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March 6, 2010

Trojans extend season but fall in double OT to Arizona

USC knew its season was over once the buzzer sounded at the end of the game. So they decided to play five more minutes.

And then five more after that.

Despite their best efforts though, USC couldn't hold on in double overtime after Nic Wise's layup with 1.6 seconds left gave Arizona a 86-84 victory in double overtime.

The Trojans (16-14, 8-10 Pac-10) had a chance to win the game in regulation after Donte Smith made two free throws to give USC a three point lead. Arizona's Kyle Fogg attempted a three pointer that appeared to be blocked by Nikola Vucevic.

But the referees called a foul and Fogg made all three free throws to send the game into overtime as Kevin O'Neill steamed on the sideline.

"Everyone knows what happened out there," O'Neill said. "It's no secret. Everyone at the game saw what happened and I'm going to leave it at that."

USC appeared to be on their way to extending their season again after Mike Gerrity tied the game with two free throws with 13 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Wise however, drove the lane and kissed the ball off the top of the glass for a layup and a win.

Senior Dwight Lewis led all scorers with 21 points but fouled out late in the first overtime. Fellow seniors Gerrity and Marcus Johnson added 16 and 13 points, respectively.

"It definitely was an exciting game and enjoyable for the most part," Gerrity said. "Honestly, if we're going to lose, I'd rather lose going out like that. I feel like that game really just summed up our season. The fact that we were laying it on the line knowing it's our last game and we're not getting anything for it. It was fun and was just a good way to go out without getting the win."

The Wildcats (16-14, 10-8 Pac-10) were led by former Trojan commitment Derrick Williams with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Wise's winning layup gave the senior 15 points in his final game at the McKale Center in front of 14,591.

Despite the loss, O'Neill was proud of how his team fought through several tough stretches to extend the game twice.

"I'm proud of our team and what they've accomplished," he said. "It's disappointing. We were tied and had a chance to win in overtime and a chance to win in the second overtime. It's just the way it is. That's basketball. It's unfortunate because these young people played really hard for a long period of time and they didn't get rewarded like we should have."

The loss was USC's fifth straight to end the season. Although they stumbled to the finish, the team looked back at their tumultuous season in a positive manner.

"I think everybody can look back and say we had a good season," Gerrity said. "We didn't do what we sat out to do but people played good basketball. All in all, it was a great season."

"They'll be a team I will always remember," O'Neill said. "They should be proud of themselves. This group really played their hearts out every single day in the worst of all odds. Everybody talks about this team going through adversity but no one knows the adversity these guys went through.

"Check all these major investigations where people get sanctioned. See how many games Indiana won last year. For our guys to suck it up and win 16 games this year - and be competitive in every single game - that says a lot about them as people and players."


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