Boogie Ellis hit a 16-foot jumper from the foul line with 0.2 seconds left to give the No. 17 Southern California team a 62-60 comeback win over Washington State on Sunday.
Washington State held a 60-57 advantage before USC grabbed the final five points for its fourth straight win. Max Agbonkpolo hit a 3-pointer to tie it with 2:15 remaining.
“It was surreal. This is my first big moment wearing a Trojan uniform,” said Ellis, a San Diego native who arrived from Memphis last summer. “The coach took a break and drafted the game. I was able to isolate and pull up the smaller guard.”
Ellis scored 21 points, six of them in the last five minutes. Drew Peterson added 17 points for the Trojans (23-4, 12-4 Pac-12), who made their best start since 1974.
The Cougars (14-12, 7-8) lost their fifth straight game despite going 15-of-31 by 3 points. Tyrell Roberts had 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and Noah Williams added 14.
Washington State had one last chance after Ellis’ jumper, but the inbound pass was intercepted by Joshua Morgan on the buzzer. In contrast to the skills beyond the arc, the Cougars were 5 from 32 to 2 pointers.
Washington State also pulled off 16 offensive rebounds but was outscored 12-5 in second chance points and 18-6 in the color.
“That’s a unique box score,” said USC coach Andy Enfield. “Our defense was good but some of their shots were damn good. They spread you out and shoot.”
The Trojans held the Cougars 6:57 through the final with no 3-pointers. Enfield cited his team’s tightening of zone defenses as a major reason for the comeback.
“Our defense has to carry us when we have stretches where we fight. We challenged their shooters and started playing better basketball in the second half,” he said.
The Cougars were kept scoreless for the final 2:35. Roberts hit an off-color jumper to extend their lead to 60-57, but they missed their last three shots and six of their last seven.
“They really grabbed the paint and made it hard to score around the rim,” said Washington State coach Kyle Smith. “We’ve been able to pull off some pretty good looks (over the arch). We’ve done some of these, but we need to be able to finish more. Our 2 point field goal percentage was incredible.”
Washington State scored eight straight points and led by 46:38 with 12:33 to go. The Cougars were up 57-51 with five minutes to go before the Trojans ran away six times in a row to level it.
The Trojans led for most of the first half. They took a 16-6 lead five minutes into the game as Peterson led by seven points. But the Cougars would slowly recover and take a 32-28 lead in the dressing room at halftime.
Washington State ended the half with a 9-2 run, including two 3-pointers from Roberts. The Cougars were 9 of 17 from beyond the arc in the first half, but only 2 of 18 at 2 pointers.
OUT OF NIGHT
USC’s Isaiah Mobley, who came in sixth in the Pac-12 at 14.6 points per game, had nine rebounds but only scored eight points. It’s only the second time in his last 17 games that the junior forward has been left with single-digit chances to score.
Washington State: Ten of the Cougars’ losses this season have been five points or fewer. They have lost 12 straight to the Trojans, the last win coming at USC in 2015.
“We had to give up a few shots and late on we had poor execution against the zone,” Smith said. “I know we played hard, fought and took some shots, but it’s kind of a wasted effort.”
USC: The Trojans were 19 of 25 on free throws after struggling off the line for most of the season.
Washington State: host Washington on Wednesday night.
USC: On Thursday evening in the state of Oregon.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/ AP_Top25