Defensive woes doom Bulls in loss to UMass

Guard Tyler Harris continued his senior season with a game high 15 points. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Despite a second half comeback, South Florida men’s basketball fell 73-67 to Massachusetts on Tuesday at the Yuengling Center, preventing the Bulls from getting a third straight win.

The Bulls (2-6) gained two starters from injury and hoped to add to their consecutive victories over Saint Joseph’s and St. Francis. On Tuesday, senior forward Keyshawn Bryant returned from a four-game absence due to an undisclosed injury, and junior guard Jamir Chaplin came back after missing the last game with a concussion.

After dominating UMass (5-1) early on defense, USF quickly let the Massachusetts offense take over the game. The Minutemen went on a 14-2 run to widen their lead, ending the first half with a 40-25 advantage.

On the offensive end, USF struggled during the first 20 minutes of action, shooting a mere 29% from the field. However, the Bulls came back in the second half with an improved 53.3%.

The Bulls held as much as a 15-point deficit in the second half. Despite going on a late scoring push to cut the margin to six, USF ran out of time making it a one possession game.

Coach Brian Gregory was frustrated with the team’s defensive performance, especially in the way they defended the perimeter in the second half.

“The bottom line is that we’re struggling defending the three point line,” Gregory said.

South Florida ranks ninth in the AAC in opponents three-point percentage and allows an average of 8.7 three pointers a game, as opposed to a mere 5.6 made shots.

The Bulls perimeter struggles continued, allowing UMass to shoot 43% from the line, including nearly 55% in the second half.

Gregory criticized his defense for allowing Massachusetts access to easy shots.

“Today it was more of not having the urgency to close out and get out there with a high hand,” Gregory said.

While the defensive performance set the Bulls back, Gregory remarked with high praise for his offense in the second half when they outscored UMass 42-33.

“You can’t ask for much more than that,” Gregory said.

South Florida will face Charleston Southern University on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Yuengling Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and BullsUnlimited.