Finally, WSU got the second half burst they desired.
Too bad it was too little, too late.
Despite a 17-4 run capped with under ten minutes to play, WSU was unable to overcome an eight point halftime deficit against USC. The Cougars (13-13, 5-9 Pac-10) fell to the Trojans (16-9, 7-6), and fell to a .500 overall record for the first time this season.
Taylor Rochestie led the way for the Cougars with 16 points, and Caleb Forrest chipped in 12. Wazzu leading scorer Klay Thompson had a difficult game in his return home to Southern California, making only 2 of 13 baskets, including 1 of 6 from three-point range.
The Cougars as a team struggled mightily from behind the arc, connecting on only 2 of 18 attempts. USC made 2 of 3, and was led by Dwight Lewis' game-high 17 points.
USC opened up the game with a 21-8 run. WSU closed to within eight at halftime, and followed up with their 17-4 run to bring the game back within one point, at 45-44. But a missed Taylor Rochestie shot and a quick bucket by Dwight Lewis gave the Trojans a three point lead, and they never looked back. USC closed the game on a 16-7 run.
WSU lost any hope of achieving a winning record in Pac-10 regular season play, losing their ninth conference contest. The Cougars must now face four remaining games against teams currently residing in the top half of the conference standings.
Player of the Game: Reluctantly, I give it to Rochestie. 16 points (6/13, 1/6), 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 turnover. I hesitate to give him the award, only because when the Cougars had a chance to take the lead, Rochestie threw up a horrible shot early in the shot clock. USC was able to quickly set up their offense and score on the other end, and the Cougars never really got back in it. A dark spot in an otherwise decent night for the Cougar point guard.
Play of the Game: Due to the quality of the streaming feed (and not finding a feed in the first half), I missed quite a few plays. But the best of what I saw was a Rochestie-to-Koprivica transition lay-up that ignited the bench and cut USC's lead to 41-37.
Unsung hero: DeAngelo Casto, for providing sparks of offense (7 points), and notching some key boards and blocks. Casto will have a legitimate shot at breaking the all-time WSU freshman record for blocks in a season.
It was over when... Klay Thompson missed a long range three-pointer with the Cougs down 57-51 and 2:25 remaining.
Stat of the Game: USC outrebounded the Cougars 35-24, including a 10-5 advantage on the offensive glass.