Los Angeles, CA — What a great night for college men’s basketball.
The USC Trojans went head-to-head with the Long Beach State 49ers Wednesday night in hopes of having yet another blowout win, but Long Beach State had other plans.
The first couple minutes of the opening half appeared uneventful and monotonous as both teams missed shots and had multiple turnovers. The Trojans and Long Beach were tiptoeing around each other, but it was USC who made the first move when forward Nick Rakocevic dunked, creating a two-point lead. A few possessions later, the 49ers’ Rod Freeman hit a jumper to take back the early lead to go up 5-4 over USC.
The Trojans trailed behind by three for the second time in six minutes, but Derryck Thornton came in the clutch and assisted Elijah Weaver on a three to tie up the game. From there though, the two teams quickly picked up their momentum.
USC took control of the court when they scored five consecutive shots, creating their largest lead with a nine-point difference. Long Beach knew it was time to change the game and crept back up the scoreboard to lower the lead by six points.
It was a back and forth battle between the Trojans and 49ers. Right when USC grabbed a five-point lead, Long Beach State would say, “not today,” and turn their game around to decrease its deficit to only a one-point difference.
Within the last couple of minutes of the first half, Long Beach State gained the confidence to shake USC, but they still appeared hesitant and needed to make more of their shots. Due to the doubtfulness, the Trojans entered halftime with the lead, 36-28 after Shaqquan Aaron hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer.
Unlike in the first half when USC made the first shot, the 49ers came out strong and ready to conquer. Timidayo Yussuf made the first two of the second half, but the Trojans were quick with its swiftness and put Long Beach back in its place after a quick 5-0 run to push its lead to double digits, 42-32.
With a much better offensive flow, the Trojans had its biggest lead of the night, 47-33. It looked as if USC was going to pull away, but, Freeman sparked Long Beach State to go on another run and once again cut into the Trojan’s lead.
Despite the 49ers refusal to quit, Long Beach State couldn’t get over the hump. USC continued to find an answer to score whenever the 49ers threatened to take the lead. Free-throws down the stretch played a big part for the Trojans as multiple players drilled their shots to bring home the 75-65 victory.
“We struggled offensively tonight because we didn’t share the ball early, we missed a lot of layups, a lot of open jump shots,” stated USC’s head coach Andy Enfield after the game. “When you do that, you end up with 75 points, which is not terrible but we would’ve been happy with an 85 game.”
The Trojans will have a couple days to improve on Enfield’s points and aim to hit 85-points on Saturday, Dec. 1 against Nevada. Long Beach State will look to bounce back the same day against San Diego.