In a tale of two halves, USC sophomore guard Elijah Weaver gave the Trojans life when the game was on the line in the closing seconds.
Weaver drained a clutch three-pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and Southern California rallied to overcome a 21-point second-half deficit in route to an 82-78 victory over Stanford Cardinal on Saturday at the Galen Center.
“It’s time to win,” said Weaver on his clutch shot, as he finished with 13 points. “It’s time to be clutch. You got to make big plays in big games. An opportunity to score.”
The Trojans trailed 69-64 with 33 seconds remaining in regulation, but the entire game changed in a matter of two possessions late.
Oneyka Okongwu converted a layup with 11 seconds remaining, followed by a turnover on the inbound pass by Stanford’s Daejon Davis. Weaver took one dribble, pulled up off-balance behind the three-point line and buried the huge shot while getting fouled by Davis on the play. Weaver then missed the free throw that could have ended the game for the Trojans, which instead resulted in overtime.
“Just have a short memory and keep playing,” Weaver said, adding on the confidence mentality and the importance of taking over first place in the conference. “We’ll take this game for what it is, a big win, and build off of it. Being No. 1 in anything is big.”
“In the first half, we didn’t play smart or together,” said Okongwu, who had 22 points and nine rebounds. “After halftime, we played with more heart. We all had the same mindset, play harder, smarter and with more toughness.”
Senior guard Jonah Mathews scored 19 points and freshman guard Ethan Anderson added 11 as the Trojans (15-3, 3-1 Pac-12 Conference) gave the Cardinal (15-3, 4-1) their first conference loss of the season.
Talk about clutch- Elijah Weaver drains a three while being fouled in the closing seconds. OT coming with the score at 69-69. pic.twitter.com/33BWr3jKPA
— Jarred Davis (@Jarreddaviss) January 19, 2020
Junior forward Oscar da Silva scored 21 points, while freshman Spencer Jones and Tyrell Terry added 18 and 16, respectively for Stanford.
USC trailed 45-25 at halftime and knew energy was lacking against a team that was ready to fully take advantage of it.
“I used my dad’s deep voice at halftime,” USC Head Coach Andy Enfield said. “I yelled very loud and they responded. We beat a very good team. We came out with energy. We had missed so many close shots in the first half and they made shots. Some of the first half was them, but a lot was us.”
Southern California surely did respond and opened the second half with a 15-2 run to cut the deficit to single digits at 48-40. However, Stanford then responded with a 9-2 run of its own, to give the Cardinal a 57-42 advantage midway through the second half.
The Trojans stayed resilient and took advantage of forcing the Cardinal into 17 turnovers and winning the rebound margin (38-31).
“After the halftime speech we got from coach, it was time to lock in and play,” Weaver said. “One hundred percent that’s what it was; it was our defense.”
Anderson capped another 18-5 run for USC after converting a layup with 4:47 remaining. Minutes later, Mathews made back-to-back jumpers to keep things close for the Trojans and Weaver and Okongwu took over from that point on.
USC outscored Stanford 13-9 in overtime and picked up their fourth conference win of the season, resulting in a tough 82-78 win. The Trojans ultimately converted 27 of 36 attempts from the free-throw line, while Stanford went 8 of 14.
“We work on free throws every day after practice, being aggressive and getting to the free throw line is what we preach a lot,” said Weaver, who had eight of his 13 points in overtime.
Southern California will face No. 12 Oregon Ducks on Thursday at 8:00 PM and the Oregon State Beavers at 2:00 PM on Saturday.