USC’s incredible run ends after a 85-66 demolition by Gonzaga.
The Trojans came out the gates sloppy. They were getting pick-pocketed by Bulldogs defenders, and carelessly turned the ball over repeatedly. It felt like they couldn’t make a pass or a drive to the basket without a Gonzaga defender coming over to take it away. And the Bulldogs weren’t wasting anytime capitalizing off the miscues.
“We didn’t get back fast enough or run back hard enough, and that’s when they got a lot of free buckets and easy layups,” Evan Mobley talking about the first ten minutes of the game.
USC went into halftime down 19 points, which is a tough hole to climb out of against an undefeated team.
The second half saw the Trojans defense pick up some steam. They finally started to get in those passing lanes, and slow down the Bulldogs offense. But USC was never able to get their own offense off the ground.
Both teams ended up scoring 36 second half points with the Trojans unable to climb back into it. Their hot shooting from deep this tournament finally cooled off as they went 4-of-15 from three, and shot just 38.7% from the field.
The Mobley brothers did their best to carry the offense load. They combined for 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting, while grabbing 12 boards, and dishing out six assists. But the Trojans supporting cast really struggled to create space and knock down shots.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs had three players score at least 18 points in Drew Timme (23), Jalen Suggs (18), and Corey Kispert (18).
Even though it was a tough loss, the Trojans should still be proud of what they accomplished. This was only their second Elite 8 appearance since 1954, and their first in the last 20 years.
When coach Andy Enfield looks back on this season, he won’t forget how much this team accomplished, especially in such an unprecedented year.
“In my coaching career I’ve never seen a team develop a chemistry and a culture on and off the court like this team has. They improved dramatically since the start of training camp throughout the season - kept getting better and better,” coach Enfield continued. “We were picked sixth in the preseason in our own league, and came in the top-8 in the country. So to do that this is a very special basketball team, and we are very proud of them.”