LOS ANGELES — Tahj Eaddy scored 14 of his season-high 21 points in the first half and Southern California defeated Washington State 85-77 on Saturday night for the Trojans’ sixth straight victory.
USC (11-2) improved to 5-1 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2002. Evan Mobley had 16 points despite four fouls. Drew Peterson added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Eaddy, a grad transfer from Santa Clara, played the second half with three fouls as did Isaiah Mobley.
“We got such a deep team,” said Peterson, a Rice transfer. “Anyone can step in at any given moment just depending on what the defense is giving us.”
Isaac Bonton scored 27 points — one off his season high — to lead the Cougars (9-4, 2-4), who committed 15 turnovers in dropping their ninth in a row to USC. Noah Williams scored 14 points before fouling out and Dishon Jackson added a career-high 14 points and seven rebounds.
“In the first half our switching defenses was very effective, but Bonton caught fire and made some very tough shots,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “They’re a good team and very explosive offensively.”
Washington State closed to 73-69 with an 11-0 run, highlighted by consecutive 3-pointers from Andrej Jakimovski and Williams, who followed with a three-point play.
“When they did make a couple of those tough shots, we were able to come down and make points at the other end,” Enfield said. “If you can’t stop the other team defensively, you better be able to score with them.”
Williams again drew the Cougars within four on a 3-pointer, but they could never take the lead despite shooting better (49%) from the floor than the Trojans (46%).
“I feel like we played our guts out,” said Cougars center Efe Abogidi, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Eaddy and Evan Mobley scored back-to-back. The Trojans kept a long possession alive with a couple of offensive rebounds before Isaiah White scored under the basket to keep them ahead by 10 points.
Isaiah Mobley completed a three-point play and Eaddy hit a basket for a 5-0 run to open the second half and extend USC’s lead to 15 points — its largest of the game.
“We have so much trust in Tahj,” Peterson said. “He’s such a good creator and he hits such good shots and puts so much pressure on the defense.”
There was no rhythm to the final 20 minutes, with a steady stream of fouls disrupting the flow of play. Tony Miller was called for a flagrant foul after a video review, and White made both to keep USC ahead 73-58. White, alone on the free throw line, pretended to slap hands with his teammates.
“For a team that’s taking pride in its defense, we didn’t defend very well,” first-year Cougars coach Kyle Smith said. “We had a chance to get that thing down to the wire and we didn’t.”
The Cougars kneeled and linked arms for the national anthem during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
Washington State: The Cougars dropped both their games in Los Angeles, losing by 30 points at UCLA. Bonton, a senior, carried them in both games, with 23 points against the Bruins. Freshman Jakimovski ran into a brick wall after being the Cougars’ top 3-point shooter coming into the weekend. He was held to six points after making just two 3s against the Trojans.
USC: After blowing out Washington by 27 points to start the weekend, the Trojans are getting closer to breaking into the Top 25 for the first time this season. Their consistency will be tested with three road games in five days next week.
Washington State hosts Utah on Thursday.
USC at Oregon State on Tuesday in the first of three straight road games.