Photo by © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY
USC Basketball

Poor shooting haunts the Trojans as they lose on Senior Day to Oregon State, 67-62

February 23, 2019

LOS ANGELES - Close, but no cigar.

It’s an appropriate phrase if you had to describe most of the the Trojans’ season and their 62-67 Senior Day loss to Oregon State(17-9,9-5).

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the defeat for USC(15-13,8-7) was that they had multiple chances to finally change that narrative today. After Jonah Mathews hit a deep three-pointer to put them ahead 56-55, it looked as if the team had seized the momentum and was going to close this game out. After all, they were in the midst of a 21-10 run where they harrased the Beavers defensively and were hitting on all cylinders offensively.

Then, it all came apart. Oregon State scored 10 unanswered points in the final three minutes to grab a 65-56 lead, and the Trojans were forced to foul with 38 seconds left as the fans began to empty out of the Galen Center. During that final stretch, the Trojans missed five consecutive shots and turned the ball over twice.

“It’s a tough way to go out on your home court, but we have three road games left,” Coach Enfield said. “It’s a tough loss but we have to learn from this and move on.”

One of the main reasons USC dropped this game was the lack of production from their center, Nick Rakocevic. The 6’11 junior, who has struggled as of late, picked up a questionable flagrant foul early and never could quite find his rhythm. He scored just 4 points in 9 minutes of action.

“When we take Nick out of the lineup, that affects our team,”Enfield said. “You need to play with an even temperament whether you’re successful or failed.”

“We need Nick, so when he’s not on the court it changes things,” said Bennie Boatwright, who scored 13 points in his final game at the Galen Center. “He’s our anchor down low, and he is missed when he’s not in the game.”

USC also went 0-for-6 from the free throw line, and shot just 8-for-27(29%) from beyond the arc. It was an uncharacteristically poor outside shooting performance from the team that came into the night leading the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting at 38.6%.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” said Enfield. “We missed wide open 3s, we had open looks. We have to shoot better to beat a team like Oregon State.”

Despite the tough loss, there were a few positive signs that could matter down the home stretch for the Trojans. Kevin Porter Jr., who recorded his first double-double of his career with 11 points and 10 rebounds, was one of the catalysts for the strong run USC made in the 2nd half. Alongside him, starting wings Jonah Mathews and Shaqquan Aaron combined for 27 points and 12 rebounds. All three players will be key as the Trojans prepare to play their final three regular season games on the road.

After tonight’s loss, USC finishes 12-5 at home for the 2018-2019 season. Up next, they will travel across town to Westwood to play UCLA again on Thursday.  

Tags: Basketball
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