Despite having multiple scorers in double figures, USF (8-16, 1-10) was unable to down Tulsa (13-10, 6-5), falling to the Golden Hurricane 63-54 Sunday in front of an announced crowd of 2,484 at the Sun Dome.
A key issue for the Bulls was their inability to rebound. USF was outrebounded by Tulsa 44-32, with only nine rebounds coming on offense.
“The one area that obviously is still a stumbling block for us is finishing the defensive possession with a rebound,” head coach Brian Gregory said.
In addition to outrebounding the Bulls, Tulsa was propelled to victory by a 12-1 run over the course of two minutes during the early stages of the second half.
For the vast majority of the game, the lead went back and forth. USF and Tulsa would exchange the lead 10 times over the course of the afternoon. The Bulls would lead the game for almost 10 minutes in total, but trailed at the only time it mattered.
Graduate guard Stephan Jiggets led all scorers with 22 points. The 20-plus point performance was the fifth on the season for Jiggets.
Jiggets was joined in double figures by David Collins. The freshman guard scored 11 points over 35 minutes, however he did find himself in foul trouble at the end of the game. Collins finished the game with four after fouling out Wednesday against Memphis. Despite all the fouls, Gregory remains optimistic about Collins.
“I’m not going to … throttle him back,” Gregory said. “I’m not going to do that because he’s going to be a great player here. He needs to make some smarter defensive plays. He can’t get a foul reaching. He can’t get a foul if he’s out of position … we got to keep his engine running as fast as possible. When he does make a mistake, it’s done aggressively and I’d rather have that.”
Two other Bulls came close to scoring double figures. Graduate forward Payton Banks finished with nine points, with all three of his field goals coming from beyond the three-point line. Senior forward Isaiah Manderson finished with eight points over the course of 19 minutes.
“Offensively, I thought we did some good things,” Gregory said. “I thought Jiggets played extremely well today … I thought (Collins) played well and I thought (Manderson) had a very good second half, especially offensively.”
The Golden Hurricane were led offensively by two players in double figures. Senior forward Junior Etou and junior guard DaQuan Jeffries scored 17 and 16 points respectively. Etou also collected 12 rebounds to record his second straight double-double and sixth on the season.
“Those guys go every single time,” Gregory said. “They’re physical and they’re long and you got to put a body on them.”
Up next for USF is a midweek trip to Storrs, Connecticut, to take on UConn on Wednesday night. The Bulls and Huskies will play each other for the first time since the American Athletic Conference tournament on March 9. UConn won that game 77-66 in Hartford, Connecticut.
USF is still in search of their first conference win at home since Feb. 11, 2017, against ECU. Their next opportunity will come Saturday against Temple. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for noon at the Sun Dome.