Elijah Weaver Leads Wild Trojan Comeback

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  LOS ANGELES — He was the hero that got USC to overtime. So it was only fitting that Elijah Weaver would deliver the winning moments of the Trojans’ wild, come-from behind, 82-78 victory over Stanford on Saturday.

Weaver hit the 3-pointer that tied the game in regulation after USC trailed by as much as 20. Waver scored on the three-point play that gave USC (15-3, 4-1 in Pac-12 play) a one-point lead in overtime, the first Trojan lead since the first half. Weaver made three made free throws to extend that lead two possessions. Weaver also scored the driving, reverse layup to get the lead back up to four with 14 seconds to play.

USC guard Elijah Weaver, right, celebrates after making a three-point shot to tie it up to force overtime during the second half of the USC/Stanford game as Jonah Mathews, center, jumps to celebrate.   USC won 82-78. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

“It’s just time to win. It’s just time to be clutch,” the sophomore said jovially in the post-game press conference. “You got to make big plays in big games.”

But you need to rewind for a moment, because USC was so close to losing in the final moments of regulation.

A layup by Stanford’s Lukas Kisunas gave Stanford a five-point lead with 33 seconds to play. Jonah Mathews missed a 3-pointer and the ball went out of bounds before USC could grab the rebound.

Stanford ball, 13 seconds left, USC still down five.

But Stanford forward Oscar da Silva’s in-bounds pass was intercepted by Ethan Anderson, who passed back to Mathews. His shot missed, but USC forward Onyeka Okongwu, who had a game-high 22 points, tipped the ball back in to cut the deficit to three.

Mathews was briefly attended to on the bench after face planting into the court. But he came back in and delivered the biggest steal of USC’s season.

Mathews leaped in midair to steal the in-bounds pass at mid-court. He dribbled once and passed to Weaver.

The guard, who’d recently been relegated to the bench, dribbled to his right and leaned into the Stanford defense as he wound up for a 3-pointer. The whistle blew as the shot sailed through the net. Tie game, and a free throw to boot, with 7.3 seconds to play.

Weaver stormed up the court to celebrate in front of the student section, flexing as his teammates hugged him from behind. The crowd of 5,017, which had lived and died with nearly every shot of the second half, roared in delirium.

“That’s what it’s all about, big-time crowd, big-time game,” said Weaver, who finished with a season-high 13 points.

But he missed the potential go-ahead free throw, and Stanford’s shot at the buzzer was off.

It was on to overtime.

But Weaver got his chance for redemption on the free-throw line. He made four free throws in overtime, including a three-point play that gave USC a one-point lead, its first advantage since it was up 10-7 in the first half.

“Very proud of Elijah,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “Wow, was he good late in the game tonight.”

If you only watched the first half, the probability of this outcome seemed low.

Stanford looked like it would run away with the game, taking advantage of a period of 7:52 in which USC missed 12 straight field goals to build up a double-digit advantage. A 30-foot 3-pointer by Tyrell Terry at the buzzer made it a 20-point deficit at the half for the Trojans.

USC played poorly in every aspect of the game, and Enfield said that he nearly passed out while tearing into his players in the locker room.

But whatever he said worked, as USC came out on a 15-3 run to get back into the game.

Stanford (15-3, 4-1) entered the game undefeated in conference play. Now, USC is tied with the Cardinal atop the Pac-12 standings.

“This is big,” Weaver said.

And no one played a bigger part in it than Weaver.



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Golden Trojan
Diamond Member

Great comeback. They looked like toast in the first half. They looked like toast with 1 minute to go. 2 steals and 5 points to tie with 3 seconds. Wild! It is usually very hard for the team that comes back to tie to then win in OT. Maddening that Weaver was so hot in the second half and hits the 3 to tie it up but can’t drain a simple Free Throw to win it! Should be brutal to be Stanford this AM. Some other notes watching this game. The announcers commented often in the 1st half about the… Read more »

Active Member

That wasn’t an announcer commenting about the curtains. That was just idiot Don MacLean. There wasn’t any big deal about glare.

Noble Member

A great win for the Trojans! Good to see SC hoops winning close games and atop the PAC-12.