With seven seconds left in USC basketball's round one NCAA Tournament contest, the Trojans wound up down seven. Quickly, however, they found life--thriving off of a three-point conversion by Drew Peterson, a forced turnover to give the Trojans the ball back, and yet another three-point strike from Peterson.
"I was confident in every shot he took honestly. He makes a lot of tough shots... Every shot that Drew took, I was confident that he was going to make it, so I wasn't like' 'Oh wow, he made that?' I was like 'Okay, good. He made it. Now--next play, next play, next play.' "- Chevez Goodwin, USC Trojans Forward
Miami got the ball back and it was time to foul. Sam Waardenburg missed one of two free throws, and Peterson scored once again to tie the game up at 66. After a controversial foul call on Ethan Anderson, Charlie Moore went to the line for Miami and hit both free throws.
"I felt very very confident that Charlie would make the free throws, but that was still going to give them an opportunity to make a two or a three. And we wanted to be sure that we were back defensively and matched up, because Peterson is obviously a great three-point shooter"- Jim Larranaga, Miami Head Coach
With three seconds left, SC was able to inbound the ball to Peterson who chucked up a half-court heave that looked good, but just barely didn't fall into the cylinder on the bank shot. Peterson had been so sensational that everyone in the building thought it was good. He couldn't nail everything.
"Thankfully my teammates found me in good spots, I hit a few shots," said Peterson. "But obviously a little too-little, too-late, and they hit some free throws at the end to win the game."
USC basketball needed a bit more in the first half if they wanted to win this game.
USC basketball turned the ball over 12 times in the first half. They scored just 20 points, and were down 11. Peterson came on about as strong as possible as the game ended, but it was too deep a hole to come back from. SC was able to get back into it in the second half due to their lockdown defense around the perimeter, allowing just one of 14 Miami three-point shots to drop. They did still turn the ball over six more times, though. They proved to have needed to be even cleaner in the second half to win the game.
After all, there was never a doubt that they could keep it close. Peterson's teammates had all the faith in the world in their brother to put the team on his back the way he did at the end of the game. It wasn't just Goodwin who felt that confidence.
"I knew Drew could make shots so it wasn't a shocker," said fellow USC Guard Reese Dixon-Waters. "Just wish the last one went in. But I'm happy for him, just wish we got the dub."
Dixon-Waters had a career game on Friday, going for a career-high 16 points and converting on five of six field goal attempts (and hitting both his three-point attempts). He's a freshman, so he should be back on this stage again. He has a bright future with the Trojans.
SC had 26 wins this year--25 in the regular season. Just nine other Power 5 teams entered this tournament with more wins than what the Trojans had. They finished ranked No. 22 in the AP poll, and tied the school record for most wins in a year. They topped the record for most regular season wins in school history.