It seems that USC’s time in the AP Top 25 will be short lived after the Trojans dropped their second consecutive game, 85-70 to the Oregon State Beavers (12-6, 3-4) on Sunday afternoon.
The Trojans (15-5, 4-3) shot a horrific 33 percent from the field and had no answer for Oregon State’s Gary Payton II. The senior guard nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and four steals.
USC looked to be in control in the first half, growing its lead to to seven points with five minutes left in the half. Every time the Trojans looked poised to push their lead to double digits, however, the Beavers responded with a run of their own.
The Men of Troy ultimately took a 4-point lead into the half behind 19 bench points from the duo of Elijah Stewart and Chimeze Metu. USC had a hard time getting anything going on offense, but their ability to get to the free throw line (12-16) managed to be the difference in the first half.
Whatever Beaver head coach Wayne Tinkle said at halftime, it worked. The Beavers exploded out of the half, outscoring the Trojans by 13 points in the first five minutes of the second half en route to a 54-45 lead.
“I just tried to motivate the guys,” Payton said. “I told everybody to step up, and they responded.”
Beavers forward Tres Tinkle, who finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, scored 14 points in the second half, including two huge 3s during the Beaver’s second half opening run.
The Trojans continued to fight back in the second and half and twice cut the Beavers lead to six points. Every time the Trojans had the chance to get closer, however, they continued to miss opportunities, especially at the free throw line. The Trojans missed 10 free-throws and managed to shoot just 26 percent from the field in the second half.
An 8-0 run by the Trojans cut the Beavers lead to just six with four minutes left in the game. The Beavers, however, scored the next eight points and put the Trojans away for good. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for OSU.
USC has recreated itself this season under Andy Enfield, becoming a 3-point shooting specialist team. Their over-dependence on the 3-point shot ended up as their biggest demise against the Beavers.
The Trojans attempted 24 3-pointers on the night and converted just six of those attempts. Sophomore Elijah Stewart was the Trojans best player on the night, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and three 3-pointers.
A game after notching his first double-double, freshman Bennie Boatright struggled against the Beavers, finishing 1-7 from the field with seven points and six rebounds. Junior Nikola Jovanovic had his worst game of the season going 0-2 from the field with two points, four rebounds and four fouls.
USC’s 70 points were the least by wthe Trojans in a conference game this season.
With the loss, the Trojans fall into a tie for third place in the Pac-12. After playing five of their first seven conference games on the road, the Trojans will play five of their next seven at home, where they are undefeated on the season.
Next up for the Trojans is Washington State Thursday at the Galen Center. Tip-off is set for 7:30 P.M.