Onyeka Okongwu finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds, and USC held off Washington State in the Pac-12 Conference opener for each team, 65-56, in Pullman, Wash.
The Trojans (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) led almost throughout, yet never by more than the 13-point edge they built early in the game. USC seized control with a 15-2 run that began just 3:34 into the contest.
Washington State (9-5, 0-1) outscored USC the rest of the first half, 20-11, and remained within single digits for all but a few possessions in the game’s final minutes.
The Cougars even cut the gap to a single point immediately out of halftime on Isaac Bonton’s 3-pointer. Bonton scored a team-high 18 points and made 4-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc. Tony Miller added 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
However, Washington State had no answer for Okongwu.
The freshman forward dominated inside on offense and on the glass, scoring his game-high on 12-of-14 shooting from the floor. Okongwu’s presence on the interior sparked USC to a 40-28 advantage with points in the paint.
Only one other Trojan scored in double-figures, Jonah Mathews with 10, but Nick Rakocevic added 10 rebounds. USC had a 46-39 edge on the boards.
With its 51.1 percent shooting from the floor and advantage on the glass, the Trojans had opportunities to pull away. Washington State shot a dismal 27.8 from the floor, but attempted 34 more field goals than USC.
The shot disparity was due both to USC’s 20 turnovers and Washington State grabbing 20 offensive rebounds. CJ Elleby grabbed 10 rebounds for the Cougars, five of those on the offensive end.
But Elleby also shot 3-of-22 from the floor, and closed the game with seven consecutive missed attempts from the floor.
Mathews dished a game-high four assists. Elijah Weaver added eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. Isaiah Mobley scored seven points, and Okongwu blocked three shots.
—Field Level Media