Saturday, February 27, 2010
Final: Oregon State 49, USC 44
By Pedro Moura
In some form, that was the word of the night in the USC locker room after the Trojans fell 49-44 at the hands of the Oregon State Beavers.
Dwight Lewis was "disappointed with how the game turned out." Nikola Vucevic said it was "disappointing, because everybody wanted to leave the arena with a win." And Mike Gerrity was "just disappointed" to lose his final home game.
But — all forms of disappointment aside — USC simply played too sloppily to earn a victory on senior day. Marcus Johnson and Donte Smith combined to turn the ball over 12 times. Not one Trojan made even half of his shots.
In all, it was more than a little reminiscent to Thursday's loss to Oregon.
"I said it last game," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said, visibly disappointed in his final home news confernce of the season. "You're not going to win many games with 20 turnovers, 44 points, and shooting 29 percent from the field.
"It's very difficult to win games when you play like that."
Very difficult indeed. The Trojans started well, opening up a 21-10 lead midway through the first half. But from that point on, USC scored just 23 points in 28 minutes while the Beavers — noted offensive non-powerhouses themselves — scored 39.
Oregon State leading scorer Calvin Haynes had just eight points, and the Beavers were as stagnant on offense as the Trojans were.
But something was a little different on their end of the sideline.
“Our guys just decided that they wanted to win this game,” Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. “They came out and they executed.”
Player(s) of the game: Oregon State's Tarver brothers — Seth and Josh — might have been the two most effective players on the court. Seth, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard, made six of nine shots and scored 15 points. Josh, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound reserve point guard, drew praise from Robinson because of his inspired play. Playing 32 minutes, the senior recorded four steals, two blocks and eight points — and didn't turn the ball over once.
"Josh is forever going to have a special place in my heart because he has been through so much," Robinson said Saturday. "He works so hard and is such a good role model."
Play of the game: They were certainly anti-climactic, but Roeland Schaftenaar's four made free throws in the final minute were crucial to the Beavers' eventual victory. Schaftenaar, a 75-percent shooter this season, knocked down four consecutive shots on one-and-one opportunities. Even one miss would've made it a one-possession game and given the Trojans an infinitely higher shot to win.
By contrast, USC's Johnson also stepped to the line twice in the final minutes but made only one out of a potential four free throws. The Trojans shot 58 percent from the line in the second half.
Quote of the game: "I think we got a bounce-back in us," Lewis said. "One last one."
For a team that's been through so much — ineligibility, injuries and self-imposed sanctions included — the Trojans have managed to do considerably more than what was expected of them. But another two losses in Arizona next weekend would send them into the off-season on a five-game losing streak.
Said Lewis: "Nobody wants to end the season a loser."
Gerrity said the Trojans would need more motivation than that to stop their recent downward spiral.
“We just gotta dig in and find that strength within each of us and when we step on the floor just be proud that we were able to wear the USC uniform and play Division-I basketball,” Gerrity said. “Even though we don’t have anything after this, it’s still playing out of respect for the game of basketball, as Coach O’Neill always says.”
Notes: Said Lewis of the gifts he received during the senior day celebration from Athletic Director Mike Garrett's young son and wife: "That was real nice. I didn't even know they knew my name." ... Attendance at the Galen Center was listed at 6,158 — about on par with the Trojans' cellar-dwelling numbers all season long. The closest to a sellout USC got was the 8,836 in attendance on Valentine's Day against UCLA. ... The loss ended USC's winning streak on Senior Day at 13 straight seasons.