LOS ANGELES – The USC men’s basketball team shows how much a difference a year makes, grinding out a 101-90 victory over the Monmouth Hawks. Head coach Andy Enfield talked about the squad’s improvement over a year ago after USC’s win.
“Last year we would have lost a game like this,” Enfield said.
So Trojans fans getting ready for a action packed season filled with potential victories. In the battle of the early season unbeatens, Monmouth looked to steal another victory on their west coast road trip. The Hawks already upset the UCLA Bruins on Friday, Nov. 13, and the Galen Center was in their sights.
Head coach King Rice of the Monmouth Hawks had his team ready to show the big boys they can play too. The Trojans looked to have the Hawks number in the first ten minutes of the game, holding as much as a 15-point lead. Then Rice and his team made the right adjustments and started to get hot.
The biggest adjustment was typo and getting the ball down the court fast and really pushing the pace. The Hawks looked more comfortable with the up tempo play and their shots started to fall. USC made a few more runs, hitting key three-pointers to keep the lead going into the half. The damage was done by then as the Hawks had caught up to the Trojans, narrowing the lead to only one point, 47-46, at the half.
In the second half it was a back and forth battle as the Hawks looked to close in and be one game closer to the programs’ 900th win in history, currently holding at 898. But the Trojans were not going to let that happen on their watch. Trojan Elijah Stewart (20 points) hit a key three pointer to put USC up 82-78 with 4:11 left in game.
But Monmouth four-guard set with one center still would go away.
Monmouth’s big men complimented their guards well but the points off turnover didn’t go in their favor as did against the Bruins. Justin Robinson was the Hawks leading scorer with 28 points, followed by Deon Jones with 20 points. Jones played big during game as tall guard or as a physical big in the paint.
King will be please with the West Coast split before travel to Drexel in Philadelphia.
The final knockout was started by game leader Jordan McLaughlin (22 points), who hit the first of back- to-back three pointers followed by Stewart and 90-82 lead with 2:27 left was just the break the Trojans needed to get little space and the victory. The Trojans will rest up and be ready to host New Mexico in five days back at the Galen Center.