The USC men’s basketball team cannot seem to shake their road woes.
The Trojans (12-8, 4-4) started their two-game road trip to the state of Oregon on a sour note Thursday, falling to Oregon State (9-11, 3-5) 51-45 in Corvallis, Ore. Sophomore forwards Nikola Vucevic, who had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Leonard Washington, who had 11 points and six rebounds, led the Trojans in the losing effort.
After posting 87 points — their highest point total of the season — last Saturday against Washington, the Trojans couldn’t find their offensive rhythm, turning the ball over a season-high 20 times against the Beavers. Senior guard Dwight Lewis could only muster five points on 2-12 shooting, and USC shot less than 22 percent from the 3-point line.
Keeping with the trend of the past few games, the Trojans jumped out to an early lead on an 8-1 scoring run, although the first points of the game did not come easily. USC missed four shots and gained the offensive rebound on each one before senior guard Dwight Lewis was finally able to convert a layup after a full minute of possession had passed. Relying on their defense, the Trojans were able to hold off a Beavers rally late in the half and enter the break up 27-22.
Unfortunately for USC, they could not keep their lead for long into the second half, quickly succumbing to a 21-9 run by the Beavers. Oregon State led the rest of the way, holding the Trojans to seven for 23 shooting in the half.
Oregon State center Roeland Schaftenaar was key to holding the recently reinvigorated Trojans’ offensive attack down. Schaftenaar’s eight second-half points also helped the Beavers extend their lead after the break.
It was Schaftenaar’s layup near the midway point of the second half that gave the Beavers the lead they would not give back.
A Johnson layup brought the Beaver lead back to just one point, but the Trojans would not venture closer than two points behind the Beavers for the rest of the game.
The Beavers also used guard Calvin Haynes’ 16 second-half points to distance themselves from the Trojans.
Washington’s 11 points off the bench was an encouraging sign for the Trojans during the loss, as the second-year player had not scored in the double digits since the Trojans’ Dec. 26 victory over Saint Mary’s.
Washington had been averaging less than six points per game before last night despite receiving more playing time recently.
The Trojans will face Oregon (11-9, 3-5) Saturday in Eugene to round out their weekend in the state. The game will mark the end of the first cycle of conference games this season for the two teams, as they are the only teams that have yet to play each other.
Oregon has relied heavily on the play of its guards this season, who account for four of the team’s top-five scorers. Senior guard Tajuan Porter, who averages 12.5 points per game, leads a Ducks roster that is surprisingly deep, with 10 players on the team averaging five points or more.