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USC basketball: Trojans top UNLV in Diamond Head Classic final

December 25, 2009 |  9:51 pm

Uschoops2_300 Mike Gerrity hadn't been to Hawaii since he was about six years old.

But in his first trip back, the USC point guard starred this week, leading the Trojans to three wins, including a 67-56 victory over Nevada Las Vegas tonight in the final of the Diamond Head Classic, and earning for himself tournament MVP honors.

Gerrity finished tonight's game with 13 points on four-for-eight shooting, including two for two from three-point range.

USC (8-4) won its sixth straight game behind a strong defense that held UNLV (12-2) to a season-low 56 points, snapping the Runnin' Rebels' five-game winning streak. For USC, Gerrity proved to be the key as he carried the load against UNLV's pressure defense and full-court press. Three times he threw full-court passes against that press that led to easy baskets.

Forward Marcus Johnson led the Trojans with 19 points (nine-for-19 shooting) and nine rebounds. He scored USC's first six points.

The Trojans used a 16-2 run to go up, 35-18, with 2:19 left in the first half. UNLV responded with a 12-2 run in the second half to cut the lead to 59-50 with 2:38 left, but USC was able to hang on.

Los Angeles native Oscar Bellfield led the Runnin' Rebels with 17 points on seven-for-16 shooting.

USC shot 45% from the field (21 for 47) and tied a season low with eight turnovers, but missed 15 free throws (22 of 37).

The win was USC's third in four games against one-loss teams. The others came against Tennessee on Saturday and St. Mary's on Wednesday.

USC's Pac-10 schedule begins on New Year's Eve when the Trojans play host to Arizona.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: USC point guard Mike Gerrity pulls up for a jumper over UNLV's Tre'Von Willis on Friday night. Credit: Eugene Tanner / Associated Press