USC Finds a Way to Win at Home : College basketball: Playing at Sports Arena for the first time in almost five weeks, the Trojans end their six-game losing streak, 70-64, over Washington State.


For the last seven days, USC Coach George Raveling listened to all kinds of suggestions on how the Trojans could end their six-game losing streak.

From installing a passing offense to playing more zone defenses, Raveling heard them all only to find the answer close to home at the Sports Arena.

Playing at home for the first time in nearly five weeks, the Trojans returned to their winning ways with a 70-64 Pacific 10 Conference victory over Washington State before 2,748 Thursday night.


“That’s the trick,” said Lorenzo Orr, who led the Trojans (11-8, 4-6) with 19 points and nine rebounds. “We were back home at the Sports Arena, where we always play better.”

Since March 1990, USC is 48-5 at the Sports Arena, including a 28-2 record against Pac-10 teams. The Trojans, however, had not played at the Sports Arena since Jan. 8 because of damage caused by the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake, and lost home games at the Forum and Lyon Center on campus.

From the opening tipoff, the Trojans played like a different team from the one that had struggled through six consecutive losses. With point guard Burt Harris playing his best game of the season, USC controlled the flow of the game against the Cougars.

Harris, who has struggled this season, finished with 16 points and five steals in 38 minutes, his season-high. Harris also played effective defense and turned the ball over only five times.

“This was Burt’s best all-around game of the season,” Raveling said. “Offensively, defensively and leadership-wise.”

Harris and Orr combined for 18 points in the first half and the Trojans committed a season-low three turnovers to take a 34-32 lead at halftime.

Washington State (15-7, 5-5) had entered the game by winning five of its last six games but had problems against the hustling Trojans.


The Cougars would have been behind by more with sophomore Mark Hendrickson limited to 10 minutes because of a stress fracture to his left leg, had it not been for the play of Fred Ferguson.

Ferguson, a 6-foot-11 senior, was nearly unstoppable in scoring 23 points and grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds. He, along with Isaac Fontaine, who came off the bench to score 15 points, kept Washington State in the game.

“Obviously, you can see how much Hendrickson means to this team,” Washington State Coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Losing him is really difficult, especially at this time of year. But, I can’t say enough about Fred Ferguson. He cares about one thing and that’s to play as hard as he can all of the time. He was the best player on the floor tonight.”

USC clicked on all cylinders in the second half with guard Brandon Martin (11 points) scoring from the outside and Orr controlling the middle.

“This was a big win for us but we now have to build on this,” Harris said. “Its good that we’re back home. Hopefully, we’ll start to turn things around, but you never know.”

After losing by 30 points to the Cougars last month at Pullman, Wash., the victory was special for the Trojans.


“USC is a lot different team in this gym,” Sampson said. “They have a lot of good pieces. They haven’t always played well as a team this year but they played well in stretches tonight.”