Powell’s Shot Gives USC a Winning Finish : College basketball: Trojans beat Oregon State in final seconds, 69-68. Fourth victory in a row is expected to earn them an NIT berth.
With USC trailing Oregon State by a point and only eight seconds to play, Trojan senior Damaine Powell decided that it was up to him to determine the outcome of the game.
“It was like do or die,” said Powell, whose only previous shot was blocked in the first half. “No one was open and all I saw was everyone standing around looking at me.”
With USC Coach George Raveling’s first two options in Burt Harris and Mark Boyd closely covered, Powell made a 10-foot jump shot with 2.6 seconds left to put the Trojans ahead, 69-68.
USC then had to survive two desperation plays by Oregon State to gain its fourth consecutive victory and a probable National Invitation Tournament berth.
“The shot felt good as soon as I let it go, but man, I was so nervous,” said Powell, who had attempted only 62 shots all season and had missed a last-second shot in a three-point loss at South Florida early in the season. “It took a quick second for me to realize I had made it, because I just couldn’t believe that it went in.”
Powell’s heroics appeared to be short-lived only seconds later, thanks to a Gill Coliseum timekeeper who hesitated to start the clock, giving Oregon State’s Brent Barry time to make a three-point basket at the buzzer.
After a short discussion at the center of the court, officials ruled that the final 1.4 seconds would be replayed. Boyd stripped the ball from Oregon State’s Stephane Brown at the buzzer.
After defeating UCLA, California, Arizona State and Oregon in four of its last five games, USC struggled for 40 minutes against a determined Oregon State team.
The Trojans, who finished 16-11 overall and 9-9 in the Pacific 10 Conference, trailed for most of the game thanks to Barry, who tied a career-high with 31 points to go with 10 rebounds and four assists.
Barry helped the Beavers to a fast start with 11 points and two assists in the first nine minutes as Oregon State took a 19-11 lead. With starting guard Brandon Martin sidelined because of a foot injury, USC had problems scoring throughout the first half, which ended with the Beavers leading, 39-32.
Oregon State (6-21, 2-16) took a 54-44 lead on a three-point basket by Barry with 11:32 to play. That’s when USC began to take advantage of its strength inside.
In a five-minute span, USC outscored Oregon State, 14-2, to take a 58-56 lead that was capped off by an acrobatic three-point play by freshman Stais Boseman.
The Trojans opened a 67-62 lead with 2:47 left before Brown and Barry combined for six consecutive points to set up Powell’s game-winning shot.
“This was an extra special win for us because we had to play without Martin and did not get much scoring from Lorenzo Orr for much of the game,” Raveling said. “But we kept our poise and hung around until Boyd and Orr took over down the stretch.”
Boyd made a career-high 13 of 16 free throws and finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Orr had 12 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. USC outrebounded Oregon State, 41-30.
“Coach told us that there wasn’t any way they could stick with us inside,” Boyd said. “So we just kept pounding and pounding it in there.”
USC will now have to wait until the NIT announces its 32-team field this afternoon. Last season, the Trojans advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Minnesota, the eventual champion.