The USC men’s basketball team looked like it was ready to get back to its winning ways after beating California for their first conference win of the season. Stanford had other plans.
The Trojans and the Cardinal fought hard, but ultimately it was Stanford that left the Galen Center with a 79-71 victory in overtime.
Junior guard Byron Wesley led the Trojans (10-10, 1-6 Pac-12) with 18 points, while senior guard Pe’Shon Howard finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and seven steals. Senior guard J.T. Terrell finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore forward Strahinja Gavrilovic scored 12 points.
Dwight Powell finished with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Cardinal (13-6, 4-3). Chasson Randle led Stanford with 17 points, while Josh Huestis finished with 16 points and six rebounds.
“We played very hard today and had a chance to win, and as a coach, that’s all you can ask for,” said USC head coach Andy Enfield.
The Cardinal played punishing defense right from the start, forcing the Trojans to use up the shot clock looking for chances to score. Stanford was able to start off on a 12-4 run as USC had trouble with their physicality on both sides of the ball. USC missed nine of its first 11 shots, while Stanford hit five of its first seven.
A layup from Wesley and a shot-clock violation by the Cardinal helped USC get its momentum back, leading to six unanswered points to put the Trojans right back in the game. The defense started matching Stanford’s intensity with full-court presses, causing plenty of problems for the Cardinal offense.
“We worked on it in practice,” Howard said of the full-court press. “We used it in this game to try and speed the game up. It’s just part of the game plan.”
The half was punctuated by a huge block on a fastbreak from freshman guard Julian Jacobs as the Trojans looked to keep momentum going after their rough start. The Trojans would take a 17-16 lead with 7:41 left on a steal, layup and free throw from Howard.
The two teams kept up their smothering defenses as the Trojans entered the locker room down 32-28. There were a combined 23 fouls in the first half, while USC outrebounded the Cardinal 20-18.
Powell led all scorers with 10 points at halftime.
USC jumped out on an 8-0 run to start the second half, including six points from Terrell, as the Cardinal missed their first five shots. The Cardinal countered with a 12-3 run of their own, as each team looked to secure momentum. A three-pointer by Terrell and a three-point play by senior center Omar Oraby tied the game at 49 apiece with 9:01 left.
The Trojans would take a 51-49 lead on a hookshot in the paint by Oraby a couple of possessions later, but the Cardinal would seize it back on a three-pointer by Randle and not give it back as USC was held without a field goal for more than four and a half minutes toward the end of the half.
USC was able to cut the Cardinal lead to two with 0:33 left, and, on the following inbounds pass, Stanford lost control of the ball to give USC possession with 0:29 remaining in the game. Wesley hit two free throws to tie it up at 61. Powell missed a jumper in the paint with five seconds remaining, Howard stole what was an offensive rebound by Stanford and the Trojans called timeout with :02 left for one last shot. They inbounded it to Oraby at midcourt, but a missed half-court heave sent the game into overtime.
“It was a very tough game,” Gavrilovic said. “We’ve been playing so hard all game and trying to win so bad … We came back from seven, six, and in overtime, we made mistakes.”
Stanford controlled the overtime period, jumping out to a 70-64 lead with 2:46 left and icing the game with free throws. Randle scored seven points in the overtime period to lead all scorers.
“Give Stanford credit, they went four-for-five in overtime,” Enfield said. “They hit a free throw and they hit two big threes. Give them credit because they made their shots and we came down and missed a couple layups.”
Overall, there were 10 ties and eight lead changes in the game. USC outrebounded the Cardinal 40-39 for the game, but committed 15 turnovers to Stanford’s 14. USC shot 42 percent from the floor to Stanford’s 41 percent.
The Trojans will travel to Oregon next week to take on Oregon State (11-8, 3-4) on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m., followed by a match against Oregon (13-5, 1-5) on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. Both games will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.