LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jonah Mathews envisioned the possibilities in his head the night before: becoming USC's career 3-point shooting leader, beating UCLA in his final home game as a senior, hitting the winning shot.
Then he went out and did it.
Mathews hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 1 second remaining on senior day, helping Southern California edge UCLA 54-52 on Saturday and end the Bruins' seven-game winning streak.
“I knew it was going in before I let it go,” Mathews said of his step-back 3. “This is a dagger to their heart. I know it's going to stick with them forever; it's going to stick with me forever.”
The Bruins (19-12, 12-6 Pac-12) came into the game tied for first with Oregon. Now they'll have to await the outcome of the Ducks' game against Stanford later Saturday. A victory would give the Ducks the title outright; a loss would allow UCLA to claim a share of its first league title since 2013.
“It took a great shot by Jonah Mathews to beat us,” first-year UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “We almost came in here on the road and pulled one out and they have NBA players on that team. We've come a long way and our season isn't over.”
Mathews scored 19 points to lead the Trojans (22-9, 11-7), who tied for third in the league standings. He made five 3-pointers, becoming USC's career leader with 247. Onyeka Okongwu added 16 points.
“He's our senior captain,” Okongwu said of Mathews. “We look up to him. We trust him fully.”
Mathews' game-winning shot triggered a raucous celebration, with fans rushing onto the court.
“My teammates swarmed me, the gym was going insane,” said Mathews, who is from nearby Santa Monica and had family and friends on hand. “To end it this way, you can't really ask for anything else. I'm super grateful.”
UCLA had its chances against the Trojans. It was a close game throughout, with neither team leading by more than five points.
Trailing 51-50, Chris Smith passed to Jake Kyman, who fell down while backing up near the Bruins' bench for the turnover with 30 seconds to go.
“That's on me,” Smith said. “Jake slipped coming off a screen. I should have taken an extra dribble and not passed the ball, but the floor was slippery and he fell.”
USC inbounded the ball under heavy pressure and Smith drew his fifth foul, sending Okongwu to the line. The freshman missed both. The Trojans missed 6 of 10 free throws over the final 4 1/2 minutes, with Mathews responsible for three of them.
“Jonah missed those free throws to make that last shot," USC coach Andy Enfield joked. “An amazing way to finish his career at home.”
Cody Riley made a pair of free throws to put the Bruins ahead 52-51 with nine seconds left, their first lead since early in the second half. Riley led the Bruins with 13 points off the bench. Smith finished with 12 points.
“To lose a game like that hurts a lot,” Riley said. “We had the lead with nine seconds left and we needed one more stop, but we didn't get that.”
UCLA: The Bruins had already locked up a first-round bye in next week's Pac-12 Tournament. Unless they win the tournament and earn its automatic berth, however, they could miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. “I don't know who we'll play in our first game in the tournament but we're going to punk them,” Smith said. “I hope we play USC again and I hope they come in cocky. We'll be ready for them.”
USC: The win allowed the Trojans to clinch a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. “Going into the tourney we have supreme confidence,” Mathews said. “We're going to be hard to beat on a neutral floor.” They finished 14-2 at home, including 10-1 in their last 11. They completed a season sweep of the Bruins, having won 74-63 in Westwood on Jan. 11. They improved to 18-1 when holding opponents under 70 points.
The Trojans shot the same 41% from the floor, 3-point range and free throw line.
“I don't think I've ever seen that,” Enfield said.
Okongwu said, “This could be my last game at Galen.” He said he thought back about his season on his way to the game. He could decide to leave early for the NBA draft. “It's been a fun ride, but it's not over yet,” he said.
Both teams compete in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
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