LOS ANGELES — The Montana Grizzly men's basketball team couldn't erase a big first-half deficit, dropping its season opener to the University of Southern California 76-62 on the road on Saturday night.
Montana started off on the wrong foot from the start ,as USC went out to a quick 7-0 to start the game.
Michael Steadman scored the first bucket for Montana, but it didn't stop the bleeding. USC stretched the lead to 24 points with 7:21 left in the first half with a 32-8 lead.
From there Montana seemed to settle in as it started to score but still couldn't limit the Trojans' offensive game. USC spread the wealth as it had five players go for more than eight points, with Drew Peterson leading the way with a team-high 13 points on 3 of 4 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
In the second half, Montana slowly clawed its way back into the game and saw a lot of promise from two first-year players. Freshman forward Josh Bannon found his rhythm, finishing with 13 points on the night. Freshman point guard Brandon White added a team-high 19 points as he got to the free-throw line 11 times, 10 of which he converted. The two combined to score 30 of Montana's 62 total points.
In the final eight minutes, Montana managed to pull within 13 points three separate times but couldn't get any closer.
Montana's defense stepped up big in the second half, regardless of losing, as it held USC's leading scorer from last season, Evan Mobley, to just 11 points on the night.
In the end, Montana couldn't erase the first-half 24-point deficit, as USC won 76-62.
With the win, USC moves to 2-0 on the season, while Montana starts at 0-1.
Montana will travel to Southern Utah to take on the Thunderbirds on Thursday, Dec. 3.