Sports

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Get an early jump on enjoying March Madness in Spokane in 2018

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 4:07 PM

If the ball bounces the right way, the Gonzaga women could find themselves playing at the Spokane Arena in March.
  • If the ball bounces the right way, the Gonzaga women could find themselves playing at the Spokane Arena in March.

A couple of years ago, the Gonzaga women's basketball team went on a spirited run in the NCAA Tournament, taking two games on the road against Top 20 teams (George Washington and Oregon State) to earn a spot in the 2015 Spokane Regional. They battled powerhouse Tennessee into overtime before succumbing to the Vols 73-69.

With any luck, the Gonzaga women will find their way back to March Madness this upcoming season, because the NCAA Tournament is coming back to the Spokane Arena on March 24 and 26, 2018. The regional hosts three games over the two days, with the team making it out alive heading to the women's Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.

Whether or not Spokane's local squad represents, the regional guarantees excellent action from some of the best teams in the country, battling in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds. And you can get a jump on tickets right now with a special deal today through Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Tickets are just $50 for all three games for adults, and $35 for youth/senior tickets, available through this TicketsWest site or by calling 800-325-SEAT. You'll need to use the promotional code SPORTS to get access for the tickets.

As a bonus, everyone who buys tickets to the women's regional in 2018 will be placed on a priority waiting list to have the first crack at buying tickets in 2020 for the men's first- and second-round games coming to the Spokane Arena.
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Monday, October 16, 2017

MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: Eastern now Washington's only Top 10 team

Posted By on Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 10:53 AM

Is that a blue-and-gold train about to run us over, or just the Cal Bears? - WSU ATHLETICS
  • WSU Athletics
  • Is that a blue-and-gold train about to run us over, or just the Cal Bears?

It was one ugly weekend for fans of the region's top-tier college football teams, with both Top 10-ranked Washington State and Washington falling in huge upsets, and Idaho blowing a big lead at home. At least Eastern Washington seems to have righted the ship after early-season travails. Let's break it down:

NOT EXACTLY COUGIN' IT, BUT REAL BAD
Correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm a relatively new transplant to the area, but "Cougin' it" means losing a game in the last minutes in a painful way that defies explanation, correct? So I guess we'll call what happened in Berkeley on Friday night as a good, old-fashioned ass-kicking, with the Cougs going down to the Cal Bears, 37-3.

Yes, 37-3.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

WSU at Cal: Unbeaten Cougars contend with Bears, possible poor air quality

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 1:06 PM

Last November, Gerard Wicks rambled for 128 yards against Cal, averaging more than 14 per carry, in WSU's 56-21 win. - WSU ATHLETICS
  • WSU Athletics
  • Last November, Gerard Wicks rambled for 128 yards against Cal, averaging more than 14 per carry, in WSU's 56-21 win.

A victory tonight in Berkeley would keep undefeated Washington State, the nation's No. 8 team, on the path to a potentially epic Apple Cup matchup. But the Cougars could face an unanticipated obstacle in the nationally televised Pac-12 North matchup with Cal at Memorial Stadium (7:30 pm; ESPN, KXLY 920 AM); poor air quality in the Bay Area resulting from Northern California's devastating wildfires.

After passing the season's first test away from home with flying colors (at least in the second half) in last Saturday's 33-10 win in Eugene, the Cougars (6-0, 3-0) play the second of five road games in their final seven contests; 3-3 Cal — which started promisingly, with non-conference wins at North Carolina and home against Mississippi under first-year head coach Justin Wilcox —  has lost all three of its games in the Pac by increasing margins and comes off a 38-7 beatdown at Washington last Saturday night, particularly notable for the Golden Bears' rushing total: minus 40 yards.

That's music to the ears of a Cougars defense that held the Ducks (who have a much better running game than Cal) to a paltry 2.9 yards per rush and just six first downs on the ground. The Bears, who have surrendered an average of nearly 38 points per game in their three conference losses, couldn't do much to stop the Huskies on the ground or in the air, and it's hard to see how they slow down the Cougars, especially senior quarterback Luke Falk, who continued his assault on the Pac-12 record books in Eugene, throwing for three TDs, good for 19 this season (also the number of times he's been sacked) and 108 in his career, second in the conference all-time. USC's Matt Barkley holds the record of 116.

