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USC basketball: Trojans fall to Bradley, 64-63

November 20, 2010 |  4:22 pm


USC hoped to bounce back from a 20-point home loss to Rider on Wednesday by taking out Bradley on Saturday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. 

Instead, the Trojans (2-2) swallowed a 64-63 loss that came in the final second.

USC led 63-61 with eight seconds left, and Bradley had possession.

But when Bradley guard Sam Maniscalo went to shoot a desperation three-point shot with one second left, USC guard Marcus Simmons ran at him with his arms out, bumped into him and was called for a foul.

Maniscalo made all three free throws to give Bradley the win. 

The game, which is part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament, was never really pretty, which is any USC basketball game looks these days under Coach Kevin O'Neill. 

USC got strong contributions from freshmen Garrett Jackson (six-of-seven for 12 points) and Bryce Jones (13 points, five steals). Senior guard Donte Smith also chipped in with some much-needed shooting from beyond the arc, sinking four shots from deep while scoring 12 points.

And junior forward Nikola Vucevic recovered from his sub-par game against Rider to record his third double-double in four games with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

USC led for most of the game until when Maniscalco nailed his fourth three-point shot of the day to put Bradley ahead, 60-59, with 57 seconds left. Maniscalo led Bradley with 17 points. 

On USC's next possession, the ball went inside to Vucevic, who pump-faked to draw a shooting foul, but after the call was made, the Bradley bench drew a technical foul, giving Vucevic two more free throws.

He made all four free throws to give USC a 63-61 lead with 39 seconds left. Bradley turned the ball over on the next play and fouled Vucevic, who this time missed both free throws. 

Those misses would come back to haunt USC after Simmons' foul. 

One player who didn't perform well for the Trojans was dynamic freshman point guard Maurice Jones, who came in leading the team in scoring (18.3 points), but missed all 10 of his shots, including five from three-point range. 

The Trojans will stay in Springfield and play New Mexico State at 11:30 a.m. PST Sunday.     

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: USC guard Donte Smith splits the defense of Bradley for a layup in the first half Saturday. Credit: Nancy Palmieri / Associated Press