Basketball fans at the University of Southern California were promised an exciting style of play. After the thunderous performance put on by Florida Gulf Coast University in its trek as a No. 15 seed to the Sweet Sixteen of last year’s NCAA Tournament, Andy Enfield, the team’s coach, inked a deal to coach at the Los Angeles-area institution. Three freshmen started for the Trojans against a struggling Boston College team with the start of its conference schedule imminent.
Enfield’s dunk-based offense crushed BC, as most of the Eagles’ issues have come down low. Entering Sunday night’s matchup against USC, though, BC’s rebounding was improving. After starting the season by getting trounced on the boards by a combined margin of 42 rebounds in their first four games, the Eagles bounced back to beat Connecticut, Washington, and Sacred Heart on the glass. While Purdue had the Eagles’ number on the boards in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup, it was only by a margin of two. Against USC, the Eagles were slaughtered in the paint, losing the battle to the Trojans 44-27.
The Trojans were energetic and physical. As if dominating BC under the rim was not enough, the home side would send the Eagles on a lengthy flight back to Boston, dunking on the visitors three times in the final 51 seconds of the game to close out a 78-62 victory.
It took an 11-point, 5-rebound performance from KC Caudill to keep the Eagles within reach of the hosts, who pulled away late.
Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon got the Eagles off to a quick start. A few 3-pointers from the junior and sophomore contributed to the 11-4 lead the team took in the game’s opening 4:30. The Eagles maintained their advantage through an Eddie Odio triple, which made it 16-9.
USC began to win the battle in the paint, taking it to BC down low for the remainder of the half. After Odio’s three, the Trojans scored 16 of their next 18 points in the key. The two exceptions came from free throws.
In that span, an Omar Oraby layup, which was assisted by Byron Wesley tied the game at 20 with 9:38 remaining in the half. BC responded through Caudill, who assisted a Lonnie Jackson three, before knocking down a jumper to put BC back up by five.
Jackson’s three was countered by a 7-0 run from the Trojans that stretched over five minutes nearing the end of the first half. Even though Olivier Hanlan would score three of his six points to stop the bleeding and give BC the lead back, a Pe’Shon Howard shot from behind the arc gave the home team a 28-27 lead that BC would never overcome. Even though Rahon’s layup with three seconds left in the period leveled the teams 32-32 at halftime, USC would open the second half with a three from Wesley and not look back.
Rahon tallied a career-high nine assists on the night, one more than his previous record, which came last season against Harvard.
Freshman forward Nikola Jovanovic then dropped a layup to put USC further ahead, before a three from Jackson cut the USC lead to two. Julian Jacobs, who led all scorers with 16 points, knocked down a three of his own to make it 43-35 just moments after.
Jacobs, who also had eight boards and five assists, was one of the five USC starters to finish the night scoring in double digits.
The Trojans pulled away from the Eagles with ease, though. Caudill hit a free throw to make it a 45-40 game with 14:53 left, but that was as close as his team would come for the rest of the night.
A Jacobs jam 6:57 from the end of regulation gave USC a double-digit edge.
USC finished the night by holding off the Eagles before its trio of slams provided an appropriate knockout punch.