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Not enough this time

USF couldn’t get the bigpush it needed to take thelead over West Virginia,which grabbed an early leadfrom behind the three-pointline and never trailed in a69-58 victory on Wednesdaynight.

In the first half, theMountaineers made seventhree-pointers while holdingKentrell Gransberryto three points. Senior forwardMcHugh Mattis led theBulls with 18 points and 12rebounds in the loss.Gransberry, who fouled outwith more than two minutesremaining in the second half,finished with his sixth doubledoublewith 11 points and 10rebounds. Melvin Buckley finishedwith 17 points, shooting4-of-9 from three-pointrange.

“We had some guys thatmade some plays and got mesome breathing room to getsome shots, and they wentin for me,” Buckley said. “Weknew they were going tocome out in a zone, so it wasjust about knocking down theshots.”

Senior forward FrankYoung led the Mountaineerswith 16 points, most of whichcame from behind the arc. Forward JoelAlexander sparked West Virginia in thesecond half, scoring eight of his 10 points.

The Mountaineers had four players scorein double figures.

The Bulls battled back early in the secondhalf behind an 8-0 run. Mattis scoredfour of the eight points in the run to getUSF within three at 43-40.West Virginia answered with a 10-3 runof its own led by Alexander, who had consecutive dunks. The Bulls were unable tomuster another run and never got withinsix points the rest of the game.

“We have to get some stops late in thegames more consistently,” Buckley said.”We got some of those stops tonight, butwe didn’t capitalize when we needed to.”The Bulls struggled from the free-throwline, finishing 9-of-20. Gransberry went3-of-8 from the free-throw line, and ChrisHoward missed three consecutive withslightly more than a minute remaining andthe Bulls down by 11.

“We went 9-for-20 from the free-throwline, and when you go 9-for-20 from thefree-throw line you aren’t going to win,especially on the road,” Buckley said.Gransberry came out in the second halfmore aggressive on offense, with eightpoints and seven rebounds to keep USFclose. Mattis scored 11 of his 18 pointsafter halftime.

“It wasn’t the job of containing me, itwas the mistakes of picking up two quickfouls and never got going in the first half,” Gransberry said. “My team needed me, so I had to come out and show them that Iwanted to help them the best way I can.”

West Virginia opened up the first halfwith four three-pointers to open up a 14-4lead. The Mountaineers took their biggestlead midway through the first half at 25-10, but the Bulls outscored West Virginia13-9 leading into halftime.

Head coach Robert McCullum wasunavailable for comment after the game.