Dowell’s 35 Points Not Enough; UCLA Defeats USC, 77-65
It could have been embarrassing for USC. It was obvious late in the first half of the Trojans’ game with UCLA Saturday at the Sports Arena that the Bruins were clearly the better team.
UCLA was running away from USC at that juncture and was breezing at halftime with a 19-point lead and the prospect of doubling that figure.
But to the Trojans’ credit they made a late comeback, cutting the Bruins’ lead to seven points before losing, 77-65, before a crowd of 7,145 and a regional television audience.
It seemed as if it was an unfair fight with one USC player, forward Derrick Dowell, trying to beat the Bruins by himself.
Dowell, an All-Pacific 10 forward, finished with a career-high 35 points on 13-of-25 shooting. He was, of course, the only Trojan in double figures.
“Dowell’s performance ranks up there with the outstanding performances I’ve seen in the 25 years I’ve been associated with the game,” USC Coach George Raveling said. “He scored in every conceivable way a human being can. It’s one thing to score against Stanford, but it’s something else to score against the kind of athletes that UCLA has.”
Athletes. That was the key word. UCLA, an ever-improving team, simply had too many of them for USC.
Despite the Trojans’ late surge, the Bruins put USC away in the last 9:23 of the first half. UCLA outscored USC, 24-3, after the Trojans led, 17-15.
Raveling said that USC’s transition game on defense broke down as UCLA, led by point guard Pooh Richardson, continually beat the Trojans down the court.
“We wanted to keep a favorable tempo and play a half-court game and keep the score in the 50s,” Raveling said. “Then, when we tried to match our skills with their skills, we found out the hard way that was not the way to win.”
While USC had Dowell, UCLA was countering with Reggie Miller, Dave Immel, Trevor Wilson and Richardson.
Miller had his usual productive game and wound up with 20 points, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. More important, he got 12 of those points during the Bruins’ determining 24-3 surge.
Richardson, who orchestrated the UCLA offense, had 12 assists and 13 points. Immel, an off guard, slipped inside the USC defense to score 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Wilson, a freshman forward, came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds in 21 minutes.
“In the final analysis, UCLA’s athletic ability, speed and quickness were too much for us to handle,” Raveling said.
So the teams are still headed in opposite directions. UCLA, 17-5 overall, is alone in first place in the conference with an 11-3 record because Oregon State lost to Arizona.
Since Arizona State is idle, USC now has sole possession of last place in the Pac-10 with a 3-11 record. The Trojans are 8-15 overall and will be hard-pressed to win another game the rest of the regular season considering that they play Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State on the road and UCLA again at Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard, who improved his record to 2-3 against USC, seemed relieved after the game, even though his team was a substantial favorite.
“You’re always leery about records coming into this game,” Hazzard said. “That’s the best effort I’ve seen from USC this year. George has done a great job with his material, and he’s a great recruiter. So we’re going to continue to have wars.”
Hazzard didn’t have many anxious moments Saturday until USC, on the verge of being routed, suddenly made a run at UCLA.
The Bruins led, 67-47, with 8:02 remaining, and then the Trojans began to slice away at the lead, outscoring UCLA, 15-2, in a four-minute span.
USC partisans in the crowd had been silent until then but became involved in the game with the unexpected comeback.
UCLA led, 69-62, when guard Brad Winslow blocked Immel’s shot, the Trojans getting possession. Dowell, who had just converted a three-point play, attempted a three-point shot that missed.
The Bruins then got some breathing room as center Jack Haley hit a short jump shot in the lane.
USC reserve center Ivan Verberckt missed on a short hook shot, and the Bruins scored again as Miller got a fast-break layup.
After USC guard Rich Grande couldn’t drop a three-point shot, UCLA forward Charles Rochelin scored at the other end.
End of comeback, end of game.
Hazzard said that the fast-break layups by Miller and Rochelin were the baskets that broke the Trojans’ backs.
The UCLA coach also said that his team has an inside game contrary to what critics have said.
Nonetheless, an inside game also includes defense, and Dowell got most of his points while penetrating. Moreover, USC got 15 offensive rebounds to UCLA’s 7.
That’s quibbling, perhaps, because the Bruins have won 14 of their last 15 games, and Raveling says that UCLA has a variety of ways to win.
“We haven’t met any team that was better prepared,” the USC coach said. “The Big Ten probably will get six teams in the NCAA tournament and UCLA can play with any of them.”
Notes Derrick Dowell’s previous career high was 34 points against Arkansas last year. It was his fifth 30-plus game this season. He was also the game’s leading rebounder with 14. “I’m always trying my best, but against UCLA I’m a little more intense because of the rivalry,” Dowell said. “But I can’t enjoy individual achievements if we don’t win. Somehow, I feel responsible. As for UCLA, they have a lot of depth and more talent than any team in the Pac-10. They win on the perimeter and, if their inside men come through, they could be a great team.” . . . UCLA shot 58% from the field, 65.4% in the first half. USC shot only 39.7% for the game, 36% in the first half. However, the Trojans took 13 more shots than the Bruins. USC committed 10 turnovers in the first half but had only 3 in the second half. UCLA had 14 turnovers for the game.