Swmming: Cal women cruise to Pac-12 title

Top-ranked Cal breezed to its second consecutive and fourth overall Pac-12 Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship Saturday, winning three more events to pull away from the field on its way to scoring a meet record 1,629.50 points at Federal Way, Washington.

Cierra Runge set meet and school records while winning the 1,650-yard freestyle in 15:40.17, Missy Franklin led a Cal sweep of the 200 backstroke, and freshman Noemie Thomas won her first individual title in the 200 butterfly.

Cal swimmers won 12 swimming events in the four-day meet, breaking the school record of nine set in 2012.

Runge, a freshman who broke the NCAA record in winning the 500 free Thursday and was a member of Cal’s American record-setting 800 free relay Wednesday, was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet.

In the 1650 free, Runge won the race by 14 seconds and just missed Janet Evans’ 25-year-old conference record of 15:39.14.


Basketball: Kravish seeks big finale to career

Cal senior forward David Kravish was struggling to hold onto his confidence. He was coming off a 2-for-11 shooting performance in a loss at Utah and wasn’t satisfied with his contributions to the Bears’ up-and-down season.

Then he got what he called “a nice little kick in the head moment” while on the phone with fiancé Ashton Pohlman before Cal’s game at Stanford a week ago.

“I was beating myself up and she snapped at me,” Kravish said.

“Who’s telling you not to believe in yourself?” she said. “If I was there, I’d punch you right now. You need to believe in yourself before anybody else will believe in you.”

A student at Arkansas and Kravish’s girlfriend since his junior year in high school, Pohlman apparently struck just the right note. Kravish responded with a career-high 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Stanford, playing once more with the confidence he’s shown much of his career.

Kravish will play his final regular-season home game Sunday against Oregon State, joined for senior day ceremonies by Pohlman, his parents and other family and friends. For most of four seasons, he has been a model of consistency and dependability.

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Field hockey: Temporary field set to open Monday

Cal athletics announced Friday that the temporary practice facility for its displaced women’s field hockey team is expected to be ready for practice on Monday, and that a permanent field is targeted for completion in time for the fall season.

The field hockey team has been homeless on campus for the past year after construction began for a multi-level parking structure beneath the Maxwell Family Field adjacent to Memorial Stadium.

In the meantime, the Bears’ field hockey team was forced to play all its 2014 season games on the road and often traveled to across the Bay to Stanford to hold practices.

Three members of the team retained a San Francisco law firm last fall to help pressure the campus to find them an on-campus facility after it was decided the Maxwell field no longer would be available to field hockey.

Still frustrated by the lack of tangible progress, players staged a small public protest Feb. 17 at the site of the temporary field on the north side of campus. Kiki Williams, an attorney with the Equal Rights Advocates law firm, said at that time the facility situation was “a gender and equity” issue and “a Title IX violation.”

The temporary field, located at the site of the La Loma tennis courts, will be completed over the weekend, according to a Cal athletic department statement. Originally, it was scheduled to be available to the team two weeks ago.

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Football: Cal gets commitment from 2016 safety

Cal football landed its second significant 2016 recruiting prospect in a week when four-star safety Marquel Dismuke of Compton announced via twitter he has picked the Bears over Michigan and Arizona State, among others.

A senior-to-be at Calabasas High, Dismuke is rated as the No. 11 safety in the country by Scout and No. 12 by Rivals. Both recruiting sites list him as a four-star prospect.

Dismuke, a 6-foot, 175-pounder, is the nation’s No. 190 overall prospect, according to Scout.

He joins dual-threat quarterback Armani Rogers, a three-star prospect from Hamilton High in Los Angeles, in Cal’s 2016 recruiting class. Commitments do not become binding until signing day in February 2016.


Basketball: Oregon game thread

Cal’s hopes of derailing red-hot Oregon were undone by two basics of the game: free throws and rebounding.

The Bears got a season-high 22 points from sophomore Jabari Bird, but faltered elsewhere in an 80-69 loss in front of an announced crowd of 8,556 at Haas Pavilion.

Coach Cuonzo Martin used a four-guard lineup much of the evening and for 15 minutes the Bears got away with it, not allowing the Ducks a single offensive rebound.

But Oregon muscled up at that point and exploited the Bears inside the rest of the night, using 11 offensive rebounds to generate 15 second-chance points. The biggest of those was a 3-pointer by Dwayne Benjamin after an offensive rebound by Jalil Abdul-Bassit that pushed the Ducks’ lead to 76-67 with 3:09 left.

Cal (16-12, 6-9 Pac-12) didn’t help itself at the foul line, converting just 11 of 19 attempts. Oregon (21-8, 11-5) countered with a 17-for-20 free throw effort. During their current three-game losing streak, the Bears have missed 26 free throws, making barely 50 percent.

