One game after the Bulls were beaten by Marquette’s ability to rebound the ball — especially on the offensive boards — the USF men’s basketball team faced the same peril Saturday.
The Bulls dropped to 7-18, and 1-13 in Conference USA after a 69-60 loss to East Carolina.
The Pirates had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and finished the game with 21, giving ECU a 47-35 advantage on the boards.
The final statistics were similar to the 15 first-half offensive rebounds and 46 total rebounds the Golden Eagles had in Thursday’s win against the Bulls in the Sun Dome.
“Our worst fears came true in terms of their rebounding,” USF coach Robert McCullum said. “I thought their 13 offensive rebounds in the first half set the tone. We shot the ball about as well as we can. We made 52 percent of our shots the first half, yet we trailed, and I thought that was due in large part to their offensive rebounding.”
The loss also marked the end of the Bulls hopes at earning a bid into the C-USA tournament.
With ECU’s victory against USF and Houston’s subsequent loss to TCU on Saturday, the Pirates clinched the final spot in the C-USA tournament.
“I thought East Carolina came out and played with a lot of emotion,” McCullum said. “We talked before the game about matching their emotion and their intensity. With it being Senior Day, those areas are higher than normal. We knew they were playing to secure a spot in the conference tournament.”
The Bulls’ emotions are starting to show as well now. With the Bulls eliminated from the C-USA tournament and nearing the end of a season plagued with player defections, junior Terrence Leather showed his emotion.
Leather, the Bulls’ leading scorer and rebounder, was benched with 15:47 left in the game because of a “coach’s decision.”
“I went for a loose ball,” Leather told The Tampa Tribune. “As I walked to the bench for the timeout, coach was saying something. I was telling him, ‘Coach, he grabbed my shorts.’ I guess he just benched me from there. It’s just so frustrating. I mean, I felt like he didn’t hear me out. I’m telling him something and he’s just going off on something else. He totally neglected how I feel about the game, (and) how I feel about the season.”
Leather finished the game with 13 points and three turnovers in 23 minutes.Junior guard Bradley Mosley scored a team-high 20 points while playing the whole game.
McCullum was in no doubt what the difference between the teams had been.
“Overall, just their 21 offensive boards to our 13, they were a lot more physical,” McCullum said. “Neither team shot particularly well. When you look at the stat sheet you see that both teams handled the ball relatively well, so I thought the rebounding was probably the most telling stat of them all.”