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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Isaiah Mobley, Chavez Goodwin rally USC in front of Oregon State

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LOS ANGELES – When Isaiah Mobley returned for his junior season at USC, there was a sense that he would have more responsibilities this year. He was the Trojans’ best player, and the team would rely on him to carry him through adversity.

Mobley shook off early offensive struggles to score six straight points for the Trojans in crunch time on Thursday night. His run to the post-up converted the Oregon State lead with two minutes to a five-point USC advantage.

That spark helped keep fifth-ranked USC away from the Beavers, 81-71, and avoid its second straight loss.

“He took it upon himself,” said USC coach Andy Enfield. “We need such effort and leadership from him,” he said. He has really grown into a player. Even though he fought aggressively for the first 35-36 minutes, he went big when it mattered most.

It was another rocky start for USC (14-1 on aggregate, 4-1 in Pac-12) on the defensive side of the ball after Tuesday’s loss at Stanford. The Beavers made four of their first five shots and took an early 14-7 lead. The Beavers shot 66.7% from 3-point range in the first half and 57.7% overall, nine behind Jarrod Lucas by 16 points.

Defensive issues were compounded by USC playing out of character on offense. USC made 15 attempts from 3-point range in the first half and managed only 12 points in the paint, an area usually dominated by long Trojans. Anfield also turned to freshman Kobe Johnson for a few opening minutes, looking for a spark, to no avail.

But eight Oregon State turnovers put USC within striking distance. The Trojans equalized the scores of back-to-back assists by Drew Peterson in the half with 1:22.

The Beavers (3-12, 1-4) reacted early, however, as Lucas hit his fourth 3-pointer and Warith Altish blocked the boogie Ellis layup to give Oregon State a five-point halftime lead. Changed it to a transition layout.

This increased to 10 in the second half before the USC defense closed, placing Oregon State on 33.3% shooting in the second half.

“I thought we did a better job of challenging their shooters a little earlier, at a higher level and then trying to rebound the ball,” Anfield said.

The offense still needed some leap starts, and forward Chavez Goodwin was more than happy to oblige.

His back-to-back second-chance was the bucket, a dunk followed by a roar that reduced the deficit to five. Then a Petersen jumper gave USC its first lead with 10:31, Goodwin blushed after completing a lay-up via a foul.

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