Elijah Stewart unstoppable in USC victory over Oregon State
Elijah Stewart couldn’t miss.
The senior guard knocked down five consecutive three-pointers and threw in a couple alley-oops Saturday as USC cruised to a 72-59 victory over Oregon State at the Galen Center.
“You just hit this kind of mood,” Stewart said after the game. “Where everything just feels good.”
The Trojans improved to 19-9 (10-5 in Pac-12 Conference) to maintain a share of second place with UCLA (19-8, 10-5).
USC played without forward Bennie Boatwright, who suffered a knee injury last Thursday and is sidelined for the season.
Stewart said that in Boatwright’s absence, “someone had to pick up the slack.”
Stewart scored a season high 28 points, making eight consecutive shots — including five from three-point range — before a jumper bounced off the rim.
“I don’t think he knew he made eight shots in a row,” Jordan McLaughlin said.
Stewart finished nine of 10 from the floor.
“He shot the ball great,” coach Andy Enfield said before crediting McLaughlin for getting players “wide open shots.”
McLaughlin finished with 13 points and 11 assists, several of which were lobs that Stewart and Chimezie Metu dunked.
USC got off to a rocky start in the first half —shooting 44% — as Jonah Mathews’ three-point shots missed their mark and a Metu dunk attempt bounced off the rim.
There were lapses defensively but the Trojans played well enough to maintain a lead through most of the half. Oregon State shot 46%, often forcing off-balance shots or not getting one off at all as the shot-clock expired.
Oregon State guard Stephen Thompson Jr. completed a three-point play to tie score 16-16 with 8:54 to play in the first half. The Beavers took their first lead (20-18) behind a Gligorije Rakocevic jumper.
“We weren’t getting stops,” McLaughlin said. “That’s what we talked about at halftime and in the huddles, being aggressive.”
Stewart sparked an 8-2 run when he knocked down a three-point basket, and USC took a 32-30 lead into halftime.
Out of the break, Stewart knocked down another three-pointer and USC pulled away.
The Trojans opened an eight-point lead behind a Stewart dunk, Metu layup and Jordan Usher put-back.
Metu finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Usher scored seven.
Mathews, making a second straight start, never found a rhythm and missed all five three-point attempts.
Wednesday at Colorado, 7:30 p.m. PST, Coors Events Center. TV: FS1 — The Trojans defeated the Buffaloes, 70-58, at the Galen Center last month. Freshman guard McKinley Wright IV leads Colorado in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game.
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