A late comeback attempt from USC was shut down by No. 5 Oregon Saturday night, as the Ducks topped the Trojans by a score of 81-70 at the Galen Center.
With 2:40 remaining in regulation, junior guard Elijah Stewart knocked down a 3-point shot that pulled the Trojans within three points of the Ducks.
Oregon responded by closing the game out on a 10-2 run over the final two minutes of regulation to clinch its 14th consecutive victory against USC. The Trojans have dropped their last seven games against the Ducks in Los Angeles, and they haven’t beat Oregon at home since the 2009 season.
The Trojans finished the game by missing their last four shot attempts in the contest; USC made no field goals over the final 2:40 of regulation.
“That was a tough game. We played hard, but not well enough to win,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “Our guards were off tonight in their decision making and shooting. To beat a top-five team in the country, you have to play better.”
Poor shooting from the field was a struggle for USC all night Saturday. The Trojans finished the game shooting 22-for-59 (37.3 percent).
USC’s shooting woes may have been most evident from beyond the 3-point line. In the first half, USC shot 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) from beyond the arc. Overall, the Trojans shot 6-for-27 (22.2 percent) from distance.
“When you’re 6-for-27 from three and a lot were wide open and you miss three dunks, it’s hard to beat a team like this,” Enfield said.
A layup from sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright gave USC its largest lead of the night against Oregon, as the Trojans led 49-46 with just over 13 minutes remaining.
“Tonight shows our growth. It shows we can play with anybody,” said freshman guard De’Anthony Melton, who finished with nine points and two steals Saturday. “We need to learn how to close out games.”
As was the case for many USC shooters Saturday night, Boatwright had his share of struggles from the field. Boatwright finished the game shooting 3-of-15 (20 percent), but he did hit all eight of his free throws to finish with 15 points against Oregon.
Leading the way for the Trojans was sophomore forward Chimezie Metu, who recorded a team-high 16 points Saturday. Metu finished 6-of-8 from the field while reeling in four rebounds and dishing three assists.
“We have to protect the ball. We had too many turnovers,” said Stewart, who totaled 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
USC committed a total of 16 turnovers against the Ducks after averaging 11.1 turnovers per game entering Saturday. Oregon capitalized on Trojan mistakes, as the Ducks outscored USC in points off turnovers, 23-12.
Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Brooks was 3-of-5 shooting from deep against the Trojans.
Brooks finished as the game’s leading scorer despite fouling out with 3:28 remaining in regulation.
Oregon sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey scored 19 points (6-of-13 shooting) and recorded five rebounds. Ducks junior forward Jordan Bell finished with a game-high 14 rebounds; he recorded a double-double as he also scored 12 points Saturday.
Overall, Oregon edged USC on the glass by a margin of 39-34.
With the loss, the Trojans were unable to avenge their 84-61 loss to the Ducks earlier this season on Dec. 30. USC has never upset an opponent ranked in the top five nationally at the Galen Center.
Saturday’s loss also put an end to the Trojan’s five-game winning streak in Pac-12 play.
USC will look to rebound in conference play as it travels to Pauley Pavilion on Saturday to take on No. 10 UCLA. The Trojans will be looking for a big upset of a top 10-ranked opponent and its fifth consecutive victory over the Bruins.