Behind a monstrous performance from sophomore forward Chimezie Metu, the Trojans completed a sweep of their Washington road trip as they defeated Washington State 86-77 Saturday night.
USC (20-4, 7-4) has now won its last four consecutive conference games, the past two being contests on the road up in Washington.
Metu recorded a career-best 29 points against the Cougars. He also reeled in a team-high eight rebounds in the victory. With eight minutes remaining in the first half, he slammed in an emphatic one-handed putback dunk off of a missed shot that circulated on highlight reels across the web.
“That dunk was one of the best I’ve ever seen since I’ve been coaching,” coach Andy Enfield said.
Metu was one of four double-figure scorers for USC in the game. Freshman guard Jonah Mathews contributed 18 points off the bench, while sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright and junior guard Elijah Stewart both scored 13 points.
After taking a 38-33 lead at the half (11-12, 4-7), the Trojans finished the game strong offensively by shooting 17-of-23 (73.9 percent) from the field in the second half.
Metu scored 17 of his game-high 29 points in the second half. Metu was 7-of-7 shooting from the field in the second half; overall, he finished the game 12-of-14 shooting. In that second half, USC also shot 6-of-10 from beyond the 3-point line.
Washington State opened the second half on a strong run that pulled the Cougars within one point of USC with 10 minutes to play. USC countered the Washington State scoring run with a 22-11 burst that gave it a 14-point lead with just over 1:30 to play.
Overall, USC converted 10 of its final 11 shots to conclude the game.
Mathews shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc Saturday. In addition to his 18 points, he also reeled in six rebounds.
“I just tried to bring the energy to the court today,” Mathews said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me tonight, and I was able to hit my shots.”
While both teams matched one another in rebounds at 33 apiece, Washington State received a huge effort on the glass from senior forward Josh Hawkinson, who recorded 17 points and 16 rebounds.
In his second game since returning from an MCL injury, Boatwright shot 3-of-7 from 3-point range, recording 13 points to go along with 7 rebounds. A layup from Boatwright with three minutes remaining in the opening half gave the Trojans a 32-31 lead they would not surrender for the remainder of the contest.
While he struggled shooting from the field (1-for-6), junior guard Jordan McLaughlin added four points and a team-high four assists to the Trojans’ winning efforts. With the wins over Washington (9-13, 2-8) and Washington State this weekend, USC completed its first conference road sweep since the 2011 season.
“These are quality wins we’re getting,” Enfield said. “I’m very proud of those wins.”
Following the victory, the Trojans will return to the Galen Center on Thursday to take on visiting Oregon State (4-20, 0-11). The 20-4 record this season is the Trojans’ best start to a campaign since 1992. USC currently stands fifth in the Pac-12 standings with a conference record of 7-4.
The winning road trip will make USC a prime contender for a ranking in the upcoming top 25 poll. The Trojans have been unranked since Jan. 19, when they suffered a 73-66 loss to then-No. 14 Arizona at home.