Los Angeles, CA – USC snapped a three-game losing streak with a 62-56 win over Washington Thursday night at the Galen Center. Two seniors led the way for the Trojans as Nick Rakocevic scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Jonah Mathews finished with 16 points, including four three-pointers.
“It was a great win for us,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “We really battle. We were a little inconsistent in the first half. It was a rough week. We had 8 guys show up tonight and compete. Other guys stepped up, our team rallied around that.”
The Trojans took an early 16-13 lead on Max Agbonkpolo three-pointer but the Huskies used a 7-0 run to take a 20-16 lead in the first half. Washington made 43.3 percent of its first-half shots and with the help of a 10-3 run, the Huskies went into halftime with a 30-25 lead.
“We knew at halftime that we were going to have to win on the defensive end,” Enfield said. “The game is slower when you play Washington because they play zone. We had to manage our possessions.”
USC scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 34-30 lead and turned up the intensity on defense. The Trojans held Washington scoreless during a seven-minute stretch while going on a 16-4 run.
“It was all about patience,” Rakocevic said. “The first time we played them, I sped up, turned the ball over and didn’t take good shots. Today I played better. It was a good team win tonight. My teammates were looking for me in the paint.”
A game after committing 24 turnovers at Arizona State last Saturday, USC had a season-low six turnovers tonight.
Former USC Trojan DeMar DeRozan had his No. 10 jersey retired at halftime. DeRozan is a four-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medal-winning guard who played at USC during the 2008-09 season, averaging 13.9 points as a freshman. He led USC to the 2009 Pac-10 title, scoring 25 points in the championship game against James Harden and ASU. DeRozan was named Pac-10 Tournament MVP. He played 9 seasons with Toronto and his last two for San Antonio, where he is averaging 23.0 points per game this season.
“Anytime DeMar DeRozan comes back, it’s a special moment,” Rakocevic said.” He’s a real cool dude.”
The Trojans are back in action Saturday when they host Washington State.USC defeated the Cougars in their first meeting on Jan.2.