Los Angeles native Askia Booker had quite the homecoming on Thursday night at the Galen Center in quite an amazing college basketball game. The senior point guard scored 43 points, as his Colorado Buffaloes outlasted the USC Trojans 98-94 in triple overtime. Booker one-upped his fellow LA native Katin Reinhardt, who led USC with a career-high 35 points, but fouled out in the third overtime.
Down by three points with 10 seconds left after a clutch jumper by Booker, USC went for the quick two and Jordan McLaughlin missed a layup from point blank range. It was McLaughlin's 5-of-12 performance from the free throw line that really cost the Trojans, though.
Booker didn't score until there was 6:28 left in the first half, but he poured in the next 10 points for the Buffs and was unstoppable from there. He finished 13-of-23 on the night, 4-of-10 from long range, and 13-of-15 from the free throw line.
Reinhardt was on fire from behind the arc all night, as he hit 9-of-18 three-point attempts and was 12-of-27 overall. Despite that, it was his fifth foul in the final minutes of the third overtime that left him incredulous on the bench. Nikola Jovanovic had 30 points and nine rebounds for USC on 11-of-17 shooting. The sophomore center was 8-of-9 from the line.
The Trojans built a 10-point lead in the first half, but Booker's hot shooting brought the Buffaloes back within a point (38-37) at the break. Colorado turned the tables in the second and went up by as many as 11 at 61-50 with 8:26 to go. The Trojans went on a 16-5 run to close regulation and Colorado did not make a field goal in the final 10:13, but USC was unable to close it out. McLaughlin lost the ball as he went up for a layup to win the game.
In the first overtime, Xavier Johnson knocked down a clutch three with 31 seconds remaining and McLaughlin's floater in the lane rimmed out for USC as time expired. The Trojans looked like they had the game in hand in the second overtime after Reinhardt knocked down his ninth three-pointer with 2:03 left to put USC up 81-76. Booker didn't back down, though, as he immediately responded with a three of his own and a pair of free throws to tie it. A missed free throw by Jovanovic following a potential three-point play was followed by a tough Booker floater with nine seconds left to send the contest to the decisive triple overtime.
Reinhardt fouled out with 3:41 to go when he unnecessarily climbed over the back of Tory Miller after a missed free throw by McLaughlin. USC had been improving its foul shooting as of late, but went just 23-of-35 (65.7 percent), while Colorado was 30-of-42 (71.4 percent). Reinhardt was the only player to make a three-pointer for USC.
Colorado improves to 11-9 overall and 4-4 in Pac-12 play. The loss was the fifth straight for USC, as they fell to 9-11 and 1-7.