Poor shooting sinks Bulls in fourth straight defeat

USF shot 30 percent from the field and 13 percent from 3-point range in its loss to Wichita State on Tuesday. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

Some games are so exciting, you hope they never end.

That was not the case Tuesday night at the Yuengling Center — at least from a USF perspective, as the Bulls fell 56-43 to Wichita State, extending USF’s losing streak to a season-high four games.

“Just really laboring to score right now,” coach Brian Gregory said. “Laboring to make the right play off our penetration. We’ve got some guys really struggling to make some baskets. When you do that, your defense can only hold the fort so long, and that’s kind of what happened today.”

Laboring to score is one way of putting it. The Bulls made only 12 field goals (30 percent) and went 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) from 3-point range.

“I just think it’s something that you break through. You’re going to have hard times,” junior David Collins said of the Bulls’ offensive woes. Collins led all scorers with 14 points.

“Right now, we’re having a hard time, but when we break out of it, it’s going to get rolling, and once it’s rolling, it’s only upside from there.”

The offense is fixable, Gregory said, but it’ll take some work.

“We’ve got to get a lot better,” Gregory said. “You’ve got to have confidence to be able to knock down some shots. You need your 4-spot to make an impact in the game, and tonight we didn’t at that spot, at all. So sometimes, offensively, you’re kind of 5-on-4.

“I think a lot [is psychological]. Some of it is also, if you’re not shooting the ball well, get in the gym … and be obsessed with it. Hit 500 extra shots and 1,000 extra shots. If you’re not happy with something, you’ve got to work your way through it. It just doesn’t miraculously happen.”

None of this is to say Wichita State had a great night offensively either. The score was 25-23 Shockers at halftime — and only because Wichita State’s Tyson Etienne hit a near-half court 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Shockers a two-point edge.

In fact, Wichita State didn’t score until almost six minutes had passed in the first half.

“That’s a big improvement over last year [when the teams met Jan. 22 in a 54-41 USF win]. I don’t think we scored until the second half,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall joked. “It was brutal, but it kind of reminded me of last year.”

Now, on the aforementioned season-high losing streak, Gregory has the task of keeping morale high with his players heading into a road game against No. 25 Houston on Sunday (2 p.m. | TV: CBS Sports Network).

“That’s part of the job,” Gregory said. “The biggest thing is staying positive, but you’ve got to be able to coach them now too, and guys have to be able to take a look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m not doing this, or I’ve got to do better at this.’ Having guys that are driven and want to be great players and want to get better always helps that.

“We’ll go back to work and we’ll try to keep getting better, because we made some really good strides in some key areas of the game. But offensively, right now, even when we execute really well, we’re not finishing plays.”