CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) When Southern Cal turned up the pressure, the points followed.
The Trojans trailed by 12 points at the break and were still down significantly midway through the second period. But behind a stifling defense that forced 13 second-half turnovers, Southern Cal rallied past Drexel 72-70 at the Charleston Classic on Friday.
Darion Clark scored 15 points and Julian Jacobs had all his 12 points in the second half. Next the Trojans try for fifth place in the eight-team tournament Sunday. And it was a far cry from their 20-point loss to Akron to open play here when they shot just 28.3 percent, their lowest percentage in two seasons.
Article continues below ...
”We just have to perform offensively. Players have to make plays. They’ve got to take care of the ball,” Southern Cal coach Andy Enfield said. ”Today was different.”
Largely because of the play of Clark and Jacobs in the second half. Clark was a forceful, 6-foot-7 presence in the paint after starter Malik Martin left with a right leg injury. Jacobs, 0-for-3 shooting the first 20 minutes, made all five of his shots and had two steals in the second half.
”We knew what we were capable of,” Clark said. ”We just had to be energetic and keep our composure.”
Damion Lee scored 32 points off a career-high eight 3-pointers to lead Drexel, which started 0-4 for the first time since the 1990-91 season. The Dragons will play in the seventh-place game.
Drexel looked as if it had things in hand with 40-28 lead at the break. The Dragons were still up 50-41 after Lee’s basket with 11:51 to play. That’s when Southern Cal ramped things up with a 13-2 run to get back in it. Jacobs’ basket with 40 seconds left put the Trojans ahead 71-67.
Lee followed with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one, but missed a long 3-pointer right before the buzzer.
”I thought it was good,” Lee said of his final shot.
Drexel coach Bruiser Flint had wanted a drive to the basket at the end, but Lee said he ”didn’t want to leave the game in the hands of the ref.”
Jordan McLaughlin had 11 points and Strahinja Gavrilovic 10 for the Trojans.
Southern Cal turned up the pressure in the first half after Drexel ran out to a 19-6 lead. That worked as the Trojans forcing nine turnovers to cut the lead to 29-26 with three minutes left in the period.
But Lee found space for his outside shooting. He closed the half with 11 straight points on three 3-pointers and sent the Dragons to the locker room up 40-28.
The Drexel junior made 10 of 16 shots, including 8 of 11 from behind the arc. He also had six rebounds, three assists and two steals. On the negative side, Lee had five of the Dragons’ 21 turnovers.
Southern Cal forward Malik Martin was diagnosed with a hyperextension of his right knee, but will have an MRI when the team returns to Los Angeles. The 6-11 freshman went down hard in the first half and did not return. Martin needed crutches to make it to the locker room.
Southern Cal: The Trojans shot just 28.3 percent in their tournament opening loss to Akron, their poorest shooting performance of the past two seasons.
Drexel: The Dragons have seen plenty of the Pac 12 Conference recently. They lost close games to UCLA and Arizona last year, then opened the season with a 65-48 loss at Colorado last week. They are 0-7 all-time against Pac-12 teams.
Southern Cal plays Penn State for fifth place in the Charleston Classic on Sunday.
Drexel plays Cornell for seventh place in the Charleston Classic on Sunday.