When the men’s basketball team traveled to face Louisville on Saturday, it had the same goal the football team had when it played the Cardinals on Sept. 24: to capture its first Big East win.
However, the difference was the football team won on its first try, while the basketball team lost 57-54 in its 10th attempt.
The Bulls (6-17, 0-10), which Saturday tied their all-time record from 1979-80 with their 12th consecutive loss, dropped the sixth Big East game in which they held a second-half lead.
Coach Robert McCullum said losing senior center Solomon Jones, who fouled out with two minutes left after scoring 11 points and adding 12 rebounds, was critical.
“Throughout the game we had done a pretty good job of executing, and Solomon Jones got in a little foul trouble, and to have him only play 26 (or) 27 minutes certainly hampered our execution,” McCullum said.
Added Jones, “It was very frustrating. Going into foul trouble early stopped me from being aggressive because I had to watch the fouls.”
Junior forward Melvin Buckley gave the Bulls a 50-44 lead when he nailed a three-pointer with 9:11 to go, but USF failed to make its last 11 field goals.
Buckley, who was held scoreless in the first half but scored 13 in the second half, was unable to get open on the Bulls’ last inbound, so junior guard Collin Dennis found Holmes with nine seconds left, but Holmes missed a three-point jumper.
“We’ve got to put more on us as individuals, to score and take responsibility of our roles,” Holmes said.
Buckley, who has averaged 20.3 points in the last three games, said he wasn’t the only one capable of making the game-tying shot.
“Once James and (Solomon) kicked it out to me and I ran off a couple of buckets, (Louisville) made sure that the ball wasn’t going to touch my hands,” Buckley said. “But we have plenty of offensive threats. I felt like anybody could step up and make a shot.”