LOS ANGELES, CA- Despite six 3-pointers and 22 points from Cal State Bakersfield redshirt senior forward Damiyne Durham, USC survived the Roadrunners, 90-75, behind 22 points and 9 rebounds from sophomore forward Jordan Usher.
USC head coach Andy Enfield said, “[Usher] played a great game. He had a lot of energy. His rebounding was terrific.” Usher added, “I just waited my turn and took advantage of my opportunity.”
Trojan freshman Kevin Porter Jr. (14.0 PPG) missed Saturday afternoon’s action with a right quad contusion. Redshirt junior point guard Derryck Thornton was also out with a sprained ankle. Both players are day-to-day.
“I’m tired,” Boatwright said, after playing a total of 38 minutes and scoring 19 points in just his sixth game back from last year’s season-ending knee injury.
Boatwright also contributed eight rebounds for the Trojans. Junior guard Jonah Mathews added 13 points and shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Redshirt senior Shaqquan Aaron scored 18.
Redshirt sophomore forward Greg Lee posted 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Cal State Bakersfield. Senior guard Rickey Holden scored 10 points and dished out four assists.
“I thought we played hard, I thought we defended,” CSU Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes said.
Kevin McNeal cut and slammed the ball down with two hands to give CSU Bakersfield a one-point lead with 7:47 left. USC freshman guard Elijah Weaver and Usher combined for five fast points to shift momentum. Boatwright swished two 3-pointers with under three minutes left to give USC a 13-point advantage and effectively seal a Trojan victory.
“When the ball has energy, it’s hard to miss. We had fun with it, started smiling and playing like USC’s supposed to play,” Usher said.
USC improves to 4-2 overall and 3-1 at home. CSU Bakersfield drops to 3-3 overall, 0-2 on the road.
CSU Bakersfield made three straight 3-pointers to open the second half and extend their lead to 57-51, less than five minutes into the period. Aaron fired right back for the Trojans, scoring five consecutive points. Durham hit his fifth and sixth 3-pointers to keep CSU Bakersfield ahead, 65-61 with just over 11 minutes remaining.
After an Aaron miss, Durham converted a 3-point basket to put CSU ahead 34-32. Durham scored seven points, including a transition layup and right corner jump shot, throughout the final three minutes of the first half. CSU Bakersfield took a 46-44 lead into halftime, led by Durham (16 points on 6-of-8 shooting) and Lee (12 points and 5 rebounds). Usher poured in 13 first-half points for USC.
Lee hit two straight 3-point baskets in the game’s first four minutes. CSU Bakersfield jumped out to an 8-4 advantage.
Boatwright said, “We came out slow. It’s something we need to get better at.”
Usher scored six quick points in his first four minutes off the bench for USC and led the Trojans back in front, 16-15. Aaron and Boatwright nailed pairs of free throws. Matthews followed by netting a 3-pointer to give USC a 22-15 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the first half.
“It was a good overall team win with a short-handed roster,” Enfield said.
USC shot 55.8 percent from the field and over 45 percent from 3-point range. CSU Bakersfield outrebounded the Trojans, 38-31, but committed 14 turnovers.
CSU Bakersfield travels to South Dakota next up, followed by a home matchup with California Merced (Dec. 4). USC battles Cal State Long Beach on Wednesday (Nov. 28) before hosting No. 6 Nevada next Saturday (Dec. 1).
Blake Atwell is a multimedia journalist and sophomore at Santa Monica College.