Last Shot Sums Up USC Season--No Good

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It is only fitting that USC's final game of the season came down to a last-second, game-tying, three-point attempt.

Just like the Trojans' season, Stais Boseman's shot did not go as planned.

Boseman's shot was long, ending a furious USC comeback in which the Trojans rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit only to fall short to Washington, 71-68, before 1,745 Saturday at the Sports Arena.

The loss was the Trojans' 10th in a row--nine under interim Coach Henry Bibby--as they ended the season 11-18 overall and 4-14 in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"We were right there, Stais had a good look at the basket, but it just didn't go down for us," Bibby said. "It was just a recap of the year, I guess."

For 28 minutes, USC floundered in falling behind, 54-37. Then over the final 12 minutes of the game, the Trojans fought their way back into the game and displayed the fight Athletic Director Mike Garrett has liked about the team since Bibby took over for Charlie Parker on Feb. 7.

Despite having only seven scholarship players in uniform--including Ty Reuter and Maurice Strong, who both were not expected to play because of injuries--USC closed within 67-66 with one minute remaining. The Trojans' final chance to tie the game came when Boseman's three-point shot from the top of the key bounced off the back of the rim.

Jaha Wilson scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to lead USC's comeback. David Crouse had another strong game with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Avondre Jones had 12 points and four rebounds. Boseman finished with 14 points and three steals.

"It was another one of those games where it just didn't happen for us down the stretch," said Brandon Martin, who played all 40 minutes in his final game as a Trojan. "But like Coach Bibby said, it may look like we lost, but in a lot of ways, we actually did win. I know that I feel like I did, because I've learned so much about life."

After the game, Garrett said that there is not a timetable about his decision on who will coach the Trojans next season, but he did say that it is likely to be decided before April 10, the first day of signing for next season's recruits.

"Right now, we just want our kids to feel better about themselves," said Garrett, who listed Bibby and former Phoenix Sun coach and USC player Paul Westphal as candidates for the job. "I saw growth [with USC's program] all over the place that was not reported.

"The [coaching] decision, I will [make] deliberately in a reasonable manner."

Bibby said that he is unsure about his future but admitted that he wants to coach at USC next season.

"I want to coach," he said. "I have to sit down and evaluate where I want to go and what I want to do. I think this is a good job and there is a lot of work to do with this job, but I think this program can be where it wants to be. It depends on how patient Mike Garrett wants to be with the person that is going to come in and get the job."

Garrett said that he saw a lot of positives with the team under Bibby's guidance but later added that he has zero tolerance for losing. For the 11 returning USC players and potential recruits, this is a period of uncertainty.

"Right now, I don't know what the situation is," Boseman said. "I would tell a [recruit] to wait until the program was stable and we knew the coach. Bibby is here, and he is as good of a coach as anybody.

"I have all the confidence in the world [that he could turn the program around] if given the opportunity."

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