Back-to-back: Bulls take down Seton Hall
TAMPA – Coming in, USF had never won back-to-back Big East games in five seasons in the conference. And overtime wins? A week ago, the Bulls had totaled one in more than a decade.
But for the second time in five days, USF pulled out an overtime thriller, getting 28 points from guard Dominique Jones and knocking off Seton Hall, 76-74, before a crowd of 3,786 in the Sun Dome.
It was senior guard Chris Howard who hit a layup with the shot clock running down and 39 seconds left for the winning margin. Seton Hall’s Herb Pope missed a potential tying free throw with seven seconds left, and Jarrid Famous hit a free throw and got a late steal to seal the win.
“Like I told Chris, ‘I don’t know what I would do without you,’” Jones said. “The layup he got, I was calling for the ball, because I always call for the ball, but I was tired. When he hit the layup, I was feeling so good. I feel like I trusted my teammates this game, again, and it paid off.”
In a duel of the Big East’s top two scoring guards, Jones and Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell both went for 28 points. Hazell didn’t score in overtime, however, while Jones had six clutch points.
“Dominique Jones .. .was as unstoppable as Jeremy was, maybe even harder, because he got to the free throw line and made 10 out of 11,” Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said.
Famous finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, facing a school he nearly chose out of junior college last spring. Howard had 12 points and just one turnover in 43 minutes – USF had just eight as a team.
The Bulls (13-7, 3-5 in Big East) had lost to the Pirates (12-7,3-5) in all seven previous meetings, including last year’s Big East tournament.
“You can’t continue to beat teams all the time. Sooner or later, you’re going to get knocked off, unless you’re one of the elite teams,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard to keep beating somebody all the time.”
USF led nearly all the second half, and had a five-point lead with 90 seconds to play, only to see Robert Mitchell hit a 3-pointer, then Keon Lawrence score with 27 seconds left. The Bulls, who overcame a nine-point deficit with 40 seconds to play in Saturday’s win at Providence, had two shots at the end of regulation but couldn’t hit either.
Mitchell scored five seconds into overtime to give Seton Hall the lead, but missed a free throw and saw USF answer immediately – neither team lead by more than two points at any point in the extra period. The Bulls had been 1-9 in their last 10 overtime games until their last two wins.
Gonzalez complained about “a very big discrepancy in free throws” – the Bulls shot 31, the Pirates 19, though Seton Hall was only whistled for only three more fouls.
“I thought we were attacking the basket pretty good, but I probably wouldn’t have felt so good if I lost, either,” Heath said.