Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor
Despite sloppy play, the Trojans escaped with a win on Sunday night, making them 6-0 at the Galen Center.
Dodged a Bullet
Coming into the week USC was second in the Pac-12 in rebounding (averaging 41.0 per game) but lost the battle of the boards against Bakersfield tonight. The Trojans had 33 rebounds to the Roadrunners' 37, had eight turnovers in the first half and never seemed to gain complete momentum. However, thanks to 20 points from Byron Wesley and 10 rebounds and 14 points from Nikola Jovanovic, USC kept its perfect at-home record. Head coach Andy Enfield credited his team's less than perfect play to a bad week of practice, partially due to finals, but acknowledged that an ugly win is always better than an ugly loss. "It was a very tough game tonight," said Enfield. "Bakersfield played an excellent basketball game and we did not. Our freshmen made a lot of freshmen mistakes and I thought our guard play was very inconsistent. That's what happens. We were just fortunate to win the game."
Almost three quarters of the Trojans' total points came from free throws as USC shot 65.2 percent from line, scoring 30 points off of 46 attempts. D.J. Haley made two free throws to tie the game at 58 with just under two minutes to play. He then hit one of his next two to give the Trojans a 61-58 lead after Wesley made a pair to break the tie once and for all. Coming into tonight's game, Haley's career free throw percentage was 42.3, but the senior center managed to make them when they counted. "I actually thought he was going to make those," said Enfield. "I thought he played great down the stretch, gave us great energy, he defended, and then he made his free throws."
A Second Wind for Wesley
After a disappointing first half with just one point and no rebounds, Byron Wesley came back with a vengeance after the break to snag four boards and score 19 points, including two free throws with a minute to go to give the Trojans the lead for the remainder of the game. The junior guard said he thinks games like tonight are needed learning experiences early in the season. "I don't think this is a step back at all," said Wesley. "Every team is going to face adversity. We came out and found a way to win. I think that games like this are extremely important for young teams."
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