LOS ANGELES – At times, it seemed that USC had let loose and were ready to avenge their loss to Stanford. When it overtook Stanford to take the lead late in the first half. When it kept the Cardinal at bay for most of the time. Even after the Cardinal took the lead, Drew Peterson scored a 3-pointer from the corner and leveled the score with 55 seconds to spare.
But a quick layoff by Harrison Ingram put USC back in the hole. When Trojan forward Isaiah Mobley was fouled after an offensive rebound, it was about to come down to a USC free throw.
Mobley made the first, but Stanford coach Jerrod Haase called Mobley a timeout before second to finish it. Junior’s second attempt bounced off the back of the rim, and USC had no choice but to foul.
Two Stanford free throws, a stumble by Peterson and a long Mobley 3-point miss from behind the rim, and USC lost to Stanford in 64-61 for the second time this season.
Peterson led USC with 14 points, while Mobley added nine and a career-high nine assists. Jaden Delaire led the Cardinals with 14.
For the second straight game, USC needed about 12 minutes to play in form. Stanford hit his first five 3-point attempts and grabbed 12 of the first 15 rebounds to take as big a lead as nine.
But in the last minutes of the half, the Trojans found a new gear again. Down to seven, a Stanford shot-clock violation, with six minutes remaining before halftime, was given a third chance by Kobe Johnson.
The freshman guard, who has earned a bigger and bigger role of late, steals the ball to the opposite end to set up a transition 3-pointer by Boogie Ellis. Drew Peterson made it back-to-back 3-pointers to give USC the first lead of the game at 27-26, with 4:31 left in the first.
All told, USC went 15-0 as Stanford missed 12 shots in a row. Crucially, USC grabbed 10 of the last 13 rebounds of the half to take control of the game and give the Cardinals no more second chance points.
But the game didn’t follow the same script as the Trojans’ Monday win against Arizona State after the Sun Devils went quiet in the second half. The Cardinal scored the first six points from the locker room to tie the game and told USC it was up to the fight.
As disappointing as the loss was for USC, it could have been worse.
Down by one and just under five minutes, Ellis took the baseline down and went up for the Tomahawk dunk. The effort bounced off the rim, but even worse, Ellis fell on the court and stalled at the bottom, reaching for his right knee as the instructor approached him.
As Ellis ran away, there were four other Trojans still standing on the court, hands on their hips, as they looked at the transfer guard on the floor. Alice was able to help herself up and get into the tunnel.
But at the end of the next time, Ellis returned to finish the game.