No. 15 USC collapses in loss against Stanford

Junior forward Isaiah Mobley drives toward the basket against Stanford Thursday night.
Junior forward Isaiah Mobley drives toward the basket against Stanford Thursday night. Mobley finished with 9 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. (Talha Rafique | Daily Trojan)

It was revenge night Thursday for No. 15 USC as it faced a Stanford team that gave the Trojans their first loss of the season two weeks ago. 

Galen Center waited for a Trojan team to come out with vengeance in a season where it was off to its best start since 1971. Two hours later, on a night where crosstown rivals UCLA took sole possession of first place in the Pac-12, it played out like a nightmare.

USC crumbled in crunch time with only 4 field goals in the final nine minutes of the game, collapsing in a 64-61 defeat against the Cardinal. 

Down 5 points with 2:46 remaining in the game, a midrange jumper by junior forward Max Agbonkpolo, then a 3-pointer by senior guard Drew Peterson tied the game, sending fans to stand up and erupt in unison. 

Freshman forward Harrison Ingram gave Stanford the lead on the next play with 33 seconds left in the game. Junior forward Isaiah Mobley was then fouled while driving in, missing 1 of 2 free throws on the next possession with Stanford in control of the rebound.

The Cardinal hit 2 free throws, and Mobley missed the game-tying 3-pointer after a broken play, sending shockwaves throughout an arena with high hopes.

“We got a good look,” said Peterson in a postgame press conference. “I thought it was going in.” 

Peterson had a team-high 14 points along with 7 rebounds and 2 steals. Mobley had 9 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Junior guard Boogie Ellis added 11 points — he hobbled off the floor with an injury at 4:48 left in the game, but returned to finish the game. 

The loss ends the Trojans’ streak of five straight home victories against Stanford. USC coughed up the ball 14 times, its seventh straight game with double-digit turnovers.

“I was disappointed [with] our upperclassmen. We left our feet a few times and made some errant passes,” Head Coach Andy Enfield said. “It was just frustrating because 14 turnovers is just a few too many … That’s on us as a team.” 

After shooting 34.6% from the field in the first half, Stanford shot a scorching 50% in the second. The Trojans also saw their percentage dip into the 30s after a hot first half. 

 For USC, the game began poorly, similar to its previous one against Arizona State. 

The Trojans came out sluggish, scoring their first point two and a half minutes into the game, while allowing a Stanford team that’s shooting 43% from the field on the season shoot 73% the first 10 minutes. 

“We missed 4 layups to start the game,” Enfield said. “It’s hard to get off to good starts when we miss 4 layups.  … We need to convert those.” 

Just like Monday night, Galen Center sat anxiously waiting for this team to show why it began the year 13-0. With seven minutes left in the first half, the Trojans came alive. 

A cutting dunk by freshman forward Kobe Johnson electrified the crowd and sparked a 17-3 USC run to close the half. The Trojans then held the Cardinal without a field goal for eight minutes.

Going into halftime down 6, Stanford came out on a 9-3 run to tie the game before USC regained the lead, only for the game to tie again with 10:42 left. The Cardinal sank into another scoring drought with no baskets for three minutes, but the Trojans didn’t capitalize, losing their lead for good with five minutes remaining. 

“There’s not a lot of games left, but there is a lot of games left,” Mobley said. “We just got to focus and fix what we need to fix and go from there.”

USC will look to bounce back against UC Berkeley at home Saturday.