An impressive game-opening surge gave Southern California a commanding advantage it never relinquished en route to a 76-62 win over Montana on Saturday in Los Angeles.
The Trojans (2-0) jumped on top 29-8 in the first 12 minutes. USC led by as many as 24 and no fewer than 13 points after the early onslaught, employing a combination of balanced scoring and dominance of the glass.
All 10 USC players who appeared scored at least three points, and none reached double figures until Drew Peterson got there with 6:02 left.
Peterson finished with 13 points, Evan Mobley scored 11 points and Isaiah White added 10 points in just 14 minutes of action. USC also got nine points and four assists from Ethan Anderson.
Brandon Whitney led all scorers with 17 points for Montana (0-1). Josh Bannan added 13 points before fouling out, and Kyle Owens had 11 points with a team-high seven rebounds.
The Trojans' balanced scoring was a byproduct of both efficient shooting -- USC hit 50 percent from the floor as a team -- and ball movement. Seventeen of the Trojans' 23 made field goals came off assists, with six players dishing at least two.
After boasting a plus-20 rebounding advantage in an overtime win over Cal Baptist on Wednesday, USC followed it up with a 43-29 edge on Saturday. Isaiah Mobley led with the Trojans with 13 rebounds, and Chevez Goodwin grabbed seven rebounds to go with eight points.
A key difference for the Trojans this time around, however, was their improved defense.
USC surrendered 20 made 3-pointers in the season opener. On Saturday, the Trojans limited Montana to just 4-of-17 shooting from behind the 3-point arc and 33.9 percent shooting from the floor overall.
USC used its size to effectively clog the paint and contest shots, particularly close to the rim. Montana big man Mike Steadman was limited to seven points on 3-of-8 shooting.
The Grizzlies outscored the Trojans 37-32 in the second half, but the lopsided start was too much to overcome. USC led wire-to-wire.
--Field Level Media