February 3, 2013 by Seth Rubinroit
By Seth Rubinroit
11 seconds left in overtime, and the Trojans held a 72-71 lead over the rival Bruins. With the shot clock off, UCLA’s Travis Wear desperately fouled USC forward Ari Stewart.
Recently renovated Pauley Pavilion rocked.
“I looked around and admired the scene,” Stewart said. “You practice so many times so you can just go to line, regardless of where you are or who is watching, and the result should be the same.”
Incredibly, 22 games into the season, Stewart had not even attempted a free throw.
“I knew I had not shot any free throws all year,” Stewart said. “That was definitely going through my head.”
Guard J.T. Terrell sat on the bench and told player development coordinator Anthony Coleman exactly what was going to happen next.
“I knew it was going in,” Terrell said. “There was not any doubt in my mind.”
Stewart calmly stepped to the line and made the front end of the one-and-one. After UCLA called a time out, Stewart made the second free throw to put the Trojans up by three points.
“It felt good to turn around and see my teammates smiling after I made it,” Stewart said. “It was that happy moment when I thought this game could be over.
“That was more satisfying than looking over at UCLA.”
Shabazz Muhammad then missed a game-tying three-point attempt with seven seconds left, and Jio Fontan made a free throw for USC to put the game out of reach.
Stewart, who was part of the Wake Forest team in 2010 that went to Chapel Hill and defeated ACC rival North Carolina, was proud to be such a pivotal part of the USC-UCLA rivalry.
“Those are the moments,” Stewart said, “you live for in sports.”