Eastern fans will see a familiar face on Cal's sidelines: longtime Eagles coach Beau Baldwin, who in his first year as the Bears' offensive coordinator and running backs coach, has yet to light a fire under the unit: Cal's offense resides at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 in nearly every offensive category. The Bears don't look likely to break out of their offensive doldrums against an Alex Grinch-coordinated WSU defense that's at or near the top in nearly every respective category.

And Greater Spokane League fans will see a familiar face on the Cal defense: inside linebacker Evan Weaver, who starred at Gonzaga Prep. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound sophomore has appeared in all six games, starting three, and led the Bears last week at Washington with six tackles, two for losses.

Last November, Falk strafed Cal for 373 yards and five TDs as the Cougars routed the Bears 56-21 at Martin Stadium, only their second victory in a dozen games vs. Cal, both in the Mike Leach era.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Devers' clouts for the Red Sox bring back memories of a Brett brother

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 2:30 PM


Rafael Devers
, the 20-year-old Red Sox rookie third baseman who belted a two-run homer Sunday as Boston (temporarily) stayed alive in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against Houston, then hit an inside-the-park solo homer in the ninth inning of today's series-clinching Game 4, is the third-youngest Red Sox player to appear in the postseason.

The youngest? Ken Brett, the second of the four 
ken_brett_red_sox.jpg
baseball-playing Brett brothers — John, Ken, Bobby and George — who pitched for the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series, tossing 1⅓ innings of scoreless relief against the St. Louis Cardinals, and at age 19 became the youngest player to pitch in a World Series game.

George, the youngest Brett brother, is a first-ballot Hall of Fame third baseman who spent his entire 21-year career with the Kansas City Royals. You might be more familiar with Bobby as a longtime Spokane resident and owner of the Spokane Indians and Spokane Chiefs.

Ken, a first-round pick out of El Segundo (California) High School in 1966, less than 10 months before making his major-league debut in the middle of a torrid, four-team American League pennant race, pitched in relief in Games 4 and 7 of the World Series vs. St. Louis.

Known as "Kemer," Brett was far from a flash in the pan, pitching three more seasons in Boston and playing for the Brewers, Phillies, Pirates, Yankees, White Sox, Angels, Twins, Dodgers and Royals over the course of a 14-year major league career; he was George's teammate in Kansas City for the final two seasons.

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MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: Cougs pass first road test, Gubrud's arm rallies Eagles, Pirates keelhauled

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 11:56 AM


Washington State stayed unbeaten and took another step toward a potentially epic Apple Cup, Eastern showed what it's made of — in a good way — for the fourth straight week, Idaho came up short in its conference home opener, and Whitworth was blindsided at home by a team it had never lost to. The Seahawks? They're back in first place, thanks to their defense. Your Monday Morning Placekicker:

A swarming, relentless Cougars defense held Oregon's high-powered attack to just 10 points at Autzen Stadium. - WSU ATHLETICS
  • WSU Athletics
  • A swarming, relentless Cougars defense held Oregon's high-powered attack to just 10 points at Autzen Stadium.

UNBEATEN COUGS SILENCE THE DUCKS

Washington State's defense pitched a second-half shutout and the Cougars' attack wore down Oregon's defense as WSU — now ranked No. 8 in the new AP Top 25 poll —  stayed unbeaten through its first six games and moved to 3-0 in the Pac-12, pulling away from the Ducks 33-10 on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.

The Cougs, who weren't fazed by their first trip away from Pullman, have beaten Oregon for three consecutive years for the first time since winning four straight under Jim Walden from 1981-84. WSU quarterback Luke Falk continued his assault on the record books, completing 24 of 42 passes for 282 yards and all three of the Cougs' touchdowns, and moved ahead of former Ducks Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota for second-place all-time in the Pac-12 with his 106th career TD. Erik Powell kicked four field goals, including a career-high 52-yarder midway through the second quarter that gave WSU the lead for good. The Cougs' tour through the Pac stays on the road; they travel to Berkeley on Friday night to face Cal.

Gage Gubrud strafed UC Davis defenders for 452 yards and six TDs and rallied Eastern from a late 11-point deficit. - EWU ATHLETICS
  • EWU Athletics
  • Gage Gubrud strafed UC Davis defenders for 452 yards and six TDs and rallied Eastern from a late 11-point deficit.

