USC’s regular season finale against Arizona State on Saturday night felt like a postseason game, and that was fitting.
The Trojans knew the result could impact their NCAA tournament hopes, while the Sun Devils absolutely had to win for their own hopes of making the 68-team squad.
And so the last minute played out with all the suspense that defines March Madness before USC took a 68-65 win at the Galen Center.
“It was a great way to take out Senior Night to make it interesting at the end. Every game we play with Arizona State is always close. They usually end in some kind of shot in the last 30 seconds or even sometimes at the buzzer. , like today,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.
USC (22-9, 14-6 Pac-12) had led by 14 points with less than 6 minutes remaining and by 9 points with 3:30 remaining before Arizona State staged a rally.
Desmond Cambridge Jr. hit two free throws following a technical foul on Reese Dixon-Waters, and moments later Warren Washington blocked Kobe Johnson’s dunk attempt leading to a Sun Devils quick break that s Finally ended with Cambridge scoring on a third attempt to cut the Trojans lead at 62-57.
From there it was tense and frenetic until the finish.
Drew Peterson of USC and Washington for ASU traded buckets before Frankie Collins drained a 3-pointer for the Sun Devils to make it a 64-62 USC lead with 1:10 remaining.
Both teams missed 3 seconds in ensuing possessions and Peterson made it 1 of 2 from the line to push it 65-62 with 22 seconds on the clock.
Collins quickly scored for Arizona State, Tre White knocked down two big free throws for USC and then it looked like Collins was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 7 seconds left. But replay showed his foot was on the line, and Collins went 1 of 2 from the boards to give him a 2-point game. It wasn’t over though. Joshua Morgan made 1 of 2 free throws for USC, and although the Trojans intended to foul the other end to prevent a 3-point shot, DJ Horne netted potential 3 on the right side at the buzzer.
It slammed on the ledge as the Trojans could finally expire.
Specifically, they can also probably be confident of their fate at the NCAA tournament with them in Las Vegas and the Pac-12 tournament next week.
In his latest projections, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has USC as the No. 10 seed opening the NCAA Tournament in Sacramento.
“My opinion, at 22-9 with the schedule we’ve had, some teams don’t have a big major win all year or a [Quad 1] earn. If you really want to you can make a lot of teams succeed and a lot of teams fail so we try to focus only on what we can control and that’s to try and win games basketball,” Enfield said. “Our conference is very good — it’s still underrated nationally. Teams are improving in our league throughout the season, including us, and we’re in third place in the Pac-12, 14-6. Some of those teams have three, four, five games under .500 in their league and other teams haven’t played a schedule — they don’t have to travel for the mountain trip or the Oregons. So I think our team deserves to be in the tournament, and I think Arizona State deserves to be too.”
For now, the Sun Devils (20-11, 11-9) aren’t expected to make it because only three Pac-12 teams — UCLA, Arizona and the Trojans — make Lunardi’s final group.
Teams could reunite soon as the Trojans open the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. PT as the No. 3 seed against No. 6 state winner Arizona and State No. 11 from Oregon.
Meanwhile, on Senior Night, Boogie Ellis shone again for USC with 28 points – he’s averaging 25.8 points over the last six games – while Peterson surprised the staff by playing even after dealing with back pain all week. He finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 31 minutes.
“He wasn’t himself tonight. I don’t know if he was 60, 70, 80 per cent, somewhere in there. You could see he didn’t have his explosiveness, but that’s is Senior Night. He never missed a game in his college career,” Enfield said. “I didn’t think he was playing, none of us thought he was going to play, so for him to deal with the pain and play 31 minutes and help us win, it was just a really tough senior night. He showed a lot of heart and tenacity.”
Tre White added 13 points and 7 rebounds off the bench in the win.
Enfield again hailed this team as one of his most improved teams in a decade at USC while praising Ellis and Peterson for the stabilizing role they played throughout the season. .
Ellis finished the regular season at 18.1 ppg — second-best in the Pac-12 — while finishing second in the league with 81 3s made (at a clip of 39.1%). Peterson averaged 14.1 points per game and led the Trojans in rebounds (6.3 per game) and assists (4.48).
“It was really an impressive season for Boogie and Drew because we had no experience. We had never relied on the other guys to start, to play the starting minutes, to rely on every game to win a game of college basketball,” he said. . “We knew it was going to be a bit difficult at the start of the year because Boogie and Drew were the only guys who had that experience. That’s why it’s so impressive to see how they led our team by example. but also every day in training and in games. We relied on them. And the other guys have improved a lot, and I think you’ve seen that with a lot of our players.
#TrojanSports #USC #resists #wild #minute #top #ASU #bolsters #NCAA #tournament #hopes