LOS ANGELES (AP) – In spurts, Elijah Stewart felt bone-tired. His voice was nearly gone, too. His mind wandered to last season’s triple-overtime loss to Colorado, too.
In the end, Stewart shoved everything aside and hit the go-ahead free throws with 22 seconds left in the fourth overtime, helping USC edge No. 7 Arizona 103-101 Saturday to improve to 11-0 at home for the first time since 1973-74.
”I was thinking to just make the free throws, black out and make muscle memory kick in,” Stewart said. ”I’m glad I made them.”
Arizona’s Gabe York dribbled around as the clock wound down before Jordan McLaughlin knocked the ball away and the Wildcats recovered only to see Kadeem Allen’s 3-point attempt fall short at the buzzer, ending an exhausting 60 minutes of action.
”It was a battle of wills to the end,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
Stewart scored a career-high 27 points. Julian Jacobs added 18, McLaughlin and Nikola Jovanovic had 17 each and Bennie Boatwright added 15 for the Trojans (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12), who blew a 12-point lead with 5 1/2 minutes to go in regulation. They snapped a three-game skid against Arizona. USC has won eight of its last nine.
”I’m ready to go again,” McLaughlin said. ”It was our biggest win.”
Allonzo Trier scored 25 points, York added 21 and Kaleb Tarczewski had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats (13-3, 1-2). They ended a lost weekend in Los Angeles, having been beaten by three points at UCLA on Thursday.
”We’re not good enough,” a downcast York said. ”We got to all look at ourselves in the mirror, especially me. I didn’t answer the bell for my team in both games.”
Arizona’s Ryan Anderson had his streak of five straight games with double-doubles snapped when he was held to a season-low five points on just seven shots.
In the fourth OT, Trier’s basket gave Arizona a 99-97 lead. The Trojans got two free throws from Jovanovic and Stewart scored on a layup to make it 101-99. Tarczewski tied it for the last time on a pair of free throws before Justin Simon’s foul sent Stewart to the line and he made the winning free throws.
”Tough call to make,” Miller said. ”It’s one of those moments you tend to hang on to because it was such a hard-fought game.”
The Wildcats trailed by 12 points when they closed regulation on a 14-2 run to tie the game at 73-all. Allen’s layup forced overtime after USC briefly regained the lead on a layup by Jovanovic.
”That was a great basketball game,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. ”We did a lot of small things. We kept playing every possession. Our defense was great down the stretch.”
Arizona led 77-75 in the first OT before the Trojans made four straight free throws to take a two-point lead. Tarczewski’s tip-in tied it at 79-all, forcing the second OT.
Tarczewski’s jumper tied the game in the second extra session before York’s 3-pointer gave Arizona an 84-81 lead. But the big man’s offensive foul gave the Trojans possession and they scored on Stewart’s layup to take an 85-84 lead.
Tarczewski fouled Jovanovic, who missed the first and made the second.
York made a pair of free throws for an 86-all tie. Trier stole the ball off a bad pass by Jacobs, but didn’t have enough time to get off a shot and the teams went to a third OT.
The Wildcats led by four before USC scored six straight points to go up 95-93. York’s layup tied it at 95-all, forcing the last OT in front of a frenzied, season-best crowd of 6,854 at Galen Center.
USC: The Trojans completed a sweep of the Arizona schools, having beaten Arizona State 75-65 on Thursday. … Former USC star and current Lakers player Nick Young attended.
It was the first quadruple OT game in Arizona history, and the third for USC. The last time the Trojans went that long, they beat crosstown rival UCLA 80-78 in 1985. Arizona’s previous longest was three OTs in 2010-11.
USC: At crosstown rival UCLA on Wednesday.