Despite a late surge, the USF men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday, falling 78-72 at Richmond.
Down 21 points midway through the second half, the Bulls (4-1) went on a 16-2 run late in the game but were unable to withstand the hot-shooting Spiders.
“I thought we had a number of opportunities to get back in the game,” coach Robert McCullum said during a post-game interview on WTBN 570. “I thought we made a great effort coming back, but that energy we used to come back is that same energy we need throughout the game.”
Brian Swift and Terrence Leather scored in double figures for the Bulls, scoring 19 and 17, respectively. Leather just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
Richmond (3-1) was led by guard Daon Merritt, who scored a game-high 21 points and had five assists. Forward Jermaine Bucknor had the game’s only double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Spiders, who made the NCAA Tournament last season.
“Richmond is a good basketball team. They have good balance,” McCullum said. “In the first half, they were clearly the more physical team.”
The Bulls fell behind 8-0 early and were down 41-28 at halftime.
“Defensively, we were bad in the first half,” McCullum said. “We gave up 41 points. It’s an indication of how poorly we played defense.”
USF managed to get back in the game with a barrage of three-pointers, hitting 8 of 19 for the game, but it wasn’t enough.
Richmond shot 46.6 percent from the floor and hit 7 out of 14 three-point attempts.
“You can’t win against good teams on the road allowing those kind of percentages,” McCullum said.
Starting forward Marius Prekevicius, who suffered a broken nose earlier this year, took a shot to his nose and may have re-broken it.
McCullum said that Prekevicius’ nose “didn’t look good.”
“I expect he’ll play,” McCullum said. “We’ll leave it at that.”