RICHMOND, Va. — The USC basketball team has a goal for the season that it chants after games: "Be better today than we were yesterday."
For now, the Trojans are coming up short. They were much better Friday night than they were Saturday night.
Friday, USC battled gamely before losing to North Carolina, 82-77, in the opening round of the Central Fidelity Holiday tournament at the University of Richmond.
Saturday, the Trojans shot just 33.3% in a 75-53 loss to Boston University in the tournament's consolation game.
Then, North Carolina beat host Richmond, 87-76, for the tournament championship.
USC was tied with Boston, 29-29, at halftime but was quickly taken out of the game in the second half.
"What was vividly clear here was we exhibited how well we can play on a given night, and how poorly we can play on a given night," USC Coach George Raveling said.
"To be honest, I expected some fluctuation at this stage with a young team."
Neither team played particularly well in the first half. USC hit just 28.6% of its shots, BU only 34.4%.
But while the Terriers improved to 55.2% after intermission, the Trojans could only raise their level to 38.1%.
Anthony Pendleton, the guard who had 20 points in the opener with 6-of-14 three-point shooting, had just 5 points Saturday night. He connected on just 1 of 5 three-point shots.
Chris Moore and Ronnie Coleman led USC with 11 points each. Coleman got 9 of his from the foul line.
USC turned the ball over 24 times, only three of them on Terrier steals.
"We just were never able to get any offensive rhythm," Raveling said. "For us to play good defense, we've got to borrow from our offensive rhythm and we just weren't able to get it."
The Trojans leave today for Blacksburg, Va., and a game Monday night against Virginia Tech.
"It is not ideal to start with three on the road, and three in four days," Raveling said. "But you've got to learn to deal with all types of inconvenience.
"This is only going to help make us a better basketball team."
In the championship game, junior guard Jeff Lebo scored a career-high 28 points--hitting 7 of 10 three-point shots--to lead No. 2-ranked North Carolina over Richmond.
Lebo, who was the tournament MVP, keyed an 18-6 run that put the Tar Heels (3-0) in control at 43-26 late in the first half.
J. R. Reid scored 15 points for North Carolina.
Rodney Rice scored 27 points to pace the Spiders (1-1), hitting 6 of 9 shots from three-point range.