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Bulls go 0-2 in Big East

Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 01:01


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 a 61–53 loss to Villanova (11-4, 2-0) in a game that couldn’t be saved after the first few minutes.

Nothing seemed to click on offense 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 by halftime to the Wildcats’ 34 points.

“We just didn’t 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 it’s frustrating,” Heath said. “It’s frustrating for the coaches and it’s 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 also out-rebounded the Bulls as well, heading into the locker room at half time with 26 as USF had 15. The night ended with the rebound battler being won by Villanova, 42 to 32.

Heading back onto the court after a poor offensive showing, the Bulls needed something to spark.

But as the second half went underway, the spark didn’t 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 crowd going, 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 minutes decided the game,” Rudd, who finished the night as USF’s lead scorer with 12 points, said. “They came out hard and played very physical.”

The Wildcats reacted quickly as senior forward Mouphtaou Yarou dove down court for a slam dunk that simmered down the USF student section. 

Yarou was the key factor in the Wildcats’ lineup, having a double-double and leading Villanova in points and rebounds 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, the ball 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 this Saturday for the start of what will be a two game road stretch ending with a game against Rutgers.

“The energy of the team for 40 minutes was not there tonight and I’m not used to that,” Heath said. “Our basketball team hasn’t been that way in a long time and it’s something that I really don’t accept and it’s something we have to talk about and fix right away.”

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