His again nonetheless ached, the tightness constructing and constructing over the past half of an extended season, within the latter a part of an extended faculty profession.
Drew Peterson wasn’t his normally lithe self on Saturday night time. The senior’s stiff again had slowed him down Thursday and practically sidelined him for USC’s common season finale. A report from earlier within the day had gone as far as to declare him out. However when the sector lights went out and the lineup was introduced, the fifth-year senior cautiously ran onto the sector, as if his presence had by no means been doubted.
This is able to be Peterson’s final sport at Galen Middle – an enviornment that had bent to his will on a couple of event.
Saturday wouldn’t be a kind of nights, although, whilst USC completed its season on a excessive, skating previous Arizona State, 68-65. The Solar Devils didn’t power additional time when DJ Horne missed a three-point try on the buzzer.
Peterson would pull it off in an effort typical of a USC profession, adapting the place he was wanted. He’d nonetheless struggle for rebounds, nonetheless drive to the ring, nonetheless hit bullets to the wing, the same old emblems of his versatile expertise. However the stiffness had stolen the spark that certain them collectively, forcing Peterson to struggle by way of each possession.
He would end with 9 factors, 5 rebounds and three assists in his Finals, a whole, however modest, line that might not adequately inform the story of his swan music at USC.
His fellow senior would fortunately choose up the slack, as he has so many occasions. Boogie Ellis might have spent a yr much less right here than Peterson, however throughout his two seasons as Trojan he emerged because the undisputed different half of the group’s heartbeat.
By no means had that been extra true than this previous month, with Ellis in the very best a part of his faculty profession and USC determined for a distinction maker. The purpose guard continued his torrid stretch Saturday, scoring a game-high 28 factors to steer USC as soon as once more.
Each seniors would depart a legacy at USC that ought to play on an countless loop within the college’s highlights for years to come back. Collectively they might hit a number of the largest photographs within the largest moments. However their impression would prolong far past these transient blips, and each would depart indelible marks on a basketball program on the rise.
Saturday wouldn’t be a kind of memorable matches. The Trojans didn’t rating for 5 minutes at the beginning, a bit that additionally led to 5 possession losses. They added three extra in the course of the first 13 minutes of the sport, throwing foul passes, dribbling over ft and making fateful choices.
However as so usually earlier than this season, USC settled. It held the protection tight, forcing Arizona State to overlook its final twelve photographs earlier than halftime. Whereas the Solar Devils struggled, the Trojans would go into halftime with a 15-2 run.
They need to sweat it out from there, with Arizona State slicing the deficit to only one level within the ultimate seconds.
The win ought to probably give the Trojans a spot on the secure facet of the NCAA match bubble, taking a number of the strain off subsequent week’s journey to Las Vegas. USC was already locked within the quantity 3 seed for the convention match. It is going to face the winner of sixth-seeded Arizona State towards eleventh-seeded Oregon State on Thursday at 8:30 PM PST.
How far it goes from there might effectively depend upon how far the pair of seniors can carry them.