Kings’ season opener spoiled by Wild’s Russian rookie

  • The Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov (97) gets the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) for the game winning goal in overtime during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Anze Kopitar (11) takes a shot during the Kings home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Austin Wagner (27) battles with he Wild’s Nico Sturm (7) during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Matt Dumba (24) checks the Kings’ Austin Wagner (27) as the Wild’s Ryan Suter (20) moves in during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Jeff Carter (77) reacts after scoring a first period goal during their home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Jeff Carter (77) reacts after scoring a first period goal during their home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) keeps an eye on the puck during the Kings home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Jonas Brodin (25) celebrates scoring a first period goal during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Mark Alt (5) and the Wild’s Jordan Greenway (18) battle for the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Andreas Athanasiou (22) reacts after scoring a goal as the Wild’s Matt Dumba (24) and goalie Cam Talbot (33) look on in the second period during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings Drew Doughty (8) and Adrian Kempe (9) move the puck away from the Wild’s Marcus Johansson (90) during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Olli Maatta (6) and the Wild’s Marcus Johansson (90) battle for the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings players congratulate Adrian Kempe (9) after he scored a second period goal against the Wild during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Andreas Athanasiou (22) scores a goal as the Wild’s Matt Dumba (24) and goalie Cam Talbot (33) defend in the second period during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Victor Rask (49) falls to the ice as the Kings’ Mikey Anderson (44) grabs the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Matt Roy (3) and the Wild’s Kevin Fiala (22) battle for the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov (97) celebrates with teammates as Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) leaves the ice after Kaprizov scored the game winning goal in overtime during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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After 10 months off, a mere 60 minutes was not enough for the Kings.

Despite carrying a 3-1 lead into the third period, the Kings fell to the Minnesota Wild, 4-3, in overtime on Thursday night inside an empty Staples Center.

“It was certainly not the outcome we wanted, especially being up 3-1 after the second,” Kings center and team captain Anze Kopitar said.

The Kings and Wild were teams who were just figuring it out when play was suspended in March. The Wild made a playoff push after a dismal start – and got reinforcements this offseason – and the Kings were seeking their eighth consecutive win Thursday, 10 months after they notched No. 7 to end last season.

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick lost on opening night for the eighth time after getting his 12th season-opening nod, making 23 of 27 saves. Cam Talbot, whom Minnesota signed as a free agent this offseason, denied 31 of 34 Kings shots.

It was a rookie, Minnesota winger Karill Kaprizov, who stole the show with two assists, the game-winning goal and a fistful of hold-your-breath moments over the course of 63 minutes.

Forward Jeff Carter notched a goal and an assist for the Kings, and wingers Andreas Athanasiou and Dustin Brown also scored. Anze Kopitar added two assists. Defensemen Jonas Brodin, center Victor Rask and forward Marcus Foligno scored for the Wild.

Carter factored into tying and go-ahead goals in the first 40 minutes of Thursday’s game. He scored the equalizer with just more than one second left in the first period, sneaking in a rebound from a faceoff that Kopitar won forward and into the Minnesota goal crease.

“I did tell Carts to go to the front somewhat, to see if something happens, and it turned out pretty well,” Kopitar said when asked if it was a set play.

Later, Carter generated a rebound with a shot off the rush that Athanasiou popped in off a set play to break a 1-1 tie in the second period.

Athanasiou made his Kings debut; he was signed in the offseason after five NHL seasons primarily spent with the Detroit Red Wings.

On Wednesday, Kings general manager Rob Blake singled out Carter as having benefited from the 10-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic and delayed postseason.

“Carts has been good all training camp, finally healthy,” Coach Todd McLellan said, adding that the “speed factor” of a fresh-legged Carter and Athanasiou could elevate the Kings’ gritty offense.

Late in the second period, the Kings scored their first power-play goal of the season. Brown received the puck down low and turned it back toward the net from behind the goal. The puck redirected in off a Wild defender. Brown’s 300th career goal extended the Kings’ lead to 3-1 with 2:55 left in the second period.

Not only did the Kings convert one of their four power plays, they killed all six man-advantage opportunities for the Wild.

