EditorsNote: Updates 6th graf with Oregon winning conference
Jonah Mathews capped his 19-point performance with a step-back, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give USC a 54-52 victory over rival UCLA on Saturday at the Galen Center.
Mathews shot 5 of 9 from behind the arc for the Trojans (22-9, 11-7 Pac-12).
Cody Riley (13 points) gave UCLA (19-12, 12-6) a one-point lead with a pair of free throws before Mathews’ fifth trey set the program record for most career 3-pointers made with 247.
Mathews, a senior, produced on Senior Day to help give his class its 88th victory — the most in a four-year span in program history.
UCLA came into Saturday’s matchup on a seven-game winning streak, playing its way from the cellar of the Pac-12 into regular-season championship contention. A win over USC would have guaranteed the Bruins at least a share of the title.
The Bruins instead had to hope for Stanford to beat Oregon late Saturday night, but the Ducks won to claim the conference alone.
USC led for much of the second half of a defensive struggle in which the Trojans shot just 41.2 percent but held the Bruins to 31.4 percent shooting. USC responded to multiple UCLA surges, including Onyeka Okongwu’s thunderous dunk in traffic for two of his 16 points.
UCLA’s 14-of-15 free-throw shooting — compared to USC’s dismal 5 of 12 — kept the Bruins within striking distance.
Chris Smith, before fouling out, powered in a layup that pulled UCLA to within 51-50 with 1:15 left.
The Bruins had an opportunity to take the lead, but Jake Kyman — who earlier sank a critical 3-pointer earlier — slipped on the floor and missed a pass.
UCLA gained new life when Okongwu missed the front end of a one-and-one, setting up Riley’s two made foul shots.
The Bruins can be seeded no worse than No. 2 in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. USC’s best-case scenario is the No. 3 seed.
—Field Level Media