In the third game at home for the USC Trojans, they played host to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, beating them 88-63. It is the second time the two schools have played, the first time was another USC win back in December of 2010.
USC took the lead at the 18:46 mark early in the first half and led the entire way, never struggling with the Hawks, despite a late push from Lehigh before halftime to try and keep the game tight.
It was all Jonah Matthews and Chimezie Metu early, with the pair combining for 18 points in the first half. It was a nice one two punch of Metu in the paint -he also had two jams in the first half- with Matthews perimeter shooting and speed. Elijah Stewart also knocked down a pair of of down two shots to really spread the floor for the Trojans.
Lehigh had real trouble defending the perimeter while getting a handle on Metu in the paint and it should with the 18 point lead the Trojans had at the 8:16 mark. The Hawks had equally as much trouble trying to match the perimeter attack on their own end, shooting a dismal 25 percent from deep. However, with 6:47 left in the first half, Kahron Ross made a big push to keep the Hawks in the game, putting up 13 of his 24 points in the end of the half to keep the Hawks within 10.
In the second, the entire starting five closed out the game with a strong showing, as Bennie Boatwright, Matthews and Stewart attacked from deep to really start pulling away. As a team, the Trojans shot 47.1 percent from the field and 46.2 from three. The bench also had a stronger showing, posting 18 points in a solid support roll to finish off the game.
Boatwright led the team with 19 points and 11 rebounds in his double double, while Matthews was hot on his heels with 18 points and seven boards. Metu was a little quieter in the second half but finished with 13 points and was a force around the rim with nine rebounds and two blocks, adding four of the team’s nine dunks. The dunk show highlighted what was a dominating performance from USC in the 88-63 victory.
Three Digestible Nuggets
- Stewart shot six of his 10 shots from three point land, knocking in five. This offense works really well when Stewart is doing the heavy amount of his work from outside. In his most successful season -last season- he averaged 5.6 shots from deep per game. This year he has taken a step back, only averaging 2.7 deep shots through the first three games. Stewart shooting at least six times from range is the way to really open up the court for Metu and Boatwright down low.
- Free throws were the concerning part of the game. USC only shot 62.5 percent from the charity stripe, but what is more concerning is that the starters only took nine of a meager 16 free throws. Boatwright and Metu were the only starters that made it to the line. All those numbers should be improved over the next few games.
- Of the three guards that start for USC, Jordan McLaughlin is usually the primary play maker, but had a quiet night with only five points. It is encouraging that not only were the Trojans fine without the guard posting double digit points, but also because he found other ways to make a difference. He finished with seven assists, four rebounds and snagged three steals. This team has good players that can make a difference without putting up big scoring numbers. Good to see from one of the studs.