But the Wild were not without a spark, mainly in the form of rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov. While No. 1 overall draft pick Alexis Lafreniere turned in an unremarkable debut for the Rangers, the 23-year-old Russian phenom Kaprizov recorded the primary assists on Minnesota’s first two goals

On the first, he made a long reception in stride near the boards, cut inward and drew three Kings defenders. When he lost control of the puck, it went to Brodin for a clean shot that opened the scoring in the game. In the third period, he sucked in the defense again and sent a pass high to Rask for a goal from the point.

Later in the third, he nearly factored into a third when forward Kevin Fiala nailed the post after a passing sequence initiated by Kaprizov in the third period and defenseman Jared Spurgeon did the same in overtime.

The flash and perspicacity of Kaprizov were complemented by a Minnesota checking line with Foligno and Jordan Greenway on the wings. Foligno’s heavy fore-checking started a series of events that culminated in his game-tying goal midway through the final frame.

It was the young Russian’s night as he collected a neutral-zone turnover and glided in on goal. As he transitioned from backhand to forehand, the puck banked off his skate and past Quick for the game-winner.

“Minnesota’s lucky to have a talented player like that,” McLellan said. “The NHL is fortunate to have him because he looks like he’s going to be a tremendous one.”

FEELIN’ THE FLOW! IT’S JEFF CARTER WITH THE FIRST KINGS GOAL OF THE SEASON! 🚨#GoKingsGo | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/USwMu1KDYt

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

WELCOME TO LA, ANDREAS ATHANASIOU! 🤩@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/P19aSlMnMH

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

“There’s a lot of things we did well, things we can build off of… and certainly areas that we have to clean up.”

Hear from @LAKings Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s season opener. pic.twitter.com/kzvktrudlw

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

“I felt good… I felt ready.”

Anze Kopitar discusses tonight’s season-opening OT loss to the Wild.@LAKings pic.twitter.com/86VAFtV61t

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

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Ducks sputter early and late in season-opening loss to Golden Knights

  • The Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm skates with the puck as the Golden Knights’ Nicolas Roy pursues during the second period of their season opener on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Josh Manson #42 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck against Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) looks up at center Sam Steel (23) after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Max Comtois #53 of the Anaheim Ducks slides into Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights after scoring the first of his two goals in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Anaheim Ducks in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks blocks a shot in front of Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates with teammates after the team’s win over the Anaheim Ducks in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights left wing Tomas Nosek (92) is congratulated after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Sam Steel (23) and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb reach for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: William Karlsson #71 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck ahead of Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Anaheim Ducks in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck ahead of Josh Manson #42 and Cam Fowler #4 of the Anaheim Ducks as Chandler Stephenson #20 of the Golden Knights trails the play in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights takes a break during a stop in play in the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud (2) shoots as Anaheim Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm (47) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center Nicolas Roy (10) congratulates right wing Alex Tuch (89) after his empty-net goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) moves in on Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Danton Heinen (43) shoots as Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner (90) defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch (89) and Anaheim Ducks left wing Nicolas Deslauriers (20) reach for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) reacts after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner (90) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) blocks a shot as Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) looks for the rebound during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights blocks a shot in front of Sam Steel #23 of the Anaheim Ducks in the third period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Ducks 5-3. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights waves to an empty arena after being named the first star of the game following the team’s 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Games at the arena are being played without fans in attendance because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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An empty arena and an elite opponent awaited the Ducks when they returned to the ice for the first time in more than 10 months because of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena. In the opening minutes, they looked exactly like a confused team that hadn’t played in 309 days.

The Ducks gave up two goals in the first 2 minutes, 13 seconds.

Uh-oh.

Matters would improve, but not enough to produce a victory for the Ducks, who dropped a 5-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights in their coronavirus-delayed season opener. The Ducks certainly had their moments, especially during an excellent second period, but not enough of them to win.

Mark Stone scored the tiebreaking goal 49 seconds into the third period, converting from the slot off a pass from below the goal line from Vegas teammate Chandler Stephenson to give the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead. Max Comtois had scored twice to rally the Ducks to a 2-2 tie in the first.

Stone then set up Max Pacioretty’s goal that made it 4-2 at 10:59 of the third.

Alex Tuch scored an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left for Vegas.

“We didn’t hang our heads when we got down early,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said, ticking off a list of positive developments in their first game since March 11. “We were able to battle back and get back in the game. I thought (Sam) Steel and Comtois and (Troy) Terry were real solid overall.

