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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    USC joins Ducks in title game

    LOS ANGELES – No. 11 Washington State may be a slow-down team, but USC’s Gabe Pruitt refused to be slowed down.

    The junior guard scored 26 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field (6-of-7 3-pointers) as the No. 3-seeded Trojans (23-10) moved on to their third Pacific 10 Conference Tournament championship game with a 70-61 victory over No. 2-seeded Washington State (25-7).

    Pruitt had every answer for WSU’s defense.

    “”He had his feet set on every shot, and he knocked ’em down, so we had to keep giving it to him,”” USC guard Lodrick Stewart said.

    With USC up 48-44 and the Cougars still hanging on, Pruitt used a spin move to create separation from Derrick Low and uncorked an outside jumper in the WSU guard’s face. On the next possession, Pruitt made a 3-pointer falling into the Trojans’ bench to lift USC to a 53-44 advantage.

    After a Cougar bucket, Pruitt went back to the same spot and drilled another 3-pointer, part of a personal 8-2 run.

    “”In warmups, I was kind of feeling it,”” Pruitt said. “”I knew if I got open looks I would knock it down.””

    USC head coach Tim Floyd remarked, “”I hope you’re feeling it (Saturday) too.””

    The Trojans made 10-of-16 3-pointers, making up for the fact that they took only 38 field goals to the Cougars’ 61.

    Forward Taj Gibson and Stewart added 15 each for USC while Low led WSU with 15 as well.

    WSU didn’t cease to make one comeback attempt after another. After falling down by 11, the Cougars closed to within 38-34, using a 9-2 run to end the half and trailed by as little as two in the second half.

    With 9:51 left in the game, the Cougars fell back by 10 and fought back to within four less than three minutes later.

    However, the runs fell short just like Low’s open 3-pointer from the corner with a minute and a half left, which would have sliced the lead to three.

    As the buzzer sounded, a chorus of “”We are ‘SC”” rang out, and Pruitt and his teammates finally felt the home-court advantage the program has been lacking for a long time, albeit on a supposedly neutral floor in Los Angeles.

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