Just like it has all season, South Florida’s poor shooting proved a decisive factor Sunday as the Bulls went stagnant on offense and fell 65-48 in Carnesecca Arena against St. John’s.
“We needed to score some points and we couldn’t muster up the shots to do so,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “From field goals to free throws, we just couldn’t hit them. And we still had a chance to put ourselves in a position to win.”
Despite an eight-minute scoreless stretch in the second half, the Bulls trailed only 47-42 with 5:03 remaining.
However, St. John’s guard Paris Horne hit two layups and a three-point shot in a 9-2 run with less than three minutes to play to put the game out of reach.
“We have these stretches where we play really well, and then there are stretches where we just can’t score,” Heath said. “We are really struggling with our depth right now.”
The Bulls (7-14, 2-7) shot 31 percent from the field in the second half and finished 4-of-10 from the free-throw line.
“It’s tough to struggle with shooting, but I just don’t think we understand how to play on the road yet as a team,” said USF guard Dominique Jones.
USF was out-rebounded 39-29 by St. John’s (12-9, 3-6). Heath said the Red Storm’s depth in the post was a big factor.
“Their size and strength on the boards was a big thing we couldn’t deal with,” he said. “We just didn’t have the depth to deal with that kind of mismatch.”
Guards Jesus Verdejo (12) and Dominique Jones (16) combined for more than half of USF’s points. Jones’ nine-point effort in the first half didn’t help the Bulls, who trailed 28-22 at halftime.
“We’re frustrated because we’re relying so much on a couple guys,” Heath said. “We need a couple more guys to step up and give us some offense.”
At 2-7 in league play, USF missed a big opportunity to join Notre Dame and Georgetown — which were ranked as preseason top 10 teams — and match its conference-win total from last year.
Instead, the Bulls sit at 14th in the conference.
“We just need to understand as a team that we need to play hard for 40 minutes of basketball,” Jones said. “If we can do that, we can be successful.”