Photo by © Gary A. Vasquez - USA Today
USC Basketball

Stanford's Bryce Wills hits the game-winner as the Cardinal sink the Trojans, 76-79

February 13, 2019

PALO ALTO - With just 13 seconds left in the game, USC(13-12,6-6) came out of a timeout hanging onto a 75-74 lead, poised to prove that they could finally put their mistakes behind them and seal this critical Pac-12 game.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, Stanford’s Bryce Wills had different plans.

Wills drove right by his man and absorbed the contact from forward Nick Rakocevic to score an and-1 layup and give Stanford a 76-75 lead that ultimately secured the win for the Cardinal.

On the following possession, Coach Enfield set up an isolation at the top of the key for Bennie Boatwright, but he left his shot short and thus the Trojans were sent to their 3rd straight loss.

“We isolated him on the elbow, 15 feet from the basket,” Enfield said. “It was his choice whether to shoot it or drive it.”

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this game was that USC controlled the game early on.  After Nick Rakocevic subbed in(he sat the first few minutes due to a coach’s decision) with about 15 minutes left in the first half, the Trojans seized momentum. They used their zone defense to stifle Stanford, who was without starting guard Daejon Davis, and offensively, they got good looks. With about 6 minutes left in the half, USC held a 34-20 lead and it looked as if the game was headed for a Trojan rout. However, Stanford kept fighting and went on a 15-6 run the rest of the half. And although the Trojans went into the locker room with a 40-35 lead, it felt as if the home team had snatched the momentum back.

In the 2nd half, Stanford that was the aggressor, forcing USC into 9 second half turnovers and took a 64-58 lead with 8:00 remaining that forced Andy Enfield to use one of his last timeouts. It paid off for him as a lineup of Thornton, Mathews, Porter Jr., Boatwright and Rakocevic played well down the stretch and held a 76-72 lead with just under a minute remaining.

However, Stanford responded once again as they did all night and USC did their part to keep their opponents in the game. After Derryck Thornton missed a pair of free throws, Marcus Sheffield hit a 3-pointer to bring the Cardinal within 1 and a turnover on the ensuing possession gave the opening for Bryce Wills to steal the game for Stanford.

“Our upperclassmen have got to finish games in the last minute,” Enfield said. “They just have to do a better job.”

With the loss, USC falls into a 4-way tie for 6th in the conference. Up next, they will travel to Berkeley to play Cal on Saturday.

Tags: Basketball
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