After coming back from an 11-point deficit against Hofstra (3-2), USF called a timeout Tuesday night, trailing 70-69 with 22 seconds remaining.
Afterward, junior guard Anthony Collins dribbled near half court before driving toward the middle of the floor where he was set up with a screen.
The screen caused the Hofstra defenders to switch who they were guarding, setting up an easy layup for sophomore forward Chris Perry to give the Bulls a 71-70 win in front of 3,228 fans at the Sun Dome.
“It’s their bread and butter just to set that ball screen in the middle of the floor with (Collins) and the idea was to go under the screen and we just got caught up and we had to switch, which we didn’t want to do, and then it was a complete mismatch,” Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said.
USF coach Orlando Antigua said the game-winning play is what the team practices, but Perry wouldn’t have been the player set up for the final shot if not for the expression on his face before the play.
“I have to give coach (Sergio) Rouco credit because he kept in my ear: ‘Get Chris back in, get Chris back in,’” Antigua said.
But Antigua had to see that Perry wanted to take the game into his own hands rather than thrusting it upon him.
“And I’m looking at him, ‘No, he hasn’t given me that look that I need. I need to have that look,’” Antigua said.
But as the team called its final timeout, Antigua said he saw what he needed from the sophomore.
“Finally, I looked at him and he gave me the look like he was ready so I said, ‘All right Chris, let’s go. You’re going to make this play,’” Antigua said.
USF (4-1) was able to come back in the final minutes due to the shooting of senior guard Corey Allen Jr.
Allen had 11 of his team-leading 18 points in the final four minutes, including three 3-pointers, which ignited the otherwise quiet crowd.
“I was trying to be locked and loaded every time the ball came to me and just shoot it with confidence any time I touched it,” Allen said.
USF struggled with fouls in the second half, just as it did against NC State on Sunday. The Bulls’ fouls resulted in 28 free throw attempts for Hofstra, compared to only eight from the Bulls.
Antigua said the foul trouble is an issue the team is struggling with, but it’s a top priority to fix going forward.
“We’re a team that’s not taking a lot of threes and we’re being aggressive,” Antigua said. “We want to try to get to the line as much as we can. It just isn’t happening right now, so we’ll go to the drawing board.”
USF will host Jacksonville in the Sun Dome on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.