“I thought our second period was a real good one overall for us. So, there were some good things, but in the end, it’s about the two points and there’s a few things we’ve got to clean up.”

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk made his Ducks debut after signing a three-year, $11.7-million contract after helping to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup championship this past fall. Shattenkirk played a team-leading 23:55, had three shots on goal and a minus-1 defensive rating.

“Our response in the first period was great, the way we just took a deep breath,” Shattenkirk said. “We realized it was the first game of the year, no exhibition games, there’s going to be some mistakes made and they capitalized on them, but we did the same thing to them.”

John Gibson made 24 saves, including two on breakaways by Pacioretty. The Ducks didn’t give him much help in the opening minutes as they fell behind 2-0 less than three minutes into the game. He blanked the Golden Knights for the rest of the first period and all of the second.

“He made some big saves for us,” Eakins said. “Las Vegas likes to really make those quick-strike plays from below the goal line, but overall, I thought ‘Gibby’ was good.”

A mistake-filled first 10 minutes might have been excused since the Ducks and Golden Knights had short training camps and didn’t play exhibition games to work out the rough edges, and there were plenty of them as the teams went on a scoring spree.

Jonathan Marchessault split Ducks defensemen Jacob Larsson and Jani Hakanpaa, their new third pair, and beat Gibson with a perfect shot over his left shoulder only 1:07 into the game. Tomas Nosek then made it 2-0 for Vegas from close range at 2:13.

Normally, a start like that would have had fans in T-Mobile Arena screaming for more, but the only sounds came from the Golden Knights’ bench, and even that was muted. Slowly but certainly, the Ducks regrouped and rallied to tie the score at 2-2 on the goals from Comtois.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t all that slowly.

Steel set up the first of Comtois’ goals with an alert pass to the front of the net at 4:22. Ryan Getzlaf set up the second with some hard work to pry the puck loose from Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud. He then fed a cross-crease pass to an unmarked Comtois for the tying goal at 7:58.

The teams settled down for the rest of the first period and they were deadlocked, 2-2.

It stayed that way until Vegas scored three times in the decisive third period.

“As the game went on we tried to be aggressive and play our game and we forgot sometimes to cover our ‘D’ and we got bit with two goals and the empty-netter and that’s how it went,” Comtois said. “We’ve got to go back to the video room and see what went good and what went wrong.

“We know we can play with those guys. We saw it in the first and the second.”

The Ducks get another crack at the Golden Knights on Saturday in Las Vegas.

NOTES

Comtois’ goals, both in the first 7:58 of the game, marked the fastest two goals by an NHL player to start a season in more than 15 years. The last NHL player to score two goals in the first eight minutes of a season was the Kings’ Jeremy Roenick, who scored two goals in the first 4:18 on Oct. 5, 2005, in Dallas. … The Golden Knights improved to 9-2-2 against the Ducks since they entered the league in 2017. … The Ducks had won three straight season openers.

Give the kid another!!@comtois20 roofs a sweet pass from Getzlaf for his 2nd goal of the period!@AnaheimDucks | #FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/Moy4IFjwuY

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

“We’re a very tough team to play against, we just weren’t able to stick with it there and do it in the third period to keep that game close.”@AlysonLozoff sits down with Kevin Shattenkirk to discuss his first night with the @AnaheimDucks pic.twitter.com/4lnOccmi7M

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

.@AnaheimDucks head coach Dallas Eakins goes over tonight’s season opener.#FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/hmXCL6euS7

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

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USC thwarts UC Riverside’s upset bid in OT

Having lost several scheduled games to COVID-19 restrictions, USC booked a replacement game against UC Riverside for Tuesday night at the Galen Center, a mid-week game sandwiched between Pac-12 opponents.

The Trojans got a little more than they likely expected from the Highlanders and needed a big overtime period from Drew Peterson to complement nice efforts from brothers Evan and Isaiah Mobley and close out a 67-62 victory.

UCR used a 16-0 run in the first half to open a five-point lead at halftime and the Big West Conference visitors had a chance to win the game in regulation before 7-foot freshman Evan Mobley blocked Zyan Pullin’s shot at the buzzer. It was one of six blocks for Mobley, who boasts a 7-5 wingspan.

Evan Mobley’s dunk with 4:05 left in the extra session gave the Trojans (9-2) the lead for good but they never created much distance from the Highlanders (4-3). USC had a one-point lead when Peterson scored three-point plays on back-to-back possessions, a jumper and a free throw followed by an inside basket and free throw that extended the margin to 61-56 with 2:35 left.

