South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

Getty Images
1 Comment

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.

BYU forward Lohner transferring to Baylor in his home state

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

WACO, Texas — BYU forward Caleb Lohner is transferring to Baylor, a return to his home state after two seasons with the Cougars.

Baylor coach Scott Drew said Monday that the 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward had signed a financial-aid contract with the Big 12 Conference school. Lohner put his name in the transfer portal last month.

Lohner averaged 7.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in his 62 games (44 starts) with the Cougars. He shot 43.9% (167 of 380) from the field.

“We’ve known Caleb and his family since he was a sophomore in high school,” Drew said. “We have always known he would be a great fit in our program because of the type of teammate and player he is. He’s an outstanding student-athlete that our fans are really going to enjoy cheering for.”

Lohner played at Flower Mound High School in the Dallas area as a freshman and sophomore before going to Wasatch Academy in Utah from 2018-20.

BYU is moving to the Big 12 after next season.

Gonzaga women upend No. 15 BYU to win WCC title 71-59

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

LAS VEGAS — Melody Kempton scored 15 points and Gonzaga defeated No. 15 BYU 71-59 on Tuesday in the championship game of the West Coast Conference tournament to earn its 13th NCAA Tournament berth.

It was a big turnaround for second-seeded Gonzaga, which dropped two games to the top-seeded Cougars in the regular season, getting outscored 105-34 in the sixth quarters after leading 35-20 at halftime of the first game.

Gonzaga defeated the Cougars in the championship game last year, 43-42, on a basket as time expired.

The Truong twins, Kaylynne and starter Kayleigh, scored 14 and 12 points respectively for the Bulldogs (26-6) and Yvonne Ejim had 11.

Kaylynne Truong hit two triples and all four of her free throws to score 10 points in the fourth quarter when Gonzaga made 6 of 8 shots, including three 3-pointers, and 13 of 16 free throws.

WCC player of the year Shaylee Gonzales scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for BYU (26-3), which had its eight-game winning streak snapped, a span that included both wins over Gonzaga. Paisley Harding added 14 points and Lauren Gustin 10.

An 8-0 run in the first quarter put Gonzaga up for good but BYU, going for its fourth tournament title, stayed close, trailing 43-38 going into the fourth quarter after two Gonzales layups.

Twice in the opening moments of the fourth quarter BYU got within three points but Kempton had consecutive baskets and Kaylynne Truong had her second 3 of quarter, putting Gonzaga on top 53-43 with 6 1/2 minutes to go.

Tegan Graham had a 3-pointer for BYU, but Ejim hit a jumper and Kayleigh Truong had a 3-pointer and the lead didn’t dip below nine.

Hawkins scores 25, Creighton beats No. 24 BYU 83-71

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Far from the Creighton campus, the 3,500-seat Sanford Pentagon was nearly packed with Bluejays fans and Ryan Hawkins gave them quite a show against No. 24 BYU on Saturday.

Even though eight inches of snow fell Friday in Sioux Falls and hampered travel, the Creighton crowd made it seem like a home game 180 miles to the north. The stands were full as Hawkins scored 19 of his season-high 25 points in the first half in an 83-71 win.

Creighton (9-2) built its lead to as many as 20 before the break, helped by Hawkins’ four 3-pointers.

“I took a couple I probably shouldn’t have, but I was having fun,” Hawkins said. “I just kind of let it come.”

Hawkins finished 10 for 18 from the field, including 4 for 8 on 3s, and had eight rebounds.

“44 (Hawkins) was just a handful for us tonight in the first half. We couldn’t find any answers,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “He’s a big-time shooter, and he’s got great range and he gets it up quick. Our guys were surprised early on with how mobile he was and how quick he was to get shots off. That’s a learning process. It was a good education for us tonight.”

Alex Barcello scored 28 points for BYU (8-2), shooting 5 of 7 on 3-pointers. Gideon George played 20 minutes off the bench and led the Cougars with 11 rebounds.

Down by 21 points in the second half, the Cougars closed within 10 with just under nine minutes remaining when Seneca Knight hit one of his three 3-pointers.

The Bluejays pulled away after that.

“Our guys are getting better. That’s the reality of it,” Creighton head coach Greg McDermott said. “They’re going to grow with each experience. Every game is a lesson and there’s a lot we can learn from this game.”

BIG PICTURE

BYU: The loss was the Cougars’ first by double digits in the regular season since an 82-71 setback to No. 1 Gonzaga last season. The loss likely will knock the Cougars out of the Top 25.

Creighton: The Bluejays beat a ranked team for the first time time since topping No. 5 Villanova 86-70 last season. The Bluejays had lost three straight to ranked opponents.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

After opening the season ranked No. 18 and climbing as high as No. 12 this season, BYU could fall out.

Creighton could creep into the Top 25 poll with the win. The Bluejays were ranked No. 19 in the final poll last season.

HE SAID IT

With just over five minutes to play and Creighton leading 68-54, Hawkins grabbed a long rebound and had a clear path to the basket. With a defender closing, he delivered an emphatic dunk to the roar of the crowd.

“I hope the fans got into that,” he said. “Because that’s about all they’ll get this year. I hope they remember it well, because it probably won’t happen again.”

UP NEXT

BYU is at Weber State next Saturday before heading to Honolulu for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic Dec. 22-25.

Creighton returns home for games next week against Arizona State on Tuesday and then Villanova in the Big East opener on Friday.

