The USC Trojans started off the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament the same way they started off the week, by getting a big lead and then giving it up. Ultimately they came away with a 73-57 victory over West Alabama.
With challenges like undefeated Villanova looming, first year head coach Andy Enfield was visibly upset by his team’s performance against the Division II Tigers.
Byron Wesley led USC with 15 points while Desmond Raymond of West Alabama topped all scorers with 18.
Wesley and Omar Oraby each grabbed eight rebounds, while Pe’Shon Howard logged a game-high six assists.
The Trojans led from wire to wire. Jumping out to a 11-2 lead, Wesley and Oraby led the way in the first half.
However, the Tigers didn’t let the deficit get too large and stayed in the game on the strength of Underwood, who carried them as close as 22-18 just over halfway through the period.
Three pointers from Nikola Jovanovic and Howard boosted the Trojans back into a more comfortable lead and they built their advantage to 20 before the half ended at 45-25.
In the second half, the Trojans mostly held onto the 20-point cushion until the midway point when West Alabama went on an 13-4 run to close the gap at 60-48.
With just under five minutes to go, the Tigers cut the lead to eight with their eighth three pointer of the half.
An alley-oop dunk from Howard followed by a block by Oraby helped put the deficit back to double digits where it stayed as time expired.