UW Men's Basketball | Seesaw scoring tips win to USC
Seattle Times staff reporter
The game came, and then it went.
Kind of like O.J. Mayo is expected to do at USC.
The celebrated freshman guard, sure to declare for the NBA draft after this season, showed off his vast array of offensive talents with a game-high 29 points, leading the Trojans to a 73-59 win over the Huskies at Edmundson Pavilion on Thursday night.
"He was special tonight," said USC coach Tim Floyd of Mayo, who made 11 of 22 field goals. "Every shot was a great shot."
Mayo scored 20 in the first half as the Trojans opened up a 14-point lead, threatening to turn the game into an early rout.
Then the Huskies came back, outscoring the Trojans 22-8 in the last five minutes of the first half and first two of the second to tie the game at 38 on a three-pointer by Ryan Appleby with 18:08 left, convincing fans who had turned restless during USC's early run that the game was finally at hand.
"I thought we were fine," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "And then it just kind of unraveled."
USC (15-7, 6-4 Pac-10) scored the next 19 points as UW missed 12 consecutive shots, the worst stretch in a night when the Huskies never found the basket easily. The Huskies hit just 26 of 72 shots for the night (36.1 percent), their third-worst shooting night of the season.
"We made a little run [to get back in the game] and then all of a sudden we start the second half and there is no energy, no enthusiasm, no hustle," said UW forward Jon Brockman. "And they went on runs, and they were just getting dunk after dunk after dunk.
"It's more embarrassing than anything. Shoot, people paid and came to watch that, and we just didn't even show up in the second half. It's just embarrassing."
By the time the onslaught stopped, USC had a 57-38 lead with 11:05 left and the Huskies (12-11, 3-7) were on their way to another dispiriting loss in a season threatening to spiral out of control.
The loss was UW's fourth in a row overall and third in a row at home — the longest home losing streak since February 2003, Romar's first season as Washington's coach.
All three were part of a four-game homestand that coaches figured would determine the course of the season. It's unquestionably adrift now, especially with conference leader UCLA due in next, on Sunday afternoon.
"It's very, very disappointing," Romar said. "Before the league started, you couldn't have convinced me we would lose three straight at home and four at home [for the season]. We just can't let that happen."
The loss didn't come without some drastic measures by Romar to shake things up. Although the lineup was the same as it has been the last seven games, the Huskies opened in a 2-3 zone, something the team has generally reserved for brief spurts to quell a rally. UW prefers to play man-to-man, though the other scheme has become more common of late.
"I didn't feel we matched up very well in the beginning with the five that we had," Romar said. The Huskies also thought that, aside from Mayo, there were few outside shooting threats for the Trojans.
The scheme worked for a few minutes before Mayo got rolling. He hit 8 of 13 shots in the first half, including two three-pointers, a dunk and a baseline drive.
"I just had an opportunity to knock down some open shots," Mayo said.
He had 18 of USC's first 30 points as USC grabbed a 30-16 lead with 4:53 left in the first half. Then the Huskies rallied. Justin Dentmon hit an off-balance jumper as the half ended to make the score 36-33.
But the good times were short-lived.
Mayo concluded USC's 19-0 run with a three-pointer to give the Trojans that 57-38 lead, then capped his night with a behind-the-back dribble through traffic with about three minutes left, leading to a Trojans layin and the Huskies to wonder where they go from here.
The Huskies will come back, Romar said, "as they always do."
"We can't hang our heads. We cannot hang our heads. That's when it can get bad."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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