LOS ANGELES (AP) — Road wins have been hard to come by for Washington State this season.
It wasn’t easy, but the Cougars finally got a respite from their road woes on Wednesday night.
Dexter Kernich-Drew scored 19 points, DaVonte Lacy added 17 and Washington State held off a late rally to beat Southern California 70-66.
Josh Hawkinson added 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Cougars (12-15, 6-9 Pac-12) to tie the school’s single-season record with 17 double-doubles. It was Washington State’s first road win since Jan. 10 and just its third all season.
“We really, really needed to win,” Kernich-Drew said. “I would’ve liked to have kept a big lead but we weren’t quite able to do that.”
The Cougars stayed in front the entire second half but had to hold on tight.
WSU led 55-36 with 11:19 to go, but the Trojans (10-18, 2-14) staged a furious rally to cut the lead to 69-66 with 13 seconds to go. Hawkinson made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Cougars a valuable four-point lead with six seconds left, and USC turned it over on its final possession.
“We just hung in there,” Kernich-Drew said. “We tried to get stops but they kept hitting shots. Luckily enough we were able to rebound, get to the foul line, and knock down some foul shots so it wasn’t really a one-possession game.”
Julian Jacobs had 16 points, nine assists and five rebounds to lead the Trojans. Malik Marquetti and Katin Reinhardt scored 16 points apiece and Nikola Jovanovic had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Washington State made six 3-pointers in the first half, including four by Kernich-Drew, to get out to a 37-27 halftime lead. The Cougars set the tone with runs of 10-0 and 14-2 in the opening period.
“That was the best half of basketball we played all year long,” Cougars coach Ernie Kent said. “To USC’s credit, with their style the play, they keep coming at you. It was very difficult to keep them at bay.”
Lacy scored 13 of his 17 points after the break, including nine straight points during a 12-4 run that made it 55-36 with 11:19 to go.
Reinhardt and Jacobs led the Trojans rally with 12 points apiece in the second half.
“We keep getting close,” Jovanovic said. “Our time is coming.”
TROJANS IN TURMOIL
It’s been a rough few days for USC. Reinhardt and fellow guards Chass Bryan and Devon Pflueger were sent home prior to USC’s previous game at Arizona State for an unspecified violation of team rules. Then Jacobs and forward Darion Clark were involved in a physical altercation after practice Tuesday. To cap it off, Wednesday’s loss guaranteed the Trojans will finish with at least a share of last place in the conference.
“I think all teams go through adversity at some point in the season and we’ve had quite a lot of it,” Trojans coach Andy Enfield said. “Same things happened tonight as have happened all year. If we could just rebound the ball in the last two minutes, we probably win four more games.”
He offered no further comment on the suspensions or the altercation.
Washington State: The Cougars assisted on 17 of their 22 field goals and outrebounded USC 44-33. … Kernich-Drew has made 20 of 33 3-pointers his last five games.
USC: The Trojans shot just 23 for 64 from the field. … Enfield announced starting point guard Jordan McLaughlin will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery and face a 5-6 month rehab. … The Trojans dropped to 4-30 in Pac-12 play the last two seasons.
Washington State: visits UCLA on Sunday.
USC: hosts Washington on Saturday.
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