Trojans Trounce Cougars In Regular-Season Finale

March 8, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Southern California finally kept a late lead, and kept its season alive in the process.

Desmon Farmer scored 27 points as USC beat Washington State 86-68 Saturday to clinch a spot in the Pac-10 Conference tournament.

The Trojans (11-16, 6-12) will be the No. 7 seed in the tournament because UCLA defeated Washington 84-72 on Saturday night. The Bruins are the tournament's eighth seed.

Washington State (7-20, 2-16) finished in last place in the Pac-10.

The Cougars led 52-51 with 11:35 remaining, but the Trojans went on a 10-0 run that included five points from Farmer to take a 61-52 lead with 8:39 left.

Washington State would get no closer than five the rest of the game as USC pulled away late, taking a 70-60 lead with 5:57 remaining after Farmer hit a 3-pointer.

Farmer hit another 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to give USC an 82-68 lead.

'Its nice to win a game,' said USC coach Henry Bibby, whose team had lost seven straight. 'For awhile I thought we were snakebit. Tonight, we got back in the game and everything started going our way.'

The Trojans outscored the Cougars 21-7 in the final seven minutes.

'We couldn't get the ball in the bucket,' said Washington State coach Paul Graham, who has a 31-79 record in four seasons as the Cougars coach. 'The final score was not indicative of the closeness of the game. Our effort was pretty good. In the second half, they got ahead of us and it snowballed from there.'

The Cougars jumped out to a 45-38 lead, their biggest of the game, with 18:24 remaining.

USC then went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 45 with 15:45 remaining.

The run was powered by USC senior point guard Robert Hutchinson, who made two key shots during the stretch, the second to tie the game when he stole the ball and drove in for an easy layup.

'We started playing some defense tonight and getting the stops we needed,' said Hutchinson, who scored nine points. 'Our season was on the line and we knew we had to come out and play.'

'We didn't know how to win,' said Bibby, whose team had been winless since beating UNLV 98-73 on Feb. 9. 'When you lose so many games in a row, you get shellshocked. We tried to get the guys to stay focused.'

Rory O'Neil scored 16 points for USC. Jerry Dupree had 14 and Errick Craven added 12.

Ezenwa Ueagu led Washington State with 23 points.

The lead changed hands nine times in the first half as neither team led by more than five points. USC led 31-28 with four minutes remaining but went scoreless for nearly three minutes while Washington State went on a 5-0 run to take a 33-31 lead with 1:25 left in the half.

Washington State took a 37-34 lead into halftime.

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