It is the lamentation of a coach in the midst of a terrible season. It is the complaint of competitors who can’t find the right solutions at the right times, and are left to mutter the word “almost.” It is the refrain being uttered by the USC Trojans and head coach Andy Enfield after an overtime loss to rival UCLA on Thursday night.
USC had a chance to win at the end of regulation. It trailed by only one point late in overtime. Then UCLA’s Jaylen Hands hit a 3-pointer to beat the shot-clock buzzer, carrying the Bruins to a 93-88 overtime win which dealt USC a huge blow in its attempt to get a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. All the non-Washington teams in the Pac-12 are trying to get that bye so that they have to win only three games instead of four to win the Pac-12 Tournament and get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Enfield drew up a bad play at the end of regulation with the score tied. Yet, he placed the blame for the loss on the randomness of a bounce… and on Hands’ improbable shot, which was indeed the dagger for his team:
“Unfortunately this year the ball hasn’t bounced our way at the end in quite a few of those games,” Enfield said. “If those balls go in, we have a different record.”
One thing USC could have done to improve its situation: Make free throws. USC was 1 of 7. That might have helped. Enfield probably didn’t want to mention that, and given the way this USC season has gone, no one could blame him.
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