USC basketball: Trojans top UNLV in Diamond Head Classic final
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