Another near miss: 'Nova escapes, 70-61
Another ranked opponent, another near miss for USF basketball. The Bulls led No. 20 Villanova with 9:30 to play and trailed by two with 1:34 left, but missed free throws cost USF at the end and the Wildcats escaped with a 70-61 win before 4,245 at the Sun Dome.
USF saw guard Dominique Jones foul out with five minutes to play and still were in position to get the upset in the final two minutes. Freshman Gus Gilchrist, who had a team-high 18 points for the Bulls, went 1-for-4 on free throws in the final two minutes after missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with six minutes left. USF missed on four straight possessions and Villanova went 8-for-13 at the line to close out the game.
Guard Chris Howard had 15 points, his most in more than a year, and the Bulls had four players in double figures, but saw the rest of the team total two shots and zero points. With key players playing extra minutes, the Bulls couldn't make the defensive stops they needed down the stretch.
Add Saturday's setback to a five-point loss against Syracuse and a three-point loss at West Virginia, but this is becoming a season defined by close losses in the Big East. The Bulls lost by two at Virginia and in overtime by one at UAB, unable to close out close games with a win -- USF drops to 2-6 this season in games decided by nine points or fewer.