In a season riddled with injuries and suspensions, it would be easy to point to those as excuses for the Bulls disappointing 5-18 record this season.
USF fell to Temple 70-63 on Sunday afternoon in the Sun Dome, dropping its conference record to 2-8.
“We just have to keep working and know the results will happen,” USF coach Orlando Antigua remarked after his Bulls dropped their 11th game at home this season.
The Bulls dug themselves an early hole to start the game, as the Owls (12-8, 6-3) hit two three-pointers to open the scoring for Temple.
With the Owls controlling most of the play in the first half, the Bulls were able to claim only a brief lead from a senior guard Nehemias Morillo three-pointer with under six minutes before halftime.
The Bulls’ 21-20 lead was short-lived, however, as an over-zealous USF defense continued to foul Temple senior guard Quenton DeCosey from beyond the arc.
“The emphasis was that (DeCosey) likes to pump-fake a lot, don’t jump,” frustrated senior forward Angel Nunez said after the game. “(The coaches) gave us the scouting report on him and told us what to do, we just didn’t go out there and execute.”
DeCosey, who played every minute for the Owls, had 30 points on the afternoon, which is the most any player has scored on the Bulls in a single game this season.
Coming out of the half leading by only four, the Owls began a 10-4 run. Temple managed to extend the lead to 15 with 13:12 to go, but an undermanned Bulls squad continued to grind.
An intentional foul by Temple and two free throws from USF managed to extend the lead out to 15 with 13:12 to go, but an undermanned Bulls squad continued to grind.
An intentional foul by Temple and two free throws from USF senior center Jaleel Cousins with 6:19 remaining put the Bulls within eight, eventually getting the lead down to five, trailing 61-56.
A long three from the top of the key from Temple senior guard Devin Coleman put the Owls back up 64-56 with 2:03 to go, which sealed the Bulls’ fate.
“I’m pleased that our kids are fighting, I’m pleased that they’re continuing to work,” Antigua said. “I’m pleased because I know that there is more, and I see the vision of our guys continuing to improve.”
One of the Bulls showing signs of improvement is freshman guard Jamaal McMurray, who continues to be a steady contributor in what has been a static season for the Bulls.
McMurray was named AAC Rookie of the Week last week and had another solid effort Sunday, with 14 points in 38 minutes. He was also one of four Bulls starters with double-digit scoring efforts on the afternoon.
The Bulls next game is on the road in Cincinnati Thursday before returning home Sunday to host SMU.