Leading 69-67 with 4.4 seconds left on the clock Tuesday night, Houston broke through the USF defense and shot a long pass down the right sideline to freshman guard Wes Vanbeck.
As Vanbeck jumped into the air to launch a potential game-winning shot, the crowd of 3,128 in the Sun Dome collectively held their breath. To the Bulls’ relief, the shot clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded and USF secured its second conference win of the season.
Watching from the bench after fouling out, guard Troy Holston Jr. was in denial that Vanbeck’s shot had a chance.
“I was like, there ain’t no way that was going in,” Holston said.
USF (8-19, 2-12) held Houston to 26 points and 16 rebounds in the second half to complete only its second win in 2015.
“(It feels) great. We’ve been going in practice real, real hard and it just feels good to finally get a W,” redshirt freshman forward Bo Zeigler said.
After surrendering 41 first-half points and allowing 11 first-half offensive rebounds, coach Orlando Antigua was able to make the necessary second-half adjustments to turn the game in the Bulls’ favor.
“Our issue was that we were going in, crashing into the boards and the balls were rebounding out because they were taking long shots,” Antigua said. “So once we were able to correct that in the second half, I thought we were able to limit those second opportunities.”
Holston gave the Bulls life on offense, scoring a career-high 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The freshman also made all six of his free-throw attempts.
“We keep challenging (Holston) not to be one dimensional,” Antigua said. “Be aggressive. You’re doing all this ball-handling work, in the weight room lifting. Don’t be just a three-point shooter, be a basketball player. Those are the guys that are really difficult to defend, guys that can score at each level.”
Junior guard Anthony Collins facilitated the offense throughout the night, finishing with six assists and moving into second in USF history for career assists with 537.
USF will travel to play ECU on Saturday before playing Houston (9-16, 1-12) again March 1.