Junior forward Hayden Dalton sent the Cowboys to overtime with a three-pointer with two seconds remaining in regulation, but No. 23 USC used a layup with three seconds remaining in overtime to remain undefeated and take the Las Vegas Classic title with a 94-92 overtime win over UW. The Cowboys finish the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 10-3 record.
“I told our guys after the game that nobody needs to hang their heads,” UW head coach Allen Edwards said. “It was a tremendous battle and didn’t come out the way we wanted, but I’m proud of the effort. We had some careless turnovers against a good team and you can’t do that against competition like that. We will continue to stay the course and get ready for conference play.”
The Pokes struggled late in regulation going scoreless for nearly three minutes until the Dalton three sent the game into overtime. In extra period, the Trojans outscored the Pokes 9-7 including the game winning layup by Jordan McLaughlin with three seconds left. Neither team led by more than three points in the overtime period. The Cowboys had a chance to win the contest, but a three pointer by junior guard Jeremy Lieberman rimmed out as time ran out.
The Cowboys grabbed 52 rebounds on the night, as it was the most since grabbing 56 against Houston Baptist on Dec. 29, 2008. UW grabbed a season-high 17 offensive rebounds.
“One of the keys to the game was rebounding the basketball and playing in transition,” Edward said. “We attacked and went to the free throw line. Our effort was great and if we bring that we will get some wins this season.”
Senior guard Jason McManamen led the Pokes in scoring with 23 points for his fifth game with 20 or more points this season. He hit six triples on the night tying a season best. He hit five in the first half for the most in the opening frame since Josh Adams hit five against Marshall last season. Sophomore guard Justin James also added 23 points on the night. He tied a career-high with three triples.
Dalton grabbed 18 rebounds for the most since Adam Waddell grabbed 22 against Utah on Jan. 27, 2010. He also added 18 points for his four-straight double-double. It marks the first time since Lenard Washington in 2012-13 that a UW player has recorded four-straight double-doubles.
Both Dalton and James were named to the All-Tournament team.
UW shot 40 percent from the field (29-of-73) and hit 13 three pointers on the night. USC shot 44 percent going 36-of-81 from the field. The Pokes shot a season-high 88 percent from the free throw line going 21-of-24.
The Pokes raced out to an 8-4 lead on the Trojans after a pair of three pointers by McManamen and Dalton. That duo propelled the Pokes to a 15-6 lead forcing a USC timeout. McManamen hit another triple at that point and Dalton had five points and four rebounds.
The Trojans settled in and used a 12-0 run to take a 22-18 lead with 12:31 remaining in the first half. It capped a 16-3 run that lasted over 2:46. The Trojans built their lead to a best to that point six at 26-20, but the Pokes to the lead at 28-26 thanks to a triples by McManamen and Aka Gorski.
James highlighted a 12-0 UW run with a thunderous dunk to give UW a six point lead at 32-26. But that lead was short lived as USC took the lead at 33-32 with a 7-0 run with 5:20 remaining in the half. It was a part of a 7-for-7 streak from the field for the Trojans that saw them build a 46-37 lead on UW with under four minutes remaining in the frame.
McManamen hit his fifth three pointer of the half and cut the deficit to 48-44 with under 90 seconds left in the half. The Trojans added another bucket and took a 50-44 lead into the half. USC shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and the Cowboys hit 50 percent from the three point line going 8-of-16.
The Pokes opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take a 51-50 lead. McManamen tied his season-high with his sixth triple to lead the run. The teams would then exchange buckets until the first media timeout with the game tied at 55-55.
The Pokes would take a 63-58 lead on the Trojans thanks to unselfish basketball that led to a triple by James. He would later add another triple that gave UW a 66-60 lead with under 11 minutes left in the half.
The Trojans battled back to come within one a three times halfway through the half. A fast break layup gave USC a 75-74 lead with under five minutes remaining. Turnovers haunted the Cowboys for a stretch, as USC capitalized to up their advantage to 79-76 with 3:17 remaining in the game.
McManamen cut the Trojan lead to one at 79-78 with a layup at the three minute mark of the game. The Pokes tied the game at 82-82 with 1:40 remaining on a pair of free throws by Dalton. Elijah Stewart gave USC the 84-82 lead on a layup. After a pair of mishaps, Dalton sent the game to overtime with a triple with two seconds left.
Jonah Mathews led all scorers with 26 points of the USC bench. McLaughlin finished the night with 22 points.
The Cowboys open the MW portion of their schedule on Dec. 28 hosting Air force in the Arena-Auditorium for a 7 p.m. start.