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USC 67, NEVADA LAS VEGAS 56

Trojans' Mike Gerrity a Diamond Head Classic gem

USC defeats UNLV in the tournament final, and the point guard takes MVP honors.

December 26, 2009|By Baxter Holmes

Mike Gerrity hadn't been to Hawaii since he was about 6 years old.

But in his first trip back, the USC point guard starred this week, leading the Trojans to three wins, including a 67-56 victory over Nevada Las Vegas on Friday night in the final of the Diamond Head Classic at Honolulu, and earning tournament most-valuable-player honors.

Gerrity finished Friday's game with 13 points on four-for-eight shooting, including two for two from three-point range.

USC (8-4) won its sixth straight game behind a strong defense that held UNLV (12-2) to a season-low 56 points, ending the Runnin' Rebels' five-game winning streak. For USC, Gerrity carried the load against UNLV's pressure defense and full-court pressure. Three times he threw full-court passes against the press, leading to easy baskets.

Forward Marcus Johnson led the Trojans with 19 points (nine-for-19 shooting) and nine rebounds. He scored USC's first six points.

The Trojans used a 16-2 run to go up by 35-18 with 2:19 left in the first half. UNLV responded with a 12-2 run in the second half to cut the lead to 59-50 with 2:38 left, but USC was able to hang on.

Los Angeles native Oscar Bellfield led the Runnin' Rebels with 17 points on seven-for-16 shooting.

USC shot 45% from the field (21 for 47) and tied a season low with eight turnovers but missed 15 free throws (22 of 37).

The win was USC's third in four games against one-loss teams. The others came against Tennessee a week ago and St. Mary's on Wednesday.

USC's Pacific 10 Conference schedule begins on New Year's Eve, when the Trojans play host to Arizona.

St. Mary's 84, Hawaii 75 -- Omar Samhan scored 24 points to lead five players in double figures and the Gaels held off the Warriors in the tournament's third-place game.

Mickey McConnell scored 17 points, Ben Allen added 15 and Matthew Dellavedova and Clint Steindl each had 12 for the Gaels (11-2).

Dwain Williams scored 36 points to lead Hawaii (6-6).

St. Mary's capitalized with 30 points off 16 Hawaii turnovers.

Western Michigan 66, Charleston 63 -- David Kool scored 16 points and Martelle McLemore had 15 to lift the Broncos (6-5) over the Cougars in the fifth-place game.

Jeremy Simmons and Andrew Goudelock each scored 17 points and Tony White Jr. added 16 for the Cougars (6-6), who led by as many as 11 midway through the first half.

After McLemore made a three-pointer with 2:33 left to give Western Michigan a 64-60 lead, Donovan Monroe answered from three-point range for the Cougars, but the Broncos grabbed three offensive rebounds to run down the clock.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

Holmes reported from Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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