USF 79, Richmond 65
Dominique Jones solved the Bulls’ offensive struggles in Richmond.
The freshman scored 30 points for the second consecutive game, including 21 in the second half, and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to lead USF to its sixth consecutive victory, defeating the Spiders 79-65.
“His demeanor is what is so impressive about him,” coach Stan Heath said. “It really doesn’t change a whole lot, and he doesn’t play with any fear. Thirty points is nice, but 14 rebounds from the guard position, that’s big time right there.”
Jones was the team’s second-leading scorer at 14 points per game, but over the past two contests he’s scored 60 points on just 23 shot attempts.
His point total Wednesday ranks second to Radenko Dobras’ freshman record of 33, set in 1988.
USF scored 50 points in the second half, after managing just 46 in a loss to the Spiders last season, and out-rebounded Richmond 46-24 even though Kentrell Gransberry saw limited action due to foul trouble.
Gransberry is averaging 10.4 rebounds per game this season, and played only 20 minutes, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds.
A 19-2 run – fueled by 10 points from Jones – midway through the second half turned a closely contested game in USF’s (6-3) favor.
The Bulls’ point total is the second highest Richmond (4-5) has surrendered, after they allowed 80 to No. 2 Memphis earlier this season.
“The score is really not indicative of the game today – we really struggled in the first half,” Heath said. “All of the things we didn’t want to have happen were happening.”
The first half was filled with mistakes and poor shooting for the Bulls, as they committed nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes and their usually potent three-point shooting went 0-for-5 as Richmond built a two-point halftime lead.
“(A poor) demeanor was the demeanor for the last two hours,” Heath said. “It’s good to win on the road; you have to enjoy it. We hadn’t played well and Gransberry hadn’t played, but as poorly as we played, we were still right there.”
Point guard Chris Howard, who attended high school in Virginia, returned to the state to score 16 points, along with six rebounds and six assists.
Nine players for the Spiders spent at least 10 minutes on the court, but struggled to get anything going offensively.
Richmond shot 40.7 percent from the field and couldn’t take advantage of USF’s lackluster play during the first half. Dan Geriot led the Spiders with 17 points and six rebounds.
After halftime, Heath said his team showed more effort on the court and went on the scoring run, even with Gransberry on the bench.
“We just got on a roll. We got stops, rebounds and (fast breaks), and then the game just became South Florida basketball,” Heath said. “I was excited to see that, and our guys just stuck with it.”
With Jones heating up in the second half, Richmond tried using five different defenders in a man-to-man setup and then switched to a zone defense, which proved to be equally ineffective.
Jones shot 9-for-12 from the field and shot 90 percent from the free throw line.
“I don’t know what to say about our freshman here,” Heath said. “He’s coming into his own and is playing good basketball. We just want to keep feeding him whatever he’s eating and keep it going.”