Basketball

Men’s basketball takes down Florida Gulf Coast in Dunk City reunion

USC earned the win for a 2-0 road trip.

A photo of redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin in a cardinal uniform hanging on the rim after dunking against Florida Gulf Coast Tuesday.

The No. 25 ranked USC men’s basketball team beat Florida Gulf Coast 78-61 in the third game of the season in Fort Myers on Tuesday. The Dunk City reunion game marked USC head coach Andy Enfield’s first return to Alico Arena since coaching there in 2013. With one more victory, the Trojans improved to 3-0.

Although the Trojans won with a huge advantage of 17 points, they didn’t find a rhythm in the opening of the game, especially on offense. The team missed seven straight 3-pointers and was down by five points eight minutes into the game.

However, redshirt senior forward Chevez Goodwin contributed six of USC’s first eight points, which helped the team stay close.

The Trojans also adjusted, reducing the number of long-range shots and attacking the rim more frequently. The Trojans gradually found their way back into the game and displayed high-quality plays on both ends in the last four minutes of the first half, which was led by juniors guard Boogie Ellis and forward Max Agbonkpolo.

USC forced four turnovers from the Eagles and played actively in transition offense, including 14 fast-break points and 26 points in the paint, and built an eight-point lead at the end of the first half.

Agbonkpolo stood out defensively with two steals and one block. Ellis scored 11 points in the half, including two 3-pointers, and ended the first half with a dunk.

Averaging 30 3-point attempts per game, the Eagles have heavily relied on long-range shots this season, but the Trojans effectively limited their opponents in this area. However, USC gave up four defensive rebounds in the middle portion of the second half, similar to its struggles last game against Temple. FGCU narrowed the point difference to five in the second half.

After reinforcing the defense, USC started to focus more on details, particularly rebounding and patience on offense. Goodwin continued to lead his team’s offense with layups and mid-range jump shots and scored a team-high 20 points. Junior forward Isaiah Mobley took advantage of his vision and passing against FGCU’s 2-3 zone defense. His versatile ability to facilitate for his teammates helped the Trojans find more opportunities on the offensive end.

After a 27-15 outbreak in the second half, USC gained the victory over the Eagles. Mobley filled out his stat sheet with 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three 3-pointers. Four Trojans scored double digits in this game, including Ellis’ 18 points and Agbonkpolo’s 10 points, and three contributed at least five assists.

“I thought tonight we did a much better job of taking care of the basketball, making the right decisions and just playing under control,” Enfield said of the team’s 22 assists and only six turnovers. “And then we made some shots finally in the second half but put it out of reach.”

The Trojans will return home to host Dixie State at 8 p.m. on Monday at Galen Center.