USF didn’t prove its case for a four-seed against Buffalo

By Brian Hattab, Staff Writer
On March 18, 2018

After Saturday's loss, Maria Jespersen's USF career is over. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/CHAVELI GUZMAN

If USF was trying to prove to the world that it deserved a higher seed than the No. 6 seed it received, it failed drastically.

For a team that averaged just under 62 points per game allowed, allowing 102 points in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament is embarrassing. 

USF had not allowed an opponent other than UConn to reach the century mark since December 2001. No disrespect to the Bulls’ opponent, No. 11 seed Buffalo, but they are not the Huskies.

Speaking of UConn – after keeping the Huskies to just 70 points and a 16-point victory over USF in the AAC championship game, how do you explain this performance the very next time out?

It’s not just the score that was uncharacteristic of the Bulls. USF committed 21 personal fouls Saturday. Coming into the game, the Bulls averaged 13 personal fouls per game.

Some calls were definitely questionable, but when you’re getting thoroughly dominated like USF was throughout the majority of the game, do you really expect to get the benefit of a borderline call?

Do you even really deserve it?

USF was uncharacteristically bad on the boards too. The Bulls collected 19 rebounds – well below their season average of just under 30. This led to Buffalo being able to score 18 second chance points.

The Bulls were never particularly careful with the basketball this season – USF averaged over 12 turnovers a game. Even with that in mind, Saturday’s game was below average for USF – the Bulls coughed it up 16 times which led to 25 points off turnovers for Buffalo.

What happened?

After feeling snubbed over the lower seeding – and USF was right to feel that way as it had the resume of at least a No. 5 seed – how do you come out that flat?

For a team that had every reason in the world to play with a chip on its shoulder, how do you wind up playing with what appeared to be an anchor on your leg?

It’s the second straight year USF was run in the first round of the tournament, but it’s easier to live with a loss like last year’s. USF mounted an impressive comeback against Mizzou only to lose on a buzzer-beater.

But at least that game was competitive and offered a dramatic ending.

What positive can you take away from this?

The goal this season was making the program’s first Sweet Sixteen appearance. 

Considering USF would have had to face a very good FSU team in the second round, it might have been tough, but it was doable.

But the Bulls didn’t even get a chance to face the Seminoles. They barely faced Buffalo.

For a team with the winningest senior class in program history, for a team that set a new program high for regular season wins, for a team that wanted to “unleash chaos” in the tournament – they failed.

Wins against Ohio State and LSU in the regular season don’t mean a whole lot if you can’t show up in the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

It’s a shame it had to end like this. Seniors Maria Jespersen and Laia Flores deserved a better ending than this.

Everyone deserved better.

It’s going to be a long offseason. 

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