USC pulls off a quality road win to kick off conference play, defeating the Washington State Cougars 65-56 in Pullman. The Trojans came in with an 11-2 record and riding a 5 game winning streak. Tonight they looked to make it 6 straight and starting their Washington road trip off right.
The Trojans started the game off quickly and took as much as a 20-9 lead early in the first half. Once the Cougars found their groove, they managed to battle back and keep the game from getting out of hand early. Washington State rode a 8-1 run to trim USC’s lead to 5. By the half USC led the game 31-27. The second was was much of the same with USC attempting to pull away and Washington State keeping it close. In the end the Cougars could no longer keep pace with the Trojans.
USC freshman Onyeka Okongwu continued to make waves with another impressive night. The forward scored 27 points with 12 rebounds and 2 blocks. Senior guard Jonah Mathews followed with 10 points on the night.
A key difference in the game was field goal shooting. USC outshot the Cougars 51.1% to 27.8% from the field. Washington State struggled to knock down shots all night. However, USC once again struggled from three point land shooting a dismal 1-7 from the outside. The Trojans also dominated on the glass, out rebounding Washington State 46-39. A large chunk of the rebounds came from Okonngwu (12)and senior forward Nick Rakocevic (10 defensive rebounds).
USC improves to 12-2 with the win over Washington State, their best start since 2016-17 when the team started 14-0. The Trojans also made the NCAA Tournament that season. They also extend their winning streak over the Cougars to 7 consecutive games.
Next up, USC travels to Seattle to face the Washington Huskies. Last season the Huskies defeated the Trojans during their lone regular season match up in Seattle. They met once again in the Pac-12 Tournament where Washington escaped with a 78-75 in Las Vegas. USC’s last victory in Seattle came in 2017 where they defeating Washington 82-74.