The Ducks, who won for the ninth time in 11 games to maintain their hold on third place, got 25 points from senior guard Joseph Young. Oregon ended a 12-game losing streak to Cal that stretched back to 2008.

Tyrone Wallace added 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Cal and David Kravish had 14 points.

Benjamin scored 18 and Elgin Cook had 17 for the Ducks.

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Basketball: Bears try to make it 13 in a row

A few things you’ll want to know before tonight’s game between Cal (16-11, 6-8) and Oregon (20-8, 10-5) at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

– Cal has beaten Oregon 12 straight times, perfect against the Ducks since Feb. 9, 2008. Oregon coach Dana Altman is 0-7 vs. the Bears.

– The teams are meeting for the first time this season; they played just once last year, with Cal winning 96-83 behind a career-high 32 points from Jordan Mathews, a freshman at the time.

– Cal senior forward David Kravish is coming off a career-high 23 points at Stanford.

– Kravish needs 28 rebounds to become just the third Cal player — and the first in more than 40 years – to reach 900 for his career.

– Oregon has won 20 games five seasons in a row for the first time in school history. The Ducks are 5-1 in the month of February and have won 8 of their past 10 games to move into third place in the Pac-12.

– Oregon senior guard Joseph Young is among five active players in the country who have scored more than 2,000 career points. A transfer from Houston, Young averages a Pac-12-best 19.8 points this season, including 24.0 over the past six games.

– Seven of the Ducks’ top 10 scorers are first-year members of the team, including starting freshmen forwards Dillon Brooks (12.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Jordan Bell (5.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg). The 6-foot-9 Bell leads the Pac-12 with 77 blocked shots.


Football/basketball: Cal-related story links

Here are links to several stories we have today that relate to current or former Cal athletes:

– Running back Marshawn Lynch is close to releasing his film, “Family First: The Marshawn Lynch Story.” Click here to see the movie trailer.

– Former Cal placekicker Giorgio Tavecchio signs with the Oakland Raiders.

– Cal and Stanford guards are the headliners among top women’s basketball players in the Bay Area.



Basketball: Behrens returns for Oregon game

Redshirt junior forward Christian Behrens, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee just 12 days ago, has practiced this week and will play Wednesday when the Bears play Oregon at Haas Pavilion.

Behrens also said he will go through Senior Day ceremonies on Sunday alongside David Kravish, with whom he entered Cal in the 2011-12 freshman class, but intends to return next season as a grad student for his final season of basketball.

Behrens, who averages 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds and has started 15 games this season, will come off the bench against Oregon (20-8, 10-5), the Pac-12’s third-place team. But his presence as a mobile forward could help the Bears (16-11, 6-8) against a Ducks team that often plays four perimeter players.

When Behrens underwent the surgery on Feb. 13, it seemed more likely he was done for the season than could return this soon. The injury occurred the previous week during warm-ups for Cal’s game against UCLA, when Behrens said he felt something that “wasn’t right.”

An MRI showed a bone chip floating in his knee, which was easily removed in the surgery that Behrens said “was not very invasive at all.”

He is experiencing no pain and will play against Oregon.

Coach Cuonzo Martin said he had the same surgery during his career at Purdue and was out for three weeks afterward. Given the advances in sports medicine in the meantime, Martin said he is not surprised Behrens is ready.

Against the Ducks, who start just one player taller than 6-foot-6, Martin said Behrens could

”What you have is another body,” Martin said. “It’s tough when you go into games and you’re real thin. It messes up your rotation and you have to go small. He’s a (6-8) body that understands what were trying to do, a mobile body.”

Behrens said he’s committed to return next season and Martin added, “That’s the plan.”

But Behrens hasn’t yet applied for grad school, so nothing is certain.

“I’m not quite sure what grad program I want to pursue. I guess that’s something I’ll have to figure out when it happens,” he said. “Obviously, I want to stay a Golden Bear as long as I can.”


Football: Bears get 2016 QB commitment

Cal football got its first 2016 recruiting commitment from Armani Rogers, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound dual-threat quarterback from Hamilton High in Los Angeles, according to multiple recruiting websites.

Rogers, rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout, picked Cal over offers from Utah and Colorado State and also had recent interest from UCLA.

“New #Cal commit Armani Rogers is intriguing with his size, mobility and effortless release/arm strength, reminds of a young Cam Newton,” tweeted Scout analyst Greg Biggins.

Rogers led the Hamilton Yankees to a 12-4 record and the Los Angeles City Division II championship as a junior last season. According to Rivals, he threw 28 touchdown passes with just three interceptions and ran for seven TDs.

Rogers began his high school career at Crespi High, spent his sophomore year at Culver High, then transferred to Hamilton, according to the Los Angeles Times.