Chimezie Metu had 24 points and 9 rebounds, and Southern California boosted its postseason hopes by holding off Washington 78-73 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
Washington's Markelle Fultz, the Pac-12's leading scorer and perhaps the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, did not play for a fourth straight game due to a sore knee. As such, the freshman star's college career has likely ended.
Bennie Boatwright added 13 points for the sixth-seeded Trojans, who rallied from 10 points down in the first half and then withstood a sloppy finish in advancing to play No. 3 UCLA on Thursday night.
David Crisp had 22 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists for the Huskies (9-22), but missed a game-tying three-point attempt in the closing seconds. Noah Dickerson scored 18 points, but Washington was undone by 10 second-half turnovers in its school-record 13th straight loss.
USC (24-8) needed a win to stay in NCAA Tournament contention, but the Trojans struggled much of the night, failing to put the game away until Shaqquan Aaron hit two free throws with 3 seconds left.
Washington came out hot in the teams' second meeting in five days, with Matisse Thybulle hitting three straight 3-pointers to put the 11th-seeded Huskies up 37-27.
But USC switched to a zone, fueling a 10-2 run to close the half. The Trojans took their first lead early in the second half on consecutive dunks by Metu.
Things unraveled for the Huskies from that point, as Carlos Johnso's foul and ensuing technical led to Boatwright hitting four straight free throws to put USC up by 14.
In other Pac-12 news . . .
Commissioner Larry Scott signs extension
Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott will remain in his post through June 2022, the Conference announced, extending his existing contract in recognition of the Conference’s achievements since his arrival in July of 2009.
Gene D. Block, the Chancellor of UCLA and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pac-12 Conference, said, “During Larry’s tenure, the Conference has been transformed, not only by expansion, but by innovation and excellence in almost every aspect of our activities. We believe in his bold vision for the Pac-12, and have great confidence in Larry's ability to help us write the next chapter of our Conference’s illustrious history.”
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services