USF men’s basketball’s comeback attempt falls short against Central Michigan

The Chippewas led by as much as 16 in the second half. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF men’s basketball fell to Central Michigan 68-63 on Wednesday night in a game mired by offensive frustrations.

The Bulls (1-1) could not replicate the offensive fireworks on display in their last game against South Carolina State, where five players scored in double-digits. 

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The teams fell behind early and couldn’t regain the lead despite a late-game comeback attempt. 

Bulls coach Amir-Abdur Rahim said there aren’t any excuses for such a lackluster performance.

“We’ve got to do a better job coming into practice and preparing to win again,” he said. 

USF shot just 6% from the three – or just one for 17.

Central Michigan jumped out to an early lead, ahead by as much as nine in the first half. 

Senior guard Selton Miguel came off the bench and scored two quick field goals, igniting a spark in the Bulls’ offense. The Chippewas headed into halftime with a two-point lead at 31-29. 

The spark didn’t last for long. 

Senior guard Chris Youngblood, who led all Bulls scorers with 20 points, said ball movement was the primary reason behind the loss.

“If you look at the first two games, our assist column was pretty hot,” he said. “The ball didn’t move like it needed to.” 

USF only dished out seven assists. It racked up 24 against the Bulldogs last Thursday. 

Central Michigan fortified its lead off the back of junior guard Anthony Pritchard, who pestered the Bulls all night. The Chippewas led as much as 16 in the second half.

Pritchard led all scorers with 22 points, going nine for 13 from the floor.

Abdur-Rahim said that overconfidence after last Thursday’s win, and a couple of poor practices, led to the loss. 

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“I got to do a better job of sobering them up quicker and getting [the players] back to work,” he said. 

Miguel and the Bulls nearly led a late-game comeback, cutting the lead to five at one point. The effort fell short as USF couldn’t inch within reach to tie the game. 

Senior guard Brandon Stroud missed two free throws with a minute left to play, losing a chance to make it a one-possession game.

Abdur-Rahim said that while bad shooting performances are a necessary evil of the sport, the Bulls must maintain its ability to maintain defensive consistency 

“We didn’t do a good job of communicating in the first half,” he said. “We left their primary shooters open on a couple [shots].” 

Despite the loss, Youngblood is not letting it deter his confidence.

“We’re not going to let one loss tear us down,” he said. 

USF wll look to bounce back in its next matchup against Northern Iowa on Sunday. The Bulls defeated the Panthers (1-1) last season in a 72-69 victory.