UCLA Basketball Continues Losing Streak Against USC – Press Enterprise

LOS ANGELES — As USC forward Isaiah Mobley finished a three-point game by playing 1:22, the sold-out crowd at the Pauley Pavilion went eerily silent.

UCLA had led by 13 in the second half, but the ghosts of a five-game losing streak against the Trojans seemed to be arriving in the hallowed arena. The Bruins had missed 10 shots in a row and appeared on the verge of wasting another late possession.

But senior Cody Riley, honored before the regular-season finals, turned improbably to hit a fade-away jumper with three seconds left of the shot clock that gave UCLA breathing room.

And though free-throw shooting gave UCLA supporters more to sweat, Riley’s jumper was just enough for the 17th-ranked Bruins to earn a 75-68 win over No. 16 USC.

“To be honest, I didn’t like the way we ended the game,” said UCLA head coach Mick Cronin, who earned his first win in the Crosstown rivalry. “It’s great, but no banner will be raised.”

Jaime Jaquez, who led all scorers at 27, hugged teammate Jules Bernard as the crowd chanted “UCLA” in celebration. The win gave the Bruins (23-6, 15-5 in Pac-12) second place in the Pac-12 tournament, while the Trojans (25-6, 14-6) dropped to third place.

“It definitely meant a lot to end the regular season on a good note against a team we haven’t had any luck against in the last few games,” said Bernard, who scored 19 goals in what may be his last game with Pauley.

UCLA came out like the team hungry for a long-awaited rivalry victory. After both teams fired their first four shots, the Bruins blanked out the Trojans for the next five minutes. UCLA’s full-court press rushed USC, leading to eight first-half turnovers.

When Tyger Campbell went past an open Jaylen Clark for a two-handed transition dunk, USC head coach Andy Enfield called a timeout to try to stem the tide of an 8-0 run at UCLA. But Clark bowed to the Trojans before heading to his bench.

“We have to do a better job [on turnovers] in Las Vegas,” said USC head coach Andy Enfield, whose team lost their first straight game this season.

Despite the Bruins’ energy and focus, USC stayed within six points at halftime thanks to four first-half 3-point goals.

The Trojans’ hot shooting from behind the arch continued into the second half. Boogie Ellis connected through contact to convert a four-pointer to keep the game at 47, though a Jaquez layup quickly reclaimed the lead for the Bruins. Then a step back 3 from Drew Peterson put USC within 1 with 12:06 to play.

But Jaquez responded with six straight for the Bruins and then found Jules Bernard in the corner for a 3-pointer to put the Bruins comfortably back in front.

You could tell Jaquez was on USC’s mind during that mini-run. The UCLA guard had pumped himself into numerous free throws. When he threatened to back away from the centerline, USC forward Chevez didn’t bite Goodwin and challenged Jaquez to shoot, which he happily did to score two points.

“He delivered for us,” Cronin said.

Jaquez made 10 of 16 shots and added four assists after hitting a career-high 30 against Washington on Monday.

“I just feel really good about my body. My ankles are feeling really good right now,” Jaquez said. “Now it’s time to shift gears.”

The Trojans had no one to blame but themselves for ending their winning streak against UCLA. USC had 15 turnovers that resulted in 21 UCLA points compared to just a giveaway from the Bruins.

“That’s the whole difference in the game,” Cronin said.

“We shouldn’t be turning it over 15 times, but we also have to come back,” added Mobley, who led USC by 20 points. “It’s an effort thing.”

Still, USC had its chances. The Bruins were reluctant to shoot late in the game when trying to time out, resulting in a bad offense for them and an extra life for the Trojans.

But the turnovers showed up again as guard Max Agbonkpolo left the limits before firing a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, giving UCLA a chance to thwart the win and cast out some demons.

“We definitely didn’t want to pass here on our home court against USC,” Jaquez said. “That’s why I’m just happy that we won.”


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