost our focus on what really mattered once we got the big lead,” Smith said. “Defense is what got us the lead, and once we had it, we stopped playing defense. We’ve got to stay locked in and play the right way for 40 whole minutes.”

Freshman forward Shareef O’Neal returned to the court for the Bruins after missing the last two games with a hip injury. He scored his first regular season point at the free throw line, then put his range on display with a 3-pointer for his first career field goal off an assist by Ali, giving UCLA a 45-32 lead in the second half. O’Neal finished with five points, three rebounds and a block in 17 minutes.

Redshirt senior Alex Olesinski minutes have declined after starting the first two games of the season. He played an uneventful five minutes.

Cronin admitted that the last few games have been difficult as opponents present smaller lineups against the Bruins.

“It was nice to have Shareef back,” Cronin said. “When you are playing these early games you play some teams that play really small. This team started going small so it is hard to play Alex (Olesinski). … Shareef is better at moving his feet than Alex.”

Freshman guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored eight points and collected four rebounds in 19 minutes. He played 12 minutes against UC Santa Barbara after playing just six in the season opener against Long Beach State.

The Bruins next play in the Maui on the Mainland game, which is built into the upcoming Maui Jim Invitational (Nov. 25-27). The Bruins will host Hofstra on Thursday at 8 p.m., their fifth consecutive home game, before a trip to Maui against BYU for the upcoming the Maui Invitational, (Nov. 25-27).

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USC quotable: Trojans break down big win over Cal

Here are some highlights from USC’s post-game press conferences following its 41-17 win over Cal:

Head coach Clay Helton

Opening statement:

“Good win for our football team. Another good road, Pac-12 win. And I’m really proud of the kids. I thought they had a tremendous week of preparation. I thought they brought the right energy and the right attitude today. I thought they really made a statement for their team and what they’re trying to attempt to do down the stretch here. There were some big playmakers all over the place. We had the game ball in there, I really couldn’t give it to one guy. This was really a team a win and there were big plays made by a lot of people. Defensively, I was nervous coming into the game. I thought Cal had done a wonderful job against Washington State the week before. And I thought defensively they really set the tone, especially that third quarter coming out and doing what they did. Offensively, couldn’t be more proud of how we operated as an offense. Four touchdown passes, I think that defense had only given up nine total for the entire year. That’s a really, really good defense and I’m proud of our kids for how they operated.”

On Kedon Slovis’ third 400-yard performance in four games:

“My favorite number is that zero; zero interceptions. That’s a really good defense and I think Justin Wilcox is one of the better defensive coaches in the country. I’ll never forget being here and Sam Darnold having one of his hardest days because of how they mixed up coverages, pressures and things like that. One, credit the offensive line. They did come after us and they held up. And credit the wideouts. They did an unbelievable job when they got their one-on-one situations making big plays for the kid. And he protected the football. When you have four touchdowns and zero interceptions, that’s a hell of a day.”

On the difference in the game:

“I thought the separation was the drive right before half. We talked about that, how important ending the half and beginning the half was going to be. It was the last thing we talked about in our team meeting because we lost that last year, if you remember. We had a turnover that happened right before halftime and then we came out flat in the third quarter. That cost us a loss against this team last year. We discussed it as a team and man, the kids took it to heart. To go down, get that two-minute drive for a touchdown, then come right out in the second half and double up with another touchdown, that was the separation we needed.”

On electing to defer after winning the coin toss:

“I challenged our kickoff coverage as well as our defense, that I wanted them to be able to set the tone tonight. We said it in our team meeting, that if we had the opportunity to win the toss, we were gonna defer and put that strike force out right off the bat and get back on the horse, go cover it and get it down. And the defense, I wanted them to set the tone. I was really proud after that first drive. There was no panic or anything amongst anybody that was there. We got two penalties on that drive that allowed them to get to the plus side of the field. Everybody took a deep breath and said, ‘Okay, this is what’s happened. Let’s go to the next drive.’ From that point on, I thought defensively they had a heck of a night.”

If he second-guessed that decision after Cal scored on the opening drive of the game:

“No. Sometimes you have to be able to show confidence in the guys that are around you and let them know that, ‘Hey, I’m confident in you.’ And it may not have paid off for the first drive, but it paid off for the game. When a coach has confidence in the men that are around him, they’ll feed off of it. And that was what I wanted to happen. I believe in these kids. They keep on showing up each and every week and putting their best foot forward. They got a chance to win five out of the last six games next week and really put an exclamation point on the season.”

QB Kedon Slovis

On the game:

“I thought the team played really well. Obviously a few drives wish we had of scored but overall I thought we had a pretty good night.”

When he felt like he was on his game:

“I don’t know I really thought like that, but in the second half after the second touchdown, we kinda had it rolling offensively, I thought.”

