Narrow road

USC stays undefeated with narrow road win in Washington state

(Photo: Shotgun Spratling | USCfootball.com)

It’s not about how you win, especially when playing on the road in conference. It’s just about finding a way to win.

USC found a way to win Saturday afternoon at Beasley Coliseum. The Trojans came from behind to claim a 63-61 victory over Washington State in Pullman. Goodwin’s scored the winning basket with 16.0 seconds left. boogie ellis drove from the left wing and drew in several defenders before finding an open Goodwin on the right side of the rim. It was the third and final lead change in the final minute.

Drew Peterson gave USC (8-0, 2-0) a 60-58 lead with a tough turnaround jump as the shot clock ran out, but TJ Bamba answered for the Cougars with a three-pointer. USC head coach Andy Enfield called time out and then put the ball in the hands of Ellis, who showed his ability for selfless play by finding Goodwin.

Goodwin finished with a game-high 14 points while Peterson had 13. It was the first time the Trojans hadn’t had three or more players scoring in double figures this season. USC didn’t play its best game. He struggled to make outside shots. He scored just six points during a 10-minute second-half streak as he suffered a pair of second-half droughts.

But Trojans #20 showed their experience and courage. They scratched and scratched. They locked down the defense, holding Washington State (6-2, 1-1) at 4 for 13 shots to close the game, including a blocked jumper with six seconds remaining and a potentially game-winning three-point shot. as time expired.

And USC scored just enough. He rallied for a two-point win that will make flying back to Southern California that much happier.

Michael Flowers led Washington State with 13 points while Noah Williams had 12, but the pair combined to shoot 8 for 23 in the game.

Game player: Goodwin’s

(Photo: Shotgun Spratling | USCfootball.com)

Goodwin’s struggled with foul issues that limited him to 23 minutes in the afternoon, but he finished with a plus-minus rating of +7, the highest of the game, as the Trojans were at their best when he was in the game. Goodwin scored the starting bucket and finished with a game-high 14 points.

Goodwin was 6 for 11 from the field and added five rebounds, including three on the offensive side. But perhaps most importantly, the career 46.6 percent free throw shooter made both of his attempts, including one after the final bucket with 16.0 seconds to go. His free throw put USC up two points, which meant that as long as they protected the three-point line, they couldn’t be beaten by a single bucket.

Turning Point: Meet in the lane

USC went into a five-minute goalless drought on the field midway through the second half and had a 10-minute streak where their only points on the field were a pair of jumpers, but in the final two minutes and a half, the Trojans were a perfect four for four in the field. They attacked the painting and fed the great men.

Joshua Morgan hitting a jumper. Isaiah Mobley fed Morgan with a high-low pass for a dunk before Peterson’s jumper with 51 seconds remaining, which was just outside the paint. Each time Washington State had an answer, but the Cougars couldn’t find the answer for Goodwin’s layup on the glass.

Key stat: 2 for 12 vs. 8 for 20

USC made half of their field goal attempts while keeping their No. 8 opponent below 40 percent shooting with Washington State finished at 37.9. Trojans had fewer turnovers. The bouncing battle was basically even. And USC outshot the Cougs in the paint, 38-28.

But Washington State was able to stay in the game thanks to its three-point shooting advantage. The Cougars made 8 of their 20 three-point attempts while USC was a dismal 2 for 12. Many of the Trojans’ misses were wide-open looks. Max Agbonkpolo knocked down his only long distance attempt. Isaiah Mobley made one but needed four attempts as boogie ellis, Ethan Anderson and Reese Dixon Waters all missed multiple three-point attempts.

What this means: The win keeps the Trojans among the nation’s 12 undefeated teams and keeps them perfect (2-0) in Pac-12 play.

And after: The Trojans return home to begin their final non-conference stretch, facing three inferior opponents in eight days. Although they have less talent, none of them should be overlooked. It starts with Eastern Kentucky, which heads to the Galen Center on Tuesday for a game at 7 p.m. PST (Pac-12 Networks; 790 KABC). The Colonels are 5-3 this season, but recently played West Virginia at the buzzer, losing 80-77. They are led by Jannson Williams and Michael Morenoboth of whom are scoring at least 13 points per game and averaging about seven rebounds per game.

Strong points: