Almost everything seemed to go right for USF (4-4) in its 65-55 win over Furman (7-2) at the Yuengling Center on Monday.
And things seemed to go so wrong for the Paladins.
A strong all-around effort from USF, coupled with a misfiring Furman star led to the Bulls’ fourth win of the season.
Four Bulls scored in double figures — Xavier Castaneda with a career-high 18, David Collins with 16, Laquincy Rideau with 11 and Justin Brown with 10.
Brown also recorded his first career double-double with 10 rebounds.
Monday was the first time this season more than three players have scored in double figures in a game. It also sets a new expectation for the Bulls, according to coach Brian Gregory.
“It does. Because we shared the ball,” Gregory said. “Guys, when they’re open, got to be aggressive to score and I thought you saw that today.”
Castaneda shot 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range. He also led the Bulls with two steals.
His performance came as no surprise to Gregory.
“He’s in the gym every morning at 8 o’clock getting extra shooting in,” Gregory said. “He knows it’s a phase of his game he needs to improve in.”
Now, Castaneda is a player that can be relied on to score baskets.
“He knows we have confidence in him when he’s open and ready to shoot it,” Gregory said.
Castaneda’s performance was a standout in the first half, as his 11 points led the Bulls to a 34-27 halftime lead.
But the defensive effort in the first half is what allowed the Bulls to hold a lead at the half.
Furman top scorer Jordan Lyons, who averages more than 16 points, was held to 0-of-7 from the field in the first half. His first basket was scored more than halfway through the second half.
He finished the game with four points and 2-of-12 shooting. The key to shutting him down was through Rideau, who spent much of the night guarding Lyons.
Rideau spearheaded the defensive effort, according to Gregory.
“A tremendous defensive effort starts with Laquincy,” Gregory said. “Did a great job on a high-level player like Jordan Lyons.”
The Bulls outrebounded the Paladins 46-31. The Bulls have now outrebounded six of their eight opponents this season.
A strong rebounding effort and defensive prowess is what Gregory wants to see from his team.
The Bulls accomplished that against Furman.
“It’s how we have to play. Tough, hard-nosed and defend and rebound,” he said.
“We did that tonight.”