LOS ANGELES (AP) — Drew Peterson scored 13 points and Southern California defeated Montana 76-62 on Saturday night, with the Trojans getting points from all 10 of their players.
Peterson joined the Trojans (2-0) this season after transferring from Rice, where he played two years. Evan Mobley followed up his 21-point, nine-rebound college debut on Wednesday with 11 points and six rebounds. Isaiah White added 10 points before fouling out.
Freshman Brandon Whitney scored 17 points — making 8 of 9 free throws — to lead the Grizzlies in their season opener. Fellow freshman Josh Bannan added 13 points before fouling out with 3:30 remaining. The Griz had seven players with at least three fouls each.
The Trojans opened the game with 32-8 run, included spurts of 7-0, 7-0 and 9-0. Isaiah Mobley made 3 of 4 free throws to cap the overall run and give USC its largest lead of the game.
“It just shows the start of the game is very crucial,” Peterson said of the Trojans’ big lead. “It shows the level of talent we have out there. Our talent can take us to levels that can win us a Pac-12 championship and we know that.”
From there, the Griz outscored USC 17-12 to trail 44-25 at halftime.
The Trojans shot 71% from the floor in the first half, controlled the boards 19-6 and owned a 22-12 edge in the paint. The Griz were limited to 9-of-27 shooting from the floor.
Montana outscored USC 37-32 in the second half, but never got its deficit under double-digits.
The Trojans made just three field goals over the game’s final 10 1/2 minutes, when they were 12 of 20 from the free-throw line.
“The second half was very choppy,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “It wasn’t the nice flow we had in the first half.”
Montana is challenging itself to start the season. The Griz have upcoming trips to Georgia and Pac-12 schools Washington and Arizona before Christmas. They finished third in the Big Sky last season after winning the league title the previous two seasons.
With COVID-19 surging nationwide, the Trojans travel to the East Coast to play two games next week. The trip will be an early season test on a neutral court as well as the team’s ability to remain free of the coronavirus that has already caused games to be canceled. It’s their only trip outside the Pac-12 this season.
HITTING THE ROAD
The Trojans leave Sunday on a charter flight to their games in Connecticut. They’ll bus directly to their hotel and get tested for COVID-19, something they do daily at home. “It’ll be very strict where we can and can’t go,” Enfield said. “We’re hoping that it should be a very easy transition and do even more of a bubble once we get there.”
Montana: Visits Southern Utah for back-to-back games on Thursday and Saturday, part of six straight road games to start the season.
USC: Travels to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut for games against BYU on Tuesday and either UConn or Vanderbilt on Thursday as part of Bubbleville.
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