USC Falls to UCLA in Pac-12 Tournament, 76-74|
March 10, 2017
LAS VEGAS (AP) Lonzo Ball had a turnover and two fouls before his first postseason game was 3 minutes old.
Nothing came easy for the star guard Thursday night, but No. 3 UCLA did just enough to advance in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Isaac Hamilton scored 22 points, and the Bruins held off rival USC 76-74 in the quarterfinals.
The Trojans, who never led and trailed by 14 in the first half, missed a tying 3-pointer and then two more shots in the final minute while trailing by three.
UCLA was held to 15 points below its nation-best scoring average.
Ball, the Pac-12 freshman of the year, finished with 12 points and seven assists. T.J. Leaf scored 14 points in his return after missing a game with a left ankle injury, and Thomas Welsh added 11 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.
''We have an awful lot of respect for them,'' said UCLA coach Steve Alford. ''We know we're going to have to be better tomorrow night than what we were tonight.''
Bennie Boatwright scored 11 points, but was 3 of 11 from the field and missed a tying 3 attempt with 34 seconds left.
''We missed a few layups and we missed a follow-up,'' USC coach Andy Enfield said. ''Honestly, if one of those goes in and we get a few calls, maybe we have a chance to win.''
Meeting in the tournament for the second straight year, the Los Angeles rivals played a much closer game than the last encounter, a 102-70 UCLA rout on Feb. 18. After USC started 1 of 14 from the field, it slowly got back in it thanks to UCLA's 10 first-half turnovers.
Enfield was confident going into the game that the Trojans had done enough to warrant an NCAA invite. That didn't change after the game. ''You saw how we played tonight, you tell me,'' Enfield said. ''I think we're a pretty good team.''
USC: The Trojans would like to return to the NCAA Tournament after appearing in 2016.