MU Falls To USC, 101-90

The Monmouth men’s basketball team battled back from a 16-point first half deficit to go in front multiple times in a game that saw the lead change 12 times, but eventually fell to Pac-12 member USC on Monday night at the Galen Center, 101-90 on Monday night in Los Angeles. Junior guard Justin Robinson scored a career-high 28 points in the loss that drops Monmouth to 1-1 on the season after splitting a pair of Pac-12 matchups in Southern California. The Trojans improve to 2-0 this year.

“I have to give USC a lot of credit,” said head coach King Rice. “[USC head coach] Andy Enfield had his team prepared for what we do with a short time to turn it around. I’m very proud of our kids, and I probably should have helped them more by calling a few timeouts to try to get them a bucket here or there.”

USC used a 17-8 run in the final 3:29 to pull away after Chris Brady corralled a weakside rebound and put it back to cut the Trojan lead to two. Back-to-back triples from Katin Reinhardt and Elijah Stewart just 35 seconds apart stretched the lead to eight, and USC made nine free throws after that point to secure the win.

Monmouth led by as many as three in the second half when Austin Tilghman put home a hard drive through the lane to make it 63-60 with 11:07 remaining. Neither team led by more than four throughout the next four minutes, with Jordan McLaughlin scoring on two of three trips with a Nikola Jovanovic layup sandwiched in between. MU answered to tie the game at 66 when Collin knocked down a deep wing three with the shot clock expiring with 8:56 remaining.

The home team rebounded to go up five on McLaughlin’s drive with 6:22 left, but a pair of Micah Seaborn free throws and a Robinson three ball would cut the lead to 77-76 with 5:04 to go. Robinson again made it a one-point game with 4:31 to play when his pair of free throws put him over his career-best in scoring.

Ultimately, the Hawks fell 101-90. MU shot 43.5 percent from the floor, 38.5 percent from deep and 83.3 percent from the free throw line. USC was 50.7 percent on the night, 35 percent from downtown and 68.8 percent from the charity stripe.

“I’m super proud, we have a lot to work with,” added Rice. “The journey is just beginning and I’ll be excited to get back home and get back on the floor on Wednesday.”

The Hawks split the California trip and head to Drexel with a 1-1 record next Saturday.