Dominick Pickett came back with a 3-pointer for UCR 19 seconds later, but Evan Mobley sank a pair of free throws, Peterson hit a jumper and the Trojans had enough room to hold on.

Evan Mobley scored 20 points (on 8-for-12 shooting) and had 11 rebounds to go with his defensive contributions, and Isaiah Mobley finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Trojans. Peterson had 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Tahj Eaddy added 10 points, four rebounds and two steals.

UCR had five players score in double digits: Pickett (16), Cameron Flynn (12) and Jock Perry, Pullin and Arinze Chidom 10 each.

“UC Riverside played well defensively, and we had a slow start that gave them some confidence,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “It was a good win considering we were 3 for 21 from the 3-point line.

“We’ve had trouble there recently. I think we’re 6 for 43 the last few games, and a lot of those shots were wide open. We weren’t forcing anything; we just didn’t make many.”

In overtime, the Trojans used their height advantage to post up the 6-8 Peterson for good looks.

“We’re happy to get a win,” Peterson said. “There are no free wins these days. Every win you get is gritty.”

Especially when the schedule is in a constant state of flux. That has been a concern for most Division I teams. The Trojans booked the game between conference games, which was a challenge considering the unexpected depth of the Pac-12 this season. Tuseday’s game was the first of six scheduled during a 12-day period.

“UC Riverside was a tough and local team and it was a cram session for us to be ready,” Enfield said.

“They kind of dared us to take outside shots, and were forcing us to the left side, which we didn’t expect,” Isaiah Mobley said. “We just had to start executing the way we know how. I really think this is a championship team, and winning games like this shows what we can do.”

USC led 14-9 when UCR went on its 16-0 run, Flynn hitting three 3-pointers and Wil Tattersall capping the run with one of his own with 7:56 left before halftime.

UCR led 32-27 at halftime. USC’s 52-47 lead in the second half with 3:10 left was the largest lead for either team prior to overtime.

UCR outscored USC 36-9 from beyond the arc but was just 2 for 9 from the free-throw line compared to the Trojans’ 16-for-22 mark. Both teams shot below 40 percent from the field. USC outrebounded UCR, 47-37.

WHO TO BELIEVE?

USC entered the game 5-0 all-time against UC Riverside, winning the last meeting, 70-26, on Dec. 15, 2012. USC was forced to vacate its 2008 victory against the Highlanders due to NCAA penalties. But that’s according to the Trojans’ media guide.

The Highlanders’ media guide gives UC Riverside credit for wins against USC on Feb. 3, 1967 and Nov. 30, 1979 and puts the rivalry at 6-2 in favor of the Trojans.

New services contributed to this story.

UP NEXT

UC Riverside faces Cal Poly on the road for back-to-back Big West games on Friday and Saturday.

USC resumes Pac-12 play when it welcomes Washington to town on Thursday.

The Trojans came back from 11 points down to get the W.

Catch all the highlights from tonight’s game! ⤵pic.twitter.com/2usKYfZVLI

— USC Men’s Basketball (@USC_Hoops) January 13, 2021

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Woman charged in New Year’s Eve killing of man in Santa Ana

SANTA ANA — A 35-year-old security guard is facing a murder charge in connection with the New Year’s Eve killing of a man in Santa Ana, court records obtained Tuesday show.

Toetu Tesarina Lavea, who was arrested Saturday and was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, listed her occupation as security, according to jail records.

She is charged with murder in the death of 46-year-old Manuel Ramos of Santa Ana.

Police said they were called at 6:46 p.m. Jan. 2 to a residence in the 1800 block of West 18th Street, where they found Ramos’ body in the living room with “significant trauma” to his upper body. According to the criminal complaint, he was killed two days earlier, but further details were not immediately available.

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First look at the NFL playoffs schedule

The schedule for the NFL playoffs was released Sunday night, Jan. 3.

(All Times PST)

Wild-card playoffs

Saturday, Jan. 9

Indianapolis at Buffalo, 10:05 a.m.

Rams at Seattle, 1:40 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Washington, 5:15 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 10

Baltimore at Tennessee, 10:05 a.m.

Chicago at New Orleans, 1:40 p.m.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 5:15 p.m.

