Looking more bewildered than depressed, the Stanford men's basketball team walked slowly off the court knowing full well they let a golden opportunity slip through their hands.
There's not much solace in the fact the Pac-12 Conference race remains jammed from the top all the way down to eighth place, where the Cardinal resides, alone, after dropping a 65-64 decision to visiting USC on Thursday.
Oregon regained sole possession of first place in the conference because both Arizona and UCLA lost on the road. Arizona State lost at Utah on Wednesday.
Stanford (6-6 in the Pac-12, 15-10 overall) lost a chance to move within a game of second place. There are still six games remaining to play, but the opportunities keep slipping away. The Cardinal must refocus for UCLA, which comes limping to town on Saturday for a 1 p.m. matinee on ESPN2.
Dwight Powell hit a jumper with 25 seconds remaining to play to bring the Cardinal within 65-64 of the Trojans. A quick foul sent USC's Eric Wise to the foul line and he obliged by missing both attempts.
Powell grabbed the rebound and the Cardinal worked for a go-ahead shot, which came when Chasson Randle had to rush a 3-point attempt from the corner with two seconds left. The ball hit off the rim and the Trojans had another improbable win over Stanford.
In what was the biggest game of the year to date, Powell stepped up with 17 points and 17 rebounds, the most by a Stanford player in five years. Josh Huestis added a career-high 22 points to go with six rebounds. Randle added 16 points.
USC led by as many as 14 points and Stanford came roaring back, only to come agonizingly close, but not close enough.
USC, who had lost nine of its previous 10 games at Maples Pavilion, swept the season series, having beaten Stanford 71-69 on Jan. 3 in Los Angeles.