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USC triumphs over Portland to remain unbeaten

November 8, 2019

Onyeka Okongwu followed his record-tying debut with another 20-point performance in USC’s 76-65 victory over Portland, as the Trojans improved to 2-0 on the 2019 season.

After an abysmal performance from the foul stripe in Tuesday’s season opener, USC shot 6-of-10 from the line Friday night. The Trojans also netted 50 percent of their 3-point attempts, snagged 17 offensive rebounds and outscored Portland 38-12 inside the paint.

Jonah Mathews made his return to the starting lineup for the Trojans after coming off the bench in the opener for missing classes.  Mathews struggled in his return to the starting lineup, shooting 26 percent from the floor and turning the ball over three times.

“People expect me to shoot lights out and it’s not really like that, but my teammates were finding me and telling me to keep on shooting,” Mathews said. “We got two wins, so I’m not really concerned about me right now.”

After starting the Trojans’ opener, freshman point guard Ethan Anderson came off the bench Friday as Mathews returned to the lineup. Anderson finished with 10 assists and two turnovers. 

“[Anderson] had a really controlled game, I thought he made the right reads,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “He left his feet late for that second turnover, but anytime you get 10 assists in a game it’s impressive, especially for a freshman.”

Elijah Weaver scored 12 points and distributed four assists. Okongwu came alive in the second half after two early fouls limited the freshman to just over six minutes of action in the first period. The 6-foot-9 forward also finished with 10 rebounds – five offensive – shooting nearly 77 percent from the field in 21 minutes.

“He does a lot on his own,” Enfield said of Okongwu’s performance. “We don’t run a ton of plays for him, we run a few. But he’s constantly within the offense.”

Portland guard Isaiah White scored a game-high 22 points, scorching six 3-pointers and shooting 46 percent from the field.

“[White’s] been a scorer all of his life,” Enfield said. “He got his confidence, we switched on some ball screens and he shot it right in our face and made a few.”

Okongwu scored four consecutive buckets to put USC ahead by double digits with under four minutes remaining.

Quinton Adlesh provided a first-half spark off the USC bench, scoring 9 points on three consecutive 3-pointers.

“[Adlesh] is a really good player, period,” Enfield said. “Excellent defender, position defender, and he’s an elite shooter. So, tonight he got hot in the first half … but I was most impressed with his defense.”

USC opened the game on a 7-0 run, forcing a Portland timeout less than two minutes in. Nick Rakocevic played more under control in Friday night’s first half than he did at any point in the Trojans’ first contest. The senior forward shot 4-of-5 from the field and scored nine points in the first period. He finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

White led all first-half scorers with 11 points. The Trojans entered halftime with a six-point lead, shooting over 53 percent from 3-point land. White stayed hot to open the second period, nailing back-to-back 3-pointers. Portland cut the Trojans’ lead to three and forced an Enfield timeout less than two minutes into the half. Rakocevic scored in the paint to break a 48-48 tie.

The Trojans dished out 21 assists, but committed 20 turnovers. Portland scored 18 points off those USC turnovers.

Enfield said, “Give Portland credit. They were aggressive defenisvely, they had deflections. Their guards were quick.”

What’s next for USC

USC hosts South Dakota State next up, Tuesday night at the Galen Center.

Tags: USC Scoop
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