ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

ASU basketball rallies late but ultimately falls short at USC

Jan 22, 2017, 9:13 PM | Updated: 9:44 pm
Arizona State forward Obinna Oleka, right, reacts after turning over the ball as Southern Californi...

Arizona State forward Obinna Oleka, right, reacts after turning over the ball as Southern California guard De'Anthony Melton looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Los Angeles. USC won 82-79. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California’s rally against No. 14 Arizona came up short. This time, the Trojans let a double-digit lead nearly get away before hanging on.

Elijah Stewart scored 29 points, making seven of Southern California’s 14 3-pointers, to beat Arizona State 82-79 on Sunday night.

“We’re back on track,” Stewart said. “We should be fine.”

Jordan McLaughlin added 18 points for the Trojans (17-4, 4-4 Pac-12), who stopped a two-game skid at Galen Center in salvaging a weekend split after losing to No. 14 Arizona. Stewart’s points were one off his career high and he tied his career best for 3-pointers. The Trojans equaled their season-best from long-range.

“We knew Stewart and McLaughlin would get theirs, but it was the others guys that hurt us and we have to do a better job to stop that,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said.

Torian Graham scored 24 points, and Obinna Oleka had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Sun Devils (9-11, 2-5), who got swept in their four-day visit to Los Angeles after losing at No. 3 UCLA.

“We couldn’t get the stops when we needed them, so we have to learn from this game,” Graham said. “After they went to a zone we had the ball standing still too long. We’re a team that likes to move it quickly, so when they went to a zone it threw off our rhythm.”

The Sun Devils got to 82-79 on a basket by Kodi Justice. After a timeout, Graham missed a 3-pointer with six seconds left.

Stewart fouled out with two seconds remaining and the Sun Devils had possession. But Shannon Evans II missed a 3-pointer from the left corner with just a second to go.

“Shannon had a shot at the end that is makeable,” Hurley said. “I would have liked to see it go in and for us to go to overtime.”

Arizona State trailed by 12 points and got within one point in both halves, but USC never gave up the lead.

Led by Graham’s six points, the Sun Devils outscored USC 15-4 to get to 63-62.

Stewart hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and the Trojans were off on another scoring tear, with Stewart adding another 3 and Jonah Mathews adding two more treys that pushed their lead to 79-67.

In the first half, the Trojans hit four 3-pointers in a 20-6 run that gave them a 26-14 lead. Stewart made three treys and McLaughlin had two highlights assists in the spurt. Chimezie Metu dunked off McLaughlin’s bounce pass in the paint and Stewart followed with a dunk on McLaughlin’s alley-oop pass off Arizona State’s turnover.

The Sun Devils answered with a 16-5 spurt, including three straight 3-pointers, to get to 31-30.

USC closed with a 14-8 run to lead 45-38 at the break. McLaughlin banked in a 3-pointer from just past the midcourt line to beat the halftime buzzer after hitting two other treys, one of which beat the shot clock.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona St.: They’ve lost four in a row and still face ranked opponents Oregon, UCLA and rival Arizona in the coming weeks. “We’re in a tough stretch and I thought tonight was our best chance for a win,” Hurley said. “I like the way we competed, but we now have to come home and play better.”

USC: The victory gave the Trojans a shot of momentum heading into their home game against No. 3 UCLA before they head out on a road trip to the Washington schools.

UP NEXT

Arizona State hosts Washington on Wednesday.

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ASU basketball rallies late but ultimately falls short at USC