USC basketball was locked in a tight contest with UC Davis at the break, but pulled away in the second half to win 73-55 at the Galen Center on Sunday.
Derryck Thornton opened the scoring for the Trojans, but USC fell narrowly behind the Aggies in the early going as Caleb Fuller’s three-pointer put UC Davis ahead 15-11.
USC chipped away at that deficit over the course of a five-minute scoring drought for the Aggies, taking the lead at 16-15 on a Nick Rakocevic layup.
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Rakocevic’s technical foul for flicking the ball into the face of an opponent after a made basket didn’t result in any points, since Siler Schneider missed both free throws, but the Aggies converted their next two layups to go ahead 24-20.
Though UC Davis’ lead grew as great as 28-21, USC responded with a Bennie Boatwright dunk, a Jonah Mathews triple and an Elijah Weaver and-1 play to quickly take the lead in the final minutes of the first half. Thanks to a Boatwright three-pointer, the Trojans went into halftime ahead 32-30.
Head coach Andy Enfield was forced to call a timeout when the Aggies scored the first four points of the second half to take the lead back, and it was a productive break. The Trojans put up the next seven points, including three-pointers by Mathews and Thornton, building a 39-34 advantage.
The Aggies tried to keep it close, but USC was able to increase their lead slowly before Weaver’s shot from distance opened the gap to 11 at 60-49.
From there, the Trojans coasted. Boatwright and Mathews hit back-to-back threes to end the contest at 73-55.
USC let UC Davis stay in the game longer than perhaps they should have, but rode 64 percent shooting in the second half to pull away and more than cover a 13-point spread. A big part of that second half explosion? Hitting from distance as the Trojans were 7-of-10 after halftime from beyond the arc.
Boatwright led all scorers with 19 points and eight rebounds in one of his more effective nights of the season.
It was far more quiet for Nick Rakocevic, whose four fouls limited him to just five points.
Thornton added 16 points while Mathews 3-of-6 rate from distance netted him 11 points. He also contributed a team-best seven assists.
Meanwhile, Weaver posted his career-best with 13 points.
Next on tap: USC will open Pac-12 play against Cal at the Galen Center on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.