USC basketball Coach George Raveling wondered out loud late Saturday afternoon whether there is any justice in the world.
He had watched his struggling team fall 13 points behind Oregon State at halftime at Loyola Marymount, only for the Trojans to make a remarkable rally to lead 70-66 late in the game.
But the Beavers managed to tie the game and force an overtime before guard Eric Knox made a three-point basket with one second left to provide Oregon State with an 80-77 victory.
The Trojans were coming off losses to Colorado State and Oregon, games in which they managed to score only 41 and 40 points, respectively, while playing like a forlorn team.
Nonetheless, they rallied against one of better teams in the Pacific 10, only to lose again.
USC is 3-10 overall and 1-3 in Pacific 10 play. Oregon State is 8-3 and 2-0.
The Trojans got a lift from center Chris Munk, coming off a six-game academic suspension imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.
However, Munk had a costly miss. He was on the verge of putting the Beavers away when he drove to the basket with his team leading, 70-66, with only 2:13 remaining in regulation play.
But Munk's two-handed attempt at a dunk rattled off the rim and forward Chris Moore couldn't score on a follow shot.
"I went to the hole strong and it just didn't go in," Munk said.
The Beavers got even on two baseline shots by center Bill Sherwood. Nonetheless, USC still had an opportunity to win, but guard Dave Wiltz missed on an awkward jump shot with 25 seconds left.
Knox, a former prep star at St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey, took the last shot of regulation play, a jump shot that didn't go down.
But he made the decisive basket in overtime.
However, it was an error by the Trojans that provided him with his opportunity.
USC had possession with 39 seconds remaining in the overtime and 24 seconds on the 45-second shot clock.
With the score tied, 77-77, reserve guard Andy Olivarez threw a high, cross-court pass that went over Moore's out-stretched arms and out of bounds. So the Beavers had possession with only 35 seconds left in the overtime. Guard Gary Payton missed from outside, but Oregon State forward Earl Martin grabbed the rebound.
With the the clock winding down, Knox dribbled from the right side, ducked under Wiltz and dropped in his game-winning shot.
"I had it all planned," Knox said. "I wanted him (Wiltz) to go left and I knew he wasn't going to stop me once I had him in the air. When I released the ball, I knew it was good."
Knox had made only 3 of 10 shots from the field and and had missed on four previous three-point attempts before he decided the outcome.
It was the second time that Knox has beaten the Trojans in the closing seconds.
In the last regular season game of the 1984-85 season, Knox made two free throws in overtime at the Sports Arena as Oregon State won, 60-58.
That defeat prevented USC from winning the Pac-10 championship outright, getting a tie for the title with Washington instead.
After Knox's shot on Saturday dropped through the net, Munk, obviously frustrated, drop kicked the ball high into the stands at Gersten Pavilion.
Neither Raveling, nor Munk were were content to settle for any so-called moral victory.
"I'm reluctant to settle for any moral victories unless the league will put an asterisk next to them," Raveling said.
Said Munk: "We needed a win. It was a hard way to lose. Although some people may not be able to see it, this team is beginning to accomplish some things.
"We'll build off each game and we won't quit."
Munk, a 6-foot 9-inch sophomore, had a career-high 15 points to go along with his 7 rebounds while playing 30 minutes.
He would have played longer, but Raveling admitted that forgot about him.
"I really forgot that Munk was eligible to play," Raveling said. "One of my assistants (Brian Hammel) asked me in the first half, 'Are you going to use Munk at all?'
"I was a little embarrassed. My mind was so set that he wasn't available. I blew that one. He did a great job for us."
So did Moore, a junior college transfer from Birmingham, Ala. Moore scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, season highs for him in both categories.
However, Moore wasn't on the floor at the end of regulation time. He had been creating some shots with clever, inside moves.
"We needed defense more than offense at that time," Raveling said. "We wanted our best defensive guys out there. That's why Calvin Banks was in for Moore."
Moore didn't argue with his coach, saying: "It was a good decision. Anyway, I was a little tired.
"We're not giving up, although this one really hurts. We'll be ready for UCLA."
He was referring to Thursday night's game with the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.
Oregon State led by as many as 17 points in the first half, before settling for a 41-28 advantage at the break. . . . USC center Chris Munk gave USC its first lead in the second half, 60-58, when he made a three-point play with 8:49 left. Then, guard Anthony Pendleton kept USC ahead with two three-point baskets until Oregon State forced the overtime session.