USC men’s basketball hosts Washington State in final homestand

first_imgThree nights removed from a gut-wrenching one-point loss to Arizona State in Tempe, the USC men’s basketball team (21-8, 8-8) takes the court at the Galen Center on Wednesday in search of its first win in 20 days. The Trojans’ opponent: the Washington State Cougars (13-15, 6-10).“We’ve been impressed with Washington State all season,” head coach Andy Enfield said after Tuesday’s practice. “Coach [Ernie] Kent’s done a great job with them, especially in Pac-12 play.”The two teams last met on Feb. 3 in frosty Pullman, Wash., where USC rode a hot offense to an 86-77 win. The Trojans shot 57 percent from the field in that contest and rallied from an 11-point deficit in the first half. Sophomore forward Chimezie Metu scored a career-high 29 points, and freshman guard Jonah Matthews added 18 off the bench. The Trojans left Washington with a sweep for the first time in 15 years, a healthy squad for the first time all season and a four-game win streak in tow.This time around, USC carries a four-game skid into Wednesday night’s game, which is threatening the Trojans’ postseason hopes. It’s their longest losing streak in two years.“It’s a different sort of feeling,” junior guard Elijah Stewart said. “We let a couple games go that we should’ve won. We’ve just got to finish out strong right now.”But morale is not down, and intensity has ratcheted up.“Practice has gotten a little chippy,” Stewart said. “We’re all competitors. We all enjoy the intensity. It’s going to make us better in games.”USC expects to earn a postseason berth, whereas Washington State knows it has two games left to play this year. That spells danger for USC, as the veteran Cougars may come into this contest ready to empty the tank. On Sunday — Senior Day in Pullman — all four Cougar seniors scored in double figures to beat favored in-state rival Washington, 79-71.“We have to play as hard as we can, and whatever happens happens,” Enfield said.Two seniors in particular, guard Ike Oroegbu and forward Josh Hawkinson, have paced the Cougars throughout the season. Oroegbu scored 22 versus the Trojans earlier this month, and he has scored at least 15 points in four of WSU’s last five contests. For the season, he is averaging 12.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.Hawkinson, meanwhile, has found his place in the annals of Cougar basketball. Last time versus USC, he became WSU’s second all-time rebounder — a testament to his four years of hard work in the paint. He finished that game with 17 points and 16 rebounds. On Wednesday night, he could set the school record with 11 more boards. Enfield called Hawkinson a “double-double machine.”On the other side of the court, USC will be significantly younger, playing no seniors and three freshmen.“Our freshmen have had terrific seasons,” Enfield said. “They’ve been a little streaky, but most freshmen are. We would not have 21 wins without our four freshmen contributing. They’ve got to play like sophomores the last week of the season and into the tournament.”For USC’s postseason aspirations to stay alive, those freshmen will have to help USC get at least a 22nd win Wednesday versus Washington State.“We’re taking it one game at a time,” freshman guard De’Anthony Melton said. “If we start looking too far forward, we might lose to a team we should beat.”last_img read more

Teen pleads guilty in referee’s death

first_imgA 17-year-old soccer player in Utah pleaded guilty Monday to homicide by assault in the death of referee Ricardo Portillo, an official said.A judge ordered the teenager, who has not been named publicly, to keep a picture of Portillo in his cell phone for the remainder of his time in juvenile jail.The judge recommended a sentence of three years, said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.Is teen violence out of control?In addition, the judge ordered the teen to write weekly letters to Portillo’s family members, telling them what steps he is taking to return to normal life.On April 27, Portillo, 46, was refereeing a game of Fut International, a Hispanic soccer league for children between ages 5 and 17, in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville.He cited a player for an infraction and issued him a cautionary “yellow card.” A second infraction would result in the player’s ejection from the game. Slain referee risked violence for ‘his passion’The 17-year-old player, police said, turned around and punched Portillo in the face.At first, authorities thought Portillo suffered only minor injuries. But at the hospital, doctors discovered serious internal head injuries.For seven days he remained in critical condition. He later died from his injuries.Portillo had three daughters and three grandchildren, who live in Mexico. He moved to the United States 16 years ago.“I just need time to heal. It’s a lot of pain that this kid caused my whole family, especially my sisters and I,” Johana Portillo, his daughter, told CNN in May.“I will forgive this kid because it’s only in God’s hands. … But right now, it’s too soon for me to forgive.”Soccer violence: referees under siegelast_img read more

John Stones: Chelsea target makes Everton transfer request

first_imgEverton’s John Stones has handed in a transfer request following Chelsea’s repeated attempts to buy the defender.The Premier League champions have had bids of £20m and £26m rejected for the 21-year-old England international, with a further £30m attempt also reported.Everton manager Roberto Martinez has repeatedly said Stones will not be sold this summer and the club have not responded to the latest development.The centre-back moved from Barnsley to Everton in February 2013 for about £3m.Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who substituted John Terry during their 3-0 loss at Manchester City and saw his skipper sent off against West Brom last Sunday, wants to strengthen in central defence.Stones is expected to be in the England squad for next month’s Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland when it is named on Sunday evening. Chelsea’s first game following the international break is a trip to Goodison Park on 12 September.–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more