Landale scores 24 to help No. 19 Saint Mary’s hold off BYU

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MORAGA, Calif. (AP) Jock Landale had a pretty good time spending his night going against BYU’s 6-foot-10-inch sophomore Eric Mika in a battle of two of the West Coast Conference’s top big men.

The 6-11 center from Saint Mary’s enjoyed passing for six assists that led to 15 points for the Gaels even more.

Landale had 24 points and eight rebounds to help offset another big game from Mika and the 19th-ranked Gaels pulled away in the second half to beat the Cougars 81-68 on Thursday night.

Saint Mary’s top scorer coming into the game, Landale was the focal point of the Gaels’ offense while also trying to defend Mika, the second-leading scorer in the WCC. Mika finished with 28 points – one shy of his career-high set earlier this season – and 10 rebounds.

“It’s so much fun going against someone who’s that good,” Landale said. “He’s a great guy as well so there was a little banter back and forth. It is a lot of fun going against someone who’s hard to guard and knowing you’re hard to guard as well.”

Landale had more fun, and was equally effective, when he passed out to the perimeter whenever BYU tried collapsing in the paint with a double-team. His six assists doubled Landale’s previous career-high and were critical in getting the Gaels’ outside shooting going.

Calvin Hermanson scored 15 points, Emmett Naar added 15 on three 3-pointers and Joe Rahon had 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Saint Mary’s.

“Having people like that out on the 3-point line where we don’t always have to go to me, we can go to other people, it makes us so much harder to guard,” Landale said. “It’s great having a supporting cast like that.”

Naar said Landale’s passing helped open up the offense.

“It adds a lot more to our game going inside, then out,” Naar said. “It makes it easier for me, Joe and Cal as shooters because he can score, defenses have to focus in on him.”

The Gaels (13-1, 3-0) have won seven straight since suffering their lone loss of the season at home against UT Arlington on Dec. 8.

Landale got the better of Mika late, scoring twice on putbacks to go with a basket in the paint over the final 6 minutes before checking out of the game to a rousing ovation with 1:15 remaining.

It’s only Saint Mary’s third win in the past seven games against BYU.

“Landale, any time we helped, he found the open guy,” Cougars coach Dave Rose said. “He just played great as far as his decision-making. He really makes that team difficult to guard.”

The Cougars (11-5, 2-1) suffered their first loss in conference and their first defeat since Dec. 17 despite Mika’s big game. The sophomore shot 12 of 17 in 27 minutes.

Much of the first half centered around a battle between the big men. The duo spent most of the first half banging into one another in the paint while shouldering the scoring load for their respective teams early.

The difference was Saint Mary’s shooting from the perimeter. The Gaels went 6 of 13 from beyond the arc and shot 64.3 percent overall to take a 44-36 halftime lead.

BIG PICTURE

BYU: Mika has scored 20 or more points in eight games this season. … The Cougars got off to another slow start and the 36 points were their third-fewest in a first half this season. BYU also had just two offensive rebounds before the break.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels remain on course for a showdown with undefeated No. 5 Gonzaga on Jan. 14 in Spokane but coach Randy Bennett’s squad continues to do a good job focusing on the task at hand. Landale didn’t have the numbers that Mika did but proved he is one of the WCC’s elite centers. He also had plenty of scoring support, one of the staples of Bennett’s offense.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Gaels aren’t likely to make much movement based off this one game and it won’t matter at all if they can’t hold serve on the road in San Francisco over the weekend.

BITS AND PIECES

Rose was pleased with his team’s effort but noted that the Cougars’ lack of consistency was a pivotal factor in their four-game losing streak coming to an end. Mika, for instance, was held scoreless for the final 11 minutes while BYU managed only four baskets over the last 7. “There are pieces of this game that were good for us,” Rose said. “It just wasn’t for 40 minutes.”

UP NEXT

BYU: Hosts Pacific on Saturday.

Saint Mary’s: Takes a short ride across the Bay Bridge to play at San Francisco on Saturday night.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.