If Cal’s defense was as good as expected:

“That’s one of the things, the beauty of this offense, is no matter who we play, we’re an execution-based offense. So if we execute, if we do our job, we’re gonna score. And that’s what happened tonight.”

If his confidence grows playing with the receivers he plays with:

“Yeah, definitely. I remember in high school I wouldn’t be able to make some of the throws because I knew my guys couldn’t make it. It wasn’t their fault; they’re not Michael Pittman or some of these guys. It’s definitely getting used to what they can do and their skillset.”

On what he’s learned and gotten better at lately:

“Going through the reads and being more consistent. And that comes with reps. Obviously, the last week, made a few ugly mistakes and this week made a few mistakes too that obviously didn’t cost us, luckily.”

On Drake London:

“He’s been awesome. I think confidence-wise you see him getting more excited. He tried to hurdle someone so definitely more confident than he was a few weeks ago.”

On three 400-yard games in last four weeks:

“I think it just shows what our offense is capable of. Obviously I think I can play better even after a game like this and especially after the other three games. I think it’s just a testament to what this offense can be in the future.”

Where he wants to grow before season is over:

“Just eliminating those bad decisions, really. There’s one throw, the one to [Tyler Vaughns] that probably should have been picked off, I can’t make that throw. That’s a bad decision. So just eliminating those. We obviously got better at it throughout the year but just making that a staple.”

WR Michael Pittman Jr.

If anything surprises him about Slovis anymore:

“No, he’s showed up and he’s been the same guy week in and week out and I think that he’s getting better and he’s showing us that he’s an elite college quarterback.”

On breaking through 1,000 yards:

“That’s a big deal, I guess, so I’m just thankful that I had that opportunity.”

On how Drake London has played of late:

“I thought Drake has been big time. I actually talked to him after that Washington game when he didn’t make that tough catch and I kinda just challenged him. And he has came out and played great, especially for being so young. He still has a lot of time left here and I’m just looking for him to do great things.”

On his thoughts heading into his last game at the Coliseum next week:

“I haven’t really thought about it. It’s just happened so fast and I’m just so blessed to be part of this team and part of this brotherhood that I can’t see it ending. So I don’t really want to think about it yet.”

S Talanoa Hufanga

If the defense made any adjustments after Cal scored to start the game:

“We just had to focus on the run game, make sure we stop the run game, force them to throw. We just had to adjust. That’s the whole motto of it. We just got to relock in and that’s what we did when it came to the second series.”

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

On Slovis’ performance:

“Kedon’s a beast. He’s been balling all year. He’s a great quarterback. I think just each game he feels more comfortable and he’s getting the hang of it.”

If the team went in expecting to throw the deep ball or if it became a point of emphasis as the game progressed:

“I think it’s just something that developed as the game progressed. We didn’t know what we were going to see, what kind of coverage we were going to see. As the game went on, the coaches upstairs saw what they were doing and just started dialing up some shots.”

On why the deep ball was so effective:

“I think we have great guys on offense on our side of the ball. Really good receivers, a great quarterback, a line that gave protection and we just went and made plays.”

Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast

On the impact of the targeting call against Christian Rector:

“It was huge. We had some things within the game plan that we were going to utilize him on third down from a rush standpoint that was kinda dialed up for him. So it was disappointing to lose him that early. But we made some adjustments for who were going to put in there and the guys stepped up and played ball.”

On the pressure the defense put on Cal’s QBs:

“Yeah, it was good. We mixed it up. We called some coverage. We called some blitzes. The guys executed it well, certainly in timely situations. The guys were disruptive.”

On Caleb Tremblay:

“He’s a guy that really benefited from redshirting last year. He’s helped us more in pass rush situations than he has in the running game. He got tied up on a couple blocks in the running game and the ball got out on the perimeter. But he’s a guy that’s still learning.”

Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell

On Slovis:

“I thought he played pretty well. It helps to have some big monsters out there who can go get the ball. But I thought it was one of our more complete performances as an offense, at least for a full game. So I was happy with that. … When he plays well, he should always throw for 400 with those guys. You can’t replace experience. The more games you’re playing in any offense, the better you’re going to get. Obviously with the receivers we have and the offense we run, it’ll enable you to have the opportunity to put up a lot of points and the opportunity to put up big numbers.”

If it was part of the game plan to throw the ball deep:

“They were playing a coverage that I felt allowed us the opportunity to take some shots and the opportunity to hit some big ones. And turns out we did.”

WR Drake London

On his confidence:

“The game has slowed down tremendously.”

If he got frustrated early in the season:

“To be honest, I didn’t feel like I was in a lull at all. I was a true freshman, I was playing, I was going out there and blocking for my teammates. So that’s all I could ask for.”

