LOS ANGELES (AP) - For USC's J.T. Terrell, it's all about quality over quantity.
The Trojans' 6-foot-3 junior shooting guard wasn't much of a factor for most of Thursday night's Pac-12 game against Washington State, but there was a 10-minute stretch during the heart of the second half that made the difference in USC's 72-68 victory before 3,629 at the Galen Center.
Terrell scored 12 points during that stretch to help USC (10-13, 5-5 Pac-12) rally from a seven-point deficit and finally take the lead for good at 56-53 on his third and final 3-pointer of the game with 5:26 remaining.
Terrell did not take another shot because he fouled out moments later, but his impact was decisive.
"It's exciting," USC interim coach Bob Cantu said of Terrell. "He's a guy that can light it up quickly. The whole thing with him is making sure he knows to take shots in rhythm and in the flow of the offense. He's starting to understand how to take good shots."
When Terrell wasn't doing his thing, USC got strong performances from Byron Wesley, who scored a team-high 20 points, and point guard Jio Fontan, who had 10 points and a game-high 11 assists. Wesley scored 13 points in the first half before changing his focus in the second half.
"In the first half my teammates did a good job of finding me for easy baskets," Wesley said. "At halftime the coaches asked me to step up on the boards and focus on that."
Wesley finished with eight rebounds and USC outrebounded Washington State 41-31.
"USC did a good job on the glass," Cougars coach Ken Bone said. "We knew they were quick and athletic, and it showed tonight."
USC's front-court defense stepped up as well in limiting Washington State's Brock Motum, who began the night ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game. Motum scored 15 points Thursday on 6-of-16 shooting for the Cougars (11-12, 2-8).
"Motum got his 15, but he never got into his flow," Cantu said. "We wanted to keep rotating fresh bodies at him and give him different looks."
USC front-court players Dewayne Dedmon, Eric Wise, Ari Stewart and Aaron Fuller all contributed to slow down Motum, but Washington State's backcourt tandem of DaVonte Lacy and Mike Ladd came up big. Lacy led all scorers with 21 points and Ladd had 16.
Behind Lacy and Ladd, Washington State held a 33-30 halftime lead. USC scored two quick buckets to start the second half to take a 34-33 lead, but Washington State responded with an 8-0 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 41-34. The Trojans, though, took advantage of Motum's uncharacteristically poor shooting night and managed to regain the lead.
Terrell was good on 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the court for the Trojans, who went up 49-47 with 7:45 to play. He hit his third 3 at the 5:26 mark to give USC the lead for good, but fouled out soon after.
USC forged ahead early in the game behind Wesley, who led all scorers with his 13 first-half points. Stewart added eight points for the Trojans in the opening 20 minutes, including five points on consecutive possessions midway through the half that gave USC its biggest lead of the half, 21-14.
The Cougars, though, responded with a 19-7 run behind Lacy and Ladd to take a 33-28 lead. Lacy (nine points) and Ladd (eight points) led the way offensively for the Cougars, who made 6 of 12 3-pointers in the opening half.
The Trojans got to within 33-30 at the half when Wesley scored on a breakaway layup at the halftime buzzer.
Motum was held to six points in the first half and did not have a rebound.
"Our zone was effective, particularly at the end of the first half," Bone said. "It slowed them down and allowed us to take a lead into halftime. We played good defense. But at the end of the day, it just comes down to execution, and we didn't do that. That's why they came out on top."
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