It was nearly a lost opportunity, but USF pulled out a nail-biting win after squandering a big lead.
VCU’s Jamie Skeen had a shot rim in and out as time expired, giving the Bulls a 60-59 overtime win over VCU at the Sun Dome on Wednesday night.
“We know that every game in the Big East is going to go down to the wire,” junior forward Ron Anderson said. “I’m glad we’re going through this kind of adversity now because it’s going to do nothing but help us once we’re in the Big East.”
The Bulls jumped out to a 26-9 lead 7:30 minutes into the game, but VCU cut the lead to 30-20 at halftime after the Bulls got sloppy with turnovers. VCU cut the lead to 40-39 midway through the second half after back-to-back 3-pointers by guard Bradford Burgess.
USF held a 49-43 lead, but a turnover led to a 3-pointer by Joey Rodriguez with 40 seconds left to put VCU up 50-49.
Sophomore guard Jawanza Poland, on the next Bulls possession, was fouled during a layup, converting a 3-point play that put the Bulls up 52-50 with 31.4 seconds left in the game after the Bulls broke the press.
VCU’s Ed Nixon, however, went through the Bulls’ defense for an easy layup to tie the game. Junior guard Anthony Crater had a chance to win it for the Bulls, but his 3-point attempt was too long.
The Bulls scored the first four points of overtime to go up 56-52. With USF up 60-59, VCU forced another turnover with 9.5 seconds to play, but Skeen’s shot to win rimmed out to seal the win for USF.
The Bulls committed just 13 turnovers.
“We’ve been atrocious with turnovers and we finally did a good job,” coach Stan Heath said. “Thirteen in any game’s a good job. Thirteen against this team is almost like having five in a regular game. We did a phenomenal job taking care of the ball.”
Junior guard Hugh Robertson scored a career-high 14 points. Crater returned to the starting lineup after missing three games with an injured ankle. He had two points but dished out five assists.
Anderson had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who travel to Florida Atlantic on Saturday.