USF beats Bowling Green, 87-84 in triple overtime thriller
By JOE SMITH
Times Staff Writer
TAMPA – Before Friday, USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath had never been involved in a triple overtime game.
Then again, Heath had never been part of a night like this.
The Bulls overcame a seven-point deficit with a minute left in regulation - and a 22-minute power outage in overtime - to pull out a 87-84, triple overtime thriller over Bowling Green at the Sun Dome. It was the second longest game in the program's history.
"It was incredible, man," said Victor Rudd. "You love being a part of a night like that."
Rudd was the star of the show, USF's Mr. Clutch, hitting the game-tying 3-pointer to force the first overtime, another tying three to force a third, and a three-point play with 13 seconds left that gave USF the lead for good.
"Terrific," Heath said of Rudd, who had a game-high 29 points. "He was very, very special tonight."
But Rudd may not have had the final chance to be a hero had it not been for a game-saving block by guard Martino Brock. With 18 seconds left in triple OT and Bowling Green up two, guard Jordon Crawford threw a long pass over the USF press to Anthony Henderson, who was streaking in alone for a wide-open layup.
However, Brock - easily 20 yards behind near midcourt - somehow sprinted back and swatted Henderson's attempt.
"That was the moment," Heath said. "Defensive play of the year."
Brock had been brilliant in the first half, when he scored 13 of his season-high 18 points. Heath thought the Bulls had it put away when they were up 11 points with 12 minutes left.
But Rudd said the Bulls (7-3) let their guard down, and it nearly cost them. Crawford, the Falcons top scorer who was held without a point the first half, led their big comeback, racked up 15 in the final 15 minutes of regulation (and 27 overall). "He's a dynamic player" Bowling Green coach Louis Orr said.
But Rudd scored six in a last-minute flurry, including a game-tying 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left to send it to overtime. The Bulls controlled the first overtime session, leading by four with 21.6 seconds left. However, after the 21-minute power outage, Juwanza Poland and Anthony Collins each missed the front end 1-and-1 free throw attempts.
"That was the ultimate freeze," Heath quipped.
And, each time, Crawford raced down the court to score a layup, sending it to a double OT.
It was Rudd, again, who came up clutch in the second overtime, hitting a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to tie it and force a third session. It was the first-ever triple overtime game for USF, its longest since a four-overtime game against New Orleans Feb. 8, 1979.
"After the lights went out, it was crazy after that," Rudd said. "It was a crazy night, but we got the win."
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Developing: In arguably one of the wildest USF men's basketball games in recent memory, the Bulls pulled off am 87-84 triple-overtime victory over Bowling Green in front of a stunned Sun Dome crowd Friday night.
"It was incredible," Victor Rudd said. "It was a crazy night."
The Bulls (7-3), who overcame a seven-point defecit with a minute left in regulation, also battled back in the second and third overtime sessions. And, oh by the way, the lights went out at the dome, causing a 21-minute delay in the first overtime.
Victor Rudd was the star of the game, delivering the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime, the game-tying 3-pointer in the final minute of the second overtime, and the go-ahead three-point play with 13 seconds left in the third session that proved the difference.
-- JOE SMITH