USC Topped By La Salle, 71-62

Nov. 30, 2004

Box Score

By Dan Gelston

Philadelphia (AP) - Steven Smith tied a career high with 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Jermaine Thomas added 13 points to lead La Salle to a 71-62 win over Southern California on Tuesday night.

Rory O'Neil led USC (1-2) with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Gabriel Pruitt had 12 points.

Coach John Giannini won his first game at La Salle (1-2) since taking over a once-proud program tainted by an offseason rape scandal that cost the Explorers three players. Giannini replaced Billy Hahn, who resigned in the wake of the sex-assault charges against his players.

La Salle, though, still has Smith and he lived up to his billing as the best player in the city.

Smith went 8-for-13 from the floor and matched his career high of 27, done twice last year against Dayton and James Madison. Smith scored just about every which way against USC, hitting pull-up jumpers, dunks and fastbreak layups. Wherever Smith was on the floor, he found a way to score.

The Explorers hit two 3-pointers in the final 2:30 of the first half to build a 33-18 lead and led by 16 midway through the second half when USC used a 14-2 run to pull to 48-43.

But Tabby Cunningham made a couple of free throws and Mike St. John sank a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, helping the Explorers stretch the lead to 57-44.

USC coach Henry Bibby played for the 76ers, from 1977-80, appearing in the NBA Finals in 1977 and 1980.

USC went 8-for-32 from 3-point range.