North Dakota State Bison

Bennie Boatwright helps the Trojans survive Bison

Bennie Boatwright helps the Trojans survive Bison

At one point in USC’s nervy 75-65 win over North Dakota State on Monday, forward Bennie Boatwright missed a free throw, got the ball back and began speaking at it.

Later, he explained that he thinks of the ball as his girlfriend. Communication, he said, is key.

“Her name’s Spaulding,” Boatwright said — overlooking the fact that USC uses Nike basketballs. “Sometimes you gotta talk to her and make sure she goes into the basket. She doesn’t want to listen. She’s hardheaded.”

The ball listened on Monday. In a game when North Dakota State (0-2) led USC by 10 points in the first half, and five points midway through the second half, Boatwright was there to bail out the...

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