- Special Sections
- Public Notices
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Alford summed up his team’s performance in one simple word.
Despite the lack of style points, the result was all he cared about.
Tony Snell hit two free throws with 1:27 left to put New Mexico ahead, and the Lobos held on to beat Southern California 44-41 on Saturday.
The Lobos went without a field goal for the final 14:16, but made 11 free throws in that span to fend off the Trojans.
“It was ugly,” Alford said. “We got careless. We got bored, really. But we found a way to win. And that’s all that really matters.”
After Snell put New Mexico ahead, A.J. Hardemann made a pair of free throws with 17 seconds remaining. USC’s attempt to tie came up short when Mo Jones’ 3-point try at the buzzer missed everything.
Drew Gordon had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Lobos (7-2), who shot just 33 percent and turned the ball over a season-high 24 times but managed to win their fifth in a row.
“We came out and wanted to play up-tempo,” Alford said. “But they kind of slowed it down, so we adjusted and slowed it down too. But I was proud of the way we played.”
Jones scored 19 points but was the only player in double figures for USC (4-6).
“We had our opportunities,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said. “We weren’t making shots. It’s been like that the whole year. We hung in and got the lead but we couldn’t finish.”
The Lobos were ahead 38-30 when the Trojans found some life, going on an 11-2 run.
Dewayne Dedmon gave USC its first lead since the opening minutes when he was fouled while finishing at the rim. His free throw made it 41-40 with 1:51 remaining.
Snell, who ended with 10 points, was fouled on the other end and nailed both of his free throws as the Lobos went back ahead by a point. USC had a chance to regain the lead, but Dedmon’s jumper was long and Aaron Fuller couldn’t put back the rebound.
After Hardemann’s free throws, USC called a timeout to set up the final play, trying to get Jones the ball coming off a screen. Jones dribbled at the top of the key, pump-faked and was forced into a bad shot.
“We’ve got to finish plays and make shots,” O’Neill said.
“We’ve got to score around the basket better and get to the foul line better by driving.”
New Mexico was held to 29 points below its season average but outrebounded Southern California 31-22.
The Lobos trailed by a point in the first half when they strung together a 10-0 run. Demetrius Walker scored five in a row to give New Mexico its biggest lead at 23-10.
But Jones closed the half with a 3-pointer and layup for the Trojans to cut it to 23-15 at the break. The Trojans shot 33 percent overall, including 28 percent in the first half.
“We’re frustrated and tired of losing,” Jones said. “We’ve got to fix it.”
The Lobos’ final basket of the game, as it turned out, came on Snell’s runner with 14:16 to play.
The Trojans pulled to within six on two occasions before cutting it to 38-35 on Jones’ 3-pointer. They squandered a chance to get closer on the next possession when New Mexico’s Kendall Williams stole the ball from Dedmon.
After Gordon made a pair of free throws, freshman Alexis Moore’s 3-pointer from the wing cut it to 40-38.