GUBRUD SPURS EAGLES ON THE ROAD

Trailing 31-20 early in the fourth quarter, No. 10 Eastern Washington stormed back behind three Gage Gubrud touchdown passes, then held off a last-minute rally to stun UC Davis 41-38 Saturday night in Davis, California.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

WSU at Oregon: Falk and unbeaten Cougars have damaged Ducks in their sights

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 3:35 PM

Luke Falk — coming off a 34-of-51, 340-yard, two-touchdown performance against USC — and the undefeated, 11th-ranked Cougars hit the road for the first time in 2017, traveling to Eugene to face the 4-1 Ducks at Autzen Stadium. - WSU ATHLETICS
  • WSU Athletics
  • Luke Falk — coming off a 34-of-51, 340-yard, two-touchdown performance against USC — and the undefeated, 11th-ranked Cougars hit the road for the first time in 2017, traveling to Eugene to face the 4-1 Ducks at Autzen Stadium.

Can a Duck fly with one broken wing? Let alone two?

Washington State will find out Saturday in Eugene (5 pm; KAYU 28, KXLY 920 AM) when the 11th-ranked Cougars, undefeated through five games and 2-0 in Pac-12 play, hit the road for the first time this season in a North Division clash against unranked Oregon (4-1, 1-1) at Autzen Stadium.

WSU is coming off the signature win of the Mike Leach era, a thrilling, come-from-behind, nationally televised 30-27 victory over then-No. 5 USC last Friday at Martin Stadium; normally, this matchup would have all the makings of a trap game, with the Cougars, having drained their emotional well eight days earlier, facing a dangerous opponent on the road.

But that was before Oregon's Pyrrhic victory over Cal last Saturday night in Eugene: the Ducks ran away from the Golden Bears, 45-24, but in the process lost their two most important offensive players — starting quarterback Justin Herbert, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound sophomore who plays well beyond his years, and top running back Royce Freeman, a 6-foot, 238-pound battering ram who's poised to smash every Oregon rushing record in his final year before taking his physical game to the NFL.

Freeman left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury, and did not return. He is expected to play, but his effectiveness is in question. Oregon is well-stocked at running back — second- and third-stringers Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James could start for most teams in the country — but the quarterback situation is far more dire in Eugene.

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Monday, October 2, 2017

MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: Cougs triumph, rise to 11th; Eags cruise, Seahawks roll late

Posted By on Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 10:39 AM

After Friday night's nationally televised win against USC, the Cougars are ranked No. 11 in the latest AP poll. - WSU ATHLETICS
  • WSU Athletics
  • After Friday night's nationally televised win against USC, the Cougars are ranked No. 11 in the latest AP poll.

COUGS MOVING ON UP
You might recall last month's college football preview issue, in which I wrote that if Washington State could somehow win all five of their season-opening home games to get to 5-0, they'd be in great shape to truly contend with Washington and Stanford for the Pac-12 North.

Well, here we are, basking in the afterglow of a thrilling 30-27 win over USC in which the Cougs thoroughly dominated the statistics. Cougar quarterback Luke Falk threw for more than twice the yards that Heisman hopeful Sam Darnold did for the Trojans, the Cougs held the ball for 10 minutes more than USC, and in crunch time, WSU made all the plays needed for a nationally televised home win. They're now 2-0 in the Pac-12, tied with those Westside Huskies for the North Division lead, and the win propelled them up the rankings to No. 11 this week. Heady stuff for the Pullman gang. Up next: a game in Eugene against the rebuilding Ducks, 1-1 in conference play after beating Cal on Saturday night.


The running game worked, too, as EWU pounded Sacramento State on Saturday. - EWU ATHLETICS
  • EWU Athletics
  • The running game worked, too, as EWU pounded Sacramento State on Saturday.

EAGLES ARE SOARING

That 0-2 start sure seems like a looong time ago, right? Eastern Washington won their third straight game with a 52-31 beatdown of Sacramento State in Cheney. As per usual, the Eags were led by quarterback Gage Gubrud, who threw touchdowns to five different receivers and caught a TD pass on a trick play, too, just for giggles. All told, the Eags rung up 651 yards of total offense, the seventh highest total in school history, and one gets the feeling that the team might beat that at some point this year, now that Gubrud and the offense are cruising. Eastern is currently ranked No. 10 in the country in this week's FCS poll.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

WSU vs. USC: Our take, and what the "experts" are saying

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 11:32 AM

Tonight, the Cougars will be clad in new uniforms notable for their lack of crimson and abundance of dark gray. - WSU ATHLETICS
  • WSU Athletics
  • Tonight, the Cougars will be clad in new uniforms notable for their lack of crimson and abundance of dark gray.

