The forecast in Louisville this weekend called for fair skies. But inside Freedom Hall, it was raining threes.
The Cardinals hit a school record 19 three-pointers as they breezed past slumping South Florida 96-77 before a crowd of 19,416 Friday.”I think it was poor defense,” Bulls point guard Reggie Kohn told The Tampa Tribune. “I don’t know if we got to the shooters quick enough, but 19-of-32, that’s a ridiculous number to shoot from the three.”
The Cardinals (13-7, 4-5 in Conference USA) came into the game ranked third from the bottom in Conference USA in three-pointers (30.7 percent), but shot a blistering 59 percent in handing the Bulls (14-7, 4-4 in C-USA) their second loss in the last three games. After starting the season 7-0, USF has not won consecutive games in nearly a month.
“I thought they were tougher than us, and that’s disappointing,” coach Seth Greenberg told the St. Petersburg Times.
What Louisville didn’t find tough was solving USF’s 1-3-1 defense – or any defense for that matter. The Bulls, who began the game with full-court pressure, eventually switched to man-to-man and even briefly tried a 2-3 zone, but nothing could slow down the white-hot Cardinal shooting.
Consider this: The Cardinals shot better from behind the three-point line (59 percent) than they did from inside it (53 percent).
“I think they shot a little better than they’ve been shooting it, and we probably didn’t contest it enough,” Greenberg told the Times.
Reece Gaines and Bryant Northern did most of the damage for the Cardinals from long distance. Gaines scored 30 points on 7-for-12 shooting from behind the three-point arc, while Northern (21 points) was 7-of-9 from long range, including a nearly perfect 6-of-7 in the second half.
Despite the Cardinals’ marksmanship and the Bulls’ 22 turnovers, USF was still very much in the game, due in part to shooting 51 percent from the floor. The Bulls repeatedly battled back from a 10-point halftime deficit in the second half, only to have another three-pointer chop their legs out from under them.
The biggest three-pointer turned out to be worth four. Gaines was fouled by junior forward Greg Brittian on a three from the left corner, and he converted the four-point play with 4:05 remaining to give the Cardinals a 78-68 cushion. “I thought we did a terrific job of getting back in the game, but they hit the (three-pointers) and pulled away,” Greenberg told the Times.
Altron Jackson led the Bulls with 25 points on 10-of-18 from the floor. Will McDonald scored 16, and Kohn finished with 10 points and eight assists. B.B. Waldon pulled down a team-high 9 boards but was virtually invisible on the offensive end, taking only four shots and scoring three points.
- Brandon Wright covers men’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org