Boogie Ellis and Chevez Goodwin spur No. 5 USC to win over Oregon State

By Ryan Kartje

LOS ANGELES — Returning home was supposed to offer a welcomed respite, a soft, familiar landing spot for USC to pick itself up after falling flat in its first loss of the season.

Instead, the Trojans came home to a cold, empty arena and a cold, lifeless offense.

After its undefeated start unraveled in Palo Alto, USC returned to the same issues against Oregon State that plagued its loss to Stanford, begging questions of whether the Trojans were bound for a bounce-back performance or set to slip even further from the pedestal they’d built over the season’s first two months.

The answer arrived just in the nick of time for an 81-71 victory on Thursday, as Isaiah Mobley maneuvered deftly through a packed lane with three minutes remaining and his back to the hoop, spinning through Beavers defenders on back-to-back possessions for two straight scores, finally giving USC the breathing room it needed.

USC’s leading scorer had been quiet all throughout the Trojans’ narrow, comeback victory, scoring just seven points before the final three minutes. Until Mobley took matters into his own hands, USC had scrounged together a group effort as best it could, trading roles throughout. Boogie Ellis, who finished with 14, kept the Trojans afloat early. Chevez Goodwin, who tallied his second double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds, kept them alive late.

Until Mobley put them away late, it was a reenergized defensive effort down the stretch that saw USC climb back into a game that it once trailed by double digits. After a Beavers barrage from the perimeter early on, USC’s defense kept them completely at bay in the second, as Oregon State shot just 33% from the field after halftime.

That’s when USC finally started to find its stride, before finishing on an 11-0 run.

For the Trojans, it was a crucial finish after a difficult final few minutes against Stanford did them in just two nights earlier.

USC picked up Thursday right where it left off two days earlier, with the familiar clank of missed free throws. It was an ominous way to open for the Trojans, who missed 10 second-half free throws at Stanford two days earlier, only to miss its first two against Oregon State.

The situation only grew more grave from there, as the Beavers, one of the Pac-12’s worst teams through the first two months of the season, caught fire out of the gate. They hit five of their first six shots before coach Andy Enfield was forced to call a timeout less than three minutes into the game.

Even as the Trojans regrouped briefly, Oregon State refused to relent, hitting 58% of its shots in the first half while keeping USC at arm’s length. It torched the Trojans from long range and outworked USC on the glass, where the Trojans had been one of the best teams in the Pac-12. Jarod Lucas, the Beavers’ leading scorer, finished with 27 points.

Point guard Ellis did his best to buoy USC early, scoring 10 in the first half to build on his hot streak since the team’s COVID pause. But his offensive onslaught was overshadowed by Lucas, who hit four three-pointers, on his way to 16 first-half points.

As Oregon State clung to a lead through the half, USC looked little like the dominant defensive team that, just a week earlier, won its 13th straight and rose to No. 5.

Since, the Trojans had looked largely out of sorts. It took a scare from one of the Pac-12’s worst teams for USC to find its form just in time on Thursday.


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