While the USC Trojans' defense was quite impressive in holding Washington just below their normal shooting percentage, it was the play of their guards that helped them mount a 36-26 halftime lead.
After USC guard Jio Fontan scored the first basket of the game on a pull-up jumper, the Trojans never relinquished the lead and got up by as many as 15 points about halfway through the half.
And Fontan was at the forefront of that impressive Trojans effort, finishing with a game-high three assists and nine points in the first half. The Huskies never found a way to stop his drives to the basket, off which he would get to the rim, pull up for jumpers, or dish to a teammate.
Meanwhile, the Huskies never truly had an answer for USC forward Nikola Vucevic either, who scored 13 points and pulled in four rebounds, with a combination of a soft touch on his shot, quick moves to the rim, and a putback. Rebounding proved to be a problem throughout for the Huskies, as they were outrebounded 19-10, taking away what could be otherwise be considered their biggest strength. Stepheson contributed to USC's strong rebounding effort with seven rebounds.
The Huskies actually had some success late in the half with a smaller lineup of Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday, Venoy Overton, Scott Suggs, and Isaiah Thomas. With that smaller lineup Holiday did an admirable job of covering Vucevic while the rest of the perimeter players did an outstanding job of communicating, rotating, and switching to stall USC's penetration from the perimeter. Suggs led the way in scoring for the Huskies with nine points, while Thomas chipped in six.
After getting his Senior Night start, Overton returned to the bench to start the second half in favor of C.J. Wilcox.