The men’s basketball team traveled to Seton Hall on Saturday, and for the first time this season, a chance to make it to the Big East Tournament was no longer at stake.
However, the result was the same as it has been for more than two years: another conference loss on the road, this time by a score of 89-76 to the Pirates.
USF (12-16, 3-11) had momentum and controlled the pace of the game until about seven minutes into the second half when Seton Hall’s (13-14, 4-10) Jamar Nutter made consecutive three-pointers, giving the Pirates their first lead since two minutes and 54 seconds into the game. The Bulls never regained the lead after that point.
“The way (Seton Hall) plays, they’re going to hit a few and go on a pretty good run,” assistant coach Greg Gary said. “What we had to do a little bit better in the second half – and we didn’t – was make some more stops and not let them go on those types of runs.”
USF led for most of the first half before going into halftime with a two-point lead. In the second half, the Bulls led by as many as eight, but 19 turnovers led to their 15th consecutive conference loss on the road since joining the Big East last season.
“We just have to get over that hump, and we have to dig a little deeper,” Gary said. “There’s only two ways you go about it: You can either try harder and be extra committed to making sure we finish games off, or (you can) give into it. We have to make sure we don’t give into that.”
After losing to DePaul on Feb. 17, USF still had a minute chance of making it to the Big East Tournament. The Bulls needed to win their final three games, while either Providence or Connecticut lost its remaining games.
With the Friars and the Huskies both winning their mid-week games last week, the Bulls were already eliminated from tournament contention when they hit the court Saturday. Seton Hall, also 3-10 in the conference before the game, still has a chance of getting the 12th and final spot in the tournament.
With a win, USF could’ve ended the Pirates’ tournament hopes, but that wasn’t a motivation factor for the Bulls.
“We’re not trying to make reasons up to be motivated,” Gary said. “We’re playing to get that first road win – that’s what we’re playing for.”