USF grabs win in controversial fashion

It didn’t take long for the flaws of playing away from the Sun Dome to expose themselves – 40 minutes, to be exact.

The USF men’s basketball team escaped with a 61-59 win over Vermont in the season opener Saturday, with a little help from the Bob Martinez Sports Center at the University of Tampa.

The Bulls had led for most of the game and held a two-point lead as Vermont checked the ball in the front court with four seconds left. Catamounts guard Four McGlynn drove into the lane and put up a left-handed layup that bounced off the rim, only to be put back by Vermont forward Matt Glass for the would-be game-tying basket as time expired.

The game officials immediately ruled the basket came after the buzzer and went to the scorer’s table to check the replay monitors. But there are no replay monitors in the Bob Martinez Sports Center. Without video evidence to potentially overrule the decision on the floor, the Bulls won.

“Obviously the play at the end of the game, from my vantage point, looked like it was good,” a dejected Vermont coach John Becker said. “Apparently there is no replay equipment here, so we couldn’t take a look at that. It is what it is.”

Becker said it’s “not very often” that he plays in an arena without replay and that he was given no prior warning by officials that there would be no replay available.

“Obviously, I wish there was a monitor out there so they could have got the call,” USF coach Stan Heath said. “We would have known exactly what happened. I thought the call was right, but until you really look at it, I’m not sure anybody would really know.”

Only seven players were available for USF (1-0), and point guards Blake Nash and Hugh Robertson were the only players dressed on the bench. Forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick served a one-game NCAA – imposed suspension because of his participation in an unsanctioned summer league.

Guard Jawanza Poland will serve a two-game NCAA suspension for the same reason once he’s ready to return from a back injury.

The Bulls got to the late-game situation and were able to win because of balanced scoring. Four Bulls scored in double figures, led by Ron Anderson Jr.’s 16 points. Shaun Noriega finished with 15 points, while Victor Rudd Jr. and Augustus Gilchrist added 12 each.

USF excelled from beyond the 3-point line, going 8-for-13, but free-throw shooting was again an issue. As a team, the Bulls shot 13-for-24, just over 50 percent. Anderson alone missed seven free throws.

“Myself, individually, I’m not happy with my free throw shooting tonight,” Anderson said. “I know as a team, we’ll probably get into the gym and put up a lot of free throws, probably a lot more so than normal. I can’t speak for the team, but my free throw shooting was unacceptable tonight.”

After gutting out a tough win to open the season, the Bulls will play in a different home venue tonight – the St. Pete Times Forum – against Marist (0-1) at 7. The Red Foxes opened their season Friday night with a 108-58 loss to powerhouse Kentucky, though they did lead the game for more than six minutes in the first half.