In a tight matchup that required two overtimes, the USC men’s basketball team was unable to take advantage of 19 Nebraska turnovers and two late leads, falling 64-61 to the Cornhuskers on Monday night at Galen Center.
Though USC (1-1) led 49-45 with just under a minute remaining in regulation, a Nebraska field goal and free throws on consecutive possessions, knotted the score at 49. Sophomore center Dewayne Dedmon missed a 15-footer on the final posession of regulation and the game went into overtime.
Holding a 52-49 lead with one minute remaining in the first overtime, Nebraska guard Bo Spencer drilled a 3-pointer with a little more than 40 seconds left to tie the game at 52.
On the next possession, sophomore guard Maurice Jones, off a Dedmon screen, wormed his way to the basket for a layup to give USC a 54-52 lead with 6.5 seconds remaining. But on the next possession, freshman guard Alexis Moore fouled Nebraska’s Toney McCray with 2.8 seconds remaining. McCray made both free throws, thus bringing the game to a second overtime after a missed desperation three-point attempt from Jones.
Freshman guard Byron Wesley opened the second overtime with a breakaway layup, but Nebraska quickly answered, bringing the score to 56-56. after a Dedmon goaltending call, Nebraska jumped ahead 58-56. Nebraska guard Brandon Richardson — the team’s returning leading scorer from last season — made his fourth three-point field goal, affording the Cornhuskers a five-point lead from which USC would never recover.
For the second straight game, senior guard Eric Strangis opened the scoring for the Trojans, drilling a 3-pointer — the Trojans’ first 3-point field goal of the season following a 0-15 shooting effort from beyond the arc against Cal State Northridge.
USC exchanged baskets with Nebraska throughout the first half, drawing even at various points but never pulling ahead of the Cornhuskers after an early lead. Dedmon had to exit the first half early for the second straight game because of foul trouble and managed just four points.
Moore answered USC coach Kevin O’Neill’s challenge to improve his play, as the Long Beach Poly graduate led all USC players in the first half with eight points, including both of his 3-point attempts. Moore, however, would not score again until converting a 3-point attempt with 45 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
After a dead-even first half where Nebraska led 25-23, Jones began the second half with an aggressive drive to the basket, laying the ball in for his second field goal of the contest, while also drawing a foul. after that basket, the USC offense stalled, as the Cornhuskers went on a 13-5 run to build a 38-31 lead.
When it appeared Nebraska was pulling away, Jones took control scoring 16 of his 18 points.