USC lets one get away in the final minutes in 80-78 loss to Arizona State
Bennie Boatwright knocked down a three-point basket late in the second half, stared down the rambunctious Arizona State student section and raised a finger to his lips.
The silencing gesture appeared a bit overconfident, considering the shot gave USC only a four-point lead with more than six minutes to play Thursday night, and the Trojans had been going back and forth with the Sun Devils the entire game.
Turns out, overconfident it was. The Trojans had a seven-point lead with about 21/2 minutes to play, but they didn’t score again and Arizona State scored the last nine points in an 80-78 victory at Wells Fargo Arena.
With under one minute to play, Sun Devils guard Shannon Evans II knocked down a three-point basket to tie the score at 78.
Chimezie Metu missed a layup on the other end and Tra Holder made the game-winning short bank shot with 1.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
USC was unable to get off a final shot.
“They made some tough shots and we had some uncharacteristic mistakes,” USC coach Andy Enfield said after the game. “We also missed three layups down the stretch. It was a tough way to lose.”
The loss was USC’s second straight, dropping the Trojans to 17-8 overall and 8-4 in the Pac-12 Conference. The Sun Devils improved to 18-6 and 6-6.
USC has lost six straight in Tempe, dating to 2011.
Holder led all scorers with 22 points and Evans scored 21. Nick Rakocevic led USC with 19 points on six-for-six shooting.
Boatwright, who was sidelined for victories over Stanford and California and played only nine minutes in a loss at UCLA because of a nagging foot infection, came off the bench and scored 18.
“He played hard,” Enfield said of Boatwright. “The big guys played great, they gave us good effort.”
Metu finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
USC appeared out of sync through most of the first half, committing eight turnovers and shooting 46%, including three of 13 behind the three-point line.
But the Trojans took a 37-33 lead into the break behind four consecutive baskets from Boatwright, including two from beyond the three-point line.
The Trojans shot 52% in the second half, but finished with 18 turnovers, including four from point guard Jordan McLaughlin.
“They played hard enough to win,” Enfield said. “We just had too many mistakes.”
Saturday at Arizona, 7:15 p.m. PST, McKale Center. TV: ESPN. Radio: 690 — USC last defeated Arizona at McKale in 2008, but the victory was vacated because of NCAA penalty. The Wildcats have won three straight over the Trojans.
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