Basketball: Late Chevez Goodwin score pushes unbeaten USC past WSU
The USC basketball team hasn't had many close calls this season, certainly not like the late-game tension the Trojans faced at Washington State on Saturday.
They fell behind by 1 with 35 seconds left on a 3-pointer from the Cougars' TJ Bamba, but two of the Trojans' most improved players showed again the depth of this lineup.
Redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin took a smooth dish from guard Boogie Ellis in the paint and finished a tough layup while getting fouled with 16 seconds left. He made the free throw to give USC a 2-point lead and junior Max Agbonkpolo blocked WSU standout Noah Williams on the other end.
Williams would later get one more shot at the buzzer, but his final 3-point attempt missed as the No. 20-ranked Trojans closed out a 63-61 win to move to 8-0 overall, 2-0 in the Pac-12 this season.
Washington State (6-2, 1-1) had led by as many as 7 points in the first half and led by 5 with less than 7 minutes to play in the game.
"It's a hard place to play and it's a very good basketball team. They defend you, they rebound it, they're big and long and they have a lot of perimeter shooting so a win against this team on their home court is very, very good for us," USC coach Andy Enfield said.
USC is off to its best start since the 2016-17 season, which has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise after losing its top two scorers -- including NBA lottery pick Evan Mobley -- after the Elite Eight run last season.
Goodwin has been one of the major contributors to the Trojans exceeding expectations so far as he's morphed from offensive afterthought to reliable finisher. He had a team-high 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting with 5 rebounds in the win.
Drew Peterson had 13 points and 6 rebounds and Isaiah Mobley finished with 9 points and 5 boards. Agbonkpolo chipped in 8 points and redshirt sophomore Josh Morgan had 8 points and a block while playing solid defense yet again.
The defense overall was stout again as USC held Washington State to 37.9-percent shooting, but it was a disjointed game offensively much of the way for the Trojans.
"We shot 50 percent from the field, but we missed some wide-open layups and we missed a lot of open 3s -- we only made two 3s in the game. Washington State's a very good defensive team -- they're big, they're physical -- and I thought when we needed to execute we did. But there was some times in transition, we had about three or four times in transition we had two-on-one and three-on-two's in the second half and our guys just didn't make plays," Enfield said. "They turned it over, they traveled, they charged. It was a little embarrassing because our guys are better players than that. We're certainly not a finished product right now, but we'll keep at it."
But 8-0 is 8-0.
As for the final sequence, Peterson had put USC ahead 60-58 with 51 seconds left on a drive, spin and fadeaway from the corner of the free throw line. That shot fall-back jumper has become a strength for Peterson.
Bamba followed with the 3 to swing the lead to the Cougars, and then USC got exactly what it wanted on the drive by Ellis and perfect lob feed to Goodwin for the go-ahead score and foul shot.
"Boogie Ellis made a terrific play -- he drove, we cleared out for Boogie and he passed it just at the right time and Chevez finished and made the free throw. So Chevez was really good tonight," Enfield said.
The Agbonkpolo block deserves special mention as well.
Michael Flowers led Washington State with 13 points and Williams scored 12 as the Trojans defense put the clamps down yet again.
"They were playing really well in the first half. They made about three 3s in a row, they started out hot and we just battled, cut it to 2 at halftime. At that point it's anybody's game and I thought we got out to a great start in the second half. We got some transition buckets, about four or five stops in a row on the defensive end and then it was just close the whole second half. We took the lead and we were fortunate enough in the last 30 seconds to take it one last time," Enfield said.