Spider bite

The streak – along with the home stand – is over.

The men’s basketball team opened up its season with four consecutive wins, and going back to last season, USF had won five straight.

But the Bulls (4-1) couldn’t grab momentum Tuesday as they lost 56-46 to Richmond (4-3) in front of 2,811 fans at the Sun Dome.

USF struggled offensively, shooting just 39.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line.

“When you’re not scoring against a team that’s going to be as structured and as disciplined as they’re going to be, it just puts so much more pressure on you defensively,” coach Robert McCullum said.

The Bulls trailed nearly the entire game and, after making just eight of 21 field goals in the first half, went into the locker room trailing 27-21.

Scoring didn’t come much easier in the second half, when USF shot 40 percent from the field.

Despite the loss, forward McHugh Mattis finished the night with a game-high 21 points. Mattis also had 10 rebounds to earn his third double-double of the season, but he struggled from the free-throw line, making just three of nine attempts.

“We’ve been doing a lot of shooting drills the past week, and we’ve been shooting the ball pretty good in practice,” Mattis said. “I felt (Melvin) Buckley and Solomon (Bozeman) was hitting pretty decent in practice. It was just one of them nights.”

The Spiders and Bulls both made 18 field goals, but Richmond was able to slow the game down and shot the ball 12 fewer times than USF.

“We played their game,” Buckley said. “We let them get them get the game into a slow-down game. The shots were the same. The difference is they hit them; we missed them.”

The Bulls put on a show from the free-throw line last week against Stetson, making 28 of 35 attempts. But they made just eight of 20 in the loss to the Spiders.

“There are so many reasons or causes for our frustration,” McCullum said. “When you shoot that poorly – you need to knock down free throws. We struggled from the start tonight from the free-throw line.”

Buckley went into the game leading the Big East in scoring with 22.8 points per game, but the Richmond was able to hold him to a season-low eight points.

“I knew coming into the game that they were going to key in on me,” said Buckley, who didn’t make his first basket until late in the first half. “It’s going to be that way the rest of the year, so I tried to look for the open guy, tried to draw somebody, and hit some guys. We’ve just got to knock down shots.”

Starting with a game at Winston-Salem State on Thursday the Bulls will play seven straight road games and won’t play at home again until Dec. 22 against Missouri State.

“After a game like this it wakes you up,” Buckley said. “Now you go out on the road, and you want to try and do what Richmond came in here and did to us.”