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Austen Awosika, Cal State Fullerton rout Cal State Stanislaus

FULLERTON — Senior guard Austen Awosika had a career-high 26 points and Cal State Fullerton rolled past Cal State Stanislaus 82-62 for a homecoming victory on Saturday night at Titan Gym.

Awosika, who shot 8 for 13 from the field and 9 for 11 from the foul line, added six rebounds and six assists. Awosika, whose previous high was 19 at St. Mary’s on Dec. 11, 2018, topped that with 20 in the first half.

Sophomore guard Wayne Arnold had 14 points (four 3-pointers), four rebounds and two assists for Fullerton (2-2), while senior guard Brandon Kamga added 12 points and nine rebounds and freshman guard Tory San Antonio had five points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Ty Davis had 16 points for the Warriors, an NCAA Division II program, and Darius Scott added eight points and seven rebounds.

The Titans led 42-34 at halftime before pulling away in the second half. They led 53-41 at the 14:38 mark when a 9-2 run extended the margin to 62-43.

Fullerton shot 50.8 percent (30 for 59) from the field and 80 percent (16 for 20) from the free-throw line. The Titans outrebounded the visitors 38-30 and assisted on 15 of their 30 baskets.

Fullerton does not play again until it hosts Hofstra next Sunday (Nov. 24) at 5 p.m.

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Kedon Slovis’ gem leads USC to blowout win over Cal

  • Southern California’s Kana’i Mauga (26) tackles California’s Christopher Brown Jr. during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Southern California’s Chase McGrath (40) is congratulated by Ben Griffiths, left, after kicking a field goal against California in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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  • Southern California’s Amon-Ra St. Brown (8) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against California during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Southern California’s Jalen McKenzie (70) rushes against California in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • California’s DeShawn Collins (26) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Southern California during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • California quarterback Chase Garbers, left, rushes against Southern California in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis looks to pass against California in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • California quarterback Chase Garbers, right, passes against Southern California in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Southern California’s Amon-Ra St. Brown (8) celebrates with Stephen Carr, right, after scoring a touchdown against California during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

  • Southern California’s Michael Pittman Jr. (6) can’t make the catch as California’s Camryn Bynum (24) defends during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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BERKELEY — Sometimes it’s good to have balance on offense. Other times, you just got to go with what’s working.

That was the case for USC against California, as freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis threw for 406 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-17 win.

Even USC’s attempts to run out the clock in the fourth quarter of the blowout didn’t do much to disguise just how lopsided the Trojan offense was. Through three quarters, the passing game accounted for 94.3 percent of the Trojans’ total yards.

USC finished with 406 passing yards and 56 on the ground, against a defense that was ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in stopping the passing game entering the weekend.

Slovis shook off three sacks to put together one of his cleanest performances of the season with no interceptions. He was able to throw the long ball to perfection, completing seven passes for 20 or more yards, and made plays on the move when the Cal pressure necessitate it.

He spread the love, too, making sure his three leading receivers — Michael Pittman Jr., Amon-Ra St. Brown and Drake London — all had over 80 yards receiving and a touchdown for USC (7-4, 6-2 in Pac-12 play).

Slovis’ final touchdown pass before being pulled in the fourth quarter went to Josh Falo, the first USC tight end to grab a TD pass this season. It was Slovis third game with 400-plus passing yards this season, all coming in the past four games.

Both teams scored on their opening drives. Cal (5-5, 2-5) did so on a five-yard run after USC defensive end Christian Rector was ejected for targeting. Slovis found St. Brown wide open in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown, with the two executing the scramble drill to perfection.

The second quarter was marred by an injury that left both teams shaken.

On the kickoff after Cal tied the game at 10, Cal linebacker Evan Tattersall was laid flat on his back by a block from USC’s Julian Falaniko. Falaniko waved for the USC trainers to tend to Tattersall even as the play was ongoing, sensing a serious injury to the Bear.

Tattersall was down on the field for several minutes, showing little movement in his extremities. Cal head coach Justin Wilcox and USC head coach Clay Helton stayed by Tattersall’s side until he was taken off the field by a cart, giving a brief thumbs up to the crowd as he was lifted up.

Later, Cal reported that Tattersall was alert and had movement in his extremities, though he was taken to an area hospital as a precaution.

Neither team could move the ball after the injury, both offenses going three-and-out. So to get the offense moving again, USC went with the most surefire move in its arsenal: Pass to Pittman.

The senior receiver caught four passes for 61 yards on USC’s final drive of the second half, including a 33-yard touchdown pass in the end zone. It gave USC a 17-10 lead heading into the locker room.

Pittman’s 180 receiving yards on the evening put him over 1,000 yards on the season for the first time in his career.

