USC Manhandles UC Riverside, 70-26
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jio Fontan and Eric Wise each scored 14 points and USC ended a five-game losing streak with a 70-26 rout of cold-shooting UC Riverside on Saturday.
Chris Patton and Chris Harriel had a team-high six points for Riverside (2-8), which shot 19 percent from the field and was 1 of 14 from 3-point range. The Highlanders’ starting five — Harriel, Robert Smith, Lucas Devenny, Davin Guinn, and Josh Fox — were a combined 4 of 28 for 12 points.
The Highlanders eclipsed the previous school record for fewest points in the shot-clock era — set Nov. 14, when Fresno State beat them 39-30. The low-water mark before that game had been a 56-35 loss to USC last season.
Riverside made only five of 29 shots in the first half, had six shots blocked and was 0 of 7 from behind the arc. The Highlanders, returning to the court following a 10-day break for finals, didn’t get their first field goal until Smith converted Austin Quick’s steal of Dewayne Dedmon into a fast-break layup with 13:56 left in the half.
But all the offense the Trojans could muster to that point was a 3-pointer and a 17-footer by Wise, a Riverside native who transferred to USC after three seasons at UC Irvine.
The Trojans (4-6) eventually got on track, building their lead to 10 on a 3-pointer by Brendyn Taylor and extending it to 36-12 with a 20-2 run during the final 7:25 of the half. Fontan helped fuel the rally with eight points and Byron Wesley capped it on a three-point play with 7.5 seconds on the clock. USC shot 71 percent in the half, compared to Riverside’s 17 percent.
It was more of the same in the second half, as USC opened up a 44-point cushion with an 18-1 run coming out of intermission. Riverside missed its first 19 shots and didn’t make a basket until Harriel’s 3-pointer, which rolled around the rim twice before falling through with 5:38 left in the game.
Omar Oraby had seven points and eight rebounds in his first start for the Trojans. The Egyptian-born center, who was held scoreless in the first half of USC’s 71-57 home loss to Minnesota a week earlier, had averaged 6.9 points and 2.8 boards in his nine games off the bench after transferring from Rice in September.
USC has won all six times the schools have met, but only five of those victories count; a win from the 2007-08 season was vacated as a result of the O.J. Mayo scandal. The last time the teams played, on Nov. 30, 2011, USC ended Riverside’s 16-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents. That also was the Trojans’ last road win.
USC has three nonconference games remaining before its Pac-12 opener against Stanford on Jan. 1 at the Galen Center. The Highlanders have two more nonconference games before their Big West Conference opener against Cal Poly on Dec. 29 at Riverside.