LAS VEGAS (AP) — Southern California had some good offensive moments against Oregon State, just not consistent through the entire game.
The Trojans’ defense: Spot on all night.
Chimezie Metu had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Southern California smothered Oregon State defensively to beat the Beavers 61-48 in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night.
“We really played team defense today,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Very proud of our players. They challenged every shot, rebounded the ball, and we made enough shots to win.”
Second-seeded USC (22-10) jumped on Oregon State early and hounded the Beavers all night, holding them to 31-percent shooting.
Jordan McLaughlin had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Trojans, who move on to face the Oregon-Utah winner in Friday’s semifinals.
“We were just having fun,” McLaughlin said. “That’s what we talked about in the locker room: Go out there, play hard, play defense, have fun and play it like it’s our last game.”
Oregon State (16-16) played a tough game in the opening round and was no match for USC’s early energy. Stephen Thompson Jr. scored 12 points for the Beavers, who shot 5 of 20 from the 3-point arc.
“It was a tough first half, 19 points. Dug ourselves a hole,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “And I think all that we’ve been through, as hard as we’ve fought the last few weeks, it all kind of caught up to us.”
USC played its way to the edge of the NCAA Tournament bubble with four straight wins, but a season-ending loss to rival UCLA made its margin for error slimmer. A loss to Oregon State, the Pac-12’s No. 10 seed, would make it narrower still.
The Trojans swept the regular-season series, winning by seven in Corvallis and 13 at home.
The Beavers reached the quarterfinals by spoiling Washington’s NCAA Tournament hopes and were hoping to do the same against USC.
USC got off to a fast start, hitting six of its first eight shots to go up 16-5. The Beavers chipped the lead down to four, but struggled to find room for good looks against the Trojans’ physical defense. USC held Oregon State to 8-of-28 shooting to lead 29-19 at halftime.
Oregon State cut the lead to 41-35 midway through the second half, but USC scored the next nine points to go up 50-35.
“I don’t really think it was about running out of gas or anything like that,” Thompson said. “I think we played hard and we played well defensively. We just had, like Coach said, the wrong time to have one of our worst offensive games of the year.”
Oregon State had trouble establishing anything or anyone against USC’s defense to drop out of the bracket.
USC had a rough night from the perimeter — 4 for 16 from 3 — but made up for it with a 34-14 scoring advantage in the paint to reach the semifinals.
Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle was hampered by a sprained ankle early against Washington and limped off the court. The ankle seemed to still be bothering him against USC, preventing him from getting good lift on drives to the basket.
Tinkle finished with 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting and was 1 for 5 on 3-pointers.
Oregon State is holding out hope of playing in a smaller postseason tournament.
USC faces the Oregon-Utah winner in the semifinals Friday.
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