Cougar Comeback Falls Short


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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Gabe Pruitt scored 17 points and Nick Young added 14 as USC beat Brigham Young 74-68 Saturday night.

In a game that largely mirrored USC's 87-82 win over BYU last Dec. 4, when the Trojans survived despite giving up a 17-point second-half lead, Pruitt converted all four of his free throws on the Trojans' last two possessions to provide the final margin and stave off another comeback attempt.

The Trojans (4-2) were coasting again Saturday, holding an 18-point lead, 58-40, with 9:48 left.

BYU charged back to get to within one, 65-64, with 1:34 to play.

After trading points, the Cougars trailed by two, 70-68, with 23.1 seconds remaining before putting Pruitt at the line for his four free throws.

"I didn't think of it as 'We need this,' Pruitt said. "I just thought, 'It's just practice.' That's how I looked at it."

"We had poise," USC coach Tim Floyd added. "That was a quality win for us at this time of year, it really was."

Freshman center Trent Plaisted posted a career-high 20 points to lead BYU (3-2), which saw a three-game winning streak snapped. Plaisted fouled out on a charging call with 2:32 left.

Lodrick Stewart added 12 points for USC, which won its fourth straight game. Stewart's 3-pointer with 1:17 left was the Trojans' last field goal and one that pushed the lead back to four, 70-66, after BYU had gotten to within one.

"That was a big basket," Floyd said.

"We were up by 18, we started playing lackadaisical, we thought we had the game won," said Young. "But they started hitting shots."

In the first half, USC made just one basket in the first five minutes but went on a 27-11 run over the final nine-plus minutes to turn an eight-point deficit into an eight-point lead at halftime, 34-26.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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