10:30 PM ET, February 25, 2004
Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Senior Desmon Farmer usually dominates the first half of games. This time, he struggled early, then came up with his best effort in overtime of his final home game.Farmer scored nine straight points in overtime and Southern California held on for a 78-77 victory against crosstown rival UCLA on Wednesday night."He was a little tentative after missing a lot of shots early. But I told him it was his game, that he's got to take over the game," USC coach Henry Bibby said. "This is a memorable evening for Desmon and our fans. You can't go out in any better fashion than with an overtime win over UCLA."The Bruins had a chance to force a second overtime, but Dijon Thompson missed the first free throw and made the second after being fouled with five-tenths of a second left. Thompson was supposed to miss the second, which would have given UCLA time to get off a shot."I just missed it," said Thompson, who denied being distracted by chatter from USC's Errick Craven."I told him, `Make them. You miss one and you know it's the game," Craven said. "I was just saying things to make him miss."First-year UCLA coach Ben Howland instructed Thompson to either make both free throws or miss the second one. If Thompson missed the second one, 7-foot center Ryan Hollins was supposed to go for a tipin.Howland also told Thompson to walk away from Craven's jabbering, which he didn't do."You don't just sit there and let someone talk to you," he said.Farmer finished with 28 points -- including 11 of the Trojans' 13 points in overtime. Jeff McMillan added 19 points and a career-high 18 rebounds -- including 11 defensive boards."This is definitely the most memorable win in my career. It's number one," Farmer said. "This feels great because we kept our head in the game. We let everyone know who is the number one team in Los Angeles."The Trojans (12-13) beat the Bruins (11-13) for the fourth consecutive time -- their longest winning streak against UCLA in 61 years. They also earned a sweep in successive seasons for the first time since 1940-42."It has been special to coach Desmon Farmer and we will be friends forever," said Bibby, who had Farmer in his dog house several times over the years. "I don't get attached to a lot of kids, you can't, but he will always have a special place in my heart."USC tied the Bruins for sixth place in the Pac-10 with 7-9 records with a week left in the regular season. The Bruins lost for the 10th time in 12 games after starting conference play with a 5-0 mark."It's a big blow to us," Howland said. "We don't want to lose any game, especially to USC."UCLA is angling for at least a sixth-place finish to avoid facing No. 1 Stanford or Arizona in the first round of the eight-team Pac-10 tournament. The Bruins already lost to both those teams. USC would win a tiebreaker against the Bruins because of beating higher seeded Arizona."We are not in the Pac-10 tournament. Now we have to go on the road against Oregon and win," Howland said.Errick Craven's jumper to win the game for USC was short at the regulation buzzer. The Bruins dominated the start of the five-minute overtime. Freshman Trevor Ariza, who tied his career high with 24 points, scored their first five points for a 70-65 lead.Cedric Bozeman scored on a wide-open drive and T.J. Cummings hit a basket for a 74-69 lead. Farmer turned the ball over on a bad pass to Jeff McMillan, but he quickly redeemed himself.After Errick Craven and Rory O'Neil missed on the same possession, Farmer grabbed the rebound and launched a 3-pointer that drew USC within two. Cummings scored over O'Neil for a 76-72 lead. Cummings finished with 14 points.Then Farmer hit another 3-pointer and scored a layin over Thompson to give USC its first lead of overtime, 77-76 with 27 seconds left. Farmer's momentum carried him to the floor. He got up bumped chests with Errick Craven as USC's fans cheered wildly. Thompson fouled Farmer on the play and he made the free throw for a 78-76 lead.Thompson missed a 3-pointer, but the Bruins got him the rebound. He went up, missed and collided with USC's Nick Curtis, who committed the foul at the buzzer. After the officials reviewed the play, they put five-tenths of a second back on the clock and sent Thompson to the line. He missed the first and USC called a timeout. Thompson made the second free throw, then time expired.Ahead eight points at halftime, the Trojans stunned the Bruins by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to open the second half. O'Neil, Farmer and Derrick Craven combined on the long-range baskets that gave USC its largest lead of the game, 47-32.UCLA briefly recovered with an 8-0 run that drew the Bruins within six points with 12:41 remaining. Hollins was on the bench with four fouls when his backup, Michael Fey, scored four points in the spurt.USC pushed its lead back to 10 points when McMillan tipped in Farmer's miss and Lodrick Stewart scored on consecutive layins with 10:03 remaining.USC's lead ranged from four to six points for much of the final seven minutes until Ariza stole the ball from O'Neil at midcourt and fed Thompson to get UCLA to 65-63. McMillan lost Errick Craven's pass out of bounds on the baseline, then Hollins tied the game at 65 on a turnaround jumper with 1:33 remaining.After a timeout, Hollins missed in the lane. Farmer's 3-point attempt sailed over the basket, then Ariza whipped a pass inside, attempting to hit Bozeman, but it flew out of bounds with five seconds left. Then Errick Craven missed to force overtime.