In a straight up trade, almost anyone would take Onyeka Okongwu for Isaac Bonton. However, the absence of the latter seemed to have a much bigger impact in USC’s 70-51 win over WSU on Saturday night. The Cougs struggled to put the ball in the basket without their injured point guard, while USC was able to best its per-possession output from the two teams’ first meeting without Okongwu.
In his absence, Daniel Utomi stepped up to lead USC with 23 points on 8-15 shooting, including 5-10 on 3s. WSU’s CJ Elleby nearly matched him with 22 points, but 18 shots, eight free throws, and five turnovers to get there.
WSU needed its 3-pointers to fall to have a chance, but it could hit just 4-28 from downtown. USC, on the other hand, made 9-18 from deep, ensuring WSU’s key strength was not only neutralized but turned into a Trojan advantage. ‘
Outside of Elleby, few Cougs could even find a look. Noah Williams was the only other Wazzu player in double figures—scoring 10 on 4-13 from the floor.
The early moments of the game told a much different story that the outcome—3s from Jervae Robinson and Elleby sandwiched a Jeff Pollard to give WSU an 8-0 lead and force an early USC timeout.
After a 10-2 run from USC brought the game closer, the Trojans would eventually go ahead for good at 21-19 with five minutes to play in the first half. That started an 11-2 stretch that put WSU in a nine-point halftime deficit. An opening second-half bucket from Williams would cut the lead to seven, but the Cougs would get no closer the rest of the way.
The loss drops Washington State to 14-12, 5-8 in conference play. USC sweeps the Cougs and weekend to reach 8-5 in Pac-12 games and 19-7 overall. WSU will hit the court again in Beasley Coliseum on Wednesday against the Cal Bears.