DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Pe’Shon Howard wasn’t supposed to be the one racing up court trying to win the game, but he knew how many dribbles he had before time would expire. And he used them perfectly.
Howard caught an inbounds pass with the score tied with 4.7 seconds left, dribbled up the right sideline and swished an off-balance 3-pointer from deep on the wing as time expired Sunday to lift Southern California to a 79-76 overtime victory over Dayton.
On Thursday, the Trojans (8-4) were in a similar situation at Long Beach State, but Byron Wesley shot too soon from too far away and the Trojans lost 72-71. The play Sunday was supposed to go to Wesley again with the hope he could dribble into the lane where he had already scored most of his 26 points.
“J.T. (Terrell) told me if I can’t get it to him, I’m coming to you,” said Howard, who scored 12 points. “I think I’m a good shooter so I was trying to get to the 3-point line. So I came across half court and two guys came over late, so I just tried to lean and get the shot off.”
Dayton had kept the ball away from Wesley, but coach Archie Miller did not like how his team defended the play.
“We didn’t execute a simple strategy to really corral the ball coming down the floor,” Miller said.
Vee Sanford ran at Howard and had a hand in his face as he let the shot go.
“When it left my hand it felt good, and as I’m watching the ball, ‘That’s in, that’s in,'” Howard said. “I had to flop, too, so maybe I could get a foul.”
First-year Trojans coach Andy Enfield, said Howard’s shot isn’t one that often goes in, and was happy his team learned from the Long Beach game.
“When you have over four seconds you can at least get to the 3-point line or close to it,” Enfield said. “You don’t need to throw up a half-court shot. Our players didn’t understand that our last game, and I’m just glad they figured it out.”
Miller was just as unhappy that the Trojans even had a chance to win the game. The Flyers gained possession with 35.5 seconds left and tried to hold for a last shot after a quick timeout. But Devin Oliver missed a reverse layup, and USC got the rebound and called time out with 4.7 seconds left.
“They should’ve never gotten the ball,” Miller said. “Coming out of that timeout there was a very, very direct message to our team that we take the last one.”
Dayton took the lead twice in overtime on 3-pointers by Jordan Sibert, but the Trojans regained the lead once with two free throws by Julian Jacobs and a second time on a 3-pointer by Howard to lead 76-75. But Oliver tied the score with a free throw, and Jacobs missed on a drive with 35 seconds left to set up Dayton’s chance to win in the final seconds.
Wesley tied the score 67-67 in regulation with a driving shot in the lane with 1:45 left. Dayton regained the lead on two Jalen Robinson free throws with 50 seconds left. But Wesley came back with a driving layup to tie the score again. Dayton held for the final shot, but Khari Price missed a 3-pointer from the left corner.
“Dayton’s a great team,” Howard said. “They play hard, they’re disciplined, so I think we really grew up. Everybody stepped up and made the plays we needed.”
Wesley didn’t start for the second straight game. Enfield called it a coach’s decision. Against Long Beach State, he scored two points in 21 minutes. He played 41 minutes Sunday, made 11 of 17 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds. Wesley and Howard’s ability to drive against the Flyers’ man-to-man defense resulted in baskets for them and putbacks for the big men to keep the Trojans close and occasionally put them in the lead.
“We just weren’t good enough defensively for much of the game,” Miller said. “Our biggest problem was just guarding straight-line drives.”
Dayton faced zone again against the much bigger Trojans, who start 7-foot-2 Omar Oraby and 6-10 Nikola Jovanovic. Those two battled foul trouble, but 7-foot D.J. Haley scored seven points in the first half to help the Trojans rally from nine down. The big trio combined for 27 points and 21 rebounds.
Sibert led Dayton with 21 points with five 3-pointers, but the Flyers shot only 25.8 percent in the second half and made only 5 of 23 3-pointers for the game. Pierre, a 6-6 forward, worked inside for 16 points.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)