Opening up the three game series of the Sunshine Slam, USF men’s basketball hosted Austin Peay on Thursday, and lost 62-60. The team extended its losing streak to four, its worst record to begin a season since 2015.
Much like Monday’s heartbreaking 68-67 loss to Stetson, the game came down to the final possession, with junior guard Jamir Chaplin missing a putback in the waning seconds to send the game to overtime.
Austin Peay (2-2) began the half with a sharp offensive attack, scoring 24 unanswered points. South Florida (0-4) came out of the gate playing the exact opposite, finding themselves in the midst of an eight-minute drought.
Thursday’s game seemed to be headed toward blowout territory, with the Governors extending their lead to as much as 21 in the first half. The Bulls bounced back with a 17-2 scoring run to narrow the deficit to 32-30.
The Bulls kept their foot on the gas for most of the second half, with sophomore forward Sam Hines Jr. leading the charge with nine second-half points on a 3-3 shooting performance.
Fifth-year guard Tyler Harris led the Bulls on the offensive end with 14 points shooting 31% from the floor. Junior center Russel Tchewa followed with 12 points, along with grabbing seven boards.
Fifth-year forward Keyshawn Bryant, the Bulls leading scorer, did not suit up after playing 25 minutes versus Stetson.
When asked about the adversity this team faced without Bryant, USF head coach Brian Gregory downplayed the impact of losing his star forward.
“I thought our guys responded well to not having [Bryant] out there, and he was a great presence on our bench,” Gregory said.
Bryant was dealing with an illness and attempted to practice before being ruled out for Thursday’s game, according to Gregory.
Gregory was also frustrated the team got a second straight loss decided by one possession.
“We just didn’t make the winning plays down the stretch that you need to make,” he said.
The Bulls will head to Daytona Beach for the remainder of the Sunshine Slam. The next game will be against UAB on Monday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the CBSSports Network and BullsUnlimited.