Glass work propels USC into Paycom Wooden Legacy title game

Anaheim, Calif., Nov. 25, 2021 – Setting the tone on the glass from the outset, No. 24 USC opened the Paycom Wooden Classic with a 70-55 win over Saint Joseph’s at the Anaheim Convention Center Thursday.

The Trojans (5-0) grabbed 10 of their 14 offensive rebounds in the opening 20 minutes and forced 10 turnovers by the Hawks (2-3) in the same span.

Guard Boogie Ellis had 17 points and four assists and forwards Joshua Morgan and Chevez Goodwin combined for 23 points and 14 rebounds for USC, which raced out to a 12-point halftime lead and pushed the advantage to 20 late in the second half.

USC will face San Diego State in Friday’s championship game. The Aztecs downed Georgetown, 73-56, in the nightcap. The Hoyas will face Saint Joseph’s in the third-place game.

Center Ekije Obinna had a career-high 18 points to go with 10 rebounds for Saint Joseph’s. It was his second double-double of the season.

“Joshua did a great job in the paint blocking shots and challenging shots,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “They’re a very good 3-point shooting team and to hold them to 6-for-31, I thought our guys really made an effort to challenge every shot.”

A 3-pointer by guard Erik Reynolds II early in the first half pulled the Hawks within 44-37, but the Trojans kicked the lead up to 13 in the next two minutes thanks to a dunk by Morgan after an offensive rebound and a turnaround jumper by Max Agbonkpolo.

“I felt that we controlled the game the entire time, we had them on their heels and there weren’t really any points in the game when we were really rattled,” said Ellis, a 6-foot-3 junior. “We did a great job controlling the pace of the game and waiting for them to break down.”

Forward Isaiah Mobley added 11 rebounds for USC, which committed only seven turnovers and forced 15 from Saint Joseph’s.

“USC, they’re a top 25 team, so you can’t make mistakes,” Saint Joseph’s coach Billy Lange said. “We didn’t get to the foul line enough in the first half, we had 10 turnovers in the first half and they had 10 offensive rebounds. That alone breaks every rhythm you have. Those 10 offensive rebounds came on a stop so that means we didn’t get a rebound and the chance to run.”

Forward Taylor Funk, the Hawks’ leading scorer, added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Hawks. Guard Jordan Hall, who entered the game averaging 15.3 points, was held to two points on 1-for-12 shooting. He was guarded primarily by forward Drew Peterson, who had four assists, a steal and two blocks.“We didn’t play hard enough,” Obinna said. “It’ a learning moment for us, it’s a long season and we’ll learn from it and move on.”

San Diego State 73, Georgetown 56: Guard Matt Bradley, wearing a teammate’s jersey in what he called a tribute to redshirt Demarshay Johnson, scored 18 points and added seven rebounds as the Aztecs (4-1) took charge late in the first half and fended off a Hoyas rally to reach the tournament final.

San Diego State unleashed a furious defensive charge after falling behind, 28-26. Adam Seiko’s 3-pointer, which bounced high off the rim before dropping through the net at the buzzer, capped a 12-4 run to close the first half.

It was the 100 th victory for coach Brian Dutcher, reaching the milestone in his 132 nd game. It’s the fastest route to a 100 wins in school history.

“I thought we made a step forward as a basketball team today,” Dutcher said. “I said we’re going to have a good team. How soon, I don’t know. Our defense continues to anchor our program and we’re getting a little bit more comfortable on the offensive end.”

Guard Lamont Butler added 16 points, making all six of his shots, and had three of the Aztecs’ 10 steals. Guard Trey Pulliam, who also had three steals, had seven points and eight assists.

Guard Aminu Mohammed scored 20 points to lead Georgetown and guard Dante Harris had 19. But the Hoyas had trouble holding onto the ball, finishing with 15 turnovers and they shot only 35.1 percent for the game.

Georgetown fell behind, 54-39, but made a comeback of its own, pulling within 57-53 on a layup by Mohammed. But SDSU responded with a 16-1 run to re-establish control.

“We made a big run in the second half, cut it to four points, but then we couldn’t make any shots after that,” Hoyas coach Patrick Ewing said. “They got a few run-outs, fast-break points and we just didn’t have enough. If we want to make shots, we need to make good passes and we only had six assists tonight. If we want to beat teams like this, we need to have more than six assists.”