USC gives up 16-point lead then loses double-OT heartbreaker to Colorado

USC blew a 13-point second-half lead on the road. Things got even worse at home.

The Trojans squandered a 16-point lead in less than 10 minutes against Colorado on Saturday at Galen Center, falling in double overtime, 92-89, in a game that symbolizes the team’s one-step-forward, two-steps-back season.

The Trojans (10-16, 5-11 Pac-12) were coming off a gritty win against Utah on Thursday. They were back at full health with Boogie Ellis’ balky hamstring finally healing. Freshman Isaiah Collier was in the lineup for a fourth straight game since breaking his hand and was back to dazzling the crowd with sky-high lobs and speedy drives down the lane.

Collier dished a career-best nine assists with 25 points and just one turnover. He forced double overtime with a driving layup that tied the game 83-83 with 4.1 seconds remaining.

Ellis had a season-high 30 points with five assists, snapping out of a recent three-point shooting slump, but missed the biggest shot of the night as his game-tying attempt at the end of double overtime was off the mark. As Colorado celebrated, Ellis stood near midcourt with his hands on his knees. He dropped his head.

Ellis, Collier and forward Joshua Morgan (illness) missed the season’s first game against Colorado. But having the team at full strength did little to avoid another disaster.

Collier set his career high in assists with a lob to Bronny James with 9:52 remaining that gave the Trojans a 16-point lead. The crowd’s largest cheer of the night came as Collier and James both mimicked finger guns toward the sky.

USC let the lead dwindle to one when Colorado’s KJ Simpson drained a three-pointer with 1:59 remaining. Collier missed a three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining that would have iced it for the Trojans. He made up for it on the other end by grabbing a steal, but was fouled in transition and made just one of two free throws. Colorado’s Luke O’Brien took advantage, tying the game on a dunk with 3.7 seconds left off an assist by Simpson, a former Chaminade High standout who led the Buffaloes (17-10, 8-7 Pac-12) with 30 points, including 16 during the second half to spur the comeback.

The Trojans remain in 11th place in the conference standings, trying only to build momentum for next month’s conference tournament in hopes of stealing an NCAA tournament bid with an unlikely championship run.

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