By Ian RansomMELBOURNE,(REUTERS)-Lewis Hamilton took pole for Mercedes at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday but Sebastian Vettel raised hope of a Ferrari renaissance by grabbing a spot on the front row.Hamilton’s flying lap of one minute 22.188 seconds set a new record at Albert Park but was only 0.268 seconds in front of German Vettel, offering the tantalising prospect of a competitive championship after three years of domination by the Silver Arrows.Vettel left Hamilton’s new team mate Valtteri Bottas frustrated in the second row, the meat in a Ferrari sandwich next to fourth fastest Kimi Raikkonen.On a cloudy day with the merest hint of rain, 32-year-old Hamilton grabbed his 62nd pole in Formula One, holding firm as Vettel and Bottas pushed hard late in the session.After it wrapped up, the Briton rolled around the lakeside track with his index finger raised, 10 years after his brilliant debut at the same circuit when he qualified fourth for McLaren and finished third in the race.“It has been a fantastic weekend so far,” Hamilton told reporters.“I am really proud of my team, the guys have worked so hard to make the car what it is today.“Valtteri has done a great job and it is great for Mercedes. It is close between us all and it will be a tight race.”After Hamilton dominated Friday practice, Vettel topped the timesheets in the final session on Saturday but rued a mistake in his fastest qualifying lap.”I lost it a bit in turn one… Anyway, great job,” Vettel said on his team radio.It was still encouraging enough for him to declare that the ‘scuderia’ could contend in Sunday’s race, having shown impressive pace and reliability during winter testing.Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fifth but it was a forgettable day for his team mate Daniel Ricciardo, whose hopes of becoming the race’s first home winner spun out early in Q3.He took a spin at turn 14, ended up in the gravel and will start 10th on the grid.“I’m alright, sorry guys,” he said on the team radio before his car was towed off the track.With McLaren plagued by power unit and reliability problems during winter testing, it was something of a surprise that twice champion Fernando Alonso survived the cut to Q2 and will start 13th on the grid.His rookie team mate Stoffel Vandoorne will start 18th for the Honda-powered team.Canadian teenager Lance Stroll has had a memorable, if drama-filled, debut for Williams and the 18-year-old was 19th fastest in Q1.He will start last on the grid, however, due to a five-place penalty for needing a new gearbox following a crash during practice earlier on Saturday.Antonio Giovinazzi, a late replacement for Pascal Wehrlein after the German pulled out with fitness concerns, will start 16th for Sauber after an impressive debut in qualifying, one behind team mate Marcus Ericsson.
A sluggish offensive effort in the first half for USC was overcome by a blazing shooting spree in the final period of play, as the Trojans came away with a 77-59 victory against visiting Cal at the Galen Center on Sunday. Sophomore guard Jonah Matthews continued his recent hot streak, scoring 16 points on four 3-pointers against Cal. Tal Volk | Daily TrojanUSC was led in scoring by senior guard Elijah Stewart and sophomore guard Jonah Mathews, who both chipped in 16 points apiece for the Trojans. The victory is USC’s sixth-consecutive in conference play. The Trojans (17-6 overall, 8-2 in Pac-12) currently find themselves a half-game behind conference-leading Arizona in the Pac-12 standings. “It’s always difficult winning in the Pac-12,” said USC senior guard Jordan McLaughlin, who finished with 9 points (3-of-7 FG) and 10 assists against Cal. “The fact that we’ve been able to pull off six straight wins, we just want to keep it going. We’re entering one of the tougher parts of our schedule now, so we’ve just got to keep taking it day-by-day.” In the closing seconds of the first half, Mathews connected on a 3-point field goal that gave USC a narrow 31-29 lead at the break. The Trojans would not relinquish this lead for the remainder of the contest. “[Mathews] brings a spark on defense and offense for us,” McLaughlin said. “Coach gives us all a lot of freedom to shoot the ball, but especially to [Mathews]. When he’s in rhythm, he can knock down 8-of-10 shots from anywhere on the floor.” The first half saw USC shoot 11-for-34 (32.4 percent) from the field. The Trojans shot 2-of-8 (25 percent) from beyond the arc in the opening half. “We took some really tough, contested shots in the lane (in the first half),” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “[First half struggles] came down to shot selection … We only had four assists in the first half, we had 13 in the second half. That’s why we were able to score more points later.” USC came out firing offensively to open up the second half. Over the first seven minutes of the second period, USC went on a 15-5 run to open their lead on Cal to 46-34. The run was powered by three 3-point field goals from Stewart to open the half. “[Stewart’s] been doing that for us for four years now,” Enfield said, regarding Stewart’s hot-shooting. “He’s a great shooter when his feet are set, and we need him to do that for our team. He’s a big part of our team … When he’s knocking down shots, it probably means