South Florida had plenty of chances last night. Unfortunately for the Bulls, those opportunities didn’t translate into made baskets.
The Bulls shot a measly 29 percent from the field and couldn’t take advantage of the free-throw line, as Memphis took control of the National Division with an 81-62 win at the Pyramid.
“We just didn’t finish,” coach Seth Greenberg said. “When you miss free throw after free throw, it’s like a turnover. You can’t expect to win games if you don’t make free throws.”
There appeared to be a lid on the basket for USF (12-4, 3-1 in Conference USA) all night both from the field and the free-throw line. The Bulls shot an atrocious 19-for-64 from the floor and 20-for-34 from the line. To compound problems, USF shot an abysmal 19 percent from beyond the three-point arc.v”I’m happy with the shots we got,” Greenberg said. “We got the ball inside (but) in the first half they bumped it up because of our inability to hit free throws.”
Altron Jackson (24 points) and Will McDonald (23) provided the offensive punch, but the pair had little help. B.B. Waldon, the Bulls’ second leading scorer, was shut out on an 0-for-8 shooting night from the field. Waldon, playing with a fractured cheekbone, never seemed comfortable, firing up four air balls in the second half. But he wasn’t the only Bull to struggle from the floor.
Reggie Kohn, Greg Brittian and Waldon combined to shoot a paltry 1-of-16 from the field for a total of 6 points. In stark contrast to the Bulls’ sub-30 percent effort from the floor, Memphis shot 46 percent.
“I’d like to see a shot chart, but we had a lot of scoring opportunities in the first half, we just didn’t finish it,” Greenberg said.
For all the bricks being hurled towards the rim from the perimeter by the Bulls, they gave themselves numerous second chance opportunities. USF grabbed 21 boards, but as was the case from the field and the line, chances didn’t equal baskets.Jackson hit a jumper to pull the Bulls to 21-19 with about eight minutes left, but Memphis went on a 7-0 run and USF spent the rest of the night playing catchup. Chris Massie (9 points, 9 rebounds) closed out the first half for the Tigers with a free throw to extend the Memphis lead to 38-27.
“They’re a very good team,” Greenberg said. “Massie gets a rebound every two minutes. That’s a hell of a statistic.”
After Memphis pushed the advantage to 16 early in the second half, McDonald cut the lead to 43-34, but for every series of haymakers the Tigers landed, the Bulls could only offer a counterpunch. When Arthur Barclay converted on a short jumper at the 6:30 mark to extend the lead to 69-51, the Bulls were knocked out.
‘That wasn’t a 20-point basketball game,” Greenberg said. “Maybe I’ll look back and say it was, but in my mind it wasn’t. I thought we competed, we rebounded it, (but) we didn’t finish.”
- Brandon Wright covers men’s basketball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org