Divisional Playoffs

 

Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17

NFC lowest seed remaining at Green Bay

AFC lowest seed remaining at Kansas City

TBD vs. TBD

TBD vs. TBD

 

Conference Championships

Sunday, Jan. 24

 

Super Bowl

At Tampa, Fla.

Sunday, Feb. 7, 3:30 p.m.

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Bond girl and ‘That ’70s Show’ actress Tanya Roberts dies in L.A. at age 65

LOS ANGELES — Film and television actress Tanya Roberts has died at age 65.

The former Bond girl in “A View to a Kill” had taken her dogs for a walk on Christmas Eve with her partner, Lance O’Brien, and upon her return home, she collapsed and was taken to a hospital, her publicist, Mike Pingel told City News Service. She was put on a ventilator after being hospitalized, but never recovered. She died in Los Angeles on Sunday, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

Tanya Roberts, the actress best known for playing a Bond girl in ‘A View to a Kill’ and Midge Pinciotti on ‘That ’70’s Show,’ has died. She was 65 https://t.co/jTAJ0jq1X4 pic.twitter.com/lLU58a1E36

— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 4, 2021

Her death was not COVID-related, he told CNS.

Pingel said she had been in good health prior to her Dec. 24 collapse.


Eric (Topher Grace, C) and Donna go on their first date with a little help from the parents on the First Date episode of That 70s Show Sunday, Feb. 14, 1999, on Fox. (From left: Debra Jo Rupp, Tanya Roberts, Kurtwood Smith, Grace and Don Stark. (Frank Carroll/Fox Broadcasting)

Roberts, who had been a successful model and posed for Playboy, in addition to myriad TV advertisements. She also starred in fantasy adventure films including “The Beastmaster” and “Sheena.” She joined the team on “Charlie’s Angels.” She totaled more than 40 acting credits dating back to the 1970s. More recently, she played Midge on “That ’70’s Show.”

Roberts is survived by O’Brien, and her sister, Barbara Chase.

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Cal State Fullerton can’t match UCSB’s balance in Big West opener

SANTA BARBARA — Junior guard Trey Maddox Jr. had a career-high 27 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough for Cal State Fullerton as UC Santa Barbara used a balanced attack and pulled away in the second half to defeat the Titans, 81-63, in a Big West Conference game on Friday night at the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos led by seven at halftime, then took control in the second half when Miles Norris punctuated a 13-2 run with a fast-break dunk that pushed the margin to 51-35 with 10:29 left. The Titans never got closer than 11 the rest of the way and the margin was extended to 21 in the final five minutes.

Maddox scored Fullerton’s first 10 points and finished 11 for 16 from the field, including a 5-for-8 mark from 3-point range, in 35 minutes. Sophomore Vincent Lee added 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting and grabbed four rebounds for the Titans (1-1 overall, 0-1 Big West), who were playing their first game since Dec. 13 because of a 14-day quarantine for COVID-19 test results. Senior Josh Hall had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Ajare Sanni led UCSB (5-3, 1-2) with 19 points (13 in the second half), four rebounds and five assists. He was 8 for 11 from the field, including 3 for 3 from 3-point range. JaQuori McLaughlin had 13 points and six assists, and Norris had 13 points and three blocked shots. Amadou Sow had 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting despite being limited to 17 minutes because of foul trouble. Robinson Idehen added seven points and nine rebounds.

Fullerton had 17 turnovers and just 10 assists. UCSB shot 53.1% overall, including 20 for 31 (64.5%) in the second half. The Gauchos, who dropped their first two Big West games at UC Irvine on Sunday and Monday, were an efficient 5 for 9 from 3-point range after halftime. UCSB had a season-high nine steals and just 12 turnovers to go with 22 assists.

The Titans and Gauchos play the second game of their two-game series on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Thunderdome. The game can be streamed on ESPN3.

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Lakers squeak by Spurs as Anthony Davis scores 34

For many years, a trip to the playoffs meant at least a few nights in San Antonio for the Lakers.

But in the regular season? Two games on the road against the same opponent is something new that Frank Vogel was wary of from the start. After beating an undermanned San Antonio on Wednesday, he worried even before the game whether the Lakers would bring the same effort.

