USC too much for Santa Clara
Forwards Bennie Boatwright, Nick Rakocevic and Chimezie Metu all recorded double-doubles, and USC snapped a three-game losing streak with its 82-59 win over Santa Clara on Thursday at Galen Center in Los Angeles.
The Trojans (5-3), coming in after consecutive losses to Texas A&M, SMU and Oklahoma, rebounded strong — in more ways than one.
USC held a 52-27 edge on the glass, taking advantage of a size disparity that coach Andy Enfield accentuated by starting the 6-foot-11 Rakocevic. Thursday was the first time Enfield used the three-forward starting lineup, coming one game after Rakocevic played a pivotal role in the Trojans’ near-miss comeback effort Dec. 8 against Oklahoma.
Rakocevic scored in double-figures for a second consecutive game, putting up a career-high 16 points to go with his 10 rebounds. Metu scored 20 and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Boatwright had 11 rebounds to go with a game-high 21, bouncing back from some shooting woes during USC’s losing skid. The forward shot below 40 percent in each of the Trojans’ losses, but finished above 50 percent from behind the 3-point line (3 of 5) and 7 of 14 from the floor in total.
Guard Jordan McLaughlin made use of the three-big man lineup, slashing from the perimeter off the dribble and feeding his open teammates when help rotated. He finished with a season-high 10 assists.
Santa Clara (3-7) struggled to find a rhythm offensively, shooting just 31.7 percent from the floor. Forward Josip Vrankic scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Broncos. Guard K.J. Feagin, a native of nearby Long Beach, added 10 points.