The USC Trojans (8-5, 16-9 overall) defeated the Washington Huskies (7-7, 17-9) Thursday night, 67-64, at Hec Ed.
The Least You Should Know:
This one looked to be headed for a blowout when USC built a 16-point lead with 9:05 remaining in the game, but the Huskies went into a full-court press and fought back, getting as close as a single point before falling in the game’s final moments after two clutch shots by USC guard Mike Gerrity.
Dwight Lewis owned the Huskies in the first half, scoring 16 of his 22 in the opening 20 minutes.
Other than Quincy Pondexter (18 points, seven rebounds), Matthew Bryan-Amaning was the Huskies’ best player tonight, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Analysis and observations:
Ugh. Tough, tough loss for the Dawgs who fall back to the middle of the Pac-10. There’s little doubt now that the Huskies must win the Pac-10 Tournament in order to make the NCAA Tournament.
After seeing the out-of-town scores, it turns out that this was an even more costly loss for the Huskies because of what they could’ve gained by winning. With Cal losing at Oregon State, the Huskies would’ve closed within a game of first place with a victory tonight.
The full-court press was the key decision Coach Romar made that helped the Huskies avoid a blowout loss. I can’t help but wonder whether the Huskies should’ve been playing more full-court pressure all season. By this point, the tactic would’ve been old hat, as opposed to something the Dawgs have only practiced on rare game-time occasions.
It felt like every time the Trojans needed a basket they were able to grab offensive rebounds and create two- and three-shot possessions, eventually getting the bucket they needed. The Dawgs were simply overmatched in the paint.
It’s easy to second-guess after a heartbreaking loss. But in a game the Huskies were trailing for the entire second half, why didn’t the coaches ensure we’d fouled USC into the bonus before the game’s final moments? The Dawgs wasted at least 2-3 seconds chasing USC on two intentional non-shooting fouls. In a game this close, I would’ve loved to have that time back.
Another very good game from Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and looks more confident and aggressive. Even if time is running out on the Dawgs’ 2009/2010 season, MBA’s play is a great sign for 2010/2011.
Some uncharacteristic play from a few Huskies tonight, both good and bad. Good: Abdul Gaddy (six points, 3-9 shooting) looked more aggressive offensively. Nice to see him play with confidence late in an up-and-down freshman year. Bad: A career-high five turnover night for Justin Holiday.
If there’s a bright side, or an understandable side, to tonight’s loss, it’s that the Trojans may be the most dangerous team in the conference. Take your Cal and your ASU, but if USC could go to a post-season tournament, my money would be on them over any of this year’s other Pac-10 squads.
Isaiah Thomas spent crunchtime planted on the bench, and finished with only five points. With Venoy Overton’s on-ball skills necessary to guard point guard Mike Gerrity, there simply wasn’t a place for I.T. and, result aside, the Husky comeback says to me that Romar was right to have Elston Turner in there during that key stretch.
Saturday’s game against UCLA is the last home game of the year, and Quincy Pondexter’s last game ever at Hec Ed. Unless…
The Huskies, now firmly outside the NCAA bubble, could wind up in the CBI Tournament, which might mean one or more games at Hec Ed. That’s obviously not the outcome anyone wants from this season, but it happened two years ago when the Huskies lost to Valpo at Hec Ed in the first-ever CBI. Just something to keep in mind during the season’s last three weeks.
Thanks for coming!