A little of that complacency leaked through in a 109-103 win on Friday night, in which the Lakers (4-2) got the same result as two nights before in a much uglier fashion. If not for Anthony Davis, who scored a season-best 34 points, and a few gutty plays in the closing minutes, the Lakers might have started 2021 on a discordant note.

But they did just enough: They outscored the Spurs 9-0 in the final 2:26 of the game, as LeBron James (26 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) bowled Derrick White over then dodged a flying Keldon Johnson to kiss a clinching basket off the glass.

“I think we just persisted through our struggles and that’s going to happen from time to time,” Vogel said. “You’re going to have some wins that are a little uglier than others.”

After a number of games in which they blew opponents away with on-target shooting, the Lakers slumped from the floor. They were worse inside the arc (39.7 percent) than outside of it (42.4 percent). James and Dennis Schröder in particular struggled for efficiency, scoring a combined 41 points on 37 shots.

But Davis had his best offensive game, and his range was the weapon that the Spurs could not counter. The 27-year-old was 4 for 6 from deep, adding to his 11 rebounds and five assists for an effort that helped lift his team.

His 3-pointer to tie the game with 2:26 left started the closing rally, in which he also grabbed a key defensive rebound.

The 3-point shooting is an aspect that the Lakers hope will continue to open up their already well-spaced offense. Who can stop a 6-foot-10 forward with a reliable deep shot?

“Coach wants me to shoot at least five, average five, a game this year,” Davis said. “I had a lot of good looks. Sometimes I pass up for a better shot. But I just got to shoot it.”

The game was tied 15 times, with 21 lead changes. Even though the Spurs were without LaMarcus Aldridge for a second straight game, Johnson scored a team-best 26 points while DeMar DeRozan had 23.

The Lakers were frustrated by a lack of whistles: They had 10 fewer free throw attempts than the Spurs. After his final basket, James gestured to an official wanting a foul on Johnson — a continuation of a steady dialogue throughout the night. He did make the most of his appearances at the stripe, going 7 for 7.

It was a game when James acknowledged he felt the lack of fans drained the game of energy.

“It’s going to be a long season. It’s going to be a difficult season,” James said. “You’re going to have to have games where you’re going to have to give energy to one another. Manifest energy for yourself without the fans and things of that nature.”

The pandemic drove the NBA to create a more conservative travel schedule with consecutive road games in the same cities. Before Friday night, the Lakers hadn’t played two road regular season games against the same opponent since 1965.

Vogel said there are some restrictions that make normal routines difficult: Players and staff have to do rapid coronavirus testing every morning before meeting, and they can’t use hotel weight rooms. Many other aspects are normal, but trying to sweep an opponent twice on one trip can seem daunting, if only because of human foibles.

“There’s a mental challenge to that that I think of teams are going to see throughout the year,” Vogel said. “I think you see a lot of splits in these situations and we were susceptible to that tonight, but like I said, we were able to persevere and get the W.”

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Alabama, Notre Dame ready for relocated Rose Bowl clash

ARLINGTON, Texas — Playing a Rose Bowl game deep in the heart of Texas is anything but normal. Top-ranked Alabama being in a College Football Playoff semifinal game is nothing new.

The SEC champion Crimson Tide (11-0) are in a familiar position despite the chaos of playing during the pandemic. No. 4 Notre Dame, which finished runner-up in the ACC after temporarily giving up its cherished independent status, gets another playoff chance two years after a big thud in the same stadium.

“We’re going to keep knocking at the door. We don’t listen to the narratives about what Notre Dame can and can’t do,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said on Thursday. “We’re just excited that we’re going to keep banging at this door and we’re going to get through.”

These Irish (10-1) go into the relocated Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day as three-touchdown underdogs against Alabama and the Tide’s Heisman Trophy finalists, quarterback Mac Jones and receiver DeVonta Smith. The game was moved to AT&T Stadium from its traditional home in Pasadena because of COVID-19 restrictions in California that would have kept family – and any other fans – from attending.

When the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium was a semifinal two years ago, Notre Dame lost, 30-3, to eventual national champion Clemson in its only previous CFP appearance. The No. 2 Tigers (10-1), who avenged their only loss by beating the Irish, 34-10, in the ACC title game, play Ohio State (6-0) in this season’s other semifinal Friday night at the Sugar Bowl.

The semifinal winners are scheduled to play Jan. 11 in suburban Miami, where eight seasons ago in the BCS national championship game Alabama trounced Notre Dame, 42-14, in the last meeting between the storied programs.