All year, when USC has won the coin toss, it has elected to receive. Heck, even when the opponents have won, they have deferred to the second half.

So when USC won the toss and deferred on Saturday, it raised some eyebrows, especially after Cal’s opening TD. But the move paid off.

After USC took the lead on the Pittman touchdown with 43 seconds left in the first half, the Trojans marched down the field thanks in large part to a 50-yard completion from Slovis to St. Brown, all through the air as the sophomore receiver leaped to make the grab between two defenders.

It set up an eight-yard touchdown pass to London, Slovis rolling right to find the freshman receiver, who had the first 100-yard game of his career. London’s third score in as many weeks gave USC a 24-10 lead.

USC would go on to complete a 31-0 run before Cal would finally score again. But there was no way the Bears could keep up with the arm of Kedon Slovis on Saturday night.

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UC Irvine enjoys an easy home opener before string of away games

IRVINE — With road games against the likes of Colorado, TCU and Boise State on the horizon, the UC Irvine men’s basketball team enjoyed a less-taxing night in its home opener.

Collin Welp had 18 points and Aiden Krause had a career-high 15 to lead UCI to a 98-52 victory over the NAIA’s Life Pacific University on Tuesday night at the Bren Events Center. Welp was 7 for 10 from the floor and grabbed five rebounds in 17 minutes, while Krause was 5 for 6 from the floor with seven rebounds.

The Anteaters (2-1) bounced back after having their nine-game road win streak snapped with a 77-73 loss at Pepperdine on Saturday. The last time UCI had lost a road game was Dec. 29, 2018 at Pacific.

Brad Greene scored 13 points and tied his career-high with 10 rebounds and Eyassu Worku added 12 points and seven assists in 18 minutes, as the Anteaters hit 39 of 72 from the field (54.2 percent), held a 54-24 rebounding advantage and outscored their significantly shorter GSAC opponent from San Dimas 56-2 in the paint.

Colin Cunniff had 10 points for Life Pacific (2-2), which was 12 for 42 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range.

The Anteaters play their next five games away from home, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. at Boise State. They follow that with games at Colorado on Monday, at TCU on Nov. 21, then a pair of neutral-court games in Las Vegas against Detroit Mercy and Louisiana on Nov. 24 and 26, respectively.

UCI won’t play in the Bren Center again until Saturday, Nov. 30 against Eastern Michigan, when the Anteaters will retire the jersey of former standout and current Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks.

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UC Irvine erases 15-point deficit to edge San Diego in season opener

SAN DIEGO — Evan Leonard made all 10 of his free-throw attempts and scored 19 points as UC Irvine rallied for a 76-73 victory over San Diego on Tuesday night in the nonconference season opener for both teams at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Tommy Rutherford, playing in his hometown, scored 16 on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor for the Anteaters, while Collin Welp scored 13.

Braun Hartfield topped the Toreros with 21 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Marion Humphrey added 14 points, while Joey Calcaterra scored 12 but missed all six of his 3-point tries.

San Diego led by 14 at halftime before being UCI turned to a familiar template, ratcheting up its defense and outscoring the Toreros 42-25 after the intermission.

UCI held the hosts to 23.1 percent shooting (6 for 26) in the second half, but USD was still able to stay in front for much of the second half.

The Anteaters trailed 61-46 with 13:10 remaining before a Rutherford jumpshot started a 15-1 run that got them back in the game. They pulled within 62-61 on an Edgar jumper with 5:55 left, then Leonard forced a turnover and turned it into a fast-break layup to give the Anteaters a 65-64 lead with 4:23 left.

The score was tied three times from there, with USD inching back ahead at 69-68 on a pair of Hartfield free throws with 2:27 left, but Rutherford scored (and drew a foul) off a Leonard assist on the next possession. Rutherford couldn’t convert the and-one opportunity, but UCI used a pair of offensive rebounds to keep the ball at that end of the court until Welp hit a jumper for a 72-69 lead with 2:02 left.

The Toreros missed their next three shots from the field sandwiched around one made free throw, then Eyassu Worku (seven points, five rebounds, three assists) made a pair of free throws to push UCI’s lead to 74-70 with 23 seconds left.

A Hartfield 3-pointer with 14 seconds left cut the lead to one again, but Leonard (six rebounds, three steals) made two more free throws, Hartfield missed a 3-point try in the final seconds and UCI held on.

Edgar finished with eight points and seven rebounds. Rutherford added six rebounds, as UCI outrebounded the hosts 35-26 but committed 16 turnovers and shot just 2 for 11 from 3-point range. UCI shot 47.2 percent (25 for 53) overall while holding San Diego to just 39 percent (23 for 59) overall.

UCI next plays at Pepperdine on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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