It's been circled on the calendar, and noted a month ago by the Inlander. Now it's here, and everyone has an opinion about what's going to happen tonight in Pullman, including Las Vegas bookies.

Southern Cal and Washington State enter tonight's game at Martin Stadium (7:30 pm: ESPN, KXLY 920 AM) in familiar and unfamiliar positions, respectively: the Trojans where they expected to be, undefeated (though not untested) at 4-0, 2-0 in the Pac-12, ranked No. 5 in the country in the latest Associated Press poll. The Cougars are where they hoped to be, thanks to a cardiac-kids fourth-quarter finish and a 47-44, triple-overtime victory over Boise State 20 days ago; also unbeaten through four games, 1-0 in conference, though against a lesser schedule than USC, with all four games on the Palouse.  Wazzu is ranked 16th in the AP poll, the highest it's been in 14 years.

One thing the Cougs don't have on their side? History.

This series — it's nowhere near a rivalry — is one of the most lopsided on the West Coast, or anywhere else: the Cougars have played the Trojans 71 times dating back to 1921, and won nine times, managing four ties, which won't be a possibility tonight.

That's not to say that the Cougs don't have a chance — far from it. But they have to play better, in all three phases, than they did in dominant victories against the Big Sky's Montana State, the Mountain West's Nevada, and Oregon State, after one month the Pac-12's patsy.

The Trojans, who have an overtime victory of their own (in double OT, two weeks ago at home against Texas), have otherwise stacked the wood at the Coliseum, with an unimpressive season-opening win over Western Michigan and a dominant conquering of Stanford, a much better team than the Broncos, who were hard-pressed to beat Idaho at home. Last week, SC won by 10 at Cal, pulling away late to break a fourth-quarter tie, as the Trojans did in their opener.

Many believe this game will come down to the quarterbacks: WSU's record-obliterating senior Luke Falk and USC's Heisman-friendly sophomore phenom Sam Darnold. But more than that, it comes down to the ability of the Cougars and Trojans' respective offensive lines — and tight ends, and running backs — to protect their teams' most important assets.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: Eagles, Vandals storm back; Cougs roll

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 11:40 AM


Eastern Washington and Idaho rallied on the road for stirring victories in their conference openers, while Washington State breezed past another outmatched nonconference opponent at Martin Stadium. The Seahawks? They've got issues, but not on the side of the ball you'd expect. Your Monday Morning Placekicker, a recap of the weekend's local sports action:


GUBRUD, EAGLES SOAR IN SECOND HALF

It was a total team effort as Eastern rallied from a 24-6 halftime deficit to stun Montana 48-41 in Missoula. - EWU ATHLETICS
  • EWU Athletics
  • It was a total team effort as Eastern rallied from a 24-6 halftime deficit to stun Montana 48-41 in Missoula.

At the end of the first half, it didn't look promising for Eastern in Saturday's Big Sky Conference opener in Missoula, as the turnover- and penalty-plagued Eagles had managed just two Roldan Alcobendas field goals and trailed Montana 24-6. But the second half was a different story, as Eastern erupted for 21 points in the third quarter and 21 more in the fourth, stunning the Griz in a 48-41 victory.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Your prayers for snow are working; check out this morning's scene at Schweitzer

Posted By on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 11:58 AM


Yes, it was smoky and hovering in the 90s a mere 
Marking the year's first snow. - SCHWEITZER MOUNTAIN RESORT
  • Schweitzer Mountain Resort
  • Marking the year's first snow.
couple of weeks ago. And we ended a seemingly endless string of precipitation-free days just a couple of days ago. But for those of us interested in all things winter sports-related, the pictures sent our way from Schweitzer Mountain Resort are enough to get us salivating for snow season.

Check out the scene at the mountain's Sky House:

Schweitzer's Sky House - SCHWEITZER MOUNTAIN RESORT
  • Schweitzer Mountain Resort
  • Schweitzer's Sky House

You can see on this weather radar that there's plenty of precipitation in the mountain areas between Spokane and Missoula; elsewhere in Montana, the early snow has helped with their nasty wildfire season.

Schweitzer is planning on Dec. 1 for its opening day. 49 Degrees North plans to open around Thanksgiving if possible, while Lookout Pass is aiming for Nov. 23. Silver Mountain is likely looking at Thanksgiving weekend, too, if last season is any indication.

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