Men’s basketball seniors show out, win in final home game
After a great defensive performance in the first half, USF was able to top off its senior night with a 72-56 win at home.
The Bulls (14-16, 7-10 AAC) prevailed against the Golden Hurricane (5-24, 1-17 AAC) with a strong defensive showing and a solid 30-point scoring output from senior forward Keyshawn Bryant.
USF struggled to hit shots early on, but eventually found a rhythm on both ends of the ball. The team proceeded to go on a 12-2 scoring run for nine minutes while stifling Tulsa’s offensive production. The Golden Hurricane not only had shooting troubles, going 6-23 from the field, but also turned the ball over nine times.
Coach Brian Gregory said he felt the team showed out defensively. He said the effort on the ball and guarding shooters was excellent.
“Our defensive effort was very very good. We held them to 33% from the field for the game and they made a couple of swings at the end. But give them credit, they battled,” Gregory said.
Tulsa, however, capitalized on USF’s defensive mistakes in the second half with its own scoring.The Golden Hurricanes were able to go on a 21-5 run for seven straight minutes. The Bulls lead was then cut to five with eight minutes left in the final half.
Men’s basketball, however, was not fazed by the sudden resurgence from Tulsa. Led by Bryant, the Bulls went on a 10-0 scoring tear for four minutes. Bryant ended his last home game for USF with a career high 30 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Bryant felt his time as a Bull was well spent. As a local of the Tampa Bay area, he said he can reflect on his history with USF as a fan and player.
“I feel great, especially being a local kid only 40 minutes away. I’ve been to some Bulls games in my past and to be able to play here, when it’s all said and done, that’s a big compliment to me and my family,” Bryant said.
Before the game, seniors were honored for their role on the USF men’s basketball team, including forward Jake Boggs, guard Mark Calleja, guard Jamir Chaplin, forward Kenu Louissaint and guard Serrel Smith Jr.
Senior guard Tyler Harris also had a historic night after breaking the single season three-point record with 89 threes. He also holds the AAC career three-point record.
“It feels great to set records at USF, I’ve always liked USF since I’ve been in the American Conference. Just to have a chance to come out there and compete with them and get love from the fans,” Harris said. “I didn’t think I was gonna get it tonight but [Bryant] cared about me more and gave it to me and I shot it. That’s one memory I’ll always remember.”
With Wednesday’s win, men’s basketball is now on a three-game win streak in the AAC, their first since the 2019-20 season. The Bulls have also won four of their last five games and end with a home record of nine wins and nine losses.
Gregory said he is proud of his players and seniors graduating. He highlighted not just their ability to work on the court, but also their performance academically and within their character.
“Our job as coaches is to develop quality men and hold them accountable and teach them to do the right thing. The one thing I will tell you is that every one of those seniors that was honored tonight is getting their degree in May, every single one of them is graduating,” Gregory said.
“Myself and my coaching staff all come from families of educators, so we just chose the path of basketball and educating and impacting these young guys. That senior class, every one of them [are] quality guys. It’s why you do it.”
Men’s basketball will face off against the Wichita State Shockers on Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.