“Even after going undefeated that year, we lost in the national championship game, and we were looked at as not a very good football team,” Kelly said. “We needed to look at the things that could help us grow. And we’ve been doing that each and every year.”

Notre Dame is still trying to catch up with Alabama, which is in a CFP semifinal for the sixth time after missing the final four for the only time last year. The Tide are 4-0 at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, including a 38-0 rout of Michigan State five seasons ago on the way to a national championship. They won another title, their fifth overall under Coach Nick Saban, three seasons ago.

“It means a lot to come back here, reach our destination, to keep on building the standard here,” All-American cornerback Patrick Surtain II said.

“We just want to take advantage of where we’re at,” said Jones, the junior who has thrown for 3,739 yards and 32 touchdowns with four interceptions in his first full season as the starter. “We’re finally where we want to be.”

MISSING IN THE MIDDLE

Alabama will be without All-America center Landon Dickerson, a team captain who is recovering from surgery after injuring his knee late in the SEC title game victory over Florida.

“He’s been a great leader on our team and will certainly be missed,” Saban said.

Chris Owens, a senior from Arlington, Texas, will be the starting center against the Irish.

SKILL SETS

Alabama’s offense has Heisman finalists Jones and Smith, plus a big-scoring, dual-threat tailback in Najee Harris, who has rushed for 1,262 yards and 24 touchdowns, and caught 32 passes for 316 yards and three more scores. Harris finished fifth in the Heisman voting, but did not receive enough votes to be deemed a finalist.

Smith has 98 catches for 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jones has completed 76.5% of his passes for 3,739 yards with 32 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Ian Book, a fifth-year senior and two-time captain, is Notre Dame’s winningest starting quarterback at 30-4. He has thrown for 2,601 yards and 15 touchdowns, with 430 yards and eight scores rushing. Sophomore running back Kyren Williams has 1,061 yards rushing with 12 TDs, and Javon McKinley, who starred at Corona’s Centennial High, has four 100-yard receiving games.

BIG-GAME PLAYER

McKinley, who has been plagued by injuries in college, was a dominant high school player, hauling in 153 passes for 3,232 yards and 35 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Centennial. As a junior, he hauled in 97 passes for 2,059 yards and 22 touchdowns.

With Centennial, McKinley was often at his best in the biggest moments. In five playoff games during his junior season, McKinley had 50 catches for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns, including games against national powers Concord De La Salle (six catches, 153 yards, two TDs), St. John Bosco (13 catches, 151 yards, one TD) and Mater Dei (six catches, 187 yards, one TD).

That same season, McKinley also had six catches for 104 yards and a score in a regular-season game against Mater Dei and caught seven passes for 103 yards and a score against powerhouse Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas.

QUICK TURNAROUND

The Rose Bowl will be the second New Year’s Six game played at AT&T Stadium in less than 48 hours. Oklahoma beat Florida 55-20 in the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday night, and the turnover of the stadium began almost immediately afterward. That game had a limited capacity crowd of 17,323, and the Rose Bowl attendance should be similar.

SHORT TRIP

Like they would during the regular season, the Crimson Tide traveled from campus on Thursday, the day before the game.

“Just going today as if this is a normal road trip for us, but certainly not a normal game for us,” Saban said.

FRIENDLY FOES

Alabama running back Harris and Notre Dame quarterback Book, who grew up 90 miles from each other in Northern California, once were 7-on-7 teammates for TMP of Sacramento.

“The plan was if we were ever down, you just throw it up and Najee would go catch it. He was playing receiver for us. And he did that. That’s how we were able to win some games,” Book said.

“He does an amazing job getting the ball to his playmakers,” Harris said.

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College Football Playoff defenses face big challenges

My how times have changed in college football since the last time Alabama and Notre Dame met.

The Crimson Tide rode the nation’s best defense into that January 2013 national championship matchup, yielding a paltry 184 yards and eight points per game.

Fast-forward to the new reality: Offense wins championships. Or at least it’s carried the top-ranked Tide, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State into contention heading into Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinal games.

Alabama might have the nation’s best offense under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the former USC head coach.

“This is not pro I, let’s run it up inside and play great defense,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, whose Fighting Irish (10-1) will face the Crimson Tide (11-0) in Arlington, Texas. “They’re still playing fundamentally sound defense, but with the offenses as they are today, you know, it’s very difficult not to give up some yards.

