Sharp-shooters slay South Florida

USF 70, Providence 86

The USF men’s basketball team went to Providence hoping to earn its first Big East Conference road win in school history. Unfortunately, the Bulls left Rhode Island still searching.

South Florida (10-7, 1-3 Big East) had no answer for the Friars’ 13 three-pointers as Providence (11-5, 2-2 Big East) sent the Bulls back to Tampa with an 86-70 loss. USF has now lost three games in a row for the second time this season.

Providence seemed to get into a rhythm early in the game and never cooled down. The Friars hit eight three-point shots by halftime – a big reason for their 43-31 lead at halftime.

From then on, the Bulls just simply could not catch up to the hot-handed Friars.

Providence shot 13 of 21 from three-point range, and USF played from behind for nearly the entire game.

“We allowed them to get into a rhythm early,” Bulls coach Stan Heath said in a press release. “That was our fault. They got open shots, unguarded shots. They got their confidence going.”

One player who was feeling particularly confident for the Friars was junior guard Geoff McDermott. Despite averaging only 11.4 points per game this season, McDermott exploded for a career-high 24 points. He also added a game-high seven rebounds in 35 minutes of work.

“I thought McDermott had a heck of a game,” Heath said. “He’s a tough matchup for us. He kind of did what he wanted to do whether it was driving the ball, passing it or even at times posting up.”

Sophomore guard Dwain Williams also had a big game for the Friars. Williams scored 16 points and tied his career-high with five three-pointers. Junior guard Jeff Xavier also added 16 points.

USF senior center Kentrell Gransberry was impressed by the Friars’ performance.

“Providence is a great team and did a great job of shooting the ball,” Gransberrry said. “Some of the shots they made were tough shots. McDermott, Xavier, Williams hit some big shots. I give all the credit to those guys.”

The Bulls got another stellar performance out of Gransberry. He scored 22 points and had six rebounds in the contest.

“My teammates did a good job finding me tonight,” Gransberry said. “Whatever the defense was giving us is what coach wanted us to do.”

Having another tough night was freshman guard Dominique Jones. Jones took only five field goal attempts in 31 minutes of playing time. He finished the game with only 10 points – nearly eight points fewer than he has averaged against Big East opponents this season.

USF will need to start piling up wins quickly if it hopes to play in a postseason tournament. The Bulls are one of four Big East conference teams with at least three losses.

In order to earn a berth in the postseason, the Bulls know that they have to win on the road.

“We know the importance of getting some road wins, and we need to get one,” Heath said. “We’ve been able to win a couple of games on the road in non-conference, and it’s time to do it in the Big East season.”