Seton Hall passes the Bulls in the Big East Conference

USF 64, Seton Hall 74

The Bulls went into Newark, NJ on Thursday night looking to end a three-game losing streak. Crippled by turnovers and a horrible team effort from the free-throw line, USF could not end the skid.

USF (10-8, 1-4) lost 74-64 to the Seton Hall Pirates (11-6, 1-3) to fall to 14th place out of the 16 teams in the Big East Conference standings.

The Bulls started the game quickly. USF twice jumped out to six-point leads. However, the early success for the Bulls would not last too long.

Senior center Kentrell Gransberry was sent to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game.

“Everybody that plays South Florida knows that is you can get Kentrell out of there it helps you,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “It’s a normal strategy that we see and it was very effective against us today.”

With Gransberry on the bench, the Pirates began to take over.

Senior guard Jamar Nutter hit three straight three-point field goals, while freshman guard Jeremey Hazell added two three-pointers of his own. The 15-0 run only lasted about three minutes, and the Bulls never led after the series.

In the second half, Seton Hall used an early run to put the game out of reach. USF trimmed the lead to just three points, but Hazell added nine points during a 10-0 run early in the half.

Despite playing limited minutes in the first half, Gransberry proved to be the Bulls’ most consistent threat once again. The center scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds.

For the Pirates, Hazell scored a game-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

Freshman guard Dominique Jones – who was averaging 16.1 points per game going into the Prudential Center – scored just seven points and grabbed four rebounds before fouling out late in the second half.

USF couldn’t overcome some severe mental mistakes. The Bulls turned the ball over 14 times and failed to capitalize when they had the chance.

“We have to capitalize anytime we can get either a transition bucket, an open shot or a free three and we went 0-5, including two lay-ups,” Heath said. “We missed one, had an offensive rebound, and missed another one. Those were big plays.”

Another glaring problem for the Bulls was free-throw shooting. As a team, USF shot 7-of-17 from the line.

Heath recognizes the team’s problems and feels that, with work, the Bulls will improve over time.

“We’re just one of those teams,” Heath said. “We’re learning. We’re getting better but we’ve got to get a little more urgent about fixing some of those areas, especially late in the game.”

The Bulls will need to rebound quickly from their fourth straight loss. On Sunday, USF will return to Tampa to play West Virginia at the St. Pete Times Forum.

“We’re going to need a great defensive effort on Sunday,” Gransberry said.

Jones echoed his teammate’s feelings.

“I’ve never played (at the Forum),” Jones said. “I’m really excited about it, though.”