USF had a chance at redemption in the Big East in the Sun Dome on Wednesday night, but the Bulls(9-5, 0-2) struggled offensively for the second straight game in a6153 loss to Villanova (11-4, 2-0) in a game that couldnt be saved after the first few minutes.
Nothing seemed to click onoffense for the Bulls, who shot about 30 percent from the floor in the first half and were fortunate to just put up 20 points total byhalftime to the Wildcats 34 points.
We just didnt have an answer, Heath said. They scored inside, they rebounded, they got second shots and third shots. And we just did not have an answer.
Two minutes into the night the Bulls grabbed an early, yet small, lead over Villanova as senior
forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick hit a three-pointer from far across the court, giving USF a 5-2 lead while getting the crowd on their feet.
But things went downhill for USF from there.
Villanova then took the lead and ran with it as second chance opportunities were plentiful, having 11 at halftime to the Bulls zero.
I know its frustrating, Heath said. Its frustrating for the coachesand its frustrating for the players.
Though there were few things to cheer about in the Sun Dome for USF fans, the crowd went wild for every rebound that the Bulls could snag from the large Villanova squad.
The Wildcats alsoout-rebounded the Bulls as well, heading into the locker room at half time with 26 as USF had 15. The night endedwith the rebound battler being won by Villanova, 42 to 32.
Heading back onto the courtafter a poor offensive showing, the Bulls needed something to spark.
But as the second half wentunderway, the spark didnt seem to catch in time.
Though USF out-scored and out-rebounded the Wildcats in the second half, improving their shooting percentage to 40 percent, it seemed that the big lead early on by Villanova was too much for USF to recover from.
Every time it looked like we had a chance to get the crowdgoing, it seemed like the block charge call was going against us, Heath said.
With 7:04 on the clock, junior forward Victor Rudd pulled the Bulls out of the double figure
deficit to an eight point deficit with a three-pointer.
The first five, six minutesdecided the game, Rudd,who finished the night as USFs lead scorer with 12 points, said.They came out hard and played very physical.
The Wildcats reacted quickly assenior forward Mouphtaou Yarou dove down court for a slam dunk thatsimmered down the USF student section.
Yarou was the key factor in the Wildcats lineup, having a double-double andleading Villanova in points andrebounds with 16 and 13 respectively.
After the Yarou dunk, Villanova was business as usual, as they took another double digit lead.
Though the game was over with only 46 seconds on the clock, theball ended up in the Bulls possession with a second left in the game.
In a last-second half-court heave, USF freshman guard Javontae Hawkins threw up a deep shot that bounced in off the backboard, leaving the final score with the Bulls trailing by only seven.
USF, now standing at 0-2 in the Big East with a second consecutive loss, heads to Louisville thisSaturday for the start of what will be a two game road stretch ending with a game against Rutgers.
The energy of the team for 40minutes was not there tonight and Im not used to that, Heath said. Our basketball team hasnt been that way in a long time and its something that I really dontaccept and its something we have to talk about and fix right away.