USC basketball lived by the three on Sunday night at the Galen Center, downing the UCSB Gauchos, 96-72, for their sixth win of the season.
The lowdown: It rained threes at the Galen Center to start the contest between USC and UCSB with the Trojans seven shots coming from behind the line. Making four of those shots allowed USC to jump out to a 16-9 lead early
However, continuing to take those shots kept the Gauchos in the game as the Trojans missed their next six attempts from distance. Missed shots along with lackluster defense allowed UCSB to close USC’s lead to 25-23.
Of course, it was shots from distance which helped the Trojans pull away again, as three consecutive triples pushed USC’s lead back to as high as seven.
At halftime the Trojans led 43-38, but it was more of the same in the second half. UCSB fought back to three points down.
Back-to-back three pointers from Jordan McLaughlin and Bennie Boatwright once again allowed the Trojans to hold the Gauchos off though it took until the final final minutes for USC build a lead of greater than ten.
With three minutes to go, Elijah Stewart’s third three of the night put the Trojans up 19 and all but sealed the contest as USC went on to expand their lead to 96-72 by the final buzzer.
The takeaway: Fresh off a big win over SMU, USC appeared to have a slight hangover against UCSB.
It’s not that the Gauchos ever really challenged in the game, but the Trojans never put the winless team away until the very end.
The maxim of living by the three and dying by the three was true at the Galen Center on Sunday night with 34 triples hoisted up by the Trojans. With 14 makes, USC nearly scored 100 points, but stretches when they kept shooting but failed to score allowed UCSB to stay competitive.
Meanwhile, USC allowed the Gauchos their highest scoring total of the season so far, shooting 45.5% from the field.
Ultimately, the outing showed just why the Trojans are such an intriguing prospect this season. Bennie Boatwright led USC with 21 points including five three pointers, looking every bit the scoring threat he appeared to be as a freshman.
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Elijah Stewart, Shaqquan Aaron, Chimezie Metu and Jordan McLaughlin, all pitched in double-digit point totals as well.
Player of the game: Chimezie Metu, with 15 points, 4-of-6 shooting, 7-of-8 free throws, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks.
Stat of the game: USC’s 96 points were their most since January 9, when they upset Arizona in quadruple overtime.
Next on tap: The Trojans will head south to take on San Diego on November 30 at 7:00 p.m.