Princeton rallies to beat USC 103-93 in overtime
LOS ANGELES (AP) Owning a losing record in nonconference play hasn’t meant much for the Princeton Tigers once Ivy League play begins.
So they weren’t panicking when Southern California forced an already tight game into overtime.
Myles Stephens scored a career-high 30 points and Princeton won 103-93 on Tuesday night in the second-ever meeting between the schools and first since 1972.
The Tigers (5-6) outscored the Trojans 17-7 in overtime after Princeton blew all of an 11-point lead in the second half of its highest scoring game of the season.
Devin Cannady added 23 points and Sebastian Much had a career-high 19 points for the Tigers, who won their third in a row. Amir Bell had 18 points – seven in OT – nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals.
”I’m just so proud of them to have made some small adjustments and not get too down in overtime,” Tigers coach Mitch Henderson said. ”It was a really good all-around team effort.”
Chimezie Metu led the Trojans (6-4) with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan McLaughlin added 24 points and Elijah Stewart scored 20.
”I was just trying to keep us in the game,” Metu said. ”They were driving pretty aggressively and we just couldn’t stay in front of them.”
The Tigers made 9 of 10 free throws in overtime, when Stewart fouled out and Jordan Usher picked up his third and fourth fouls for USC. Shaqquan Aaron also fouled out in his first start of the season.
The Trojans committed two costly fouls in the final seconds of OT when Metu got stripped of the ball in the paint and Nick Rakocevic was called for a double-dribble.
USC shot 30 percent in OT, missing 7 of 10 field goals. Princeton shot 67 percent, hitting 4 of 6 from the field.
”Tough game for us. We couldn’t get some crucial stops when we needed it,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.
Princeton trailed by one when the Tigers launched a 20-8 run to take a 62-51 lead. Stephens and Much had eight points each, with Much hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, the first of which beat the shot clock.
Much’s five 3-pointers were a career high in a homecoming game for the native of Laguna Niguel.
”It’s a very happy locker room,” Henderson said.
The Trojans refused to concede. Stewart and McLaughlin hit consecutive 3-pointers in the final 32 seconds of regulation, the last of which left USC trailing 85-82.
McLaughlin’s layup cut USC’s deficit to 86-84 before Cannady turned the ball over on the baseline under heavy pressure.
After a timeout, McLaughlin’s layup tied the game at 86. Much missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.
Princeton came out firing to start the game, hitting five 3-pointers – three by Cannady – to take its largest lead of the first half, 23-16.
The Trojans answered with an 18-2 run sparked by six different players scoring to take a 34-25 lead.
USC guard De’Anthony Melton missed his 10th straight game while the school holds him out for precautionary reasons that involve a potential eligibility issue. The FBI investigation of assistant coaches accused of using bribes to influence star players’ choice of schools, shoe sponsors and agents referred to a USC sophomore. Melton has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He was USC’s best defensive player last season, and led the Pac-12 in steals with 69. Metu has been wearing a white T-shirt reading (hashtag)freedmelt and Melton’s No. 22. ”It’s not fair to him that he’s not playing,” Metu said. ”He did nothing wrong and we need him back on the court.” Enfield said he remains hopeful Melton will play this season.
Cannady is the only Princeton player to score in double figures in all 11 games. The junior guard needs 53 points to top 1,000 in his career.
MISSING IN ACTION
Bennie Boatwright, USC’s second-leading leading scorer at 15.4 points, missed his second straight game because of pain in his right foot from a plantar wart. Also sitting out was guard Jonah Mathews with a sprained right ankle and guard Derryck Thornton, who has missed four games with a dislocated right shoulder. ”It’s been a very challenging year so far,” Enfield said.
ONCE ON TUESDAY
The loss snapped USC’s streak of 13 straight wins in Tuesday games. The Trojans hadn’t lost on that day of the week since Dec. 4, 2007, against Memphis at Madison Square Garden.
Princeton: The Tigers struggled to start the season, losing six of their first eight games. They head to Hawaii later this week on a roll, with three games remaining before the start of Ivy League play on Jan. 5. They were undefeated in league play last season.
USC: The Trojans’ up-and-down season continues. After opening as the No. 10 team and winning their first four games, they dropped three in a row before winning two and losing again. They have three games left in Hawaii before starting Pac-12 play on Dec. 29.
Princeton: The Tigers travel to Hawaii to play Middle Tennessee State in the Diamond Head Classic on Friday. If the Tigers win, they could potentially play the Trojans on Saturday.
USC: The Trojans play Akron in the islands on Friday.
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