By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
In front of a sold-out crowd at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California, the 19-11 UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team came across town to take on the 21-9 USC Trojans in a Saturday afternoon matinee. In this the final game of the regular season, the Bruins came in with a Conference record of 12-5 and winning 8 of their last 10 games while the Trojans boast a conference record of 10-7 and 5-5 in their final 10 games.
Current member of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and former Trojan Adoree Jackson was chosen to ring the bell, to kick off the game and get the Trojans home crowd excited about this game. The Bruins took an early lead, though the Trojans came back in short order to grab the lead modest lead.
As the exchanged hands a few times, just past the midpoint in the game the Trojans maintain a 4 lead. On the back of Forward Oneyeka Okongwu 3 for 4 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 1 block. Redshirt Freshmen Guard Tyger Campbell The Bruins were able to tie the game up on a three-pointer. Though Okongwu gave the Trojans the lead 24-22 going into the Half on their final score of the half.
Wisely the Trojans continue to feed Okongwu as he scores 6 points on their straight buckets to start the second half. The refs have removed themselves from this game and allowed the teams to play through a lot of contact in this game. Turnovers and missed shots have permeated this low scoring game midway through the second half as the Trojans lead by four 33-38.
Senior Jonah Matthews hits his tenth, eleventh, and twelfth point on a three-pointer, to give the Trojans a 5-point lead 43-38. This also gave him the record for most three-pointers made in Trojans basketball history at 246. with just over 6:00 minutes remaining in the game.
As points remained a premium in this game, Nick Rakocevic was issued a flagrant 1 foul, giving the Bruins two free throws and the ball with a chance to narrow the Trojans lead. Bruins Jaime Jaquez Jr. Hit the two free throws before the Bruins turning the ball over.
51-48 Trojans heading into the final two minutes of the game. Matthews misses two free throws the keep the Bruins in this game. Bruins Junior Guard Chris Smith made a layup to make it a one-point game with 1:14 remaining. After a questionable charging call, the Bruins had a chance to take the lead before throwing the ball away with 30 seconds on the clock.
This gave the Trojans has a chance to close this game out after that Bruin turnover. However, Okongwu has a chance to extend the Trojans lead at the free-throw line but missed both free throws, once again giving the Bruins a chance to take the lead, this time with under 23 seconds on the clock.
Although the refs did a great job of staying out of the game, they would get busy in the final minute of the game as they called a holding call on the Trojans that sent the Bruins to the free-throw line. Cody Riley calmly went to the line to tie the game up on his first throw.
In an attempt to ice the shooter, Trojans Coach Enfield called a timeout between free throws. During the timeout, he designed a play to put the ball in the hands of their Senior Guard Jonah Mathews. After Cody Riley gave the Bruins a 1-point lead on his second free throw with 9 seconds remaining on the clock. just as he designed it up, the Trojans got the ball in the hands of Jonah who could only think about, “I’m going to make this shot!”
Sure enough, the Bruins tried to switch giving Mathews just enough room to knock down another three leaving one second on the clock. Not only did that three-pointer give the Trojans a 2-point lead, but it also extended his three-point record of the most three-pointers made as a USC Trojan to 247. While at the same time sending their cross-town rivals’ home with a loss before heading into the PAC 12 Championship in addition to capturing the 5 points in the annual Crosstown Cup, All-Sports competition between USC and UCLA.
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