Los Angeles, Ca – With a two-point deficit in the fourth quarter, USC freshman Jordan Usher missed a three-pointer with 24 seconds left and the Trojans failed to give a foul as timed ticked off the clock.
Western Kentucky forward Dwight Coleby’s dunk with 11 seconds remaining sealed the 79-75 win over USC in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament on Monday night at the Galen Center.
“When you’re down two with 20 seconds left, we should have fouled,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “That was a mistake on our part.”
Western Kentucky made its first 15 free throws and finished making 16 of 17 from the charity stripe while USC only made 8 of 19 from the free throw line. Enfield said that was a big difference in the game.
“We were terrible (shooting free throws),” Enfield said. “If you don’t make free throws, that’s not good enough for anybody.”
USC led 28-13 after the first quarter with Elijah Stewart scoring 10 points. Jordan McLaughlin’s three-pointer tied it at 38 with just under two minutes left in the second quarter.
Western Kentucky took a 40-39 halftime lead while shooting 60 percent in the first half. WKU coach Rick Stansbury said they never let USC separate too much from them.
“We just kind of hung around enough to keep it close,” Stansbury said. “They did a really good job keeping the ball out of the paint for us.”
USC forward Chimezie Metu cheered from the sidelines. Enfield said Metu was not allowed to sit on the bench per USC rules.
“The decision was made by the administration,” Enfield said. “The policy is that if you’re not playing, to not sit on the bench because he was eligible and he wasn’t injured.
USC reached 24 wins for the seventh time in school history. The Trojans will be without seniors McLaughlin and Stewart, who left their final game with their heads held high.
“It’s tough, it hasn’t hit me yet,” McLaughlin said. “We had a good run. The last four years have been amazing. I’m glad I chose this program and I wish them the best of luck in the future.”