The USF men’s basketball team has been circling the chance for a win the last two games, and another chance popped out Monday against TCU.
Junior Terrence Leather’s last second three-point attempt to send the game into overtime did the same, as the Bulls lost their eighth straight Conference USA game 54-51 in the Sun Dome.
This season is the first time the Bulls (6-13, 0-8 C-USA) have opened league play with eight consecutive losses since joining C-USA.
The ball found its way into Leather’s hands after junior Brian Swift drove the length of the court with less than 10 seconds remaining after the Bulls’ defense forced a miss by TCU’s (9-11, 5-4) Marcus Shropshire. USF had one timeout remaining, but Swift said he was unaware.
“I kind of tipped the ball to Gerrick (Morris) and got it to him,” Swift said. “I looked up and saw six seconds (and) my first thought was to try and get a shot.
“I didn’t realize we had another time out. That was my mistake, but I basically saw the time running down and knew I had to get a shot off.”
“Sometimes the best three-point look you will get will be in transition, and Brian pushed the basketball and just couldn’t create anything,” USF coach Robert McCullum said. “And, of course, we told him if you don’t have anything call a timeout.
“Until you’re in that situation, it’s a difficult situation whether you call it or not.”
Despite McCullum wanting the timeout if Swift couldn’t get an open look, the pulse of the game during crunch time caused the junior guard to forget the Bulls had one left.
“We just basically said we were going to try and get a stop,” Swift said. “To tell you the truth, all I was focused on was getting a stop. I didn’t realize there was six seconds left when I got the ball in my hands.
“The only thing in my mind when I had seen the clock wind down was to get a basket. It was my mistake.”
After the game McCullum consoled Swift, who came into the post-game press conference red-faced and dejected.
“He came up to me after the game. I had my head down in the locker room, and he whispered in my ear, ‘We had a timeout left; you could have called a timeout,’ and I apologized for it, (but) he said it’s all right,” Swift said. “It’s my mistake, (and) I should have been aware of it.”
Despite the missed timeout as the game concluded, Swift played strongly throughout the game, scoring 13 points, including a game-high three three-point baskets.
Swift’s points helped compliment Leather, who led the Bulls with 20 points, but only scored four in the second half.
In the second half the Horned Frogs showed the Bulls a man-to-man defense, a zone defense and a box-and-one defense, forcing Leather and Swift’s point production to drop.
While the Bulls offense was slowed in the second half, their defense remained constant, due in part to the play of Morris.
Morris blocked nine shots for his second highest mark of the season, while grabbing eight boards.
“His presence inside puts something in the other team’s mind,” Swift said. “They really don’t want to come down there because they know he’s down there. It helps us a lot, with his aggressiveness on the rebounds.
“It’s good to have him down there.”
The Bulls continue their four-games-in-six-days stretch Wednesday night at Cincinnati.