Los Angeles, CA – Time ticked of the clock as USC senior guard Jordan McLaughlin dribbled down the court, stopped and nailed a three-pointer to send the game into double overtime.
The No.1 seeded USC basketball team scored 18 points in the second overtime to defeat UNC Asheville, 103-98, in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on Tuesday night at the Galen Center.
USC had trouble at the free throw line, shooting 52 percent, but senior guard Jordan McLaughlin made two key free throws to tie it at 70 with 25 seconds left in regulation. McLaughlin led the Trojans with 26 points and 13 assists.
“We were just trying to keep the game in our hands,” McLaughlin said.” Once that overtime came, we kicked it up a notch because we know what it takes to win.”
McLaughlin drilled a jumper over MaCio Teague with 29 seconds left in double overtime. After Teague mises a jumper, Elijah Stewart picked up the loose ball and went the length of the floor for the layup and foul. Stewarts’ three-point play gave the Trojans a four-point lead with 7 seconds left in double overtime.
“The seniors stepped up,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “It was fun to watch. It was an entertaining game but we have to play better. We are a little small right now without Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright.”
Metu opted to sit out the game to avoid potential injury. Enfield released a statement before tonight’s game.
“Chimezie Metu has made a personal decision not to participate in the NIT as a precautionary measure to eliminate the risk of injury leading up to the NBA draft.”
USC forward Nick Rakocevic stepped up in Metu’s absence and scored 24 points with 19 rebounds. Stewart added 22 point. The back-and-forth action led to eight ties and 15 lead changes.
With the win, the Trojans advance to the second round of the NIT and will host Western Kentucky on Monday March 19, at 8:30pm PST.