McLaughlin scores 22 as USC beats Washington, 74-58|
March 04, 2017
LOS ANGELES (AP) The post-season can wait. For at least one day, Southern Cal coach Andy Enfield wants his players to celebrate how far they've come during the regular season.
''It's been a challenging but rewarding regular season for us, 23-8,'' Enfield said. ''I don't think that was predicted for us with only four returning players and six players new to the program''
With the victory, Southern Cal (23-8, 10-8) finished its regular season in a tie for fifth place with California in the Pac-12 standings, and has been described as a team on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
''We know that the selection committee is going to do what it's going to do. We have no control over that,'' said Enfield. ''Our goal today was win our final home game and go 23-8. Tomorrow we'll take a deep breath, take the day off. I think it's important to enjoy the moment.''
The Trojans outshot the Huskies 59 to 42 percent and outscored them 44-20 in the paint to win their second straight after four consecutive losses.
''We didn't focus on a certain number of wins,'' said McLaughlin. ''We were really just trying to win as many games as we could. We were thankful to go undefeated in our non-conference schedule, and we were able to steal a couple of conference wins early. And on the road, too, which is never easy.''
Over his last two games, McLaughlin scored 38 points, racked up 19 assists and grabbed 13 rebounds.
''That's what he wants to do. That's what he's relied on to do,'' said Enfield. ''And that's what we expect him to do. He's our leader. He gets everybody involved.''
''I was just trying to be aggressive, get my teammates the ball,'' said McLaughlin. ''I thought I played well.''
Washington (9-21, 2-16) lost its 12th in a row, and finished the regular season in 11th place in the conference.
Noah Dickerson had a career-high 27 points and eight rebounds to lead the Huskies. Matisse Thybulle added 19 points for Washington.
''We had trouble with their changing defenses,'' said Dickerson. ''Their zone gave us trouble in the second half. We turned the ball over too many times, and that led to a lot of easy run-outs.''
The Huskies played without star freshman point guard and leading scorer Markelle Fultz, who sat out for the fifth time in seven games with a sore right knee.
Behind 14-4 four minutes in, the Trojans still trailed 30-24 before going on a 15-3 run to close the first half. The Trojans took a 39-33 lead on McLaughlin's driving, left-handed lay-in over two defenders with 34 seconds left in the half.
The Trojans led throughout the second half. The Huskies got within 51-48 only to see the Trojans pull away to a 65-55 lead on McLaughlin's runner in the lane with 3:29 to play.
McLaughlin then fed Metu on a fast-break, alley-oop pass for a dunk, putting the Trojans up 67-55 with 2:21 left.
Washington: In their final game of the regular season, the Huskies started three sophomores and two freshmen. The Huskies' two Pac-12 victories this season came at home against Colorado in overtime and Oregon State. The Rams and Beavers combined to go 2-16 on the road this season. Markelle Fulkes' status for the Pac-12 Tournament remains undetermined.
Southern Cal: Southern Cal has posted 10 conference victories for the first time since 2011. Against the four top finishers in the conference (Oregon, Arizona, UCLA and Utah), the Trojans went 1-6, beating UCLA 84-76 at home on Jan. 25.
Washington: The Huskies get a rematch against Southern California on Wednesday in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
Southern Cal: The Trojans play Washington again on Wednesday in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.