Dec. 28, 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Southern California is loving its new home.
In front of the kind of large and raucous crowd the Trojans expected in their new Galen Center arena but had yet to see, USC beat 14th-ranked Washington 86-79 in double overtime Thursday night in the Pac-10 opener for both teams.
USC won its ninth straight home game. The Trojans haven't lost at home since a season-opening defeat to South Carolina.
"I've never seen the Galen Center like that," said Nick Young, who scored five of his 25 points in the second overtime to lead the Trojans. "We were excited to see our fans out there, to have the student section going, it was a big feeling for us."
USC (11-3) knocked off a ranked team for the second straight game. They beat then-No. 8 Wichita State in Las Vegas last Friday.
Spencer Hawes scored a career-high 24 points for Washington (10-2), which has lost both of its road games this season, falling to Gonzaga 97-77 on Dec. 9.
Hawes made his first 3-pointer of the season to send the game into double overtime, but the Huskies were outscored 13-6 in the second extra period.
Young shot 8-for-16 from the field and Taj Gibson finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds despite sitting out the final 8:50 of the first half with food poisoning.
Despite his sickness, Gibson, also a freshman center, outshone the more highly touted Hawes with powerful dunks and rebounds for long stretches of the night. He had his seventh double-double of the season.
Gabe Pruitt, who started for the first time this season for USC after sitting out most of the year because of academic problems, added 18 points and six assists for the Trojans.
Pruitt started in the place of Daniel Hackett, Gibson's roommate, who also had food poisoning and played just 6 minutes. Both Hackett and Gibson had IVs before the game and at halftime.
Hawes, a freshman 7-footer who had scored 23 in each of the Huskies' last two games, made his improbable 3 from the top of the key at the end of the first overtime as Washington inbounded the ball with 1 second to play.
"He's capable of hitting those kinds of shots," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We had confidence he could knock those down."
Young said Hawes' 3 nearly deflated the Trojans.
"When he hit that 3 I was exhausted," Young said. "I've never had that feeling before. It was disappointing but we all pulled it together."
Ryan Appleby, who went 6-for-9 from behind the arc and scored 18 points, had just missed a 3 with 5 seconds to play, seemingly ending the Huskies' hopes.
Pruitt made a 3-pointer with the shot clock running out early in the second overtime that gave USC a 78-75 lead.
After a Hawes layup, Young then made a 3-pointer, sank three of four free throws in the final minute and pulled down a rebound with the Trojans leading by seven that put the game away.
USC has won six of its last seven, and hosts Washington State on Saturday.
"It could've been a backbreaker to lose this game," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "I don't know if anyone has a tougher opening six-game stretch to open league (play). To get that win was special."
After losing both road games, the young Huskies, who start three freshmen and two sophomores, now play four of their next seven on the road, including a trip across Los Angeles to face No. 1 UCLA on Sunday. Washington also has to face No. 7 Arizona at home on Jan. 4.
Aside from Hawes' night, there were a few more bright spots for Washington.
The Huskies have yet to be outrebounded this season, and had the edge on the boards against the Trojans 39-38. They were also just the second team to shoot over 40 percent against the USC defense, going 29-for-66 from the field for 43.9 percent.
"I'm proud of the way our guys competed," Romar said. "A lot of guys played a lot of minutes, expended a lot of energy. We got in early foul trouble so we never got in a rhythm."
Gibson made two free throws to give USC a 64-62 lead with 1:48 to play in regulation.
Hawes missed a short jumper that would have tied it with 38 seconds left, and Rousean Cromwell fouled Adrian Oliver, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 7.3 seconds to play.
But Cromwell fouled Jon Brockman in the struggle for the rebound, and Brockman made two shots with 5.8 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
"We really had a chance to feel sorry for ourselves at the end of regulation and the first overtime," Floyd said. "But we responded to adversity. I'm proud of that."
Brockman had 11 rebounds. He fouled out in overtime, along with fellow starters Oliver and Quincy Pondexter.