With seven straight losseslooming over the USF mensbasketball team, Sundays loss at home to No.12 Louisville did not help the cause for the Bulls(10-15, 1-12).
Losing to the Cardinals 59-41 pushed the winning drought to almost a month.
They really disrupted us when we thought we had an easy play, coach Stan Heath said. I feel like when theyre playing at their best, theyre a Final Four team and thats who we played today.
Louisville (21-5, 9-4) entered Tampa looking for a second straight win and brought with it a sea of red that filled the upper deck of the Sun Dome.
USFs hopes at an upset seemed dim before tip-off, but the Bulls gave its fans something to cheer for as senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, who led in first half scoring with 7 points, helped the Bulls jump out to an 11-8 lead with 13:21 to go in the half.
But as USF trailed 14-17 with less than 10 minutes to go before halftime, some may have been surprised USF was holding its own against the Big East powerhouse that is Louisville.
Thats when the Top 25 in the Cardinals revealed itself.
A 14-0 run for Louisville sent hopes of an upset for USF back on the dim side, putting theCardinals in a comfortable30-14 lead.
I thought to start, the defense was there and we had some open looks, but that is a really really good team, Heath said. They can hit you in so many ways.
And even the 7-2 run that put the Bulls within single digits athalftime, down 32-24, wasnt enough to recover from the10 turnovers that USF gave up.
The Cardinals top nearlyevery statistic in the Big East, and their numerical prowess was ondisplay in the second half. There was no stopping a Louisville team that shot more than 44 percent from the field in both halves of play, and hurried USF in a way they havent been hurried all season long.
USF started to even things up on paper, knotting up the rebound battle in the second half andturning the ball over less, finishing the night with 16 total turnovers, but the Bulls shooting was almost nonexistent.
If going 0-11 from thethree-point range wasnt bad enough, USF only shot 14 percent from the field.
The last glimmer of hope for USF appeared with12:57 remaining in thegame, when the Bullscame within six pointsafter senior forward Victor Rudd posted a one-hand posted and sophomore point guard Anthony Collins hit two from the foul line.
But the six point deficit turned to a 22 point deficit, when theCardinals went on a 19-3 run that USF was unable to stop.
Louisville played keep-away from USF as the clock ran down and won their second straight win in the Big East.
Heath and the Bulls will look to put an end to their losing streak, when the Bulls tip off with St. Johns on the road Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Its not easy but we have to find a way to win some games, Heath said. Were going to keep at it for as long as we can breathe.