Andy Enfield’s USC Trojans had their hands full with the Bakersfield Roadrunners on Sunday night at the Galen Center, but eked out a 63-59 win to run their perfect home record to 6-0.
Bakersfield led by as many as six points in the second half, and had a five-point lead with just over seven minutes left. USC scored 15 of the game’s final 23 points, nine of which coming at the free throw line.
The Runners continually slowed the game down to eat up the shot clock, yet still relied on a host of second-chance opportunities and shot attempts.
The Trojans, who played without Omar Oraby for big stretches due to foul trouble, struggled on the glass all night. Bakersfield tallied 17 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded the Trojans 37-33, with 42 of the game’s 70 boards coming in the Runners’ front court.
Extended possessions resulted in an astounding 61 shot attempts by Bakersfield. Had the Runners shot better than 36 percent from the field they could have surely run the Trojans out of their own building.
Fouls, however, gave USC life and the game. The Trojans, despite shooting just 65 percent from the free throw line, scored nearly half of their points (30 of 63) from the charity stripe.
Bryon Wesley led all scorers with 20 points for the Trojans, while Nikola Jovanovic had his first double-doulbe of the season, racking up 14 points and 10 boards. For Wesley, he runs his season scoring average to 17.3 points-per-game, which is good for 10th in the Pac-12.
The Men of Troy are now 7-3 overall, and will travel to the Pyramid in Long Beach on Thursday night to square off against local rivals Long Beach State.
To improve on their 3-game winning streak against the 49ers, they’ll need to find away to improve on the glass and limit turnovers. Point guard Pe’Shon Howard had a game-high 7 giveaways.