CHARLESTON, S.C. — When USC turned up the pressure, the points followed.
The Trojans trailed by 12 points at the break and were still down midway through the second period. But behind a stifling defense that forced 13 second-half turnovers, USC rallied past Drexel 72-70 at the Charleston Classic on Friday.
Darion Clark scored 15 points and Julian Jacobs had all his 12 points in the second half. Next the Trojans try for fifth place in the eight-team tournament Sunday. And it was a far cry from their 20-point loss to Akron to open play here, when they shot just 28.3 percent, their lowest percentage in two seasons.
“We just have to perform offensively. Players have to make plays. They’ve got to take care of the ball,” USC Coach Andy Enfield said. “Today was different.”
Largely because of the play of Clark and Jacobs in the second half. Clark was a forceful, 6-foot-7 presence in the paint after starter Malik Martin left with a right leg injury. Jacobs, 0-for-3 shooting the first 20 minutes, made all five of his shots and had two steals in the second half.
“We knew what we were capable of,” Clark said. “We just had to be energetic and keep our composure.”
Damion Lee scored 32 points off a career-high eight three-pointers to lead Drexel, which started 0-4 for the first time since the 1990-91 season. The Dragons will play in the seventh-place game.
Drexel looked as if it had things in hand with a 40-28 lead at the break. The Dragons were still up 50-41 after Lee’s basket with 11:51 to play. That’s when USC ramped things up with a 13-2 run to get back in it. Jacobs’ basket with 40 seconds left put the Trojans ahead 71-67.
Lee followed with a three-pointer to cut the lead to one, but missed a long three-pointer right before the buzzer.
“I thought it was good,” Lee said of his final shot.
Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint had wanted a drive to the basket at the end, but Lee said he “didn’t want to leave the game in the hands of the ref.”
Jordan McLaughlin had 11 points and Strahinja Gavrilovic 10 for the Trojans.
USC turned up the pressure in the first half after Drexel ran out to a 19-6 lead. That worked as the Trojans forced nine turnovers to cut the lead to 29-26 with three minutes left in the period.
But Lee found space for his outside shooting. He closed the half with 11 straight points on three three-pointers and sent the Dragons to the locker room up 40-28.
The Drexel junior made 10 of 16 shots, including eight of 11 from behind the arc. He also had six rebounds, three assists and two steals. On the negative side, Lee had five of the Dragons’ 21 turnovers.
Enfield said a doctor was on the way to evaluate 6-11 freshman forward Malik Martin, who went down hard on his right leg in the first half and did not return. Martin needed crutches to make it to the locker room.
The Dragons are now 0-7 all-time against Pac-12 teams.