In what may be their most signature win in years, the USC Trojans upset the seventh-ranked Arizona Wildcats 103-101 in a quadruple-overtime affair at the Galen Center on Saturday night.
Sophomore guard Elijah Stewart finished with a career-high 27 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime. On Arizona’s final possession, Gabe York had the ball knocked away into the backcourt and Kadeem Allen missed a desperation three-point jumper at the buzzer to seal the victory for the Trojans.
“I was impressed by our competitiveness and resiliency,” head coach Andy Enfield told reporters. “It’s obviously a big win. With this league every game matters.”
USC scored the only points of the fourth overtime on a driving layup by Stewart, but Arizona evened the score at 101-101 on a pair of free throws by Kaleb Tarczewski with under a minute remaining.
With the Trojans holding a 71-59 lead with under six minutes to play in regulation, the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to tie the game at 71-71 on a tip-in by Tarczewski. Junior forward Nikola Jovanovic, who had 17 points, answered with a jumper to give USC a 73-71 advantage with a minute remaining, only to have Arizona’s Kadeem Allen tie it back up at 73-73. Junior guard Julian Jacobs’ shot at the buzzer rimmed out to send the game to overtime.
It would only be the start of a marathon instant classic between Pac-12 opponents. Neither team was able to pull away in the overtime sessions, although the Trojans had chances to win the game at the end of each of the first three overtimes.
Jacobs was whistled for a charge as he drove to the rim at the end of the first overtime after Tarczewski evened the score at 79-79 apiece with another tip-in basket. To close the second overtime, with the score knotted at 86-86, Jacobs had his pass stolen in the corner and time expired.
In the third overtime, the Trojans battled back after Arizona’s Allonzo Trier opened the scoring with a three. They took the lead in the final minute on a jumper by Jovanovic, but Gabe York tied it back up for the Wildcats with a layup. McLaughlin missed a jumper at the buzzer to send the game to a fourth extra session.
Five Trojans scored in double figures in the upset. Trier led the way for Arizona with 25 points.
USC, which is now 3-1 to start conference play, will head to UCLA next Wednesday to take on the Bruins.