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USC falls apart at end and loses to Washington State

Just as it appeared USC had turned a corner on offense, the Trojans ran into a crimson wall in a 72-64 loss to Washington State on Wednesday at Galen Center.

Coming off a home sweep of California and Stanford during which the Trojans (8-8, 2-3 Pac-12) shot 50.4% from the field, USC went scoreless for the final 2 minutes 16 seconds against the Cougars to squander an opportunity for its first three-game winning streak.

After Harrison Hornery’s three-pointer put the Trojans up by one, Washington State finished the game with nine unanswered points. The Cougars were led by Isaac Jones’ 26 points and 11 rebounds.

Fifth-year guard Boogie Ellis led the Trojans with 18 points and five rebounds and freshman Isaiah Collier had 12 points and three rebounds but four turnovers to just one assist.

Joshua Morgan was out because of an upper respiratory infection. The redshirt senior moved back into the starting lineup last weekend as coach Andy Enfield called him the team’s best defensive post player.

The 6-foot-11 forward‘s absence left a gaping hole in USC’s defense. Sophomore Vincent Iwuchukwu started in his place and got bullied by Washington State’s post players. Freshman Rueben Chinyelu made consecutive hook shots over Iwuchuwku early in the second half and as he ran back on defense, Washington State‘s 6-11 center signaled the 7-1 Iwuchukwu was too small by holding his hand close to the court.

After they sliced up Cal and Stanford last weekend, the Trojans slogged through an ugly first half against Washington State’s stout defense. The Cougars, who entered the game as the conference’s second-best defense by holding opponents to 40% shooting, lulled the Trojans into 32.3% shooting in the first half. USC labored through a one-for-13 slump.

Despite USC’s shooting woes, the Cougars, plagued by nine turnovers, could muster only a one-point halftime lead. Washington State pulled ahead on a buzzer-beating layup by junior Jaylen Wells, who finished with 17 points.

USC made 37.9% of its shots, its second-worst shooting night of the season. The Trojans had shot worse than 40% only once, a 28.8% stinker in their loss to UC Irvine.

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