USC PULLS AWAY IN THE SECOND HALF, DEFEATS MENâ€™S BASKETBALL
LOS ANGELES -- USC’s Nikola Vucevic (14 points, 15 rebounds) and Alex Stephenson (10 points, 10 rebounds, 7 blocks) both had double-doubles and the Trojans used a 16-0 run during the second half to pull away and defeat Sacramento State, 51-36, in a non-conference men’s basketball game Tuesday evening at the Galen Center.
After a three-pointer from Duro Bjegovic drew the Hornets within, 27-22, with 17:58 to play, the Trojans proceeded to go on a 16-0 run to take a commanding 43-22 lead with 10:36 to play. After going over seven minutes without a point, Sacramento State finally stopped the run with a Sultan Toles-Bey jumper with 10:21 remaining. By that time, the Hornets found themselves down 19 points. and got no closer than within 12 points of the Trojans’ lead the rest of the game.
With the loss, Sacramento State, which was playing its second Pacific-10 Conference opponent of the season, dropped to 4-6 overall and 3-4 away from home. The Hornets won at Oregon State (65-63) earlier this season which snapped a 29-game losing streak against Pac-10 teams, but could not pull off a repeat performance against USC. The Trojans improved to 5-0 all-time against the Hornets as the two teams were playing for the first time since a Trojan win at Memorial Auditorium on Nov. 16, 1997.
USC, which was playing its fifth home game of the season, improved to 3-4 overall with the victory.
The Hornets were undersized at nearly every position throughout the game, and the more athletic USC squad took advantage, outrebounding Sacramento State, 49-29. The Trojans also blocked 12 shots, and limited Sacramento State to a season-low field goal percentage of .230 (14-61). In fact, the Hornets shot below 28.0 percent from the floor in both halves, while also shooting 18.8 percent (3-16) from the three-point line and 62.5 percent (5-8) from the free throw line.
Sacramento State was able to keep things close for the entire first half and a portion of the second half with a stingy defense that forced USC into a season-worst 25 turnovers. In addition, all 51 of USC’s points came from its starters, as the Hornets limited the Trojan bench to zero points. USC, which attempted 18 less field goals than the Hornets, shot 41.9 percent (18-43) form the field, including 3-of-12 from long distance and 12-of-20 from the charity stripe. The Trojans scored the game’s first six points and led the entire way.
Vucevic was the only player on the floor for either team to shoot better than 50.0 percent from the field as he went 7-of-11 and four of his 15 rebounds came on the offensive glass. Stephenson was three blocked shots shy of a triple-double, and there were a handful of Hornet shots he altered, but did not block. Joining Vucevic and Stephenson in double figures was Dwight Lewis who finished with a game-high 16 points to go along with five rebounds. Marcus Johnson added seven points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks.
No Hornet player scored in double figures for the first time all season, as Toles-Bey had a team-high eight points, but shot just 3-of-16 from the field. Toles-Bey, Antonio Flaggs (five points), Bjegovic (five points, five rebounds), Domineek Daniel (four points, five rebounds), John Dickson (four points) and Dani Lopez (four points, four rebounds) all scored at least four points for Sacramento State.
Lopez, who is a 6-foot-9, 280-pound true freshman, played a season-high 18 minutes and was the one Hornet that could match up with the bigger Trojan team. He went 2-for-4 from the field and three of his four rebounds came on the offensive glass. Sacramento State finished with just three assists as a team, one shy of the program record for fewest assists in a game (2, set on two occasions).
All 12 Sacramento State players that made the trip with the team appeared in tonight’s game.
The Hornets travel to Stockton this weekend for a matchup with local rival Pacific on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7:05 p.m.