NCAA Basketball

No. 16 USC heads to Oregon State after razor-thin win

Just because No. 16 Southern California pulled out a two-point win on Sunday against Washington State doesn't mean Trojans coach Andy Enfield is satisfied.

Far from it.

"We were dribbling too much," he said after the Trojans eked out a 62-60 decision. "They doubled the post. We didn't cut, we didn't run with pace and we were stagnant. We need to do a better job. Our defense needs to carry us when we have stretches like that on offense."

Enfield hopes USC delivers a better performance on Thursday night when it travels to Corvallis, Ore., in search of a season sweep of struggling Oregon State.

The Trojans (23-4, 12-4 Pac-12) gave up 15 3-pointers in the win over Washington State and were outscored 25-7 in points off turnovers. However, Boogie Ellis made those numbers meaningless when he drilled a pullup jumper from the foul line with 0.2 seconds remaining.

On a day when USC made just 40 percent of its shots and was outrebounded 41-34, Ellis carried the team home. The Memphis transfer scored a game-high 21 points on just 10 field-goal attempts, thanks to going 7 of 8 at the foul line.

"We rely on our hard work," Ellis said. "We get to those moments, we've worked hard to be in those environments and hit those shots. Coach called a timeout and drew up that play."

Isaiah Mobley leads four Trojans in double figures at 14.4 points per game, but he is coming off a rough game against the Cougars in which he scored only eight points and committed six turnovers. Ellis adds 12.4 ppg, and he is followed by Chevez Goodwin (12.0) and Drew Peterson (11.9). Peterson contributed 17 points on Sunday, going 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts.

USC has won four straight and six of seven to pull into a second-place tie in the conference with UCLA. The Trojans remain in play for a potential top four seed in next month's NCAA Tournament.

Oregon State (3-22, 1-14) has followed a stunning run to the Elite Eight last March with an equally stunning plummet into the Pac-12 basement. A 73-53 loss Saturday at Arizona State stretched the Beavers' losing streak to 12 games.

The Beavers haven't won since an 88-76 decision over Utah on Dec. 30 and really haven't come close to a victory lately. Ten of their losses in the current skid have been by double figures, including five by at least 20 points.

Poor shooting and weak defense aside, Oregon State also has struggled to keep a healthy team on the floor. It fielded only seven healthy scholarship players at Arizona State, although coach Wayne Tinkle isn't making excuses.

"I'm a firm believer that you make your own breaks, by the discipline, the character, the cohesion," he said, according to the Oregonian. "All those sort of things over the course of time, I think, earns you those breaks."

The Beavers actually led USC 42-37 at halftime of their Jan. 13 meeting in Los Angeles before fading in the second half for an 81-71 setback. Goodwin led the Trojans with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Jarod Lucas posted a game-high 27 points for the Beavers.

Lucas (13 points per game) is the only Oregon State player averaging double-figure scoring.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 23, 2022

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