USF falls short against Providence

Sophomore guard Dominique Jones was scoring at will, but it wasn’t enough for South Florida to make history.

Jones finished with 29 points and eight rebounds, but Providence’s hot shooting prevented USF from winning consecutive Big East games, and the Bulls fell 77-62 Tuesday night at the Sun Dome.

“I don’t know what to say,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “I know Dominique was hungry. He was a little teary-eyed after the game. He was really disappointed.”

Jones went on a 5-0 run by himself with the Bulls trailing by 11 points late in the game. However, Providence forward Brian McKenzie hit a crucial three-pointer with 4:03 remaining — quieting the crowd of 3,340 — and the Friars never looked back.

Heath said it was tough to come back after that play.

“That was a big shot,” he said. “We knew they were going inside … McKenzie hit that shot and that was it. As poorly as we played, we were in the game, though.”

USF (8-15, 3-8) was hurt by poor shooting. The Bulls went  5-of-16 from the free-throw line and finished 3-for-19 from three-point range, while Providence shot an impressive 51 percent from the field.

“It’s frustrating that people don’t take things more serious,” Jones said. “People don’t have it in their heart to come out and play hard.”

Led by sophomore guard Marshon Brooks’ 10 points in the first half, the Friars (15-9, 7-5) went on a five minute 13-2 run to take a 41-32 halftime lead.  Jones had almost half of USF’s first-half points, scoring 15 on 6-of-9 shooting.

The Bulls have never won back-to-back conference games since joining the Big East in 2005, but Jones said he was looking forward to possibly breaking that mark.

“I like doing stuff so that we can be remembered forever and for everyone to not take that seriously — it’s a real disappointment,” he said.

With the loss, USF is tied for 14th with St. Johns and faces a tough stretch. The Bulls play Notre Dame, Georgetown and No. 1 Connecticut in the next three games.

“It’s all relative in this league,” Heath said. “When you look at Notre Dame playing on the road at Louisville, we could end up having the same record when we play. Who would have thought that at the beginning of the year?”