Bulls fall short

Four players scored in double figures and the South Florida men’s basketball team shot nearly 50 percent from the field while nearly matching Virginia in rebounds. The Bulls, however, couldn’t overcome poor free-throw shooting, and that cost them a 77-75 loss to the Cavaliers in Virginia on Wednesday night.

The Bulls were 6-of-12 from the free-throw line — losing six points that could have changed the outcome of the game.

“I wish I had the magic wand that could fix that thing, trust me,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “We were 0-for-5 to start the game, and those things come back to haunt you.”

The Bulls (1-1) took control of the game early, going on a 10-2 run to start.

However, the Cavaliers came back, taking a 22-20 lead with six minutes remaining in the first half. From that point, there were 18 lead changes in a back-and-forth contest.

“It was close,” Heath said. “We’ll go back and look at the film to see what we can fix, but you can’t fault the guys who were out there, tongues dragging, giving everything they can to try and survive to get a win for us. They just came up a little short tonight.”

Two players that had their “tongues dragging” were senior guard Jesus Verdejo and sophomore guard Dominique Jones.

The two combined for 55 points — led by Jones’ 23 — and played more than 37 minutes each.

Juniors Chris Howard (11) and Alex Rivas Sanchez (10) also scored in double figures for the Bulls.

Jones said Verdejo had another solid outing for the Bulls.

“Jesus played great,” Jones said. “He hit a lot of tough shots, and he did a lot to try and help us win. He showed a lot of heart.”

Jones put the Bulls up 75-74 with 34 seconds remaining but missed two late shots that would have given the Bulls the victory.

“I had what I wanted, and the shot felt good,” Jones said. “It just didn’t go in.”

Heath said the Bulls had the matchup they wanted on the second shot but confusion on the offensive end hurt their chances.

After Jones missed, freshman Eladio Espinosa grabbed a rebound but tried to pass to Verdejo and ran out of time.

“Eladio probably thought we just had a little extra time,” Heath said. “I wish he would’ve put it back in and I’m sure he does too, but he was looking for the veteran guy. If we had just one extra second, that was probably the smart play.”

Heath said the Bulls would have received a lot of confidence had they won at the John Paul Jones Center. However, Jones said the team still believes they can win.

“We played good, and we know we can win games on the road,” Jones said. “We were supposed to win (Wednesday night).”

Injury note:
Junior forward Alex Rivas Sanchez left the game with 13 seconds remaining after spraining his ankle. He had 10 points and nine rebounds at the time.

Heath said he hopes to have Rivas back for USF’s Tuesday  game against High Point.