The stout defense of No. 17 Cincinnati proved to be too much for USF, handing the Bulls their 20th straight loss against a ranked opponent.
Plagued by turnovers from the start, USF (7-18, 1-13) never led in a 68-54 defeat to Cincinnati at the Sun Dome on Wednesday night — keeping the Bulls at the bottom looking up in the AAC.
Playing in front of 2,679 fans, a large portion in Cincinnati red, the Bulls’ offense was under constant pressure by the Bearcats. USF committed four turnovers on four straight possessions to open the game, as the Bearcats jumped out to an 8-0 run and never looked back.
The leading scorer with 19 points, and only Bull to score in double digits, Geno Thorpe said the turnovers were the Bulls’ biggest issue in the defeat.
“We had 21 turnovers tonight,” Thorpe said. “They are a good ball club, so I give credit to them, but having 21 turnovers is still really bad.”
Despite the loss, interim coach Murry Bartow said he was pleased with the fight his team had throughout, no matter what the scoreboard read.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of teams that when you’re down by 20, it can soon turn to 30 points, really quick,” Bartow said. “If you’re playing a top-20 team and you quit, you get beat by 35. That’s just what happens.”
Trailing by 24 with just two minutes remaining, the Bulls maintained their fight, closing the game on a 12-2 run.
Searching for a bright spot in the defeat, Bartow was more than pleased with the play of freshman Tulio Da Silva. Grabbing 11 rebounds, the redshirt freshman set the tone on the boards, challenging a Cincinnati team that averages the most rebounds per game in the conference.
“We out-rebounded them by three, which was encouraging since they’re one of the top rebounding teams in the country,” Bartow said. “Tulio recording 11 was a big part of that, and that’s really encouraging going forward.”
The Bulls will be back in action on Saturday at Tulane (4-21, 1-11), with the chance to move out of last place in the conference with a win.