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Trojans Surge Past Cougars In The Second Half, Win 72-68

Jeremy Bergman |
February 7, 2013 | 11:49 p.m. PST

Associate Sports Editor


J.T. Terrell provided the burst that the Trojans' offense desperately needed in the second half. (Danny Lee/Neon Tommy)
J.T. Terrell provided the burst that the Trojans' offense desperately needed in the second half. (Danny Lee/Neon Tommy)
Propelled by a sudden second-half surge by the struggling J.T. Terrell and a stellar night for Byron Wesley, the USC Trojans put away the Washington State Cougars at Galen Center, 72-68.

Despite being down at one point in the second half by seven points, the Trojans stormed back quickly with a 13-4 run late in the second half, led by Terrell.

The guard, who was held scoreless in the first half and sat out the first part of the second with three fouls, came in with less than nine minutes to go and immediately made his presence felt. In a five-minute span, Terrell scored 11 points, nine of which were from behind the arc, and gave USC its first lead since 1:34 of the first half. All this before fouling out with 3:23 left in the game. 

"It's great to have a guy like Terrell," head coach Bob Cantu said. "A player who can score just like that. But he's still got to focus on taking only good shots, no bad shots."

But when it came to Wesley, who dropped a season-high 20 points and came down with eight rebounds, Cantu had nothing but praise.

"Byron is a slasher, a scorer and he gets to the basket. He's like a running back the way he plays," Cantu explained. 

Wesley unselfishly admitted that he was happier with his eight rebounds than his point total, an example of his hard work and determination; but he claimed that his team, now 3-3 under Cantu, has to continue to work just as hard.

"We're still adjusting to Cantu's system," he admitted. "Basketball is our life right now and we're putting in extra work."

The Trojans certainly had time to put in any extra work, the beneficiaries of an eight-day layoff since their dramatic and unexpected victory at rival UCLA. 

"We had a lot of practice this week and tried to be competitive," Cantu stressed. "We kept in mind, attack mode, attack mode, attack mode!"

And attack the Trojans did.

The Trojans were hot out of the gate, at one point holding a seven point lead over the Cougars. But Washington State buckled down on defense and finished the first half hot behind DaVonte Lacy, who finished the first twenty minutes with nine points. 

Lacy wasn't neutralized in the second half, finishing with 21 points and going 4-6 from behind the arc. However, the Trojans held their heads high on defense, proud of shutting down open of the Pac-12's top scorers, Brock Motum. 

USC kept the Aussie off the scorecard for nearly all of the first half. Motum, Wazzu's leading scorer and rebounder coming in, had zero boards in the first period and finished the night with a decent, but certainly not dominant, 15 points and three rebounds.

Cantu boasted, "Motum never really got into his flow. We wanted to keep rotating fresh bodies on him and we did that well."

From the Trojans' perspective, it was a rough night for the big men. Dwayne Dedmon finished with four points and ten rebounds, but was in foul trouble for the whole game, forcing Cantu to swap out him and Omar Oraby, who was also struggling with fouls, interchangeably. Adding injury to insult, Dedmon came down with what appeared to be a leg injury in the second half, which was later confirmed to be a cramp. 

But when the centers were in trouble and the offense was losing its flow, the team fell back on Jio Fontan, the game's unsung hero. Fontan finished with a double-double, scoring ten points and a career-high 11 assists. Despite having an off shooting night, Wesley claimed, "Jio is always our floor general, our leader."

And it was down the stretch where Fontan's leadership was most needed and felt. The senior went 8-for-8 from the free throw line, all of which came late in the second half. The Trojans followed his lead and shot 85% from the line in the latter period, salting away the win slowly but surely.  

For Washington State, Mike Ladd finished an impressive night with 16 points and D.J. Shelton compiled a game-high 12 rebounds. 

With the win, the Trojans reach .500 in conference play with a record of 5-5, tying them for fifth in the Pac-12; overall, their record is 10-13. USC will play Washington on Sunday at Galen. The Cougars drop to 2-8 in the Pac-12 and 11-12 overall; Wazzu will play UCLA at Pauley on Saturday.



Reach Associate Sports Editor Jeremy Bergman via e-mail or on Twitter @JABergman.



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