USC begins season with blowout win over CSUN

Junior forward Isaiah Mobley holds the follow through after attempting a shot during USC’s win against Cal State Northridge Tuesday.
Junior forward Isaiah Mobley holds the follow through after attempting a shot during USC’s win against Cal State Northridge Tuesday. Mobley finished with 15 points. (Vincent Leo | Daily Trojan)

For the first time since Mar. 7, 2020, men’s basketball played in front of a home crowd Tuesday at Galen Center. USC defeated California State University, Northridge in its season opener by a score of 89-49.

“It was just great to see people in the stands,” said Head Coach Andy Enfield in a postgame press conference.

Instead cardboard cutouts and simulated crowd noise real, live Trojan fans gathered at the arena. The building shook with anticipation before the game as the team unveiled ceremonial rings and a banner from its Elite Eight run last year. 

“I think that’s a special moment,” Enfield said. “They’ll have those rings for a long time, the rest of their lives. There will be a connection between that Elite Eight team.”

USC won the opening tip against CSUN and junior forward Isaiah Mobley immediately scored USC’s first points of the season with a three from the top of the key. The building exploded as the Trojans began on a 13-4 run. 

USC’s first quarter set the tone for the rout Tuesday night. 

“It was extremely fun just to be back in Galen,” Mobley said. “It was a fun game, beginning to end. I thought we played really well. But having the Trojan family back was just extremely exciting.” 

Everything clicked for USC in the first half. The Trojans showed fans the stifling defense they displayed last year as well as a revamped, explosive offense which had everyone involved. The Trojans led 52-19 at halftime and had three players score in the double figures. 

Mobley finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds; senior forward Drew Peterson had 14 points and junior transfer guard Boogie Ellis had 20 points on 9 for 11 shooting in his USC debut. The Trojans also had 27 total bench points.

“It is nice to have that bench support because we can play big, we can play small. And if guys off the bench are productive, it certainly helps the team,” Enfield said.

Because of the lockdown defense, CSUN had nothing going offensively the entire game. The Matadors shot only 32.8%, and none of their players scored more than 10 points. USC forced 14 turnovers, leading to 8 fast break points. 

The Trojans continued last season’s dominance on the glass, out-rebounding the Matadors 40 to 25. A physical starting frontcourt with Mobley and senior forward Chevez Goodwin redshirt led to 14 total second chance points. USC beat CSUN in every single stat category, including rebounds, assists and turnovers. 

“We take every team seriously. We don’t know we’re going to blow a team out,” Enfield said. “We just played really well in the first half. I was very proud of our players [for] how they came out with intensity, shared the ball and played outstanding defense.” 

A transfer from Memphis, Ellis had an emphatic first game with USC. He started out hot with a deep three and a steal and slam which got the crowd on its feet. 

Ellis, who is from San Diego, highlighted his emotions making his debut as a Trojan.

“It was a great experience [playing at Galen]. I’m just happy to be home,” Ellis said. “It’s a real exciting team and I love playing with them … and playing here.”

Ellis also finished with 2 steals and assists, playing the scoring guard role in the backcourt with junior guard Ethan Anderson. 

All 13 scholarship players saw minutes in the victory, including freshman forwards Harrison Hornery and Kobe Johnson.   

USC will now go on the road to face Temple Saturday and build upon its dominant performance against CSUN. 

“We have really good depth this year,” Enfield said. “This is the deepest team we’ve had … We’ll play every possession like it means something, no matter how many points we’re up or down.”