USC ended the regular season with a 62-60 win at Washington on Saturday, clinching the fourth seed in the Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center. USC won five of its last six games of the regular season.
The Huskies (20-10, 11-7) lead the Pac-10 in scoring, averaging 84.9 points per game, but the Trojans (18-13, 10-8) controlled the tempo, holding Washington to 60 points, which was four points above its season low.
After falling behind early in their loss to Washington State on Thursday, the Trojans were determined to get off to a fast start Saturday. Junior guard Jio Fontan scored USC’s first five points as the Trojans started the game on a 7-2 run.
USC made its first six shots of the game, and led by as many as 15 points in the first half. At halftime, the Trojans led 36-26, and had outrebounded the Huskies 18-9.
Employing full-court pressure, Washington managed to battle back in the second half.
With only six Trojans playing more than eight minutes, USC appeared fatigued late in the game.
After making their first 12 free throws, the Trojans only made seven of their last 12.
The Trojans’ inability to make free throws late in the game allowed the Huskies to reduce USC’s lead.
Washington’s Scott Suggs scored with two seconds left in the game to cut USC’s advantage to two points, the smallest margin of the second half, but the Trojans were able to inbound the ball and hold on for the win.
Suggs had 14 points off the bench for the Huskies. Washington’s bench outscored USC’s reserves 18-6.
The Huskies’ leading scorer, guard Isaiah Thomas, had 16 points, but he missed eight of his 13 shot attempts.
Washington leads the Pac-10 with an average of 39.7 rebounds per game, but the Trojans managed to win the battle on the boards, 36-25.
Fontan had a game-high 20 points and four assists for the Trojans. Junior forward Nikola Vucevic added 19 points and 10 rebounds, his eighth-consecutive double-double. Senior forward Alex Stepheson also had a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The Trojans have earned a first-round bye in the Pac-10 tournament.
USC will play California at noon on Thursday in the men’s quarterfinals at Staples Center.
The winner of that game will play the winner of the Washington-Washington State game in the men’s semifinals Friday at 6:00 p.m.
The Trojans split the season series with Cal, but the Golden Bears (17-13, 10-8) have won four games in a row.
The winner of the Pac-10 tournament gets an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.