A sluggish offensive effort in the first half for USC was overcome by a blazing shooting spree in the final period of play, as the Trojans came away with a 77-59 victory against visiting Cal at the Galen Center on Sunday. Sophomore guard Jonah Matthews continued his recent hot streak, scoring 16 points on four 3-pointers against Cal. Tal Volk | Daily TrojanUSC was led in scoring by senior guard Elijah Stewart and sophomore guard Jonah Mathews, who both chipped in 16 points apiece for the Trojans. The victory is USC’s sixth-consecutive in conference play. The Trojans (17-6 overall, 8-2 in Pac-12) currently find themselves a half-game behind conference-leading Arizona in the Pac-12 standings. “It’s always difficult winning in the Pac-12,” said USC senior guard Jordan McLaughlin, who finished with 9 points (3-of-7 FG) and 10 assists against Cal. “The fact that we’ve been able to pull off six straight wins, we just want to keep it going. We’re entering one of the tougher parts of our schedule now, so we’ve just got to keep taking it day-by-day.” In the closing seconds of the first half, Mathews connected on a 3-point field goal that gave USC a narrow 31-29 lead at the break. The Trojans would not relinquish this lead for the remainder of the contest. “[Mathews] brings a spark on defense and offense for us,” McLaughlin said. “Coach gives us all a lot of freedom to shoot the ball, but especially to [Mathews]. When he’s in rhythm, he can knock down 8-of-10 shots from anywhere on the floor.” The first half saw USC shoot 11-for-34 (32.4 percent) from the field. The Trojans shot 2-of-8 (25 percent) from beyond the arc in the opening half. “We took some really tough, contested shots in the lane (in the first half),” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “[First half struggles] came down to shot selection … We only had four assists in the first half, we had 13 in the second half. That’s why we were able to score more points later.” USC came out firing offensively to open up the second half. Over the first seven minutes of the second period, USC went on a 15-5 run to open their lead on Cal to 46-34. The run was powered by three 3-point field goals from Stewart to open the half. “[Stewart’s] been doing that for us for four years now,” Enfield said, regarding Stewart’s hot-shooting. “He’s a great shooter when his feet are set, and we need him to do that for our team. He’s a big part of our team … When he’s knocking down shots, it probably means our team is about to go on a run.” Stewart, who was held scoreless in the first half (0-for-3 FG), was a major catalyst for USC offensively when it widened the gap on Cal (7-15, 1-8) in the second half. Stewart hit 4-of-5 3-point field goal attempts in the second half, enroute to a 16-point performance.For the second consecutive game, the Trojans were without junior forward Bennie Boatwright (averaging 15.2 PPG this season), who is dealing with a foot injury. In a second half, which saw USC outscore Cal 46-30, the Trojans shot 8-for-13 from 3-point range. Overall, USC was 17-for-29 (58.6 percent) from the field in the second half.Cal senior forward Marcus Lee finished with the game-high in both points scored, 23, and rebounds, 12. Golden Bears freshman guard Darius McNeill contributed 13 points in a losing-effort for Cal. USC’s largest lead of the night came on a dunk from freshman forward Victor Uyaelunmo with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. The dunk gave the Trojans a 75-53 lead on Cal.“Despite the score, that was probably the hardest 20-point game I’ve played in a long time,” Stewart said. “[Cal] just kept coming back and staying in it. So it was a good win.” USC held the Golden Bears to 11-of-34 (32.4 percent) shooting from the field in the second half. Overall, Cal finished Sunday shooting 22-for-57 (38.6 percent) from the field. USC improved to 8-0 this season, when holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting. The Golden Bears have now lost eight-consecutive games, the longest losing streak for Cal since the 1992 season. USC will next take the floor on Feb. 3, when it hits the road to face crosstown rival UCLA (15-7, 6-4) at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood.
…As Okagbare completes sprint doubleSeye Ogunlewe is Nigeria’s fastest man again after winning the 100m Men’s title at the All-Nigeria Championships which ended on a high note on Friday. Ogunlewe who won his first national title in Warri in 2015 beat his rivals as he ran a new Personal Best time of 10.12secs to retain his crown and also book a slot to the Rio Olympics having surpassed the set standard.Oduduru Divine with a time of 10.25secs and Egwero Ogho-Oghene with a time of 10.36secs finished in second and third place respectively.Speaking after his victory, Ogunlewe said he worked very hard to defend the title and would even work harder to make some impact in his debut appearance at the Olympics.“I give thanks to God for making this possible, winning the 100m event again and qualifying for the Olympics is a dream come true,” the UK-based athlete stated.Ogunlewe with a time of 21.28secs also won one of the finals of the men’s 200m event.In another high point of the day, Blessing Okagbare also completed a sprint double; winning the women 200m event (Final A) with a time of 22.78secs.The fleet-footed Queen of the Tracks who won her seventh 100m Women’s title a day earlier made a light work of the 200m event.Lawretta Ozoh won the women’s 200m final B with a time of 23.71secs.Having finished second in the 100m event, Oduduru had a lot to cheer as he won the 200m Men’s event with a time of 20.51secs.Also on Friday, the Nigeria duo of Emmanuel Gyang and Deborah Pam both won the 10,000m in the men and women categories respectively.Gyang finished first with a time of 31:31:58 while Solomon Yilbam finished second with a time of 32:05:19.Daylong Sylvester of Nigeria Immigration came third with a time of 32:29:71.In the women’s 10,000m run, Deborah Pam, also of NSCDC, won the race with a time of 36:53:73, while Olamide Oluwaseun came second on 37:25:17, Olumidi Aderonke however finished third.Kunle Fasasi also became the new men’s 400m champions; dethroning Chidi Okezie with his winning time of 46.22secs.It was Theddus Okpara who won the men’s High Jump; scaling 2.10m while Obiora Arinze finished 2nd jumping a height of 2.05m.There was big upset in the Men’s 400m hurdles event where Henry Okorie emerged champion, finishing in 50:12s to take the national title from Miles Ukaoma who could only manage a third place finish.In the women’s race, Amaka Ogoegbunam retained her 400mH title, running a time of 57:61secs.With the Nigeria Olympic trials over, attention will now be shifted to Saturday’s Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) Grand Prix, Warri Relays also taking place at the Sapele Township Stadium. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram