January 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Mobley brothers split heavy lifting to rescue USC from UC Riverside upset

Older brother started it. Younger brother finished it.

The Mobley brothers’ tag-team effort helped USC escape against UC Riverside with a 67-62 overtime win at Galen Center on Tuesday.

Isaiah, a sophomore, scored 14 of his career-high 16 points in the first half and freshman Evan poured in 16 of his 20 points in the second half and overtime, adding 11 rebounds and six blocks.

Evan’s sixth block tied a career-high for the Pac-12 freshman of the week and sent the game to overtime as he rejected a three-point attempt from Zyon Pullin with one second left in regulation. Guard Drew Peterson scored eight of his 12 points in the extra period to help the Trojans start a three-game, five-day homestand with a victory.

“There’s no free wins nowadays, especially with everything going on,” said Peterson, who also had eight rebounds and three of USC’s six total assists. “As we get later in the week, we got two more games, but every win’s going to be gritty and this is a really gritty one for us.”

Tuesday’s matchup was a late addition to USC’s schedule after the Trojans (9-2) were shut down for two weeks because of a positive COVID-19 case within the program. USC has just one day of rest before hosting Washington on Thursday and Washington State on Saturday.

After scrambling to add the game, the Trojans were nearly upset by the emergency local opponent as Riverside (4-3) took a five-point halftime lead after a 16-0 run.

Isaiah Mobley carried the Trojans by tying his season high in scoring in the first half, but USC’s cold three-point shooting continued for a second game. After making three of 22 three-pointers in a win against Arizona State on Saturday, the Trojans were three of 21 from three-point range against the Highlanders.

Riverside’s Dominick Pickett outshot the entire Trojans team from distance on four-of-four shooting from three-point range with 16 points.

“The ball’s gotta go in for somebody,” USC coach Andy Enfield said with desperation in his voice. “After two games of seeing this, it’s frustrating. Frustrating for Evan when they double-team him in the post and we kick it out and it also really affects our spacing because if a team can just sag in the paint, it’s hard to get to the rim.”

With their offense struggling, the Trojans failed to take full advantage of a nearly seven-minute Riverside drought to open the second half. The Highlanders missed their first 10 shots after the break, but USC scored only nine points to take a four-point lead. Riverside erased it with back-to-back three-pointers.

Riverside made 12 of 32 three-pointers, the most by any USC opponent since the Trojans gave up 20 to Cal Baptist, another Riverside school, in the season opener. The Highlanders needed to rely on their three-point shooting because Evan Mobley denied almost everything in the paint.

The freshman has six blocks in each of the last two games.