USC Basketball: Trojans blow another lead, fall to ASU in final seconds

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

ASU’s last second game-winner sunk the Trojans, 80-78, as USC basketball blew a second straight critical Pac-12 contest despite holding a late lead.

The lowdown:

The Trojans started out cold, missing six straight shots after Chimezie Metu opened the scoring on a jumper. That allowed ASU to build a 9-2 lead in the early going, but USC’s shooting touch eventually returned.

Chipping away at the Sun Devil advantage, USC tied the game at 20-20 before Jordan Usher dished to Nick Rakocevic, who led the Trojans with 12 points at the half, on a fastbreak to take the lead.

With the Trojans shooting 1-for-11 from distance, Bennie Boatwright finally found his stroke late in the first half, building his team’s lead to eight with two makes beyond the arc in the closing minutes.

USC led 37-33 at the break.

ASU closed the gap on the Trojans after five minutes in the second half, trying the game at 44 before Jordan McLaughlin responded with his first three-pointer of the night.

USC’s advantage grew as big as nine on a Jonah Mathews triple, but the Sun Devils refused to go away. Twice ASU went on mini five-point runs to keep the game close.

When the Sun Devils’ Shannon Evans cut it to one point on a three, Boatwright responded immediately with one of his own from the corner to make it 70-66.

Another Boatwright triple capped an 8-0 run for the Trojans, who once again enjoyed a nine-point lead with five minutes remaining.

However, USC allowed ASU to creep back into it, with the Sun Devils hitting from the free throw line to keep the deficit at five. Kodi Justice put sweat on Trojan brows as his runner made it a three-point game with 1:30 remaining, setting up a nightmare finish.

Evans’ deep three tied the game in the final minute, then Tra Holder hit the go-ahead shot with 1.4 seconds remaining, stealing the game 80-78.

Player of the game: ASU’s Tra Holder, who led all scorers with 22 points and put in the game-winner.

Stat of the game: USC did not score in the final 2:28 against ASU. They didn’t score in the final 2:08 against UCLA. Trojans lost both games in heartbreaking fashion. (H/T Joey Kaufman of the OC Register)

Next on tap: The road trip continues on Saturday, Feb. 10 in a date with Arizona at 7:15 p.m. An already tough matchup should only be harder as the Wildcats look to avoid dropping a third straight.