Quinnett Is Double Trouble for USC, Scoring 44

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

When Brian Quinnett awoke Sunday, his back was aching so badly that it was a struggle to get out of bed.

Quinnett, Washington State’s 6-foot 9-inch senior forward, was able to block out the pain after his adrenaline started flowing in Sunday’s game against USC.

Quinnett scored 44 points as the Cougars beat the Trojans, 72-65, and win the battle to escape the Pacific 10 Conference cellar.

Afterward, Quinnett grimaced as he hobbled into an interview room. He leaned on the podium for support as he addressed the media.


“My back only hurts when I stop playing,” Quinnett said. “When I’m on the court I don’t think about it.”

Quinnett didn’t think about anything but playing basketball for 40 minutes against the Trojans.

After scoring 20 points in the first half, Quinnett added 24 in the second half as Washington State (7-11 overall, 2-7 in the Pac-10) ended a 6-game losing streak.

Washington State Coach Kelvin Sampson said: “I hope we don’t have to depend on Brian to score 44 points every game for us to win.

“I think Brian Quinnett is one of the top five players in the Pac-10. A lot of people will look at Brian’s 44 points and think that all he did was score. I’ll tell you what, he played defense and he led us in rebounding.”

Quinnett hit 11 of 17 shots, including 5 3-point shots without a miss, and made 17 of 19 free throws. He also had a team-high 8 rebounds, passed off for 2 assists and had 1 steal.

“Quinnett played an outstanding game,” USC Coach George Raveling said. “I can’t remember the last time a team I coached had a player on the opposing team get that many points.”

USC (7-12, 0-8) switched its defensive alignments throughout the game in an effort to stop Quinnett. Nothing was effective.

“We played man to man, we played zone, and tried a little box-and-one on him,” USC forward Alan Pollard said. “We put some small guys on him and we put big guys on him and he still scored.

“Obviously, Brian had a great game, but the greatest thing is that his teammates recognized he was hot and got the ball to him. They figured out the way to win was to get the ball to Brian and he was incredible.”

USC forward Chris Moore, who also checked Quinnett, said: “A couple of times he made shots with guys all over him. We just tried to concentrate on not letting him get the ball.”

There was a verbal exchange between Quinnett and Moore in the second half.

“Moore told me that my day was over because he was going to start playing defense,” Quinnett said. “I told him I liked his enthusiasm but we’d have to wait and see.”

With Washington State trailing 51-50 with 7 minutes left, Quinnett took control of the game by scoring 15 of the Cougars’ final 22 points.

“It was obvious down the stretch he felt he was on a roll,” Raveling said. “Anything he threw up there I think he felt was going to go in. We let him get his confidence and he said ‘Hey this is my day.’ ”

Despite Quinnett’s record-setting performance, USC had a shot to win the game in the final minute.

Trailing, 65-63, after Pollard scored on a tip-in, the Trojans trapped Quinnett on the sidelines. Instead of trying to force a 5-second count, USC defender Ken Countryman fouled Quinnett and he made 2 clinching free throws with 46 seconds left to hand the Trojans their eighth straight loss.

Ironically, during a timeout just 9 seconds prior to the foul, Raveling instructed his players not to foul Quinnett.

“Right there at the end was just a classic example of a lot of things that have transpired during the season,” Raveling said of the mixup. “Why we fouled Quinnett in that situation with the clock running I have no idea. It was symbolic of the way our season has gone.”

USC Notes

Brian Quinnett’s 44 points were the most that an opponent has scored against USC this season. It was also a Friel Court record. The old mark was held by former Cougar Guy Williams, who scored 43 points in a 1983 game against Idaho State. . . . After scoring just 7 points in the first half against Washington State, USC guard Anthony Pendleton got 16 points in the second half to finish with 23. Ronnie Coleman added 15 and Alan Pollard had 10 off the bench.