our team is about to go on a run.” Stewart, who was held scoreless in the first half (0-for-3 FG), was a major catalyst for USC offensively when it widened the gap on Cal (7-15, 1-8) in the second half. Stewart hit 4-of-5 3-point field goal attempts in the second half, enroute to a 16-point performance.For the second consecutive game, the Trojans were without junior forward Bennie Boatwright (averaging 15.2 PPG this season), who is dealing with a foot injury. In a second half, which saw USC outscore Cal 46-30, the Trojans shot 8-for-13 from 3-point range. Overall, USC was 17-for-29 (58.6 percent) from the field in the second half.Cal senior forward Marcus Lee finished with the game-high in both points scored, 23, and rebounds, 12. Golden Bears freshman guard Darius McNeill contributed 13 points in a losing-effort for Cal. USC’s largest lead of the night came on a dunk from freshman forward Victor Uyaelunmo with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. The dunk gave the Trojans a 75-53 lead on Cal.“Despite the score, that was probably the hardest 20-point game I’ve played in a long time,” Stewart said. “[Cal] just kept coming back and staying in it. So it was a good win.” USC held the Golden Bears to 11-of-34 (32.4 percent) shooting from the field in the second half. Overall, Cal finished Sunday shooting 22-for-57 (38.6 percent) from the field. USC improved to 8-0 this season, when holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting. The Golden Bears have now lost eight-consecutive games, the longest losing streak for Cal since the 1992 season. USC will next take the floor on Feb. 3, when it hits the road to face crosstown rival UCLA (15-7, 6-4) at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood.
Related posts:‘Writing was on the wall’ for child immigrant crisis, says new study New immigration program seeks to reunite Central American families in US Discussion of Cuban migrant crisis to resume Tuesday in Mexico Bernie Sanders: Central American refugees should not be ‘cast out’ A Department of Homeland Security shutdown grew increasingly likely Monday, with lawmakers fighting over funding for the US agencyamid a bitter standoff about President Barack Obama’s immigration reform plan.Facing a Friday deadline, Senate Democrats for a fourth time blocked a measure that would fund the department tasked with protecting Americans and securing the border.Lawmakers want to see DHS fully funded, particularly during the current heightened threat environment.But the $40 billion bill contains Republican amendments that would repeal Obama’s plan to shield millions of people from deportation, changes that Democrats do not support.With the blame game in full swing, it appeared increasingly likely Congress would fail to fund DHS before the midnight Friday deadline.“We’re in a bit of a boxed canyon here and I think we all know that,” Republican Senator Jeff Flake said after the vote.“Right now, it does seem to be where we’re headed,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said of a possible shutdown.All Senate Democrats voted against the measure, along with Republican Dean Heller.Immediately afterward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced stand-alone legislation to repeal Obama’s immigration “overreach.”He and his office gave no indication whether he would follow that up with a clean DHS funding bill.Republicans including Flake and Senator John McCain have said they would support passing a temporary funding extension, a possible last-minute way to avoid a lapse.Some House Republicans have indicated they might be willing to test a partial DHS shutdown, arguing that essential personnel would keep working.House leaders have not indicated how they will proceed.“It’s going to be difficult for them to move anything,” Flake said of the House. “There are a lot of people dug in.”Obama fought back Monday against efforts to block his immigration order, urging a federal court to allow the shielding of deportations and demanding Congress fund DHS.The Justice Department filed a motion calling for a Texas district court to stay its injunction issued against Obama’s plan last week, which was a blow to his efforts to reform a system most lawmakers agree is broken.‘Break the impasse’ And DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson called on Congress to act immediately to prevent shutdown.“If Congress wants to have a debate about immigration, the president and I welcome that debate,” he said.“But don’t tie that debate to the funding of the men and women standing behind me,” he told reporters, urging lawmakers to “figure out a way to break the impasse.”Should Congress fail to agree on funding, agents including border security personnel, airport screeners, and Secret Service agents tasked with protecting the president would remain on the job without pay.Funds for new border agents, training and equipment would be frozen. Crucial emergency management programs would halt.“This is no way to run a government,” Johnson said.Obama himself hammered the point to state governors gathered at the White House, where he warned of trickle-down effects of withholding 100,000 salaries.“It will have a direct impact on your economy, and it will have a direct impact on America’s national security,” Obama said. Facebook Comments