Oklahoma women beat No. 16 BYU; spoil Graham’s 10 3-pointers

Getty Images
0 Comments

NORMAN, Okla. – Madi Williams scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Taylor Robertson added 23 points and Oklahoma beat No. 16 BYU 99-91 in overtime on Friday night, spoiling Tegan Graham’s 10 3-pointer performance.

Oklahoma’s first-year coach Jennie Baranczyk reached 200 wins in just her 10th season as a head coach, following a nine-year stint at Drake.

Oklahoma led 76-69 with 4:32 left in regulation before Oregon State made four 3-pointers in the final four minutes – with three by Graham, including a go-ahead make at 1:09. Skylar Vann tied it at 83 with a layup.

Paisley Harding put BYU ahead 89-88 in overtime with 3 minutes remaining, but it was the final made field goal for the Cougars as Oklahoma closed on an 11-0 run.

Kennady Tucker and Nevaeh Tot each scored 11 points for Oklahoma (9-1), which has only lost to then-No. 9 Oregon 98-93.

Graham set a program record by making 10 of 17 3-pointers for BYU (8-1). Harding, coming off a 33-point performance in an 85-80 victory over Utah, was held to seven points on 3-of-17 shooting. Shaylee Gonzales added 24 points, also making 10 field goals, and Lauren Gustin had 13 points, 21 rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Graham made 6 of 9 3-pointers in the first half and her 18 points helped BYU to a 41-37 lead at the break. Gustin grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half for BYU and Williams led Oklahoma in scoring and rebounding with 10 points and nine boards.

Gonzaga, UCLA hold down top poll spots ahead of showdown

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Gonzaga and UCLA continued their hold on the top two spots in The Associated Press Top 25 college basketball poll on Monday, setting the stage for their highly anticipated showdown this week, while Purdue and Duke barged their way into the top five.

The Bulldogs (4-0) had an easy week with wins over Alcorn State and Bellarmine and received 55 first-place votes from the 61-person medial panel that regularly covers college basketball. The Bruins (4-0) received five first-place votes after blowing out Long Beach State and North Florida last week to head to Las Vegas with some momentum.

Gonzaga played Central Michigan and UCLA faced Bellarmine on Monday night in the Good Sam Empire Classic. Then, the nation’s top two teams will square off Tuesday night in a Final Four rematch of a game won by the Bulldogs in overtime.

“It’s important for everybody if you want to make the NCAA Tournament,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “If you want to accrue a high seed, you have to play really, really good teams. I think it’s important for college basketball.”

Purdue received the only other first-place vote and leapfrogged Kansas into third in the Top 25 following the Boilermakers’ win over then-No. 5 Villanova in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament. The Jayhawks were fourth and the Blue Devils were fifth.

Defending national champion Baylor jumped to sixth after running roughshod over Central Arkansas and Stanford, while the Wildcats dropped only to seventh thanks to beating then-No. 12 Tennessee before losing to Purdue. Texas and Memphis were next, with Kentucky and Alabama in a tie for 10th in the second regular-season poll of the season.

The Wildcats and Crimson Tide were followed by Houston, Arkansas, Illinois and Tennessee at No. 15.

St. Bonaventure solidified its status as this season’s early mid-major darling by jumping six spots to No. 16 following wins over Clemson and Marquette. Arizona made the biggest leap into the poll at No. 17 after beating Wichita State and romping past then-No. 4 Michigan in the Roman Main Event, followed by another newcomer to the poll in BYU.

“We got good players,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I know we’ve been out of the limelight; maybe a little bit of that’s my fault because I haven’t been looking for it. But you know what? We’re here now. And we belong.”

Auburn and Michigan rounded out the top 20 with Seton Hall, UConn, Florida, USC and Xavier completing the poll.

“This is where we are as a program,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, whose Pirates beat the Wolverines last week for their first win over a top-five nonconference team on the road. “We can play with anybody in the country and we have done that in the last seven years.”

CONFERENCE CALL

SEC – 6 (Nos. 10, 10 tie, 13, 15, 19, 23)

Big East – 4 (Nos. 7, 21, 22, 25)

Big 10 – 3 (Nos. 3, 14, 20)

Big 12 – 3 (Nos. 4, 6, 8)

Pac-12 – 3 (Nos. 2, 17, 24)

American – 2 (Nos. 9, 12)

West Coast – 2 (Nos. 1, 18)

ACC – 1 (No. 5)

Atlantic 10 – 1 (No. 16)

UP AND DOWN

Purdue and Baylor moved up three spots within the top 10, and Alabama move up four spots to forge a tie with SEC rival Kentucky. The biggest drop came with Michigan, which was fourth before a pair of losses sent coach Juwan Howard’s crew tumbling all the way to No. 20.

“We’re going to get better, and I trust we will,” said Howard, whose team has another tough test with North Carolina on Dec. 1. “It’s part of the game: adversity. Adversity hits, it defines the man, or how he responds the next time.”

IN AND OUT

Arizona would have come in at No. 31 last week and debuted in the poll at No. 17 this week, while BYU would have been 29th a week ago and entered the poll at No. 18. Seton Hall would have been 38th a week ago and came in at No. 21, while Xavier gave the poll four newcomers this week.

Oregon went from No. 12 to the first team out. Ohio State, North Carolina and Maryland also fell out.