“So you’re seeing fundamentally sound defense. You’re still seeing the same principles. You’re seeing at times elite play in certain position groups at Alabama. And then an offense now that can rival the very best college offenses in the country.”

Only the Tigers, who play the Buckeyes in New Orleans, have an elite defense statistically among the playoff teams. The other three have been plenty good enough to support those high-scoring offenses.

But ’Bama doesn’t rank higher than 12th nationally in the four major defensive statistical categories. Notre Dame isn’t better than 14th and Ohio State has been stingy against the run and more generous to opposing passers.

Then there’s Clemson, which ranks sixth in total defense, giving up 298.5 yards per game.

The AP All-America teams had eight representatives from the playoffs on the first-team offense and three on defense: Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade.

The playoff teams have three of the four Heisman Trophy finalists.

ALABAMA

The Skinny: The Tide have veteran standouts like Surtain and linebackers Dylan Moses and Christian Harris and rising star freshmen like pass rusher Will Anderson and defensive back Malachi Moore. Have been stingy at times but gave up yards and points galore to Mississippi and Florida. The Tide have 21 sacks over the last four games and 32 total.

Best Game: Alabama became the first to shut out a Mike Leach team, beating Mississippi State, 41-0, and allowing just 163 total yards while forcing three turnovers.

Worst Game: Alabama allowed a whopping 647 total yards in a 63-48 victory over Lane Kiffin’s Mississippi team. It was the most yards a Tide defense had ever surrendered and the most points by an unranked team against ’Bama. “It humbled us a lot,” Surtain said.

Best Player: Surtain is a shutdown cornerback who was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and is a Jim Thorpe Award finalist. He has 32 tackles, an interception and 10 pass breakups.

CLEMSON

The Skinny: The Tigers are not as star heavy and don’t have an Isaiah Simmons-type to lead the way this season. That balanced approach has Clemson giving up fewer points this year than last season’s group. The soft spot might be in pass coverage, where Clemson is giving up 198 yards per game, about 30 more than last year.

Best player: Linebacker James Skalski is a fierce hitter and the glue that holds the group together. When he missed games against Boston College and Notre Dame with an injury, Clemson allowed 75 points and lost to the Irish. With Skalski back the past three games, the Tigers have given up just 37 total, including only 10 to Notre Dame in the ACC Championship rematch.

Worst game: At Notre Dame, where the Tigers gave up 518 yards – unheard of against a Brent Venables-led defense – and permitted the Irish a long touchdown drive at the end to tie a game they’d eventually win in double overtime.

Best game: The rematch with the Fighting Irish for the ACC crown. Clemson held Notre Dame to a field goal on two early trips to the red zone, then pounded the Irish the rest of the way. The Tigers gave up just 263 yards to win their sixth consecutive league crown.

NOTRE DAME

The Skinny: Under third-year defensive coordinator Clark Lea, set to become head coach at alma mater Vanderbilt, the Irish entered their final regular-season game against Syracuse with a top 10 defense. But they’ve given up 955 yards combined the past two games and have a tendency to allow big passing plays.

Best player: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. A first-team Associated Press All-American and Butkus Award winner, the 6-foot-1, 216-pound senior has 56 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, an interception, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Clemson.

Worst game: The 34-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game. The Irish struggled to defend quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne.

Best game: The 31-17 victory at North Carolina on Nov. 27. Notre Dame held the prolific Tar Heels, whose offense was averaging 563.4 yards per game coming in, to just 78 total yards and zero points in the second half.

OHIO STATE

The Skinny: COVID-19 issues and a six-game schedule might have impeded the Buckeyes’ progress. But the defense did recover 10 fumbles, collect six interceptions and rack up 17 sacks in that limited schedule.


Best Game: Ohio State turned in a strong defensive performance in a 22-10 victory over Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes allowed just 329 yards and intercepted two passes.

Worst Game: Ohio State nearly blew a three-touchdown lead before holding on for a 42-35 win against Indiana, albeit with help from a defensive touchdown late in the third quarter. Michael Penix Jr. torched the Buckeyes for 491 passing yards and five touchdowns.

Best player: All-America cornerback Shaun Wade had 21 tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups. His 36-yard interception return for a touchdown against Indiana proved huge.

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