Though Pacific was not on the schedule back when the season started in November, Harrison Hornery calculated the best way to cancel out the Tigers’ offense.
Once he planted his feet and initiated a slight bend in his knees, the follow-through motion left his right hand in direct alignment with the ball bouncing on the rim. From the corners and at the top of the arc, Hornery’s three-point magic whisked No. 21 USC away in a 74-68 win Tuesday night at the Galen Center.
Hornery, the freshman from Toowoomba, Australia, had been waiting for his moment to finally come to fruition. A stacked front court had limited him to six games for a combined 16 minutes on the floor prior to the Trojans’ game against Pacific.
It may just be a glimpse of what is expected out of Hornery, but his 14 minutes off the bench against the Tigers was enough to reassure him that patience is a virtue.
“It means a lot,” Hornery said. “It was fun to do [and] just fun to be put out there in that environment, a little bit down and it’s a challenge, but sitting out doesn’t bother me at all. I really couldn’t care less. I know my time is coming.”
USC’s offensive woes carried over from the loss to Arizona over the weekend and made for a lackluster first half.
The Trojans trailed by a dozen points at the 6:10 mark in the first half, only to cut the Tigers’ lead by half less than two minutes later.
An offense that showed signs it was capable of a comeback, in spite of its 31% shooting mark, was left without answers against Pacific at the start of the second half.
USC’s largest deficit of the night ballooned to 13 points after a 9-2 run by the Tigers .
The struggle, however, was fleeting.
“There’s no excuse for how we played in the first half,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “When a guy goes out, everybody needs to uplift each other and someone has to step up. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that until the second half.”
Drew Peterson was looking to break out of a shooting funk suffered against Arizona. As a leader of the team, he was looking to set the example that he can be dependable when the game is on the line.
“I was one for 13 last game and I think I passed up a few threes I shouldn’t have, but I think guys got to know to trust me to make those shots,” Peterson said. “Some of these guys can go 0 for 15 . I’m fine with them taking the right shots, as long as it’s the right shots and open shots. So we just gotta stay confident.”
Peterson finished the night five for eight from the floor in 34 minutes. His steadiness helped propel the Trojans to their 20th overall win this season, making it the third consecutive season the program has reached that mark.
With the regular season winding down and March Madness nearing , USC is no longer focused on its final nonconference game of the year. The next hurdle comes in the form of its crosstown rival, UCLA, and the implications that game holds for the season.