USC Coach George Raveling admits that some of his best-designed plays don't work out in a game.
However, he designed one Monday night in the closing seconds that worked to perfection for the Trojans, who beat Washington, 67-65, at the Sports Arena.
By winning, USC is on a mini-roll, two straight victories and a modest improvement in the Pacific 10 Conference basketball standings.
The Trojans are 3-6 in the league (5-13 overall) and tied with California for eighth place.
Washington (6-12 and 2-7) took the lead at 65-64 on guard Troy Morrell's three-point basket with 40 seconds remaining.
The Trojans called time out with 24 seconds left. When play resumed, forward Chris Moore had good inside position, but missed.
USC guard Rich Grande then tied up Morrell and, on the alternating possession rule, the ball went to the Trojans.
So USC had another opportunity to win in a game that was close throughout.
Guard Dave Wiltz inbounded the ball right to forward Ronnie Coleman, who slammed the ball through the net with just 16 seconds left.
There was still time for the Huskies to counter. Forward Anthony Jenkins drove to the basket and put up a shot, but it was rejected by USC center Chris Munk.
All that was left was an anti-climactic free throw by Moore in the final second.
"I could design a 100 more plays and that one wouldn't work out the way it was designed," said Raveling, referring to Wiltz's pass that found Coleman under the basket.
Munk set a screen on Jenkins that left Coleman free for the winning basket. Washington guard Eldridge Recasner had an opportunity to stop Coleman, but he tripped.
"At the end, we ran two different plays and got the shot we wanted both times," Raveling said. "Unfortunately, Moore didn't get the first one. The second was what we call a 'screen the screener' play. Coleman set a dummy screen to make them feel that he was setting Grande up for a jump shot.
"Munk then set a great screen for Coleman. I just had to tell Chris not to set an illegal screen."
Coleman, a freshman from Dominguez High School, had the best game of his career. He scored 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting, blocked a shot and had only 1 turnover.
Moore, a junior college transfer from Birmingham, Ala., continues to improve offensively as an inside threat. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds.
The Trojans needed the firepower of Coleman and Moore to offset Husky forward Mike Hayward and Recasner. Hayward, a redshirt freshman, scored 25 points, mainly from the inside, and Recasner had 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Wiltz made a sharp pass to Coleman, who made an athletic move to get the slam. However, if Grande hadn't tied up Morrell, the Trojans would have had to foul to gain possession of the ball.
Washington Coach Andy Russo said that he had a play to screen Recasner for a jump shot after Coleman's slam.
"We had a play called for Eldridge to come off the corner on a pick, but they did a nice job of picking him up," Russo said, "and the ball ended up in Jenkins' hands."
Then, it was up to Munk to take care of Jenkins.
"I saw the guy (Jenkins) coming in and I knew he was gong to put it up," Munk said. "I just wanted to try to get all ball and not put him on the line."
"We can't put a heavy premium on how we look," Raveling said. "We just need to get in the position to taste what winning is all about."
The USC coach added that it wasn't an ideal game. "So we did a number of things tonight to keep our players' attention. Yet, they (the players) can still feel good about the way we handled the challenge against us."
The Trojans will be on the road the rest of the week, meeting Oregon State Thursday night and Oregon Saturday afternoon.
"We've got to play better on the Oregon trip than we did tonight," Raveling said. As for Monday night's game, it was one of alternating streaks. USC went on a 11-point run in the first half with guard Andy Olivarez hitting three consecutive three-point shots.
The Huskies answered with a 14-point blitz and led at halftime, 30-29. Washington led throughout most of the second half by small margins until USC caught up and then had a 58-53 advantage with 5:45 left.
Then, the Huskies surged only for the Trojans to win on Coleman's slam and Munk's wide-bodied screen.
USC sophomore guard Anthony Pendleton, the team's third-leading scorer, has been suspended for three games starting with Monday night's game against Washington. "Anthony broke a team rule," said USC Coach George Raveling, not revealing the rule Pendleton broke. "We have discussed the matter and have agreed that this suspension is appropriate. I'm very concerned that this is not interpreted as something it isn't, like something drug-related." Pendleton is averaging 8.9 points a game, mainly from three-point range.