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USC Surges Past Washington 80-67

A late scoring drought again dooms the Huskies at home

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington came up with a 10-0 run at the midpoint of the 2nd half to take the lead on USC. They immediately went almost 9 minutes of game clock before making another field goal. During that time USC answered with an 11-0 run of their own and ended up cruising to an 80-67 win over the Huskies. The Dawgs fall to 9-5 (1-2) despite the return of Noah Williams from injury and 40 combined points from Keion and Keyon.

USC’s Joshua Morgan kicked off the scoring in dominant fashion as he blocked a Cole Bajema short jumper then ran downfield for an authoritative transition dunk. Keyon Menifield helped get the Huskies off to a solid start on the offensive end making a wing 3-pointer and cleaning up a P.J Fuller transition miss for 5 quick points. Each team hit an additional 3 (Ellis for USC and Brooks for UW) and things stayed close going into the first media timeout at 9-8.

Washington though saw mixed injury news as Noah Williams entered for the first time since halftime of UW’s first game while Braxton Meah briefly went to the locker room before limping back to the bench a few minutes later. Meah re-entered the game about 5 minutes later in game clock with the Huskies trailing 13-12. Keion Brooks hit his 2nd 3-pointer of the game to give Washington back the lead but live ball turnovers killed the Dawgs and allowed a few easy baskets for the Trojans to go up 17-15 into the under-12 timeout.

The Huskies finally started to see some success down low after starting out 1/10 on 2-point shots. Braxton Meah got a dunk putback after a Keion Brooks missed 3-point shot. Then Noah Williams did a great job pushing the ball forward to Menifield in transition who hit a circus shot layup for his 10th point. Meah again got an offensive board and was fouled on the putback and the made pair of free throws put UW back on top at 23-22 with 7:33 remaining.

The scoring picked up for both teams as Washington went to their smallest lineup of the season with 4 guards including Noah Williams plus Keion Brooks at center. USC scored on 5 straight possessions including multiple and-1’s which allowed them to stretch out the Trojan lead to 34-28. Keion Brooks Jr. finally ended the 7-0 Trojan run making a pair of free throws on a 1-and-1 foul.

Washington continued to fight and drew the game within a pair at 36-34 on a pair of Meah free throws. After a Brooks steal, Cole Bajema had an open transition corner 3 that would’ve given the Huskies the lead and brought down the house. Unfortunately it was well short and USC countered with a quick 5-0 run in the final minute of the half to go into the break down 41-34. Brooks, Menifield, and Meah combined for 30 of UW’s 34 points with 0 combined from the quartet of Bajema, Bey, Williams, and Fuller.

it was once again the Keyon Menifield Jr. show to start off the 2nd half. He managed to beat USC’s elite shot blocking with consecutive up and under circus shot layups to get the Huskies on a quick 4-0 run in the first few minutes and keep UW close. Unfortunately for Washington though Braxton Meah left his feet on defense and was called for his 3rd foul and went to the bench while USC split a pair at the free throw line. Menifield had multiple chances to put the Huskies in the lead following a Bajema 3-pointer. But his transition layup missed as did a midrange jumper after a Brooks board. USC got down the floor off the miss and Morgan posterized Jackson Grant to keep the Huskies at bay.

Fouls became a problem for Washington as they sent Drew Peterson to the line for a pair. Then P.J Fuller hacked Josh Morgan under the basket with about 0.01 seconds left on the shot clock to gift USC another point and extend USC’s lead back out to 6 points at 47-41. Drew Peterson also took over for the Trojans as he hit consecutive tough midrange jumpers over Jackson Grant. Brooks answered though getting inside for a nice layup and then getting fouled and making both free throws and keep it at 53-48.

Cole Bajema kept his hot 3-point shooting in the 2nd half nailing a corner 3 off an assist from Brooks and then came up with a steal on the other end. Keyon Menifield pushed the ball on the turnover and hit a tough baseline jumper to suddenly bring the Huskies within 2. Noah Williams made his biggest play of the night to that point stealing the inbounds pass and getting fouled forcing a USC timeout with momentum shifting and 10:55 left in the game.

The good vibes continued as Meah kicked it out to Bajema who hit his 4th 3-pointer of the half to put Washington in front. Then Keyon Menifield intercepted a careless USC pass and put in a transition layup despite Drew Peterson lurking for the chasedown block. The basket put Washington up 58-55 and prompted another USC timeout as part of the 10-0 Husky run. Boogie Ellis drove headlong into the paint and his runner somehow fell to end the Washington streak.

Things quickly started to deteriorate for the Huskies as Keion Brooks Jr. airballed a 3-pointer and Braxton Meah was called for a loose ball foul (his 4th) despite the ball going out of bounds. Ellis then pulled up for a deep 3 and continued his hot shooting night to give USC back the lead at 60-58. Washington just couldn’t get a stop as the Trojans hit another pair of midrange jumpers and a layup and the 11-0 Trojan run put the Huskies in a huge hole with 6 minutes left. It looked like Keion Brooks should’ve had an and-1 but the refs didn’t call continuation (because there’s nothing a Pac-12 ref hates more than allowing an and-1) and so UW settled for ending the run with a pair of free throws.

Down 68-60 Noah Williams finally scored in his return hitting the first on a 1-and-1 free throw attempt but he missed the 2nd. Another pair of free throws by Brooks gave UW a bit of life as Meah came back in with 3:51 left in the game despite the 4 fouls. It was shortlived however as Boogie Ellis hit a runner over Meah’s arms and then swished an incredibly deep 3 to put USC up by 10 with under 3 minutes left. Shortly after Meah fouled out getting called for an illegal screen.

Keion Brooks led Washington with 22 points including an 8/8 performance at the free throw line while Keyon Menifield had 18 points. No one besides that duo, Braxton Meah (8), and Cole Bajema (12) had more than 3 points. Noah Williams returned but he didn’t look fully healthy on offense finishing 1/8 from the field while P.J Fuller was 0/6 shooting. Jamal Bey came off the bench and hardly played finishing without a shot attempt.

Washington had 7 blocks including 3 each from Meah and Bajema but USC showed why they’re top-5 in the country in that regard finishing with 10 including 5 by elite center Joshua Morgan. Boogie Ellis was the star for the Trojans finishing with 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals. The rest of USC’s team was 1/6 on 3-point attempts as they mostly worked inside and finished +10 in made 2-point attempts on the Huskies.

This is the 2nd loss to start out UW’s gauntlet which continues on Sunday when #11 UCLA comes to town. That’s followed immediately by a road trip to the Arizona schools. At this point it will take a significant upset for the Huskies to not enter their home game against Stanford in 2 and a half weeks at 9-8 (1-5). That next game on New Year’s Day against the Bruins is at 4p on Pac-12 Networks.